Monday, April 9, 2007

Michael Allen Dymmoch's "Death in West Wheeling"

Michael Allen Dymmoch's most recent novel is Death in West Wheeling.

The story:
When a teacher disappears from a local missionary school in the rural town of West Wheeling, acting sheriff Homer Deters investigates. Before long, he's got three more missing persons: local ne'er-do-well Ash Jackson, a pregnant teenager, and an ATF agent on Jackson's trail. Further investigation turns up the bones of a murder victim in Goode Swamp and a second corpse dumped by the highway. Homer must determine just whose remains these are, and who — if any — among the missing might be their killer. The investigation is complicated by a car theft, a twenty-three vehicle pileup in the center of town, a missing pet tiger, and the arrival of more ATF agents in search of their vanished colleague. With no help from the feds, Homer turns to his moonshiner buddy, Rye Willis, and the town's eccentric postmistress, Nina Ross. Their aid and his own nose for the truth enable Homer to locate the missing, identify the bodies, and bring a murderous impostor to justice.
So who would the author cast in a film adaptation?
Though he drives a modern squad car and sends evidence to the state crime lab, Homer Deters, the Sheriff of mythical Boone County, is a throwback to the strong, silent western hero common in movies when I was growing up. He’s principled, good natured and resourceful. He doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve, but he isn’t afraid to go after the girl.

Homer’s no clown, but some of the situations he gets into are hilarious. So the actor who portrays him has to be able to do comedy.

Death in West Wheeling took only three months to write, but nine years to sell. I finished the first draft in 1997. Ever since Starman, I’d been a great fan of Jeff Bridges; his was the face I saw when Homer first came to me. Back then, Jeff’s brother Beau would have been perfect for the part of Homer’s buddy Rye Willis. And I would have cast Meg Ryan for the part of Nina Ross, the eccentric postmistress.

Tempus Fugit. Jeff Bridges is now old enough to play Homer’s predecessor, Sheriff Rooney, and Meg Ryan could be Homer’s ma. If I were casting the parts today, I’d tap Owen Wilson to play Homer, Kristen Bell — who does tough and chutzpah so well — for the part of Nina, and Woody Harrelson — my second choice for Homer — to be Homer’s friend, Rye.
Read the results of the Page 69 Test for Michael Allen Dymmoch's White Tiger.

Learn more about Michael's books, and check out The Outfit, a group blog powered by her and six other Chicago crime writers.

--Marshal Zeringue