Det. Coffin to the rescue once again in Provincetown mystery sequel
By Melora B. North
Sun May 10, 2009, 11:30 AM EDT
PROVINCETOWN - Poet-author Jon Loomis is up to his murder magic again. With a new book on the stands, “Mating Season,” set in Provincetown, he takes the reader on a tour of the seaside village, marked with a murder here, a scandal there — in fact, lots of juicy scandals to whet the appetite of those who enjoy a tantalizing read.
Attractive, young Kenji Sole is found stabbed to death in her upscale home overlooking Provincetown Harbor. Wearing nothing but a transparent negligee, she is lying in a pool of blood that flows about her as freely as the many lovers who have passed over her threshold.
A young heiress, she is not just rich but a spirited vamp when it comes to matters involving men, especially married men, and hot, torrid sex that stretches beyond the boundaries of standard convention. A voyeur of sorts, she tapes her escapades. As you can imagine there are a lot of people who want to get their hands on the footage, and the escapades that ensue are often devious, sometimes bumbling and amusing, always cleverly executed at the hand of Loomis.
This book is part of a series that debuted two years ago with the publication of “High Season,” in which readers met Detective Frank Coffin and his trusty sidekick Lola Winter.
Coffin is a bit of a nerve case who has come back to the Cape to pick up the pieces of his detective work after a long stint in Baltimore where he has overdosed on murder. Deciding that his hometown of Provincetown will be a quiet place to recover from his panic attacks he is chagrined when he discovers that life does indeed go on, or not, at the tip of the peninsula. But he takes the murders in stride and in this second book appears to be overcoming some of his angst.
He is once again attracted to his sidekick Winter and must not only fight the evil in town but the little crush he has on her. Naturally, there are problems in that department as well. Number one, she is a lesbian engaged in a new relationship, and number two, he is involved with Jamie, with whom he is trying to have a child. And if that’s not enough on his plate, his mother has Alzheimer’s, is in a local nursing home and repeatedly, and successfully, keeps escaping only to be found in the most unlikely places at the worst times.
And then, of course, there’s interference from Sole’s father and his twinkie girlfriend who sports a pet monkey, a key eyewitness in this case that has Coffin floundering as the father puts the pressure on him. But pressure comes from the big wigs in the system as well. Could there be more to the story than the obvious? Coffin makes it his mission to get to the bottom of the mystery and you will too when you leaf through this book that promises surprises and an entertaining read.
Loomis, who now lives in Wisconsin with his wife and children, is no stranger to Provincetown; in fact, he has spent a lot of time here. Back in 1994-1995 he was a writing fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center and then returned again for another fellowship in 2001-2002. In addition, he ran the summer program from 1996 to 1998.
“I love Provincetown,” he says. “I’ve thought since first arriving at FAWC in 1994 that I wanted to set a novel there. It’s beautiful and odd and full of interesting tensions, and it seems to attract big personalities.”
It also attracts some delightfully quirky characters that may have inspired Loomis to concoct the totally fictitious characters in this book that have personalities as big as life.
“They’re figments of my warped imagination,” says Loomis. “Where that comes from is a question for my therapist.”
The ideas for the storyline are original but Loomis does admit that listening to life around him has added a colorful twist not only to the characters but to the flavor of the book.
“You can get a book’s worth of ideas just listening to conversations in Provincetown. One of my favorite things to do when I’m in town is to go up to the Top of the Pot after Friday happy hours and eavesdrop,” he says.
That said, Loomis is currently negotiating another Coffin mystery and has a couple of other book ideas percolating in his head. With two books of poetry under his belt, “Vanitas Motel” and “Pleasure Principle,” he is now also working on a memoir, “King of Hearts,” and another book of poetry, “End of Days.”
When not writing he is a college professor who enjoys playing the blues on his guitar and spending time with his family, and yes, he does like to visit the scene of the fictitious crimes whenever possible.
“I try to come out at least once a year for a week or two, more if I’m working on a book, but it’s tough with a full-time teaching job and young kids,” he says as the wheels turn in anticipation of his next Coffin whodunit.