I well remember the time when I opened a box containing a mystery set around the Fourth of July only to have large pieces of glitter spray from the package. I was not a happy camper as the glitter landed on my dress, in my hair, and all over my desk. I was still finding glitter hidden on my desk on the day I left the newspaper.
And then there was the time I was at the newspaper around 10 at night, finishing up the weekly entertainment section. A box containing a book was rigged so that when it was opened fake spiders and netting made to resemble a web sprang out. I was even less thrilled.
So I thought the days of gimmicks were—fortunately—over.
But leave it to James Patterson to come up with a new idea.
If you have $300,000, you can buy his new novel Private Vegas and have quite an experience, too.
OK, to be fair, it won’t cost you $300,000—only $294,038.
For that, a reader—and, yes, only one reader—will get a copy of Private Vegas that will self-destruct 24 hours after the buyer begins to read it.
So better read fast!
The price tag, according to the website, also comes with a first-class flight to an undisclosed location, two nights’ stay in a luxury hotel, “a splendid reading space including perfectly chilled Champagne,” a pair of “gold, not golden” binoculars inside a fine-leather case engraved with Patterson's initials, and a five-course dinner with Patterson.
The buyer also will receive the autographed Alex Cross book series.
And if you prefer mixed drinks to Champagne, apparently that can be arranged. I would hope so. That much money would buy a lot of Grey Goose.
Details of how the book will be exploded are secret but it will involve a bomb squad. The video is pretty funny as it explains what may happen.
Only one “James Patterson Self-Destructing Book Experience” will be sold on “a first-come, first-served basis” and it is only for one person, according to the website.
The website also makes this statement: “We will use reasonable efforts to ensure the Experience is a happy and memorable one for you and your fellow guests for all the right reasons, however we cannot be liable for distress caused by circumstances beyond our control (including but not limited to the weather conditions).” There also are a lot of other terms and conditions.
So who would pay that much money for this experience?
Representatives of Little, Brown, his publisher, have stated that Patterson has friends who would not bat an eye at that price. And of course, what a conversation starter that “experience” would be.
OK, this is an interesting idea, but since it was announced on January 20, no one has bid on this book.
And for those of us who don’t have that kind of cash lying around the house, a regular old non-destructive copy of Private Vegas, which lists Maxine Paetro as co-writer, is available for under $30 in hardcover and as an e-book.
Patterson will be the guest speaker during Sleuthfest, the annual writers’ conference sponsored by the Florida chapter of the Mystery Writers of America.
Sleuthfest is February 26 to March 1 in Deerfield Beach, Florida, just a little north of Fort Lauderdale.
And remember, Sleuthfest is in Florida and it is February.
The Tony Hillerman Prize for a best first mystery novel is one of my favorite competitions to launch new authors.
It is sponsored by Thomas Dunne Books and Minotaur Books, imprints of St. Martin's Press, and Wordharvest, co-founded by Hillerman’s daughter, Anne.
The Hillerman Prize is awarded annually to the best debut crime fiction set in the Southwest, which gives readers a new view of this region. The prize has garnered a reputation for introducing excellent authors, whose novels also respect the memory of the late Hillerman, who died in 2008
Some of the previous authors have made my best-of-the-year debuts.
Andrew Hunt’s City of Saints, which won in 2012, is set in Depression-era Utah. Hunt’s novel shows that Salt Lake City in 1930 is an evocative setting to explore Utah’s history, its people, and how a person with a deep faith lives in an increasingly secular world.
Tricia Fields’ The Territory, which won in 2010, delivers an action-packed yet personal story about the infiltration of Mexican drug cartels in a small Texas town. Chief of Police Josie Gray is a fully realized character who fights the good fight against all odds.
I also enjoyed Roy Chaney’s 2009 debut The Ragged End of Nowhere, a story about modern Las Vegas that also works as a novel about the quest for identity as a man delves into the life of his estranged brother who recently died.
Last year, the competition introduced C.B. McKenzie’s Bad Country, set in Tucson, the Pascua Yaqui and Tohona O’odham reservations, and southernmost Arizona. And McKenzie is now up for an Edgar Award, which was announced recently.
The next author to bear the Tony Hillerman stamp will be John Fortunato, at left, whose Dark Reservations will come out in 2015.
According to his bio, Fortunato was a captain in the U.S. Army, Military Intelligence, who served at the Pentagon during the early part of the Global War on Terrorism. He is now a Special Agent with the FBI and has earned an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. A native of Philadelphia, he currently lives in Michigan with his wife and three daughters.
I’ve always thought that a series that keeps alive the spirit of the late Hillerman’s novels is a terrific idea. The Southwest is a fascinating region and this contest has maintained a quality in its selections.
Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee mysteries, set on the Navajo reservation, were the first “regional” mysteries to become national bestsellers. Hillerman, who died at the age of 83, was able to combine Navajo traditions and beliefs along with the stark beauty of the Southwest in involving plots.
Hillerman’s daughter, Anne, launched the first Tony Hillerman Writers Conference in 2004. And Anne Hillerman brought back Leaphorn and Chee in her novel Spider Woman’s Daughter in 2013.
The deadline for submissions to next year's competition will be June 1, 2015. For complete guidelines, visit www.hillermanconference.com.