James John Magner
The Tucson Novels are Historical Fiction. I believe such a genre should hang on a skeleton of facts and romp through imagined adventures that are possible if not probable. The skeleton of fact may have some debatable cartilage or an occasional bone to pick, but while these are not scholarly tomes, I have stayed close to history. There are no footnotes, just smiles. They are intended to be a fun read—with social commentary smuggled in from time to time. Nothing heavy. They are, however, about how life really was “back in them days” with real humans, flaws & all—not romantic fantasies.
The Tucson Novels:
The Dead Man on the Corner”
As my late years scramble by, I have found it wonderfully pleasant to visit a mere blink of time that was, as scholars say, my formative years. The early 1950s. These were a few moments in the dizzying expansion of Tucson, Arizona.
I settle into recollections of life as it was: the neighborhood gang of rowdy kite fighters, the “Sky Pirates,” the incredibly cute but catty swimming pool girls, the old storytellers, the mostly absent parents, the local bad guys, hoodlums and cheats, and of course the dead man we found on the corner.
“John Dillinger and Geronimo: the War in Skeleton Canyon”
I start with the toughest and most illustrious hombres of the Old West. They live in the memories of “Tom” who came to Tucson as a boy in the 1890s. It is 1953. He is putting his recollections on paper for the O’Briens, his neighbors. They are captivated by the stories and charmed by their living room discussions with Tom and his old friend, Niño Cochise, the Apache.
The “Sky Pirates,” the rowdy neighborhood kids, push themselves into the saga with their discovery of bones buried in the nearby desert. This reminds Tom of his encounter with John Dillinger, Public Enemy #1, and his merry men in Tucson in January, 1934.
Niño goes back to his mountain rancheria in Mexico to die but encounters Dillinger with a new identity. The ex-gangster pulls him into a deal to sell Spanish treasure to the mafia through a crooked Highway Patrol captain. Warriors of old come alive through incantations and things get wild from there. They put ancient hostilities and personal vendettas aside to ride one last time to battle the evil ones.