Thu, 4 December 2014
"Throughout (Joan) Merrill's books, almost all of the characters, major and minor, are jazz people. There is on-going commentary on today's jazz scene and how it differs from yesterday. No preaching, just strong and well-argued opinions during realistic conversations between characters." -- Bruce Crowther, jazz writer and crime novelist
Sitting in a jazz club listening to a young woman performing a “plaintive and sad” saxophone solo of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” gives Bosch hope that “there was still a chance for him, that he could still find whatever it was he was looking for, no matter how short his time was.”
On this blog I’ve had a conversation with David Fulmer, the author whose novels set in Storyville at the turn of the century feature Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr. St. Cyr is friend and confidant to the likes of Jelly Roll Morton and Buddy Bolden, and Fulmer’s descriptions of early jazz performances are classic. There’s even a jazz musician-detective, Evan Horne, created by Bill Moody in a memorable series of mysteries, including Death of a Tenor Man and Looking for Chet Baker.
The queen of the detective-jazz milieu is Joan Merrill, whose fifth novel featuring San Francisco PI Casey McKie is entitled And All That Motive. The plot line grabs any jazz fan right away - America's number one male jazz singer, Sid Satin, is found dead in his dressing room at a jazz festival, police set their sights on Casey’s good friend, veteran jazz singer and club owner Dee Jefferson. She'd had a blow-up with Satin that afternoon and they believe her gun is the murder weapon. To remove suspicion from her singer friend, Casey sets out to find the killer.
Ms. Merrill has a lengthy and varied career involving jazz. Joan had worked on the jazz scene in talent management and booking, as a publicist, and had produced radio shows for NPR’s award-winning Jazz Profiles and PRI’s Smithsonian Productions. She also produced CDs by jazz singers Nancy Kelly (Well, Alright!) and Rebecca Parris (You Don’t Know Me), wrote liner notes for CDs by the likes of Houston person, and served as producer for a video documentary, Saying It With Jazz. Joan is presently producer of Qué Sera! Celebrating Doris Day, a stage show starring Kristi King that is playing around and about the Pacific Northwest. And if all of that is not enough, she may be the world’s number one fan of singer Carmen McRae, and the keeper of a Carmen fansite, carmenmcrae.com