Greetings lovers of Noir Thrillers and Author Plunge Devotees one and all. Today we’ll be talking with a man of my own heart, Gene Poschman. Gene is a fan of Have Gun, Will Travel, the classic Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, The Wind in the Willows, Uncle Remus, H. Beam Piper’s Fuzzies and sleeping rabbis (extra points for readers, watchers and listeners who know the reference).
As always, please see our Want to be interviewed by me? page if you’d like to take your own Author Interview Plunge.
Gene made his mark with the 1930s San Francisco based Jonas Watcher Noir Thriller series and has recently put his hand to fantasies. You can read an excerpt from Gene’s next Jonas Watcher novel, THE CASE OF THE LOOKING GLASS MIRROR, at the bottom of this page. I’d like everyone to stand up and give Gene Poschman a big round of applause for taking part in our exciting adventure.
Gene Poschman’s Bio
I have always been an avid watcher of film noir, mysteries, and other detective crime fiction as well as science fiction and fantasy. I read quite a bit, which would probably surprise a number of my teachers. I would have been a better reader earlier if Dick and Jane were detectives, or at least, a wizard and witch.
Gene and I talked about Have Gun, Will Travel and how wanting Dick&Jane to be either wizards or detectives leads one to writing what you want to read, how short story collections create characters (I’m on an alliteration kick today, it seems), the influence of Dashiell Hammett, the need to act when inspiration strikes, the power of black&white storytelling, leading the reader and keeping things for future books, what really happens in Bambi, what real Zombies are all about and the power of a single word to make or break a story.
You can find links to Gene’s books on the right or at the bottom of this post (depending on your device). You’ll also find links to Gene’s sites underneath the video. And please comment both pro and pro. Okay, con, too, if something really peeves you.
Excerpt from The Case of the Looking Glass Mirror
Chapter 1 – Those in Glass Houses
I was sitting back in my chair with my feet up on the desk. I was feeling a little bit smug. That is usually when the Sisters Fate decided to strike.
The outer door to my office swung open and I could hear the unmistakable voice of David Sanders, Lieutenant in the SFPD.
“I am going to kill the son of a bitch if I have to speak to or see him one more time!” he shouted.
I shifted in some way that caused a wheel to turn and look… Oh hell I went over backwards in my chair and landed somewhat unceremoniously upon the floor. My office door swung open and fortunately I was not visible. My first thought was that my dignity wasn’t up to being ridiculed. Maybe they would take pity upon me… Yeah, right.
“Jonas, are you alright?” asked Betty and David in unison.
I poked my head above the top of my desk. Upon seeing I was not visibly damaged, they both attempted to stifle their laughter to no avail. They quickly went beyond snickering and now I was concerned that they might harm themselves as they both began breaking into fits of hilarity. I could only hope that they would injure themselves as they enjoyed my predicament way too much.
“Some coffee for my guest and I, if you would, Betty,” I said as I used the desk as support in getting to my feet.
I righted my chair and sat down. David walked to a client chair and sat down.
“God, I needed that,” he said.
“I am glad I could oblige,” I said. “Who should I send my bill to.”
“SFPD,” said David, “but not for the entertainment. I need you to prevent me from shooting one Charles Bishop.”
Betty entered with a tray having three cups of coffee, her note pad and pencil. She set the tray on my desk, took a cup of coffee, her pad and pencil and sat down in the other client chair. Both David and I got our coffee.
“You know this is the only place I can get her to serve me coffee,” he said.
“Watch it, flatfoot,” she said, “there are other things I can see that you do without.”
She batted her eyelashes and smiled.
“You really here as a client?” I asked.
“He is,” said Betty. “Bishop is driving him crazy. You have got to help him, Jonas”
“I do, huh.”
“You sitting back in your chair and feeling smug, is not going to bring in money,” she said.
She knew my financial position better than anyone. The truth was I could sit with my feet up for a couple of years and live quite well. The irony was I was one of the few independent private detectives who didn’t have to take on divorce cases to make ends meet. On the other hand, I was one step from digging through Mickey’s file cabinet of open cases to have something to do.
