No one has written a mystery novel set in the recycling world. So I did.
No, that’s not true. Maybe it is the first one, but I didn’t set out to break new ground, only to write a fun and fast-paced read in a setting that I found intriguing—the gritty and malodorous world of waste.
In Wasted, a “green noir” mystery, Berkeley reporter Brian Hunter investigates the “recycling wars,” finds the body of his friend Doug crushed in an aluminum bale, and hunts down the murderer, all the while trying to win the heart of Barb, Doug’s former lover, now a suspect in his murder.
But Wasted is not just another trashy mystery—it explores rich and resonant themes of reinvention, transition, and discarding that which no longer serves us. Part mystery, part love triangle, part midlife crisis, and part political satire, Wasted asks the age-old question: How do I act with truth and integrity, make the world a better place, and still get laid?
Earlier this month, I launched the book and website (greennoir.com), and hosted the first of nine readings. At the University of Detroit Mercy, I was surrounded by English professors for a panel presentation called “On Telling a Story and Getting Others to Read It.”
With UDM Professor Nick Rombes on one side of me, and retired UDM Professor R.J. Reilly flanking me on the other, I began by disavowing any presumption that I was writing literature. “I’m writing entertainment,” I said. “If there’s any literary merit in my books, that’s an fortuitous accident.” (You can read more in “Surrounded by English Professors.”)
The Wasted Author Tour continues in the Bay Area in October, with readings in Berkeley, Mill Valley, and San Rafael. Hope to see you at one of them.
John Byrne Barry