PREVIOUSLY, ON LOST… (OR, WHO IS ASH McKENNA, ANYWAY?)
I was such a big fan of Lost. So huge I can forgive that they didn’t entirely stick the landing on the last episode.
(I respect the creators for finishing the show on their own terms, and I would be happy to discuss the importance of character arcs over larger mysteries, on the condition there were some adult beverages involved…)
Sorry, tangent. Point is, that phrase “Previously, on Lost…” conjured so much excitement, especially when the show was at it’s peak. Because you’d spend those thirty seconds or minute or whatever it was scouring the collection of clips that was meant to catch you up, but really were littered with clues about what would be coming up in this episode.
When Dan Malmon asked me to do a teaser recapping the Ash McKenna series—the third one, South Village, just hit shelves—I thought two things.
First, what Dan Malmon wants, Dan Malmon gets.
Second—can you “Previously, on Lost…” a book?
You can’t assemble clips. There are no clips.
And it’s tough to do for the Ash McKenna books. The first was set in New York, and the second in Portland. The third finds Ash, an amateur private investigator, dug into a hostel in the middle of the Georgia woods.
So… Previously, on Ash? That just sounds weird.
I can tell you this: Like a good episode of Lost (see: “The Constant”) I tried my best to make it stand on its own, while paying service to the larger story, so you can go back and start at the beginning, or you can read this one and feel like you got a complete experience.
And in lieu of clips, I can tell you that the series is about a kid growing up and finding his moral compass. In the first book he learns a valuable lesson—but not enough to fix him. Same in the second. Also in the third because this is not a three book series, it is more than likely five.
So each book I have to fix him a little but also leave him broken enough to justify another entry.
In terms of teasers, I’ve got a good one for the Crimespree community. When I was at Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee, I offered up a character name in the charity auction. Dana Cameron won. She told me she’d had characters named for her in several books, covering a broad spectrum of both gender and moral fiber, up to and including a male snitch in Canary by Duane Swierczynski.
Dana, being one of the coolest people on planet Earth, deserved a special character in return for her generosity. And I think I came up with one. She laughed when I told her about it and we’re still on speaking terms, so just know—I got her blessing.
Dan Malmon gets a cameo too. I’m planning a spin-off for the two of them. You’ll get it when you see it.
So there we go. If the Dan and Dana show isn’t enough to get you to read the book, I don’t know what else to do.
We’re getting toward the end here, which is making me think of another show—Mad Men. Specifically, those maddening montages meant to tease the next episode, that were essentially people looking into the distance or opening doors or speaking in fractured sentences, so as to completely obscure the events that would be coming the following week.
I’ve been pretty open about the fourth book, which I’m working on now. It’s called The Woman from Prague and it’s set in Eastern Europe. It’s a spin on the spy novels I’ve loved, like Six Days of the Condor by James Grady and Hopscotch by Brian Garfield.
No cameo from Dana or Dan yet, but I’ll see if I can work it in. Also, Ash finally meets his match. Also, you learn the only six words you need to be able to say when you’re visiting another country.
And if you read South Village, you’ll know why he’s even in Eastern Europe in the first place.
Rob Hart is the author of New Yorked, nominated for an Anthony Award for Best First Novel, as well as City of Rose and South Village. He is also the publisher at MysteriousPress.com and the class director at LitReactor. His short stories have appeared in publications like Thuglit, Needle, Joyland, and Helix Literary Magazine. Non-fiction has appeared in The Daily Beast, Salon, The Literary Hub, and Electric Literature. You can find him online at @robwhart and http://www.robwhart.com.