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Paperback Ticket to Ride Book

ISBN: 0373267290

ISBN13: 9780373267293

Ticket to Ride

(Book #8 in the Sam McCain Series)

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Like New


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Book Overview

Against this background McCain tries to enjoy himself during the long Labor Day weekend party the town sponsors every year, reuniting with several old friends who appeared throughout the first six... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Ticket to Ride and I'm climbing onboard.

This is the first Sam McCain book I have read and what a pleasure it was. All of Ed Gorman's novels are a treat to read. You enter a world that is mostly filled with benevolent, well-drawn non-stereotypical characters. And then Ed throws in the monkey wrenches that set that peaceful world on its ear. There is murder and mayhem but you are never offended. We have a gentleman here. And then he sets things right in a humane and compelling way. Especially fun for me were the sixties touchstones-and I really admired the way he caught it on the cusp of a new era-and captured it without overplaying its markers. Sam McCain feels young, vibrant and on the edge of adulthood himself. What I liked most about Ed Gorman's books is his obvious admiration and enjoyment of women. This is unusual in the books I read. His women are rarely shrews or nags or harpies. All of them seem like a romance or an adventure is just within their grasp--young and old.

Iowa and Beyond

This installment of the Sam McCain lawyer cum detective series is set in the summer of 1965, the Dodge Dart Era. The story literally opens with a bang. The minister and a police officer are respectively described as a rube and a crackpot and the epithets are quite apt. Sam organizes an anti-Vietnam War peace rally in Black River Falls, Iowa. The gathering is held in a local church and people with different perspectives are given a forum in which to speak. An hour and a half into the meeting, Sam is ready to call it a day and attend a movie. No sooner had he made this decision when the town bigshot, one Harrison Doran takes the floor and is beaten by a local war hawk. The hawk, Lou Bennett lost his son in Da Nang Vietnam in late 1964 and is a rich scion of a prominent family in Black River Falls. The mood turns ugly and ironically, the peace rally turns into a violent free for all. Bennett slugs Doran, and within hours Bennett is discovered dead. Sam cannot abide Doran, the loudmouthed braggart and "show boater," as Sam calls him, but the town's young people idolize Doran. Many of the town's young people are seeking to spread their wings far beyond Iowa and get different perspectives and learn about different parts of the world. True to the largely sexist sentiments that sadly prevailed even in 1965, Sam lets a pretty face and beguiling entreaties from a woman he is interested in sway him into defending Doran. In so doing, Doran's mask comes away and leaves everyone doddering and befuddled from the shock. In time more masks would be pulled off. The reverend is exposed for the trickster, huckster and bigot that he is. He is also a prophet - he organizes Beatle burning rallies one year before John Lennon's infamous comment about the Beatles' popularity exceeding that of Jesus in 1966! The Pharisee in minister's clothing is indeed a crackpot, a false prophet and a fool. He believes rock and roll is evil and still believes Elvis is the embodiment of leading youth to ruin. Instead, he leads the town to ruin by trying to take away their rights to own and enjoy the Beatles and other talented artists of the day. In fact, that idiotic reverend is everything he claimed the Beatles and other artists were! Clifford Sykes Jr. is indeed a rube and a moron on the police force. He does nothing to raise the average of the town's IQ level and his inanities and boorish bullying ways do not enhance the image of the town as a whole. Sam, however remains a delightful force to be reckoned with and taken seriously. He describes the motley crew of eclectic characters in his community, such as his not too bright secretary who types with two fingers at best and can't file to save her life; his barber and the regulars who chew the fat at the local barber shop; the families in Black River Falls and the largely conservative sentiment that remanis a dominant force in that town. This book is genuinely funny. Sam is a brilliant character with hilario

