Let me clear the air right off the bat. Technically, I'm a "fictional character." But I hate that label. It makes me sound so — I don't know — unreal. Bad assumption. I am as real as anyone who lives in LA. I get mail, I have fans, and a lot of people totally believe I exist. It's the same way they feel about Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny or Paris Hilton.
That said, let me explain why Marshall asked me to do the blogging today. He's working on the third book in the Lomax and Biggs series. The first book, The Rabbit Factory, put us on the map. Even I was surprised at how good the reviews were.
The second book, Bloodthirsty, has only been out a few weeks, and the reviews and the reader feedback are gratifying. I'm particularly happy with the way I'm developing as a character, and if you must know the truth, I get three times as much fan mail as my partner, Mike Lomax (which, by the way, makes us both happy).
Now for the blog. It happened years ago before Marshall even conceived of me, but I've heard it enough times to do it justice.
Killer Karp? The Cops Thought So.
Believe it or not, Marshall was held and questioned by the cops in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The charge: suspicion of murder.
Oh, young Karp was full of piss and vinegar back then. He was a hotshot kid burning up the track as an advertising copywriter. Note the terminology. I didn't say novelist, or author, or even screenwriter. He was an advertising copywriter. That's all.
He lived in New York City and despite the fact that he was dead broke and nobody needs a car in New York anyway, he was making monthly payments on a 1964 Mustang convertible. Dark blue, white ragtop, white interior. He thought it was super macho.
By the way, I did a little detective work, and I found out that a few years after he bought the Mustang, a film company rented it for a week for a movie they were shooting. The film: Boys in the Band. It doesn't get any more macho than that.
Anyway, Marshall decides he and the Mustang are going to take the ultimate road trip. A ride along The Mother Road, the world famous Route 66.
Marshall Gets His Kicks on Route 66
He convinces a friend from work to drive across country with him. Her name was Judy, so you get that friend is a euphemism. But they did work together, and if you're going to drive across country in a small car, Judy was a great choice. I'd rather not say why, just in case this is being read by people who are young, impressionable or less than open-minded.
A week before they take off, Marshall's wallet is stolen from his office. A few hours later it turns up, minus the little cash he had and his American Express card. No problem. Amex issues him a new card, and off he goes.
On the third night Marshall and Judy drive through Tulsa and they see it. The Camelot Hotel.
This picture doesn't do it justice. At night, all lit up, it was a spectacular sight. A palatial oasis along the barren stretch of Route 66. A medieval castle, complete with turret, massive iron gate, a moat and a drawbridge.
Prince Marshall drools. This is where he belongs. But despite his high opinion of himself, he's still on the low end of the advertising copywriter pay scale, and he doesn't have the money to stay at a pricey hotel, which over the years will bed down such luminaries as Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon (although never together). So he tells Judy that The Camelot is too touristy, and a real New Yorker would never set foot on its Oklahoma-hokey drawbridge.
They drive on down the road till he finds a much less ostentatious place to stay. He's told me that he doesn't remember where they ended up that night, but I'm sure it was low rent, something on the order of a Motel 3.
A few days later Marshall and Judy made it to LA. She flies back to New York with the promise to meet him in Chicago the following Friday so they can drive back home together.
Marshall stays a few days and nights longer in LA than he planned. He's told me why, and once again, I'm going to have to play the "not to be read by people who are young, impressionable or less than open-minded" card.
He's in a time crunch. He's got to be in Chicago to meet Judy on Friday night. That's 2,100 miles in three days. The first day he gets to Grants, New Mexico. It is not a fun trip. It's November and he's getting snow in Arizona, so a ten-hour drive takes more like eighteen.
The next day he decides to reward himself. Exhausted, he pushes for 700 miles. Destination: The Camelot Hotel in Tulsa.
He gets there about 9 pm. Tired, grungy, road weary. He parks the Mustang and enters the lobby. Lights are low, music is playing, cocktail glasses are clinking. Marshall definitely does not fit the profile of the neighborhood. He heads for the front desk. It's expensive, but to hell with the cost. Marshall will do what he always does when he's out of money.
He'll put it on his American Express card.
And that's when it all started to unravel.
-- to be continued -â€“
One brief comment off the subject: In Monday's blog Marshall offered people the opportunity to become a character in his next book. We've heard from such potential characters as Seymour Snatch and Ivanna Hump. Can Betty Bangzer be far behind? As a grown man with a high tolerance for sophomoric humor, I appreciate that the Powell's readers did not let us down. For a few thousand more names of that ilk, I offer you this link.
Keep those comments and emails coming folks. Someone with a real name is going to be a character in the next book.
All the best,
Detective Terry Biggs, LAPD
Books mentioned in this post
Marshall Karp is the author of Bloodthirsty: A Lomax & Biggs Mystery