Ashland, Or.  June 20, 2005

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Researching Postwar Seattle: Curt Colbert Merges Fact and Fiction into Mystery


Curt Colbert

Curt Colbert revels in historical research. So much so that his mystery series featuring WWII veteran Jake Rossiter and his lovely sidekick Miss Jenkins, presents a realistic, historically accurate and memorable 1940s Seattle. Now on tour with his third mystery, Queer Street published by Uglytown in 2004, Colbert will present "Researching Postwar Seattle, the Merging of Fact and Fiction into Mystery" at the next meeting of the Ashland Mystery Readers Group on Thursday, July 14th, 2005, 7pm at the Ashland Public Library.  Ashland Mystery Readers Group events are open to the public and there is no charge to attend.


Colbert will also sign and speak at Barnes and Noble in Medford on Saturday July 16th from 3-5p.


Colbert takes on the hard issues. You know, the ones that no one wants to talk about -- police corruption, the abuse of the city's Asian residents, a man's fear of violence and most recently, sex clubs -- in 1940s Seattle.  These noir mysteries are filled with the darkness of despair and the mean city streets. The way Seattle really was at that time in history.


Place, setting and dialog make Colbert's books a real pleasure to read.  You'll enjoy the fact that you'll recognize Seattle as it was in 1945 -- poor Italians live in the Ranier Valley’s Garlic Gulch. Downtown, Little Tokyo transitions into Chinatown and the intrigue set in this neighborhood provides more insight into the warren of tunnels in underground Seattle. The city’s 1940s edge is defined with the Edmond Meaney’s red and green neon signs flaring from the hotel’s 29th floor at 45th and Brooklyn.


Sayonaraville was Colbert's second mystery, published in 2002.  In Sayonaraville, Jake Rossiter and Miss Jenkins run afoul of cops and others to victimize Japanese-Americans only recently returned to their community at the end of the war. There is great historical background on the all Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team and those held in internment camps. 


Rat City was Colbert's first mystery and a Shamus Award nominee. Published in 2001, Rat City also centers around police corruption. Seattle worked hard in the middle of the last century to rid itself of this distasteful nickname and the reputation it suggested at the time.


Colbert's books are published by Uglytown of Los Angeles and the books are remarkably well designed and printed -- they are wonderful works of art in and of themselves. The books are shorter than the average trade (Queer Street was published in hard cover) and have wonderful period photographs on the inside and outsides of front and back covers.  The type face used on the covers remind the reader of old time newspapers and poster bills.


The Ashland Mystery Readers Group meets monthly on second Thursdays, usually at the Ashland Public Library, hosting mystery writers and readers.  The series is sponsored by the Friends of the Ashland Public Library, Bloomsbury Books and Keller William Realty of Southern Oregon. 


The Ashland Mystery Readers Group also produces the cable access television show Ashland Mystery, rvtv noir, hosted by Maryann Mason who interviews the visiting mystery writers. Ashland Mystery, rvtv noir airs Wednesdays at 7:30 pm on Cable Channel 31 in Jackson County, Cable Channel 15 in Josephine County and Cable Channel 95 on AFN. For more information contact Maureen Flanagan at 541-552-0743 or visit the group’s website