The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Monday, February 20, 2012

Of Mavericks and a Rose

In my mystery novel Blood Country the narrator and central character is Joe Rose, a Nashville side guitarist and private detective. When I was working on the book, I thought quite a bit about the car I wanted my guitar playing gumshoe to drive.

It may seem a little silly, but what kind of car a character drives is an important signal to the reader. Among other things, it can give the reader information about the character's values, his preferences, and his personality.

The cliche car for book and TV and movie heroes is the Mustang, usually a vintage model. I imagine that goes back to that great Steve McQueen movie Bullit in which he drove the hell out of a dark green one all over San Francisco.

I like Mustangs, but I didn't want Rose to be driving a cliche so the Mustang was out. What I wanted was something that would go along with his tough exterior/tender interior makeup, and something that would make a statement about his ordinariness (just plain Joe), his independence, and his individuality.

Camaros and Firebirds of that late '60s early '70s era are nice, but they just didn't seem right for Rose. I also like Pontiac GTO's but again, for some reason I couldn't picture Rose behind the wheel of one. Joe's cool, but a GTO would maybe be too cool for him. The early '70s Dodge Charger with its brutish hemi is a little more yeoman like in the cool department, which would be good for Joe, but the name itself would suggest that it's the steed for some kind of white knight dude, which Joe is definitely not. At least the knight part.

As I was thinking this over, I remembered a car my son had owned when he was stationed at Shaw AFB in South Carolina in the early '80s. A nice Maverick two door with 302 V8 engine that was manufactured in Cleveland. It was a solid car and, because it was the Ford replacement for the old and light bodied Falcon, it was pretty fast for the time.
I also like both the looks and the name of this car. The fastback style is just sporty enough and since Ford made lots of Mavericks, it underscores Rose's common man status. Also, its name speaks to his independence and stubbornness. All and all, the Maverick seemed to be a nice fit for Joe Rose, a tough Nashville shamus who's not the big star, but the ordinary guitar guy standing just outside the spotlight.
So, after considerable thought, I ended up making Rose's car a 1976 Maverick 2 door, which in the book he says he received in partial payment for his work on a protracted estate case. The car has been in storage for almost thirty years and the heirs tell him they are glad to be rid of it. Rose's Maverick, which is in excellent, almost new shape, is a black two door model with the 302 V8.

The novel is set in Nashville in the music industry. There are plenty of singers and songwriters who've made their names and established their reputations in Music City as mavericks. You might think of Hank Sr., or Waylon, or Willie. or maybe Kristofferson.

There is even one country group called the Mavericks. Their lead singer is Raul Malo who's been on his own recently, but I understand there's a chance they may do a reunion tour this summer.

Here are the Mavericks with lead singer Raul Malo singing "There Goes My Heart," live in Austin, Texas.

P.S. I've been selling quite a few books since before Christmas, mostly in the Kindle format. I think the $.99 price point has helped a lot in getting readers interested, and they are apparently spreading the word. Don't get me wrong. You won't find Blood Country on the Amazon or the NYT best seller lists. At least not yet. But I'm working on it.


  1. It's 6:07am MST & Sara is sleeping so I had to listen to the song on my BOSE AE2 over the ear headphones. The band and singer came through crisp, clean, and clear. I had my feet tapping. I never heard of Malo or the Mavericks but it got me rocking at 6am. Good live performance, the audio on this video clip is awesome.

    PS: Re "Blood Country" I'de still would like to have slept with Monica (King's wife).

  2. Just love The Mavericks. Thanks for the waker-upper Dan.

  3. George, Glad you liked the Mavericks. I'm also glad you didn't wake Sara up! What exactly is a BOSE AE2? I know the Bose company and some of their products but I haven't heard of this one.

  4. Deb, I like 'em too. Actually, I learned first about Malo about 3 years ago, after he was already on his own. We bought a couple of CDs and really liked them. Then, once I checked him out on YouTube I saw that he'd started with the band the Mavericks.

  5. Good tune, easy to listen to.
    The Maverick was a good, simple car. Easy to work on, and for what it was, a good value for the money. Father-in-law had one that he ran the wheels off of.
    It was a good choice for Joe Rose.

  6. I've been selling quite a few books since before Christmas, mostly in the Kindle format.

    "Blood Country" is on MY Kindle. ;-)

    Good choice o' cars for Rose. An alternate might have been a '68 or '69 Plymouth Road Runner... which was the among the very first of the "everyman" muscle cars. I used to hate those damned thangs... the 383-equipped ones gave my 396 Chevelle a real run and the Hemi-equipped cars kicked my ass, no questions asked.

  7. Ed, the old Mavs were definitely good value for the money. And they looked real sharp to me.

  8. Buck, Thanks for buying the book Buck, hope you enjoy it. That Road Runner you mention would have been a good choice as well. They looked good and did have the muscle, plus being affordable for average Joes. What year was your Chevelle? They were mighty slick looking cars. My old buddy Fred had one back in the day, I believe his was a '69 or '70. Nice car.

  9. What year was your Chevelle?

    It was a '67... in Tahoe Turquoise... the 350hp version with a TurboHydramatic. They came in three flavors that year: 325hp, 350hp, and 375hp. I bought mine off the lot and lucked out in that the dealer had that one in stock. That car is one of mebbe three cars I wish I hadn't of sold.

  10. She sounds like a real beauty. That 375hp must've be a stormer. Fred's Chevelle, which was a kind of medium green outside, had the black interior.

    I certainly understand your regrets. In '69 I owned a '68 GTO, metallic turquoise w/blk vinyl roof, red line tires, 4 speed. That's one I wish I hadn't let get away.