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Jack Clark Books In Order

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Publication Order of Eddie Miles Books

Nobody's Angel (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Back Door to L.A. (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Nick Acropolis Books

Westerfield's Chain (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Highway Side (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dancing on Graves (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Hack Writing & Other Stories (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon

Written by Jack – a description of the Nick Acropolis novels, and then an unpublished memoir for the Eddie Miles novels. Thanks so much Jack!

Nick Acropolis is a private eye. Like many of his colleagues, he was once a real cop, a Chicago homicide detective. He was thrown off the force when he tried to cover for his partner’s–not-very-funny–practical joke. Now most of his business is helping other cops in trouble. His mission is to keep them on the police force, no matter how bad they might be. Nick see it as a bit of revenge to a police department who treated him unfairly.

Now I don’t want to scare you away. The books are not about bad cops. Westerfield’s Chain, the first book in the series, is mostly about welfare fraud. Highway Side is about a long haul trucker caught smuggling drugs. Dancing on Graves is about a case where Nick, as a homicide detective, sent a man to prison for a brutal murder. Years later, now in the private sector, he’s asked to reinvestigate that same murder.

There are bad cops in all three books but, with one exception, they are not involved in the main plot. They are there to add a bit of color, to show Nick’s bitterness, and also to add some black humor. Most of the incidents described came right out of the newspaper. You could put them all together under the headline: COPS DO THE DAMNEST THINGS.

Never one to leave well enough alone, I wrote a fourth Nick Acropolis novel: Nickel Dime Town. I also found an agent, after going years without one. When I sent him the book, he wrote back almost immediately. “There’s no way I can sell this,” he said. “Not in this climate.” This climate was the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Defund the Police movement, and a sudden distrust of the police in general. A private eye who worked to keep corrupt cops on the force was not something publishers were looking for. What’s funny here is that the book itself is about a corrupt and incompetent police department. So it actually sort of fit the climate.

But, being a true professional, I said, “Give me a couple of weeks.”

Nick Acropolis became Vic Gantes. He was also a former homicide detective who was thrown off the force. The big difference, he didn’t like to do cases where the police were involved. The same lawyer that Nick worked for in the other books, tries to get Vic to work for her, and he keeps turning her down.

But if you want to read the book, you’ll have to come to my office (by appointment only, please). The agent and I have parted company—which had nothing to do with the book. So now I’m thinking of self-publishing. If I do, I’ll have a decision to make. Should I turn Vic back into to Nick?

The plus is I would then have four books in the same series.

The minus: I kind of like this Vic guy.

Let me know what you think.

The Eddie Miles novels

By Jack Clark

I was a few months shy of my 40th birthday when a newspaper article caught my eye. It listed the peak age of certain professions. According to the story, novelists reached theirs when they were in their 40s.

I decided I would give fiction one more try. But I decided not to waste any more trying to write a detective novel. What did I know about being a private detective? Nothing—except what I’d learned from other writers. But I did know a bit about driving a taxi. I’d try a cabdriver mystery instead.

I didn’t want a story where the protagonist was just a thinly disguised version of me. I wanted to write something interesting. But what?

Five or six Chicago cabdrivers were getting murdered every year back then. So that would be part of it. My cabdriver had to become involved in that somehow. But what else? I needed another strand.

I spent weeks just scribbling down ideas. It wouldn’t be a standard amateur detective novel, I decided. Those always drove me nuts, where the cook suddenly figures out that someone was about to assassinate the president. My cabdriver would do a bit of investigating. But he’d get more wrong than right, like a normal person might.

If you were writing about Chicago, race had to play a major role, and not just because some drivers passed up black passengers. I needed more than that. And I needed more crime.

A group of young white suburban guys seemed to fit the bill. For the past few years, they’d been trolling the city in their van. They’d pick up black prostitutes who they’d then murder, mutilate, and dump. A guy scavenging for aluminum cans had found one of the girls left for dead on a deserted railroad right of way. It was her description of the van that led to the arrests.

What if my cabdriver was the one who found the girl?

And who was this cabdriver, anyway? I remembered something a fellow cabdriver–a disbarred lawyer–had once told me. “The great thing about the cab business is that it’s always there.”

It’s always there when you’ve been disbarred or divorced or otherwise left for dead. It was there when you had nothing else. It would give you a life. It was your life.

You could get behind the wheel anytime, day or night, and with a bit of luck you’d find someone who needed a ride. It might be someone with a real life or it might be another lost soul. It didn’t matter. It would pass the time and give you a destination and, just maybe, keep you from going insane. And that, I decided, would be my cabbie, Eddie Miles. He had to stay in the cab because he had nowhere else to go.

