John Dillinger and Geronimo

The War in Skeleton Canyon

Photo: Apache Pass, photo by James John Magner—taken as he and his wife, Karen, walked the historic path.
Also visit www.JamesJohnMagner.com

It is 1953 in Tucson, Arizona. Tom Sullivan’s thoughts are drifting more and more to the distant past, reliving the adventures he set out to find when he walked away from his home in Boston in 1894…just a kid.

We follow the stories of the old man into the Arizona past—the 1890s—to the toughest hombres of the Old West–Apache warriors and scouts. We drop in on 1934 and Tucson’s much celebrated visit by John Dillinger, Public Enemy #1. Is he still alive in ’53? Then to a war with the crooked Highway Patrol captain. The raucous and rowdy neighborhood kids, the Sky Pirates, dig their way into the action.

Geronimo and other famous warriors and scouts have survived the Wild West. They look back, but the Wild West is not finished. Not for them.

Inside the cave, Niño began to chant the warrior’s chant, calling the spirits of battle to merge with him, to give him the courage to fight, if there were to be a fight, and give him the wisdom to win. The air thinned and began to rotate. Forms appeared in the swirling vapor and swayed with Niño to the rhythms of the chant. A voice came from the mist.

—Excerpt from John Dillinger and Geronimo

More Books by James John Magner

A Haunting Beauty

The Dead Man on the Corner

James John Magner

A decorated Vietnam vet, Jim Magner is a writer of novels and plays. He has been the author of a popular art column, “Art and the City,” for the “Hill Rag,” a Capitol Hill, DC paper since 2002. 

He is also a painter with works in private, corporate, and government collections. He has won numerous national awards for both painting and creative writing, including a gold medal for his painting “Children in Vietnam” in the Veterans Administration’s annual Creative Arts Festival. 

Additionally, he has been a legislative assistant to a US senator, a government relations consultant, and a teacher.

The Literary Hill
A Compendium of Readers, Writers, Books & Events
By Karen Lyon

In James Magner’s “The Dead Man on the Corner,” the appearance of a dead guy is only the first odd event in a Tucson neighborhood in 1953.

The Pirates of Tucson

Every neighborhood has its characters. And Tucson in 1953, the locus for James John Magner’s new novel, “The Dead Man on the Corner,” is no exception.

First, there are the Sky Pirates, a gang of kids who swagger around in buccaneer gear, bury treasure in the desert, and gather in a scraggly vacant lot to fight battles with their rigged kites.

Then there’s Tom Sullivan, an aging barber who entertains the kids with tales of the Old West; his friend Niño, an Apache who is the grandson of Cochise; and an assortment of gangsters, creepy photographers, eavesdropping old ladies, and veterans refighting WWI. “And right in the middle of it…the glue, so to speak, that held it all together, there was the mysterious dead man on the corner.”

The guy sprawled on the curb is only the beginning of the neighborhood’s sense that “there’s something funny going on.” The police are flummoxed. “You ever get the feeling there’s a game of blind man’s bluff going on,” the chief says, “and we’re always the ones with the blindfold.” Eventually it falls to the ever-resourceful Sky Pirates to get to the bottom of things.

Rich in atmosphere and period details, “The Dead Man on the Corner,” is a terrific adventure that captures both the joyous freedom of kids let loose to explore their world and the potential dangers that lurk behind the chicken coop in even the most innocent back yard.