Ticket to Ride

The year is 1965 - a turbulent year across the cities of the US. There is an unpopular war going on in a place called Vietnam, and in the small Iowa town of Black River Falls, Sam McCain has helped organize an anti-war rally. A small affair, drawing only about 30 people, it is nonetheless polarizing, and when the wealthy and influential Lou Bennett, father of a casualty of that war and a war hero in his own right, takes the microphone to assert his rage against the protesters, things take an even more dramatic turn. For later that night, on the grounds of his estate, Bennett is stabbed to death. McCain, a local attorney now in his late twenties, has a p.i. license and is an investigator for four-times-married Judge Esme Anne Whitney. Sam lovingly refers to her as the Ice Maiden, and says of her "for a striking woman of noble bones, she had the ability to suddenly turn into Joseph Stalin when she threatened you." She is a well-respected member of the judiciary in Black River Falls, a town where everyone knows everyone else, and has known them all their lives. Sam becomes involved in the investigation into Bennett's death in both capacities, as his former girlfriend implores him to absolve the man arrested for the crime - a celebrity of sorts who was the main attraction at the rally, and who is not coincidentally now her lover. The residents of Black River Falls are just as quirky and charming as one might expect. Sam's good friend, Kenny Thibodeau, for example, who knows more about everyone in town then almost anyone else, and is described as "our town's soft-core pornographer and writer of tall tales for men's magazines," and whose high-school heroes were Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Then there is the local minister who rails against "commies" in the community on his radio show, considers Elvis Presley the anti-Christ, and holds ceremonies where books and records by the Beatles and Rolling Stones, among others, are to be burned [and which go hilariously awry]. On a darker note, the mystery broadens when a fire two years prior, which killed a beautiful young woman and was deemed accidental, appears to have been less than accidental. The writing is wonderful, e.g., "The temperature was July, but the slant and quality of sunlight was autumn, the golden color thinner and not as burnished. I used to hike in the woods, and I became aware of how different the sunlight is season to season. I once tried explaining this on a first date. Can you guess why there wasn't a second date?" The political issues are presented clearly, but the writing is not preachy, and the present-day relevance is inescapable. It had been a while since I read a Sam McCain book, and I fervently hope it will not be too long before there is another. Highly recommended.


The eighth, and reportedly last, Sam McCain novel opens in 1965 at a Vietnam peace rally in Black River Falls, Iowa. The rally is held in the local Presbyterian Church and after 90 minutes of the same arguments--being spoken by different people--McCain is ready to leave the rally for the comforts of a double feature at the drive-in. But then as the newest local superstar, a pretty boy named Harrison Doran, is speaking a man takes the stage and asks to rebut the protestor's arguments. The man is not only the father of a casualty of war, his son died in Da Nang, but he is also a prominent and wealthy resident of Black River Falls. His name is Lou Bennett, and it doesn't take long for boos to start and the scene to turn ugly. There is an altercation between Doran and Bennett, and then later that night Bennett is found dead. Harrison Doran is the likeliest suspect. McCain doesn't like Doran, but he is enlisted to defend him, and it is a position that makes Sam less than popular amongst the mostly conservative population. TICKET TO RIDE is a real treat. It features all of the regulars; the town's pornographer, writer of sleaze, and McCain buddy Kenny Thibodeau, Judge Esme Anne Whitney, Jamie Newton--McCain's guileless, but less than competent secretary--and the obnoxious and usually wrong police chief Clifford (Cliffie) Sykes, Jr. Mr Gorman perfectly captures the essence of small town America and he does it with a subtleness that never succumbs to cliché or stereotype. His characters are living, breathing people, who are never clearly good or bad--he shows their humanity in brief and poignant moments of vulnerability, weakness, and strength. The plot is smooth and sharp; the prose is understated, readable and powerful-- "I wanted to say something smart, but his honesty surprised me. He was admitting that all the scorn hurt him. He had no right to tell me this, because, at least for the moment here, I had to feel bad about making fun of him all the time. Cliffie was supposed to be a cartoon. It pissed me off that he'd forced me to see him as a human being." The amazing achievement of TICKET TO RIDE is that it is written with a humor and innocent cynicism that allows the story a power of both place and time, and also a social commentary that is relevant for the story's Vietnam-era setting, as well as that of modern America. It is simple a brilliantly rendered private eye novel that is a wonderful addition to the series and the genre. -Gravetapping
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