Books

FICTION

Strongwood

My latest novel, Strongwood, will be published in March 2014 by the University of Minnesota Press. It’s the story of a young women, Addie Strongwood, accused of murdering her former lover. Set in Minneapolis in 1903, the tale is presented in the form of a crime dossier, with excerpts from newspaper stories trial transcripts, letters, diaries, and Addie’s own account of what happened. Sherlock Holmes plays a key role in the case, as does Shadwell Rafferty, but the focus in on Addie, who stands trial on first-degree murder charges. A good read is guaranteed for all! A launch party will be held at the Once Upon Crime bookstore, at 26th St. and Lyndale Ave. S. in Minneapolis on March 27, 2014, at 7 p.m. Hope to see you there.

The Magic Bullet

Published in 2011, The Magic Bullet is a locked-room mystery featuring Shadwell Rafferty and a bit of  Sherlock Holmes as well. The University of Minnesota Press is the publisher.  Here’s an image of the cover, painted by my wife, Jodie Ahern.

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Also new in paperback from the University of Minnesota Press:

Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon

Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders

Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance

The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes

All five of my Sherlockian adventures have been now been reissued by the University of Minnesota Press in trade paperback editions. The first two, Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon and Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders, came out in 2011.  Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance and The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes came out in March 2012.

NON-FICTION

 

Once There Were Castles: Lost Mansions and Estates of the Twin Cities

A sequel of sorts to Lost Twin Cities, the book was published by the University of Minnesota Press in September 2011. It covers nearly 100 lost mansions in all and has more than 250 illustrations. I think readers will be amazed to see some of the grand houses that once stood in Minneapolis, St. Paul and their suburbs.

AIA Guide to Downtown Minneapolis

AIA Guide to Downtown St. Paul

AIA Guide to the Minneapolis Lake District
AIA Guide to St. Paul’s Summit Avenue and Hill District
Murder Has a Public Face: Crime and Punishment in the Speed Graphic Era
AIA Guide to the Twin Cities
Strange Days, Dangerous Nights: Photos from the Speed Graphic Era
Twin Cities Then and Now
Lost Twin Cities
The Curve of the Arch: The Story of Louis Sullivan’s Owatonna Bank

Fiction
The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance
Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery
Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders
Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon

