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

artsentertainmentMichael CastlemanNEPOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

(Examiner file photo)
Charter amendment effort would replace elected school board with appointed body

Critics of the San Francisco Unified School District board on Monday formally… Continue reading

Jill Bonny, owner of Studio Kazoku tattoo parlor in the Haight, tattoos client Lam Vo on Friday, March 5, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
No one was fighting for tattoo artists, so they started advocating for themselves

Jill Bonny has been tattooing in the Bay Area since 2000. Four… Continue reading

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to The City's streets including Slow Streets closures to increase open space access and the Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to use public right-of-ways for dining, retail and services. (Examiner illustration)
COVID is reshaping the streets of San Francisco

Walk down Page Street, which is closed to thru-traffic, and you might… Continue reading

Brandi Harrapence, right, has lunch with her daughter Kayla Harrapence inside Firestone Grill in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo, open for inside dinning for the first time in nearly a year, on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 in San Luis Obispo, California. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
California is far from herd immunity, making a 4th COVID-19 wave possible. Here’s how

Rong-Gong Lin II and Luke Money Los Angeles Times California is optimistic… Continue reading

Stanford’s Ashten Prechtel shoots a layup as three Oregon State defenders look on during a Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament semifinal game on Friday, March 5, 2021, at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas. Bryan Steffy/Pac-12 Pool Photo
No. 4 Stanford women cruise to Pac-12 Tournament title

Kiana Williams is heating up just in time to head home. The… Continue reading

Most Read