Authors are advised to write about what they know and, lucky for us, J. Daniel Jones knows plenty. In his first novel, CarAlity…A Tribute in New Orleans(Pure Entertainment; 642 pages), he combines two worlds with which he is very familiar—classic cars and broadcast television—in an engaging mystery that revolves around the auction of a rare car that once belonged to Adolf Hitler.
Louisiana-born Jones worked for eight years at a small San Diego TV station as a three-time Emmy-winning producer, director and host. He jumped ship for the corporate world, spending the next eight years as a writer/producer with clients including Intel, Motorola and Siemens on big-budget videos.
Having a lifelong passion for classic cars—he presently owns a ’64 Cutlass and ’79 MGB—he then parlayed his experiences and interests into automotive programs. While working as an episode producer and editing supervisor for the first season of At The Auction, which showcased RM Auctions (now RM/Sotheby’s), he was exposed to the classic car auction world. He also shot and/or field produced over 90 percent of the 2005 season of Hot Rod Magazine TV.
All of this is to say, Jones knows his subject, providing readers with plenty of detail to sink their teeth into, from television licensing deals to the mechanics of shooting a show to the gear being used. When one character, technical director for a corporate AV production company, runs audio, it’s on “a Mackie DL1608; a digital mixer with an iPad control surface.” No brand or model number is too long for Jones to describe in full.
The title comes from our aging protagonist, Antoine “Andy” Guidry, a TV producer who seizes an opportunity to dig himself out of financial difficulties by surreptitiously shooting the auction of Hitler’s 1940 Mercedes-Benz 770K W150 Grosser Tourenwagen with a hastily-assembled crew. His plan is to turn his idea of a car reality show shot guerrilla-style, entitled CarAlity, into a series that will revive his career. But first he must sell his precious Porsche (Jones has always lusted for a ’68 911T Targa, according to his bio) in the same auction to fund the venture.
Things go awry almost immediately, and the story twists and turns, taking in the bars and restaurants of New Orleans, Wisconsin Nazis, religious fanatics, vaping, a 1976 Cosworth Vega, shady cops, sex and, perhaps, a murder. The cast of characters is large—43 are outlined before the story begins—and the novel runs to 600-pages, but there is never a dull moment. Jones writes very well, pulling the reader into the story then picking up the pace as it progresses. Soon, chapters begin to flash by.
The characters are well-drawn, the dialog believable and, though long, the book’s a quick read. Pour yourself a Hurricane and jump in.
CarAlity on Amazon