I sat down and began writing and within two days I knew I would finish the book. Was it the magic of being 40, the magic of actually knowing what I was writing about, or the magic of all that preparation?

I don’t have an answer. But nine months later I had a first draft of a novel called “Relita’s Angel.” I got notes from several friends and I went through the book front to back and wrote my own notes on just about every page. Then I sat down and pounded out a second draft.

My friend Carol, who had written and published several novels, told me that writing the book was the easy part. I soon found out just how right she was.

It took me a year or more to get an agent and then the agent spent the next year or two sending the book to various publishers and passing along their rejection letters and suggested rewrites. The biggest suggestion seemed to be: “You’ve got to get this guy out of the cab.”

But I wanted to keep him right there behind the wheel. I loved Eddie as if he were my alter-ego. And he was a bit, of course, but more than that he was a mix of many cabdrivers that I’d known, cabdrivers who weren’t writers or husbands or even old furniture movers; cabdrivers who had nothing but the cab.

After years of suggestions and half-hearted rewrites, I realized that the more I rewrote it, the more I was losing the book I loved.

I decided to self-publish.

This was years before Amazon or Create Space. I got a friend to do a cover drawing. Another friend laid out the pages on her fancy printer at work. I sent the entire bundle to a printer in Nebraska.

On the back cover I quoted from my rejection letters.

“There’s great Chicago background here, not to mention the unsettling evocative stuff of life in a cab…I very much enjoyed its grit and pacing…” Eamon Dolan, Harper-Collins Publishers.

“…I enjoyed reading Relita’s Angel a great deal…” Gary Fisketjon, Alfred A. Knopf.

“Relita’s Angel…had a hard-boiled quality that I thought was very effective.” Jamie Raab, Warner Books.

“I liked this a lot… The street from a cabbie’s-eye-view is very well rendered.” Peter Guzzardi, Harmony Books.

At the bottom of the page I went for a bit of truth in advertising by adding: “A Vanity Press Book.”

The books cost me $1.86 a piece, something like that. I decided to sell them for $5.00. I clipped one to a suction cup that I hooked to the windshield in my cab. Underneath I placed a few more in a wire basket sitting on the dashboard.

I didn’t want to push the book on people so I just waited for them to ask. It usually went something like this.

“Is that your book?”


“Could I take a look?”


“You wrote this?”

“Every word.”

“Are you selling it?”

“Five bucks.”

Sometimes the conversations would expand. I’d tell people I’d been writing for years. I’d talk about my experience trying to get the book published and with self-publishing. We’d talk about books we liked and other writers.

It was the rare shift when I didn’t sell at least two. One Saturday night I sold ten.

One night I came home from driving to find a message from one of my sisters on the answering machine. She was a professor on the East Coast. She was excited. She might have been a little drunk. Something about a party, my book, and a librarian. That was all I could understand.

I called back the next day. She’d been at a party the night before. When the host–this is the librarian–found out my sister was from Chicago she said, “My son just bought this wonderful book from a cabdriver in Chicago.” My sister asked if she could see it. The librarian went upstairs and returned with a copy of my book. My sister shouted, “That’s my brother’s book.” And pointed out her own name on the acknowledgement page.

I’d only been selling the book a few weeks, and already one of them had made it 1,000 miles.

The book show came into town at McCormick Place. I almost never worked the big convention center because I didn’t like waiting in line. But I figured with the entire publishing industry in town this was an exception.

Many of my everyday passengers never noticed my book. But everybody who got in my cab at the book show saw it immediately. There were two standard reactions. The first was pretty much the same as from a civilian: Is that your book?

The second reaction was total silence. Not a word beyond their destination. I could feel the fear emitting from the backseat: Oh, my god. If I say anything, he’s going to try to sell me that book.

One day three people climbed in at McCormick Place. They were heading for a downtown hotel and they were all having a great time. A woman asked, “Is that your book?”


“Can I take a look?”

“Sure.” I handed back a copy.

She looked at the cover, paged through a bit, then flipped it over and started reading the quotes from the rejection letters. She got to the last one. “Peter Guzzardi,” she said. “That’s my husband.”

“The son of a bitch rejected my book,” I said.

She read the quote aloud to her friends. “And then he probably said however…”

“Hey, hey, hey,” I said. “Why do you want to go into all that?”

We had a great time on the ride to the hotel. Once there, Peter Guzzardi’s wife asked: “How much is it?”

“I already sent one to your husband.”

“I’m sure it’s right on top of his desk,” she said, which brought another round of laughter.

In 2010 Hard Case Crime published a later version of the book now called Nobody’s Angel.

A second Eddie Miles novel, Back Door to L.A., was published in 2016. A third book, Rue Eddie Miles, is in the works.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Jack Clark

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