We had some first world problems at Adrastos World HQ this week: a cable box containing 60 episodes of Law & Order died. I battled the provider to a draw but losing the season-5 episodes with the perfect L&O cast of Orbach, Noth, Merkerson, Waterson, Hennessy, and Hill hurt:
Law & Order is my pandemic jam and it’s not currently on a streaming service. I can’t let go of the craving.Told ya this was a first world problem.
I hope that those of you who have read my previously unpublished law school mystery, Tongue In The Mail, enjoyed it. If you haven’t read it, give it a shot by clicking on this link. The serialization is dead, long live the serialization.
This week we have a trio of theme songs with the same title. Our first Can’t Let Go was written by Bryan Ferry for his 1978 solo album The Bride Stripped Bare. Here’s a double dose with the studio original and Roxy Music live:
Our second Can’t Let Go was written by Lucinda Williams for her classic 1998 album, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road:
Our final Can’t Let Go was written by Bill Meyers, Maurice White, and Allee Willis for Earth Wind & Fire’s 1979 album I Am.
I don’t know about you but I’m having a hard time letting go. Perhaps a jump to the break is in order.
Our story is nearly over. This is the penultimate installment: the last two chapters are long so Chapter 24 stands alone today. I wanted to keep you puzzled and mystified until Wednesday. Besides, I’ll miss posting Tongue In The Mail. I hoped y’all have enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing this hitherto unpublished novel.
In this installment, we learn that our narrator survived being shot to the tune of Richard Thompson’s Shoot Out The Lights, but another character is not so lucky. The identity of the law school murderer is nailed down and a plan to capture him is hatched. There will still be twists: I promised to keep you puzzled and mystified, after all.
This is the rare chapter without any musical shout-outs so I’ll share the RT song that should have been cited somewhere in our story:
We’re in the homestretch of our serialized novel. There’s only one more week to go.
In this installment, Nicholas pays a visit to Rev. Cyril Goodfriend and learns some disturbing things about his friend and classmate Jack. In Chapter 21, Nicholas has a long chat with Camille and learns the ugly truth behind Guy Zerngue’s arrest for murder.
There were two swell musical references in this installment:
There’s big news in this installment: an arrest has been made in *one* of the law school murders. Guy Zeringue the white supremacist frat boy is charged with the murder of Bill Sutton, former news hound and legendary gossip. Our narrator is dubious after attending the news conference announcing the arrest. You should be too. When did the most obvious subject ever do it? Unless, that is, he’s the butler. There are no butlers in Tongue In The Mail. I didn’t have the budget.
In Chapter 19, it’s graduation day for our law students. We meet the parents of some of our characters and our narrator begins to think the unthinkable. To know what the hell I’m talking about, read this entry.
I’ve been asked if the characters are all based on real people. Many are but others are not. Ironically, I know many cops and media people but that didn’t happen until the 21st Century. The media and police characters are all figments of my imagination.
There’s only one musical shout-out in this installment. You should be able to guess what inspired it:
In this installment, our narrator goes back into the amateur shamus business and gets an ass chewing by the professional in charge of the investigation. The fourth victim of the law school murderer finally dies, which makes it a quartet of killings.
Nicholas is so down that he resorts to long hair music:
To fit my mood, I played the most depressing music that I could think of and slid Richard Strauss’s “Death and Transfiguration” into the CD player and punched the repeat button. Of course, Strauss intended the piece to be uplifting; only a German could think that death is an invigorating trip to Valhalla.
This is another long-ass chapter, which means it’s another stand alone installment. I want to keep you hungry for more as opposed to wearing you out with overkill verbiage. I don’t want my snappy dialogue to make you snap, crackle or even pop.
In this chapter, our narrator makes a major mistake after making a string of Hitchcock references. The events in this chapter are purely fictional much like the law school murders themselves.
Since part of this installment takes place in a Garden District carriage house, this Byrds classic gets a shout-out.
The serialization continues. It remains unclear whether these are serial murders or not. Only the author knows for sure, but I still don’t feel remotely Godlike.
In this installment, finals are over and the main characters gather to trade speculation and gossip. Speaking of which, we finally meet a character who has been the subject of much chatter and innuendo. I’m not going to tell you who it is in this introduction: it’s supposed to be a mystery, after all.
The songs below come up in connection with two of our characters:
I stick with contemporaneous songs in the novel. I don’t go all Baz Lurhmann on your asses. I don’t have the budget for Nicole Kidman…
In this installment, Spring has sprung; it’s time for finals and Jazz Fest. Nicholas and Ian drink beer with bigoted prime suspect Guy Zeringue and another attack occurs. There’s an insulting letter from the killer addressed to Sergeant Doucet. There’s always a letter and it’s always insulting.
A reminder that you can read earlier chapters by clicking on this category/link thingamabob, Project Novel:TITM.
One song that’s name checked as the chapters progress is this progressive rock classic:
The present has been so relentlessly hellish that it’s been pleasant spending time in the 1990’s while processing Tongue In The Mail for publication. I had more hair and a smaller belly back then, but times are *always* tough. Something hellish is always going on somewhere in the world. The difference in 2020 is that the pandemic is everywhere. It gives new meaning to the term hell on wheels.
In this installment of my previously unpublished law school murder mystery, Carnival approaches and another body drops. Since our characters are incapable of silence, there’s much conversation about both.
The latest letter from the murderer mentions busy bodies but not this Elvis Costello song:
A friend who is reading this serialization asked me why all the characters are so talkative. That’s one of the most realistic parts of Tongue In The Mail. Law students never STFU. Some of them learn to bite their tongues but most continue to be as garrulous as hell.
In this installment, another body drops and a new suspect emerges. And the characters talk, gossip, and speculate but that’s a given.
A non-Crowded House song gets a shout-out this time around:
The plot thickens like a sticky pudding after the break.
I attended Tulane Law School when it was located in Jones Hall. It now has its own building not far away on Freret Street, which I referred to as Ferret Street in my law school days.
The featured image is of Julia Roberts matriculating at Jones Hall in The Pelican Brief. I’m 90% certain that scene was filmed in Room 102 on the main floor of Jones Hall, which is where the action takes place in Chapter 2.
I liked the oddities and charm of the old building but it was jam packed with law student humanity. One could even say it was a Crowded House:
If you missed the first chapter of this tawdry tale, CLICK HERE.
Times are weird so I thought I’d do something extra weird for First Draft. In the late 1990’s, I wrote a novel set during my time as a student at Tulane Law. It’s a murder mystery with a title taken from the opening lines of a Neil Finn song:
I spent years trying to sell it. I got some very nice rejection letters and took any editorial suggestions offered including a title change from the more generic Hearsay. Eventually, I let Tongue In The Mail rest on my computer. I haven’t looked at it in many years. In 2020, it qualifies as a historical mystery since it was set, in part, during the Edwards-Duke governor’s race from hell.
I tried not to do too much rewriting. I’m pleased that it still reads well. The style is *close* to my current writing style as Adrastos, but there are fewer puns. One major difference is the use of exclamation points, which I left in because some people speak in them. I guess that makes me a reformed exclamation point sinner. Some of you will have a field day with this. I welcome your scorn.
I’m not sure if I’ll keep the experiment going, so please let me know either here, on social media or via email if I should. I’m trying to entertain the masses, not indulge in an exercise of Trumpian egomania. In fact, I’m nervous as hell about posting this.
The first chapter is set at a wedding. I stole the idea from The Godfather. When in doubt, steal from the best. It’s heavy on exposition, the action revs up in chapter 2.
The characters are composites of people I knew at the time, not ripped from the headlines. The narrator, however, bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain blogger.