David Daniel was born in Boston and grew up in Weymouth, on the south shore. His novel The Heaven Stone (1994), winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel contest and a Shamus Award nominee, introduced private investigator Alex Rasmussen, who has also appeared in The Skelly Man (1995) Goofy Foot (2004) and The Marble Kite (2005), all published by St. Martin’s.
In addition to nine novels, including Ark (1985), Murder at the Baseball Hall of Fame (‘96), and The Tuesday Man (‘91), Daniel has published more than 80 short stories (some of which are collected in Six Off 66 and Coffin Dust ) and is co-author of a college English text, Take Charge of Your Writing (Houghton Mifflin 2001). He has written 300 articles, book and music reviews. He has worked as a janitor, a carpenter, a tennis instructor, truck driver, and a “brain slicer” at Harvard Medical School. He teaches at Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School and is an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, where he has served as the Jack Kerouac Visiting Writer in Residence.
Daniel lives in Westford, MA with his family. He served as a consultant to Walter Salles’s forthcoming documentary on Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Dennis McNally, official historian of the Grateful Dead, declared Daniel’s suspense novel White Rabbit (2004) one of the best “Sixties’ trips” he’s taken. Reunion is his latest novel.
The Sixties — San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury, the Summer of Love. It’s a wistful memory for some, and it brings envious sighs for those too late to experience it. David Daniel vividly recreates that world and its legends in White Rabbit – and then injects a harsh dissonance into the flower children’s songs of peace, love, sex, and marijuana. It is easy to see that the collection of young people who gathered in San Francisco in those few summers could be tempting prey for a murderous sociopath. They discarded their real names, had no set address, hid from their families, were often stoned. And they took one another at face value, asking no questions.
The search for the killer leads to an unusual collaboration. Can a no-frills police officer, grieving for his dead wife, stepped down from homicide detective to vice cop, have anything in common with a young hippie woman who writes for an alternative newspaper and whose lover is determined to turn a demonstration for peace in Vietnam into a violent revolution? Both seek the killer, working from opposite ends of 60’s society, and mistrusting each other. Sparrow has his enemies in the SFPD; Amy has doubts about her lover’s plans for violent action. Both are aware that cooperation between them and the sharing of their special knowledge is their only option. By the breathtaking climax, where Amy herself becomes the target, it is clear to Sparrow that he must confront the killer and his own demons as well in order to save her, his city — and himself. Daniel has wonderfully captured the joys and frenzies of the Haight-Ashbury streets in those spirited days. For all of us who missed the Summer of Love, for whatever reason, White Rabbit is a fascinating trip, serial killer and all.
“Want to trip? Here it is: music, acid, weed, love, death . . . to the max!” Ray Manzarek, author of Light My Fire: My Life with the Doors
When Tom Knowles returns to the Massachusetts town where he grew up to help sell the family house and move his widowed mother, he finds his high school class is having its thirtieth reunion. Without much interest, he attends, and finds his boyhood friend “Brain” McLean still living up to his nickname; Brain has designed a holographic show made from old films of the pregraduation dance they had.
The show is cut short by a fierce electric storm, but Tom has already had enough time to get caught up in both the old days and the present lives of his classmates. Although he is eager to get back to Hollywood and learn the fate of a screenplay he has written, he becomes more and more involved, not only in the lives of his former friends, but in the town itself.
In a parallel narrative, David Daniel gives an insightful account of Tom’s adolescence: his dying father, his understanding high school teacher, and his contribution to the family by digging clams on the beach. Ultimately, Tom must choose where he will find his reality: in Hollywood or in the past?
“Intricately plotted and breezily spun out . . . smooth entertainment with acute observations.” Washington Post Book World
When a leading member of the Cambodian community in Lowell, Massachusetts, is murdered, a social worker commissions investigator Alex Rasmussen to disprove the police’s suspicion of drug involvement. A first novel. Winner St. Martin’s Press/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel contest.
“Just when you think the private eye novel has been done to death, along comes somebody like Daniel to breathe new lift into this tired old form. His story . . . is told in langue that is clever and fresh.” Providence Journal
In Goofy Foot, private investigator Alex Rasmussen, embarking on a rather routine search for a missing teenager, finds himself in cold water that couldn’t be hotter, as the simple task balloons into murderous surfers and a heart-stopping search for a killer.
