Did I really read that book?

A while back I read The Good Soldier.  As I did, I kept having the feeling that I had read it already.  But this was never more than an occasional niggling at the back of my mind — a scene, a character would seem vaguely familiar, but then for long stretches the feeling would disappear.

Maybe I did read The Good Soldier, and its memory simply disintegrated in my brain over the years.  I didn’t like it this time around, and it’s unlikely to have made much of an impression on me in high school or college, when I was vacuuming up novels daily.  But it’s also possible that I didn’t in fact read it — that the scenes and characters just reminded me of something else, also now lost.  Beats me.  Memory, modern science tells us, is fragile and unreliable.  We don’t know what we think we know.  (This recent Radiolab podcast tells the story of a woman who confidently identifies the man who had brutally raped her, only to find out years later that she had been mistaken.)

All of this is by way of an introduction to the following lovely review of The Distance Beacons from a very perceptive reader named D. Jensen:

What I can’t believe is that no one else has reviewed this book. Perhaps it is because this is the second (and hopefully not the last) that Bowker has offered us.
It has been a long, long time since I read this book, but I do remember it as a better than “a good ‘un”.

Walter Sands, the only P.I. in a post-apocalyptic (no longer United) States is asked to search for a rebel organization that is threatening to assassinate the President when she comes to Boston to campaign in favor of the New England states to rejoin the union.
Along with his friends and roommates, Walter uncovers much more than he or his employer expect.

Another great read from Bowker. I think that I like it that he never really describes the nuclear war that created this future mish-mash country. It was what it was and now the survivors are just trying to rebuild their lives and perhaps a country that may or may not resemble the earlier version. There is no sweeping view of this time; there is just the observations of the people “on the ground” so to speak. Bowker knows how to keep the characters relevant and relate-able and how to build the tension in the story to keep the reader turning pages–or flipping screens.

Worth the time where so many are not.

It’s all so very true!  Except for the part where he (she?) says “It’s been a long, long time since I read this book.”  As I may have mentioned here, The Distance Beacons was written a while ago (with a different title), but it ended up in a carton in my basement after Bantam declined to print a sequel to Dover Beach.  No more than half a dozen people read it back then, and it’s only the e-book revolution that has allowed it to see the light of day now.  D. Jensen is having a Good Soldier moment.

Unless, you know, my memory is playing tricks on me.

Dover Beach is free on iTunes (let’s make it free on Amazon)!

In celebration of the failure of the world to end or something, Dover Beach is now free on iTunes.  (The idea is that, if you like Dover Beach, you’ll spend real money on its thrilling sequel, The Distance Beacons.)

You can help make Dover Beach free on Amazon, which will match Apple’s price if we nag it often enough.  The idea is to go down to the place on the Amazon page for Dover Beach where it says “tell us about a lower price” and enter the iTunes URL:


. . . and report that it’s selling there for $0.00.  You can keep doing this if you’re so inclined, and eventually through the miracle of our collective action Amazon will capitulate.  Thanks!


A Brief FAQ on Dover Beach and The Distance Beacons

These are private eye novels that take place after a nuclear war of some sort.  Is this some kind of weird SF subgenre?

Beats me.  They weren’t based on anything I read, and I haven’t subsequently read anything else like them.  This is surely not the most commercial concept anyone has ever had, as the folks at Bantam let me know.

What possessed you to write them?

I became fond of the narrator, Walter Sands, and his narrative voice. He is not a very good private eye, but he wants to live his dream, in spite of the obvious obstacles to it.  And I liked his friends.

What’s the difference between the two novels?

Dover Beach introduces the post-nuclear world and Walter’s relationship to it.  The Distance Beacons focuses on one aspect of this world: what kind of government do people want or need, after the old government has apparently failed so miserably?

I liked Senator.  Will I like these novels?

I dunno.  They all have twisty plots.  They all take place, mostly, around Boston.  So there’s that.

I hated Senator.  Will I hate these novels?


What are the details of the nuclear war that took place before the action of the novels?  It’s never described.

I dunno.  I don’t think it’s all that important.

Will we see more of Walter Sands and this world?


Dover Beach and The Distance Beacons ebooks now available!

These two novels have arrived at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  They’ll show up at other sites, like iBooks, shortly. Dover Beach is available for the minuscule price of $2.99, and The Distance Beacons for the only slightly less minuscule price of $3.99.

Here are the links for Dover Beach on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  And here is the cover, designed by Jim McManus:


A description of Dover Beach, along with its first chapter, is here.  Previous posts that talk about Dover Beach are here and here.

Its sequel, The Distance Beacons, is also available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Here is its great Jim McManus cover:


Learn more about The Distance Beacons here.

I’ll have more to say about these novels, now that I’ve finally managed to get their ebooks out the door.