Non-Fiction

murder Murder Has a Public Face: Crime and Punishment in the Speed Graphic Era (2008)
Forward by William SwansonIn the years after World War II, newspapers in the Twin Cities and elsewhere covered murder cases with an intensity and thoroughness rarely matched today in today’s press. Four sensational murders-three in Minnesota and one in western Wisconsin-are at the heart of this book, which follows each crime from the moment the victim is found, through the search for the killer, to the court trial and resulting imprisonment or acquittal. The cases, which occurred between 1947 and 1955, are copiously illustrated with black-and-white news photographs taken with the legendary Speed Graphic camera, which produced black-and-white images of startling clarity and depth.
Larry Millett: “One of the most surprising finds I made while researching this book is how frequently parents, usually the mother, killed their children during this time. In many instances these gruesome crimes received relatively little ‘play’ in the press, perhaps because they were so common.”
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aia-guide-millet AIA Guide to the Twin Cities (2007)
Thoroughly researched, meticulously written, and featuring 1,500 entries, this is the guide to the architecture of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It includes hundreds of photographs and more than 50 maps, all arranged in a handy guidebook format.
Larry Millett:“This guidebook book was a huge project, and though it’s bulky enough, it could have been much thicker. I was surprised to find that when I finally turned in the manuscript after three years of work, it came to over 300,000 words. I trimmed it by about a third before publication; even so, the book is nearly 700 pages.”
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strange-days-dangerous-nights
Strange Days, Dangerous Nights: Photos from the Speed Graphic Era (2004)
Forward by John Sandford
Life in St. Paul, MN, was mighty peculiar, and surprisingly violent, in the 1940s and 1950s. At least, that’s the way newspaper photographers of the time, armed with the large-format Speed Graphic cameras, often depicted it. Fat men’s races and fall-out shelters, murder victims and loose women, cheerleaders and immigrants, celebrities and children in distress, and horrendous car crashes were just some of the urban curiosities splashed across the pages of the local newspapers. Championed by acclaimed news photographers like Arthur Fellig (a.k.a. Weegee), the Speed Graphic camera produced a new visual style that was as blunt, powerful, and immediate as a left hook.
Larry Millett:“I grew up in the 1950s, and even though the subject matter of this book is sometimes sad and grisly, I found the old news photographs from the archives of the St. Paul Pioneer Press to be endlessly fascinating. Writing a brief story to go with each photograph added to my appreciation for the work of the newspaper’s photographers, some of whom were real artists.”
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twin-cities-then-and-now
Twin Cities Then and Now (1996)
Published in 1996, Twin Cities Then and Now is a look at the dramatic evolution of landscapes in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Seventy-one historic photographs are paired with new black-and-white photos by Jerry Mathiason to provide superb visual comparisons between then and now. Lively, informative essays examine the often astonishing changes wrought by time and circumstance. Maps and detailed informational graphics provide orientation and identify hundreds of significant buildings and places in the photographs.
Larry Millett: “Sifting through the historic photographs that make up the ‘then’ of this book was a true labor of love. I also enjoyed working with Jerry Mathiason, whose new photos are superb. I can still vividly remember the cold winter day when we climbed to the roof of the St. Paul Cathedral—no small feat—so that Jerry could take one of the last of his comparison photos.”
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lost-twin-cities Lost Twin Cities (1992)
Featuring hundreds of historic photographs and a richly detailed text, Lost Twin Cities provides a one-of-a-kind look at vanished places and buildings in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. The book is now in its seventh printing and has sold over 20,000 copies since its publication in 1992.
Larry Millett:“Lost Twin Cities will probably always be my ‘magnum opus.’ It took five years to research and write, and I doubt I’ll ever be able to spend that much time on a book again. A video based on the book still appears every so often on public television in the Twin Cities.”
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curveofthearch
The Curve of the Arch: The Story of Louis Sullivan’s Owatonna Bank (1985)
This book is a thorough history of the magnificent bank designed by the great Chicago architect Louis Sullivan and his draftsman, George Elmslie, in Owatonna, MN, in 1908. It’s out of print but copies can usually be found through used book sellers on line.
Larry Millett:“This was my first book, published in 1985, and it remains among my personal favorites. I’m hoping that the Minnesota Historical Society Press will be able to undertake another printing at some point down the road.”
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Fiction Books


