Monday, May 30, 2022

Voting and Other Criminal Acts

 Annamaria on Monday

What could be more topical in the USA right now than mystery stories about dirty tricks and voting!  Regular visitors to MIE have already met my friend James McCrone, who writes the Imogen Trager series of political thrillers. Today, he is joining in to tell us about a new anthology where all the stories involve party-politic shenanigans.  And about his entry into the mix.  Take it away, Jamie!


Elections matter. Certainly, they count. It seems almost quaint to suppose that the job of a political party is to make its case to the electorate and win the most votes. Particularly if you could somehow shrink the pool of voters, skew them in a way that might ensure a particular outcome, you could at least hold out the “election” result as a fig leaf of legitimacy. The anthology, Low Down Dirty Vote, vol. 3, “The color of my vote,” explores the terrifying reality of life at a global turning point: 22 tales of oppression and voter suppression—about the many ways anti-democratic forces try to shrink and skew the voter pool. It launched on May 15, and it will donate $10,000 to Democracy Docket, which is “dedicated to providing information, opinion and analysis about voting rights and more.” 

And it couldn’t be more timely. Links to where you can buy the book are below. 

My contribution to LDDV-3 was the story, “Nostalgia,” which shines a light on our national dysfunction—well, one of them—the strange, lingering belief that things were somehow better, fairer, more just in some bygone era. I began by wanting to write about the pervasive, creeping dissatisfaction I saw around me, borne of a societal amnesia, abetted by false narratives. A malaise that far too often erupts into anger and violence. I turned to a story about the mob that was giving me trouble.

In the story that became “Nostalgia,” a young, petty criminal can’t believe his good luck when he falls in with a paramilitary group he mistakes at first for the (re)nascent mob. In this world, each character lies to himself about the way things once were: “like they were all living together in some movie where the world still made sense,” the narrator says of the wannabes and dirty cops. And the narrator lies to himself. Until he doesn’t.

As I worked on rewrites of the story, I found that false nostalgia was the catalyst. It was interesting to consider that something more or less benign could be sinister, addictive, could distort and corrupt those who trafficked in it. I found myself pulling Docherty, by William McIlvanney, down from my shelf, chasing a quote I dimly remembered. Early in the book, the character Miss Gilfillan, unable to sleep, takes “a dose of nostalgia like a drug…” Nostalgia as drug was more apt than I knew as the story began to coalesce. 

Because they’re not the mob, they’re a reactionary group that’s taking over the drug trade to finance its attack on the government, an American Taliban. 

Low Down Dirty Vote, vol. 3 drew award-winning writers, and writers who are being published for the first time, from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences from around the globe. It features: Anshritha, Eric Beetner, Stephen Buehler, Patricia E Canterbury, Sarah M Chen; David Corbett, Jackie Ross Flaum, Katharina Gerlach, Barb Goffman, David Hagerty; myself, Camille Minichino, Ann Parker, Thomas Pluck, Miguel Alfonso Ramos; Ember Randall, Travis Richardson, Faye Snowden, Misty Sol; DJ Tyrer, Gabriel Valjan, and Bev Vincent.



LDDV-3: []

Democracy Docket: []




James McCrone is the author of the Faithless Elector series novels—Faithless ElectorDark Network, and Emergency Powers—“taut” and “gripping” political thrillers about a stolen presidency. His work has appeared in Rock and a Hard Place; Retreats from Oblivion: The Journal of NoirCon. His next novel, currently under review, is Bastard Verdict, a political thriller set in Scotland. He’s currently at work on a thriller set in Oregon’s wine country, a (pinot) Noir tale of corruption and murder, w/t Witness Tree.


He’s a member of MWA, Int’l Assoc. of Crime Writers, ITW, Philadelphia Dramatists’ Center and he’s the vice-president of the Delaware Valley Sisters in Crime chapter. James has an MFA from the University of Washington in Seattle. A Pacific Northwest native (mostly), he lives in South Philadelphia with his wife and three children.


You can learn more at  


  1. Thanks, James, for the heads up on your latest work, and arousing nostalgia for William McIlvanney. :)

    1. Thank you, Jeffrey. I have a signed copy of Docherty, which I treasure. During the fraught late teens and early twenties, my father and I "spoke" through novels that we'd recommend to one another, and McIlvanney was one of the chosen mediums for that exchange.

  2. A few years back I had the honor of meeting him at Bloody Scotland. Needless to say, an impressive soul.