“Stinger Maguire” is the second Bruce DelReno Mystery.
Maguire is an established top golf pro beloved in his hometown of Willowtree, Arizona.
The small town, indeed the whole country, is shocked when he is murdered after returning home for a charity event. His body is discovered by the high school golf coach and reluctant senior sleuth, Bruce DelReno.
DelReno is a retired postman and avid golfer. He is drawn further into the investigation because folks would rather talk to him than the police. With his cantankerous Apache friend, Ben, Bruce uncovers some deep secrets held by those who knew Maguire. A story bigger than his death emerges when his own secret is revealed.
“…the characters of Bruce, Genny, Ben, Cody et al are engaging and warm and the mystery builds effectively, with twists and revelations thrown into the mix until the pieces fall into place and Bruce unmasks the killer! A fun mystery for cozy – and golf – fans.” – Julia Hopkinson for Readers’ Favorite
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
WARNING! Spoiler Alert!
My first idea for the book was having the victim be a professional golfer. The fact that he was gay is only a piece of the story that came about during my writing and research. The main story is how Maguire affected many lives before and after his death.
There have been a number of athletes ‘come out’ in the past several years, both collegiate and professional. Basketball and football now have openly gay athletes.
Many years ago I read Dave Pallone’s “Behind The Mask: My Double Life In Baseball.” He was fired because of it in 1988. Being fired from a job is a real threat, but not the worst a gay person must endure if he ‘comes out’.
I had never heard even a rumor, though some must have been tossed around, about a pro golfer being gay. Considering the number of golfers on the various tours, and the ‘always on the road’ lifestyle, statistically there must be some.
Since publishing “Stinger Maguire” Michael Sam became the first openly gay
football player to be drafted by the NFL. The response to Sam “was circuslike.” A recent college player’s acknowledgement “brought a swell of support and a lack of hysteria.” (Quotes from Paola Boivin, The Arizona Republic, 08/14/2014)
This shows some progress in the sports world. Sean Maguire shows progress in my book.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The folks close to Bruce are loosely based on folks close to me. They are not the same, but can sometimes be as understanding, loyal, helpful, and annoying. The bad guys are all completely made up, except for one victim. I actually met him on a golf course and killed him in fiction.
From Chapter One:
“Found another one, eh Bruce?” Pete Holton said as he walked in, only pausing a few seconds to look at the body. He was followed the ME, Doc Petruzzi, King, and a couple others including a camera guy who got right to work. Bright flashes of light bounced off the pale yellow block walls.
Pete jerked his head toward the coach’s office and said, “Let’s talk.” He went in and sat behind the desk, leaving me the only other chair, an old wooden straight-back matching the one Stinger was sitting and lying in. “How are you, DelReno?”
“C’mon, Pete, I’m not good. I’m very upset right now. Can we just do this?”
Pete Holton and I became friends about a year ago after the conclusion of that murder investigation. We have played golf together almost every Sunday for the last few months. He was about fifty-five years old, much younger than me, but my handicap was a little lower than his, so I was the boss on the golf course. He was the boss everywhere else. He was wearing his usual attire, suitable for both police work and golf, consisting of a blue polo shirt with a patch on the breast and “Willowtree Police” embroidered on the left sleeve. He wore tan chinos, same as mine but many sizes larger.
“Sorry, Bruce. Just start at the beginning. You know how this works.” He switched on his mini recorder and placed it on the desk.
I recalled as best I could my experience so far that morning. I included what I saw in the locker room besides Stinger’s presence.
“The chair he is taped to came from this office. It had apparently been placed in front of the curtain, which was a heavy fabric divider that divided the room in two. It was used when two classes or teams needed the locker room at the same time, and provided a degree of privacy. The golf equipment on Stinger’s body and strewn around the room probably belongs to the school and came from the storage room next to this office. There is a bag on the floor that the putter and wedge Stinger is wearing came from. Maybe. You saw the balls. Maybe twenty, thirty balls all around on the floor.” I paused, and then speculated, “This is what I think, Pete. You check it out. You don’t want speculation, I know, but listen. Whoever it was used Maguire for target practice. See that five-iron in the middle of the room? The asshole hit balls at Maguire, defenseless, tied to that chair. He’s got awful bruises all over. The curtain was a backdrop, like a net.” I was trying to be strong, but I was really affected by the vision in my mind, and those last words came out more slowly and shaky.
“Okay. Okay. We’ll see what Doc Petruzzi says about that. If he doesn’t figure it out, I’ll ask him about it. Were you alone when you discovered him, Bruce?”
“Yeah, just me.”
“No one else in the building besides you until the authorities got here?”
“Just me.” I didn’t like this line of questioning, but I knew it was necessary, and routine. After a few more of these questions detective-chief Holton turned off the recorder and said I could leave if I wanted. He went out to have a better look around the crime scene. I followed him, and then stopped to watch a body bag containing Stinger Maguire being loaded onto a gurney.
At that same time John Gillihan, the high school principal, came through the door and went directly to Holton who was headed for Dan King.
Gillihan! Damn, I should have called him. He’ll be pissed. He would say I should have called him first. He was the Queen of this institution, definitely ruled it like a monarch. The kids called him the “Queen,” simply because he was gay. Gay or not, he was strict as they come, but fair, and I really thought a pretty good guy. I stood aside looking in his direction so he’d know I wasn’t avoiding him. Gillihan was a tall, handsome man in his late thirties with an athletic build, dirty blonde hair receding a bit in front. A stranger wouldn’t know his persuasion until he moved or spoke. Then, he moved toward me, and spoke.
A native Vermonter, Mike has lived in Arizona for the past twenty years, and before that fifteen on Cape Cod. He has changed careers from teacher and coach to working in the retail and nursing home industries, and finally twenty-five years with the US Postal Service.
During his college and teaching years he participated in numerous productions, on and back-stage, in community theater, and was a high school drama director. Mike’s first major writing project was adapting a Russian folktale for the stage, which he produced and directed.
Though he reads in many genres, his favorite is mystery. He started with Donald Westlake, Joseph Wambaugh, and George V. Higgins. Perhaps from his drama experiences and these authors he came enjoy and appreciate interesting dialogue.
Retirement gave him more time to read and more than enough to play all the golf he could handle. He began a story about his fake town, envisioned in the Prescott National Forest he drove through while commuting to work.
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