Sentimental Journey: A Mike Lander Mystery

by Aaron H. Oliver

It was 1974, and our English class took a field trip to the movie theater around the corner. The picture, The Great Gatsby, featuring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in the primary roles as doomed sweet hearts reunited.  Sam Waterston’s narration as Nick Carraway set the tone for a story that weaved with ease and coolness on the silver screen.

Robert Redford & Mia Farrow from The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald’s novel had not been part of our literary curriculum, so it would be after seeing the film that I would read the novel. I still feel to this day that Francis Ford Coppola’s screenplay hit all the marks in capturing the simple complexity of Fitzgerald’s novel. While visually, the film enhances the wildness and mythical elements of the Jazz Age. I re-watched and re-read the movie and novel on numerous occasions.

Mannix Opening TV Graphic

While I was discovering the mysterious coolness of Jay Gatsby, I remained loyal to my television icons. My father and I never missed an episode of our favorite private-eye series – #Mannix. Unlike Gatsby, there was no pretense with Joe Mannix. He was a regular guy with an honest streak and a nose for trouble. We had been fans (and still are) since the characters Intertect days, and verbal battles with his boss Lew Wickersham.

Sentimental Journey Book Cover

Which brings us to today. Sentimental Journey is a mash-up, a melding of the themes of Gatsby and Mannix. Set in an around 1949, the story features a ghostwriter named, Nolan Cartwright, who finds himself the guest of a wealthy radio producer at his lakefront estate for the summer. When the producer, Jay Gadsden, is murdered, the naïve writer yearns for the truth, and hires investigator Mike Lander to uncover the secrets behind the homicide.

Mike wades through a tangled web that involves a doomed attempt to recapture lost love, the schemes of three cold-hearted and evil women, secret affairs, gangsters, the musings of an electric catfish, and the earth-shaking effects it all has on the country’s favorite radio adventure.

Sentimental Journey is not an epic. I wrote it as a suspenseful mystery that moves with the ease of a classic detective series from televisions golden years.


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