Dive Bartender: Flowers in the Desert protagonist Frank Ford flees Minnesota for Arizona with a dog-eared copy of Kerouac’s On the Road as his roadmap
(Duluth, MN) — November 18, 2022 — T.K. O’Neill’s latest crime novel, Dive Bartender: Flowers in the Desert, was recently released by Bluestone Press. It picks up where O’Neill’s 2017 Dive Bartender: Sibling Rivalry left off. Set in 1977, protagonist Frank Ford is running from his life and for his life.
Following the suspicious suicide of his brother Ray in northern Minnesota and Frank’s own role in the death of twin sisters clearly culpable in Ray’s demise, Frank hits the road for the promised land, California–with a dog-eared paperback copy of Kerouac’s On the Road as his roadmap. True to its protagonist’s journey, he makes a stop in Denver to look up an old friend—in his case high school buddy and former Arizona Amateur Tennis Champion, Larry Richards, now a divorce attorney allegedly raking in the cash, hand over fist. Larry’s seemingly successful life was anything but, and Frank gets caught up in Larry’s fraying web of deals and deceit, leading him farther away from California and closer to the same muck he left behind in Minnesota.
Enter the captivating and gifted songwriter Evelyn Raines, lead singer of Evie and the Desert Flowers. The righteous Bill Cross, new roommate, fellow bartender at DJ’s and former Arizona Gold Gloves light heavyweight champion. Clayton Cook and Bryce Parker–entitled, corrupt and twisted. Arturo Reynolds, Denver gangster. Javier Raines, Evie’s faithful brother and manager. A cast of characters that seems to conspire to keep Frank from his Kerouac dream.
O’Neill says he often writes truer to the crime noir subgenre, “where there are, as mystery editor Otto Penzler once wrote, no heroes and no happy endings; and ‘its lost characters are caught in the inescapable prisons of their own construction.’” But in Dive Bartender: Flowers in the Desert,” O’Neill continues, “Frank Ford somehow, in spite of the demons he lives with, rises to the occasion when honor, redemption and love are being called for.”
O’Neill is the author of several crime noir and hardboiled stories, including Fly in the Milk, Dead Low Winter, South Texas Tangle, Jackpine Savages, Dive Bartender: Sibling Rivalry and Northwoods Pulp Reloaded.
Bluestone Press was established in 1999. Dive Bartender: Flowers in the Desert (ISBN 9781736144619) is available in trade paperback at online and other retail bookstores. Booksellers can order wholesale through Ingram. It’s also available in ebook format (ISBN 9781736144626) at all major online bookstores, as well as through https://bluestonesblog.com. Book cover was designed by Gary Val Tenuta.