Word S8.1 — What do detectives, mobsters, jazz musicians and fall have in common?

By Tom Maxedon
Published: Tuesday, September 6, 2022 - 7:08am
Updated: Sunday, September 18, 2022 - 11:59am

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What do detectives, mobsters, jazz musicians and fall have in common? Those are some of the themes we explore on the Season 8 opener of Word. It’s a podcast about literature in Arizona and the region.

Guest list

James C. Wilson has a recent offering in his Fernando Lopez series called, "The Dead Go Fast." 

James C. Wilson
James C. Wilson is author of many books, including the Fernando Lopez series.

In this novel, "Santa Fe artist Jimmy Mackey wakes up in his studio on Canyon Road with a massive hangover. His morning gets worse when a police cruiser pulls into his parking lot next to a strange car and even worse when police find a dead woman in the trunk of the car. The dead woman turns out to be the estranged wife of the Santa Fe mayor. The ultra-sensitive case winds up in the hands of retiring police detective Fernando Lopez, the only detective with enough experience to conduct the politically fraught investigation," according to an online review. 

Wilson makes his home in New Mexico and is a retired professor of English. For years he's been working with Lopez as a central character and has at least two more storylines in the pipeline featuring him.

T.J. English
T.J English is author of numerous works. His latest is "Dangerous Rhythms."

T.J. English is a noted journalist, screenwriter, and author of the New York Times bestsellers "Havana Nocturne," "Paddy Whacked," "The Savage City," and "Where the Bodies Were Buried." He also authored "The Westies," a national bestseller, "Born to Kill", which was nominated for an Edgar Award, and "The Corporation." His journalism has appeared in "Esquire," "Playboy," and "New York Magazine," among other publications. His screenwriting credits include episodes for the television dramas "NYPD Blue" and "Homicide," for which he was awarded the Humanitas Prize. He lives in New York City.

“This brilliant and courageous book lays bare an underside of our great American classical music — jazz — we must reckon with. Don’t miss it,” stated a review by to Dr. Cornel West.

"Dangerous Rhythms" tells the symbiotic story of jazz and the underworld: a relationship fostered in some of 20th century America’s most notorious vice districts. For the first half of the century mobsters and musicians enjoyed a mutually beneficial partnership. By offering artists like Louis Armstrong, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, and Ella Fitzgerald a stage, the mob, including major players Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, and Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, provided opportunities that would not otherwise have existed.

Even so, at the heart of this relationship was a festering racial inequity. The musicians were mostly African American, and the clubs and means of production were owned by white men.

English splits his time between New York and Albuquerque.

Sarah Stohr
The stacks at Rio Salado College Library, Tempe.

Fall is on the way soon and we have some reading suggestions for the season from Sarah Stohr who is faculty co-chair of Library Services at Rio Salado College in Tempe. The full list of suggestions include a rich mix of titles.


"Diary of a Misfit: A Memoir and a Mystery" by Casey Parks.
"Crying in the Bathroom: A Memoir" by Erika L. Sánchez.
"The Church of Baseball: The Making of 'Bull Durham'" by Ron Shelton.
"Night of the Living Rez" by Morgan Talty.
"Nightcrawling" by Leila Mottley.
"Carrie Soto is Back" by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

"The Kissing of Kissing" by Hannah Emerson
"The True Account of Myself as a Bird" by Robert Wrigley
"Woman Without Shame: Poems" by Sandra Cisneros

Thanks for your loyal following of Word. We’re back later this month with another episode.

In the meantime, send us an email with a comment or suggestion for a future guest or topic.

KJZZ is licensed to the Maricopa County Community College District and is a service of Rio Salado College.

Listen to this podcast about literature in Arizona and the region hosted by KJZZ's Tom Maxedon