Greg Messel has written four novels and three unpublished memoirs. He published his premiere novel “Sunbreaks” in 2009, followed by “Expiation” in 2010 and “The Illusion of Certainty” in 2011. “Last of the Seals” is the first in a series of mysteries which are set in 1957 San Francisco. The second book in the series “Deadly Plunge’ will be published around Christmas of 2012. Greg grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and has had a newspaper career as a columnist, sportswriter and news editor. He won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist while working for a daily newspaper in Wyoming. Greg also spent many years in the corporate world as a Financial Manager. He now devotes his energies to writing at his home in Edmonds, Washington on the Puget Sound just north of Seattle, where he lives with his wife, Carol.
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It was great fun. I’ve never written a mystery. It was really challenging and a new experience. I was pleased with the result and it seems that readers and reviewers have reacted very favorably to it. I love the characters and the time period and place. San Francisco in 1958 in a very exciting and interesting place. Readers seem to really like the nostalgic aspect of the story.
How did you come up with the title?
The San Francisco Seals were a Pacific Coast League team that was displaced after the 1957 season. The Seals were just one level below the big leagues. The end of the Seals came when the major league Giants moved from New York for the 1958 season. The time period of the story is 1957 as the Seals and the main character Sam Slater play their final games in San Francisco. Sam is at the end of his career. In the fall of 1957 it was the “last of the Seals” but in a way Sam was the ‘last of the Seals.”
Can you tell us more about your main character, Sam Slater?
As a teenager, Sam was a baseball phenom and was signed by the Boston Red Sox right out of high school. But Sam’s career is interrupted by World War II and he is part of the landing force at Omaha Beach on D Day. Sam also fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Sam’s baseball abilities are never quite the same after the war. As his baseball career is ending in 1957 he plans to join the private detective agency of his best friend Jimmy Jankow. But Jimmy is suddenly murdered and Sam is thrust into a series of mysteries which he feels ill prepared to cope with. It is then that he meet Amelia Ryan who changes his life.
What are his strengths and what are his weaknesses?
Sam is a very admirable character and is the kind of guy who is admired by men and loved by women. He is very brave and loyal. Sam is often reminded by his friends and Amelia that he doesn’t need to take on all of this problems alone. Sam has had a lot of hard knocks and has become something of a loner. Amelia is always reminding him to let others help him with his challenges.
What about Amelia Ryan? Can you tell us more about her?
Amelia is a beautiful 25 year old TWA stewardess. Amelia has always had a sense of adventure and wants to experience as much of the world as possible before she settles down to become a 1950s housewife. Amelia is often told that she looks like Grace Kelly. It is her classic beauty that enchants Sam Slater from the first moment he meets her. Amelia has had many pursuers over the years and is constantly fighting off grabby passengers at work. However, when she meets Sam she falls deeply in love with him. She also loves helping him solve the mysteries he faces as a private eye.
Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?
Sam’s friend and old Army buddy is Vince Marino is a street-tough San Francisco Police Detective. Vince helps Sam and advises him as he tries to solve the mysteries he encounters. There is also the Ryan family, Amelia’s large Irish Catholic clan, who is very interested in her new romance. The men in the Ryan family are big baseball fans and are star struck by Sam and his baseball stories.
Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?
This episode occurs just before Jimmy’s death. It is the last time the three friends are together before the murder. The three Army buddies meet for dinner and then are going to some boxing matches together. It reveals much about their relationship before everything suddenly changes.
What about page 65?
Sam is adjusting to his new role as a private eye. He goes into the office and meets with his secretary Janet. Someone ransacked the office while they were at Jimmy’s funeral. Sam and Janet are puzzled as to why someone would tear their office apart. What were they looking for?
Now that Last of the Seals has been published, what’s your next project?
I’ve finished writing the second book in the series as a sequel to “Last of the Seals.” It is called “Deadly Plunge” and takes place in 1958. Sam and Amelia encounter a rich, seductive socialite who wonders why her husband suddenly jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. There’s also a mysterious house where shadowy characters come and go. “Deadly Plunge” will be out around Christmas. I’m also beginning work on the third book in the series “San Francisco Secrets.”
Do you have anything you’d like to tell our readers?
I hope you will give “Last of the Seals” a try. Some readers wonder if it’s a baseball book or is it a romance or is it a mystery? It’s all three and I think it should appeal to a wide range of readers.