I thought for a couple of moments about how I inherited Mickey’s agency upon his death but decided not to dwell upon the past. Besides, I was interested in a man who could drive the Lieutenant to homicide.
“Okay, David,” I said, “regale me with your sad tale of woe.”
I knew I had pushed a bit on the Lieutenant, but he did enjoy my falling back on my keister a little too much.
“Ha. Ha,” he said. “Don’t you piss me off too.”
“Perish the thought,” I said. Then I smiled. “What did this guy do to set you on a path to inflicting him with bodily harm?”
“He got robbed. That’s not why I want to use him for target practice in the police shooting range. It is why I have to put up with him.
“Charles Bishop is a book collector. He buys and sells limited and rare books. Based upon how he lives, I am in the wrong business. Anyway, he was all set to ship off several books to Butterfield and Butterfield. He was packing up the inventory when he discovered a book was missing. It was a copy of Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.”
“How much can it be worth?” I asked. “Surely it’s replaceable?”
“It is part of a set with Alice in Wonderland,” he said. “It was a limited printing, and all had been signed by the author with both his real and pen name. Many copies of the second book had been destroyed, and collectors are looking to fill in their collections with this book. It is estimated that the auction could bring in about thirty thousand for this volume alone.”
I held onto the desk as I whistled. I didn’t want to repeat my earlier performance.
“And you want him harmed because?”
“This is Thursday, I got the case on Monday, and I have picked up a couple of other cases with slightly higher priorities. Mr. Bishop feels we are not providing him the attention he deserves. He is vocal about it. The Captain is afraid that Bishop may take this to the papers. It seems that Bishop is also a friend of the Mayor. A contributing friend.”
“Ah,” I said. “How do I fit in this? Is your captain going to be okay if I get involved?”
“Oh, yeah,” said David. “The Captain mentioned you to Bishop. He, Bishop, is a bit of a celebrity snob. He read about you in the papers. I think he was about to have an orgasm.”
“Why do I hear the Sisters Fate laughing in the background on this one?” I asked.
“You’re not exactly a favorite of the Captain,” he said. “He would love nothing better than to see you fail in a very public manor.”
“The city gonna pay?” I asked.
“Yes, it is. You will be brought on as a consultant in this one special case.”
“And what are you not telling me?” I asked.
“You have to have a liaison with the police department, but the Captain is not willing to provide an active officer in the department. He has selected an officer in retirement. In some ways, it is his assurance that you will fail.”
Betty was rocking in the other client chair barely able to contain herself. Then she calmed down and batted her eyelashes.
“It seems that David’s Captain doesn’t think I will be of much help as a liaison and I will be a guarantee that you will fail.”
She then sat there with a Cheshire cat grin.
“Liaison means interface, do you have people in the department that will be helpful?” I asked.
“She has better connections than I do,” said David.
“So, who is going to act as my…”
The outer office door opened, and I recognized Shana’s voice.”
“Any one home,” she yelled. Clearly, she arrived to replace her mother as my receptionist.
Betty looked at me with a face that could pass for the Madonna. I wondered how long this conspiracy had been brewing.
“If you are going to be my partner in this,” I said, “get out of those heels and skirt and get your gun and holster.”
I looked at David and waited.
“She’ll be safer with you than anyone on the force, and I have a beat cop who will be checking in with Shana both on the phone and showing up at the office,” said David. “They have been working on me for the last twenty-four hours. Every argument I could come up with, they had an answer.”
I looked at Betty.
“So, go change,” I said to Betty. “I assume we are going to meet with Mr. Bishop.”
Betty was out of her chair and to her desk in the front office. She returned with a bag and went into the bathroom.
I turned to David.
“You realize, this is not going to be the end of it,” I said.
He nodded. He reached into his pocket and pulled out forms. He handed them to me. I opened the up and sighed. She was requesting a PI license. David pointed to where I needed to sign.
“She starts out as an operative,” I said.