Bouncing between prison bars and bookstores

So last night I had the novel experience of meeting the man and author of a newly released novel from my ‘hood. So to speak. Introducing Mark Lindquist and his “The King of Methlehem.”

He enters the rear of King's Books, a large community-oriented used and new Tacoma bookstore with its two requisite fat cats, dressed in a dark suit, white shirt, jacket open and loose. Short hair gelled up comfortably. He seems tall, or perhaps it’s his easy but confident presence. On first impression, before he opens his mouth, you think poised prosecutor. Or movie star. He’s easy on the eyes.

In fact, he leads the trial team of the drug unit of the Pierce County prosecutor’s office. By day he brings down meth addicts, by night he writes descriptive tales of the underworld and pop culture.

Once he opens his mouth, you hear the prosecuting positives in him: articulate, intelligent, on the ball, quick. And the writer: observant, witty, descriptive, fearless.

Mark reads two chapters from his book. After the first sentence, I’m hooked. This guy can write … and he writes in a way that’s gripping, visual and escorts you directly into the underbelly of the meth labs and tweekers. “The King of Methlehem,” his fourth novel, is fiction interwoven with a bundle of nonfiction by one who’s been up close and personal with the realities of the dark streets.

The author has a good speaking voice — strong but not forceful, entertaining without sounding silly, pleasant, articulate. My only complaint is the accompanying bongo-playing by his sidekick, the deputy prosecuting attorney who’s also a recurring character in his novels. The dude is seated off to the side in beret and sunglasses producing impromptu beatings for dramatic effect. It’s not dramatic, it’s distracting. Within 10 minutes, I’m driven from my folding chair to another across the room.

After two chapters, the room’s opened to Q&A. I’m impressed with how he addresses the wide variety of questions ranging from the source of "tweekers" for meth addicts –  in the addiction, "they love to take things apart and put them back together … (to tweak) … you'll very often find carbeuretors in meth labs …" –  to the current migration of the meth problem from West Coast to East. He’s witty, quick with the quips, presents a command of information, is personable, confident yet never cocky or arrogant, personable. And oh, the colorful tales he could divulge in an all-nighter in a pub.

It must be something to produce a book, I also think, then speak on it and to a crowd that’s interested. And the interest is high, judging by the line that snakes through the old bookstore, waiting patiently to meet him or have him sign their hardbacks. Wow. It’s another world.

One person's view:

A new novel from acclaimed author Lindquist — a ripped-from-the-headlines look at the drug underworld, in which veteran police detective Wyatt James tracks a powerful methamphetamine distributor through a world of addiction, destruction, and madness.

And another's:
The King of Methlehem is so brutal and honest I could feel my teeth falling out as I read it. With street-tough prose and astonishing human insight, Lindquist takes you deep inside the racing, arrhythmic hearts of tweekers, leaving you bleeding and jonesing for more."

— Will Clarke, author of The Worthy and Lord Vishnu's Love Handles

I wish Mark all the best as he tours with “The King of Methlehem,” putting our county on the map with a gritty and compelling novel of the back streets of a gritty and compelling town.

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