dissherlockholmes
The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes (2002)
This mystery takes Holmes on a chase across continents and on a labyrinthine journey into a criminal mind of extraordinary calculation and malice. A letter, written in a secret cipher he knows all too well, tells Holmes that Abe Slaney, a vicious murderer he once captured, seems to have risen from the grave and kidnapped the beautiful widow whose husband he shot dead years earlier. The case careens from London to New York to Chicago as Holmes, with help from Dr. Watson and Shadwell Rafferty, tries to save the widow and bring the criminal’s reign of terror to an end.
Larry Millett:“I wanted this to be a fast-paced story that would keep Holmes on the run and in constant jeopardy. I particularly enjoyed writing the railroad scene in the Pennsylvania mountains, where Holmes finds himself in perhaps the worst predicament of his career.”
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secretallianceholmes
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance (2001)
On the eve of President William McKinley’s visit to Minneapolis in 1899, a gruesome crime draws the attention of Shadwell Rafferty, St. Paul’s best known private investigator. A young union activist has been found dead, strung naked from a tree outside a ruined mansion. Around his neck a placard bears the ominous words: THESECRET ALLIANCE HAS SPOKEN. Rafferty plunges into the case with his usual gusto, but finds more questions than answers. Was the murder the work of the union-busting Citizens Alliance or of anarchists? Was the victim linked to an empire of corruption controlled by the city’s slippery mayor? And how did the young man come to possess a photograph of a prominent citizen in sexual congress? As the puzzle deepens and the dangers mount, Rafferty is joined, just in time, by his old friends Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.
Larry Millett:“The Secret Alliance is probably the darkest and most densely plotted of my mystery novels. It was originally written strictly as a Shadwell Rafferty adventure, but the publisher insisted on bringing Sherlock into the mix. I’d be the first to admit that the result is bit awkward in places, but I think the story as whole stands up well and it’s one of my favorite books in the series.”
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shrunestonem
Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery (1999)
In 1899 Holmes and Dr. Watson are sent to Minnesota—this time at the behest of King Oskar II of Sweden—to solve an unusual mystery. The king had heard of a rare Viking artifact and hopes Holmes can use his expertise in runic writing to render an opinion on the authenticity of an inscription found on a stone dug up by a farmer in the western part of the state. Before long, however, the hapless farmer in murdered and the stone vanishes. In this singular case, Holmes’ soaring imagination is complemented by the talent of Shadwell Rafferty, who accompanies the great detective through a maze of intrigue and villainy.
Larry Millett:“This book is based on the famous Kensington rune stone, discovered near a small Minnesota town of that name in 1899. The stone’s carved runes tell the story of a band of Vikings who reached the area in 1362 only to be attacked by Indians. The stone remains a source of controversy to this day. Most archaeologists and historians regard it as a fake, but other investigators continue to argue that it’s the real thing.”
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sherlock-holmes-and-the-icepalace
Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders (1998)
The year is 1896 and Sherlock Holmes and his esteemed companion, Dr. John Watson, have once again been summoned to Minnesota, where winter holds the “dead tough” city of St. Paul in its icy grip. After pursuing a murderous arsonist in 1894, the pair return to face an even more chilling villain in suspenseful tale of cold-blooded murder. This book introduces Shadwell Rafferty—a saloonkeeper, bon vivant and amateur detective who proves to be a worthy rival to Holmes. Before long, Holmes, Watson, and Rafferty join forces in a perilous adventure that takes them from one frozen corner of the city to another, and even onto the treacherous ice of the Mississippi River, as they pursue a wily and ruthless killer.
Larry Millett:“My idea here was to go from fire (the Red Demon) to ice, allowing Holmes and Watson to ‘enjoy’ Minnesota at its most frigid. Shadwell Rafferty plays a big part in this story, which many St. Paulites in particular seemed to enjoy.”
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sherlock-holmes-and-the-red-demon-1
Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon (1996)
In the summer of 1994, a workman at the historic mansion of railroad baron James J. Hill in St. Paul, Minnesota, stumbles upon a long-hidden wall safe. When experts arrive to open the safe and examine its contents, they make an astonishing discovery in the form of a hand-written manuscript bearing the signature of John H. Watson, M.D. The manuscript turns out to be the story of how Holmes and Watson traveled to Minnesota in 1894 to find and stop a murderous arsonist, known only as the Red Demon, who is threatening both Hill and his Great Northern Railway. Holmes’ pursuit of the malignant and cunning villain behind the threats presents him with one of the most remarkable cases of his celebrated career.
Larry Millett:“This book was my first stab at a Sherlockian adventure and I had great fun writing it. The basis for the story is the Hinckley, MN forest fire of Sept. 1, 1894, in which more than 400 people died. I incorporated a number of real characters and many real events into this tale.”
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Other Writings
Foreword to Richfield: Minnesota’s Oldest Suburb, by Frederick L. Johnson, Richfield Historical Society, 2008
“The Brewer’s Son,” (a short story featuring Shadwell Rafferty) in Twin Cities Noir, Akashic Books, 2006
Foreword to St. Paul’s Historic Summit Avenue, by Ernest R. Sandeen, University of Minnesota Press, 2004.
Foreword to the National Register of Historic Places in Minnesota: A Guide, by Mary Ann Nord, Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2003.
The Mystery of the Jeweled Cross (a chapter book featuring a Shadwell Rafferty tale), Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, 2002

“To find more exciting books from Larry Millett visit the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) Shopping center website at http://shop.mnhs.org/