Former Vermont Magazine editor writes crime drama in Boston | arts and culture
SUNDERLAND – Being followed by a car while walking alone on a dark night. A store that looked like excellent cover for an illicit trade. Time spent photographing fires, riots and protests.
These sites and experiences all sowed the seeds for former Vermont Magazine editor and publisher Philip R. Jordan’s debut novel, “As Crooked as They Come: Chicanery, Comedy and Disorganized Crime in Yesterday’s Boston Underworld.”
“I started thinking about it while commuting from home to the office and then I started writing things down,” said Jordan, from Sunderland.
According to a book synopsis, the crime drama follows a single mother — and innocent daughter of a third-generation criminal — who learns that her father’s connections to the Boston underworld led him to suspect an old enemy in the murder. of his sister. . She also discovers, much to her horror, that her mother has unwittingly agreed to play a role in the father’s revenge plot, the summary reads.
Michelle Boisse, former art director of Vermont Magazine and one of Jordan’s beta readers, said the book is more about the characters than the actual crimes.
“It’s full of colorful characters, much like Phil himself,” Boisse said. “And there’s a comedic touch.”
The vehicle following Jordan on a dark night ended up stopping next to him and the driver tried to sell him drugs, Jordan recalled. It was in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston.
“I realized I was in a part of town that was the center of chaos during Prohibition,” he said.
He attended college in the Boston area, where his novel is set. As a young journalist, he covered riots and protests with a classmate. His friend told the police that they were with a radio station and that Jordan was the station’s photographer.
“It was just as well that the cops never thought, ‘Why did a radio station have a photographer?’ said Jordan.
It was in this same neighborhood that he saw the store that looked like the facade of an illicit trade. Jordan said he started his book by creating the characters and imagining a variety of scenarios.
“It just took shape,” he said.
Once he got the story, he fleshed out the time and place by reading numerous crime books. He said the books by author Emily Sweeney particularly helped him refine the characters. He also found himself meeting individuals who fit his character ideas – a chain-smoking man at a gas station and a flight attendant who looked like Patty, his protagonist.
“I’m a people watcher,” he says. “I think you have to be if you want to be a compelling writer.”
“As Crooked as They Come” is available from Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Bennington Bookstore in Bennington and other independent bookstores, as well as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.