“In the tough-guy tradition of Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain, (this book) has sharply drawn characters and a narrative flow that pulls like a magnet.” Bangor Daily News.
Private investigator Alex Rasmussen has loved carnivals since he was a boy, and what better way to enjoy one as a grown man than with a lovely woman at his side? As he and his date stroll along the midway, playing games of chance, the soft September night is torn by a scream. Rasmussen rushes to a nearby field to find a woman’s body in the weeds.
One of the carnival workers—a man with trouble in his past and a motive for murder—is arrested and charged with the crime. The lawyer hired to defend him retains Rasmussen to investigate. The police are convinced they have a clear-cut case, but as Alex probes, he finds a trail as bewildering as a funhouse mirror maze.
An outsider to the close-knit “carnies,” and shunned by the police department he once served, Rasmussen faces a client who refuses to talk, gangsters looking to exploit the carnival’s troubles, a mob of citizens bent on rough justice, and an elusive killer who seems to anticipate Alex’s every move.
When the investigation points to crooked cops, the defending lawyer abandons the case. Wisdom says Rasmussen should do likewise, but staying on has become a matter of honor. As a woman tells him, “We all end up in the graveyard, flying the marble kite.” The only question now is: When?
In the old city of Lowell (once the textile capital of America, now a husk of run-down mills), the streets have never been meaner. Beyond the flickering lights and the bright surfaces lies a shadow world where betrayal, deception, and violent death await.
Handsome and charismatic, Senator Tim Murphy has everything going for him–until a dual murder is connected to his campaign and threatens to ruin his candidacy.
“Murder mixes with politics in this first-rate thriller . . . a political chiller with overtones of The Manchurian Candidate.” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
Hired to investigate a series of hate letters that target an evening talk-show host, private detective Alex Rasmussen digs into the fading star’s past, where he discovers a wealth of suspects and their plentiful motives.
“As a guide through the mean streets, there is no richer character than Alex Rasmussen . . . . Like his city, he is a sublimely worn beauty. . . .” Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River and Gone Baby, Gone.
When one of its agents disappears while investigating rumors about the location of Noah’s Ark, a U.S. government agency called “the firm” sends Vietnam veteran Jeff Rivers to look for missing archaeologist Bruce Hansman and for Hansman’s daughter Eve.
While visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame, ex-cop Frank Branco witnesses the murder of a former major leaguer and begins an investigation that eventually leads him to a retired ballpark vendor and his many memories
“A first-rate crime novel, full of insights about baseball and the rest of life as well.” Peter Abrahams, author of The Fan and Hard Rain.
SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS
In the vein of Richard Matheson’s Shock collections and Stephen King’s Night Shift, Coffin Dust culls twenty plus of David Daniel’s short stories from the magazines where they first appeared. Varied in style and tone, these tales all possess, in the words of the late Theodore Sturgeon, “a touch of the strange.” Moody, atmospheric, and sharply drawn, they present ordinary people who find themselves drawn into odd little corners of life. Daniel’s previous works include White Rabbit, Reunion and The Marble Kite.
“[This collection] sits at the intersection of I-95 and oblivion. Let the reader beware.” -Kyle Minor author of In the Devil’s Territory.
David Daniel’s knack for mystery shines in these stories that are marked most by what details are left unwritten. Each piece is masterfully crafted, stunningly clear as it wanders off to end in defiance of expectation, but not of experience. In ‘Collecting,’ things go fast when an out-of-work family man takes to knocking over hoodlums rather than taking up the dole; but rather than escalate into a preachy and hackneyed resolution, his crimes stop just as quickly when he returns to his senses. ‘The Man Who Dreamed of Death’ doesn’t die and it doesn’t matter. These and the other Four Off 66 thrill for what Daniel reveals and obscures. We have not only to reflect upon what does or doesn’t happen in these stories, but also on the choices behind them and, finally, all the other ways that things could be.
“These stories are beautifully written, as hard and glittering as diamonds. But it’s in their strangeness that we recognize the vagaries of human nature—that we recognize ourselves.” Jay Atkinson, author of Legends of Winter Hill and Massacre on the Merrimack.