Sex and The City’s history in new Rosenberg mystery

To San Francisco novelist Michael Castleman, The City’s history is rife with corruption that needs to be exposed.

“It’s almost larger than life on the historical stage — it’s dirty, duplicitous, conniving — all the things that make for an interesting drama,” says the author of “A Killing in Real Estate,” a new book in which the 1934 dock strike, one of The City’s most violent episodes ever, plays an important role.  

“I like stories with plots. Mysteries are morality plays. At least in my novels, evil is unmasked and the good guy wins,” says Castleman, a health journalist and creator of a website that addresses sexuality for people over 40.  

“A Killing in Real Estate” — which Castleman will talk about in various upcoming Bay Area events — is the third novel featuring protagonist Ed Rosenberg, a feisty columnist for a fictional San Francisco newspaper.

“I like to have recurring characters that grow and change. As the novel unfolds and the mystery is dealt with, their micro subplot gets resolved,” says Castleman, calling Ed “a loose cannon who likes to stick his nose in places it doesn’t belong.”

The book opens with Ed discovering the violated, dead body of a friend who recently found a diary his longshoreman grandfather kept during the 1934 labor unrest.

How Ed’s research into the intriguing diary overlaps with his own current troubles — a search to find a new house for his own family and a string of threatening arson fires — make for a gripping San Francisco-themed thriller with historical and present-day reverberations.

Castleman envisions Ben Affleck might portray Ed in a movie version of the book. While there’s no deal in the works, he says his first book, “Lost Gold of San Francisco,” was considered as an option for a film.

“If one of your books gets to be a movie, it puts you on the map. I’m ambitious, I’d like to be on the map,” says Castleman, who’s confident all of his novels would make decent movies — particularly because they involve mystery wrapped around a good amount of sex.

Until deals start rolling in, though, Castleman continues to write about health while penning the next Ed Rosenberg book, which takes on Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s and the history of illegal drug dealing in The City.

shaughey@sfexaminer.com


If you go

Michael Castleman

Where: S.F. Museum and Historical Society Fall Author Forum, Old Mint, Fifth and Mission streets, San Francisco
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Contact: (415) 537-1105, www.SFhistory.org

Where: S.F. Mystery Bookstore, 4175 24th St., San Francisco
When: 3 p.m. Oct. 31
Contact: (415) 282-7444, www.sanfranciscomysterybooks.com

Where: Books Inc., Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 10
Contact: (415) 776-1111, www.BooksInc.net

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