books Lenny Moss Defends Workers and Solves a Murder: Proletarian Fiction is Alive and Well
One Foot in the Grave: A Lenny Moss Mystery
By Timothy Sheard
Hardball Press; 279 pages
March 6, 2019
Paperback: $15.00; Ebook: $5.99
I’ll be ever’where-wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat. I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there…An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build-why, I’ll be there. (John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Penguin edition, 1992, 419).
I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good…Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood…(Woody Guthrie, “Woody Sez,” https://www.woodyguthrie.org).
In 2001, Tim Sheard published his first mystery novel about hospital shop steward, Lenny Moss, This Won’t Hurt a Bit. Sheard then established Hard Ball Press, which published seven more Lenny Moss novels. Hard Ball press has expanded its offerings, including a new mystery by activist Bill Fletcher which addresses race in New England, numerous children’s books, and an engaging biography of Herbert and Joan March, organizers of the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA-CIO) in Chicago.
A shop steward and hospital custodian, Lenny Moss, returns in Tim Sheard’s latest mystery novel, One Foot in the Grave. In this latest encounter, Moss assists hospital workers to solve the attempted murder of a popular staff doctor. The adventure reads like a classic well-timed narrative about an attempted murder and the almost desperate efforts to save the intended victim.
It is in the context of worker exploitation, threats of firings, exposure to disease, and a voiceless and demeaned work force, that Lenny Moss steps up to encourage the organization of a staff union for the nurses. Organizing is complicated by gaps between nurses who see themselves as professionals without shared interest with custodial workers despite the clear reality, recognized by the custodials, that greater strength would be achieved by unity among all hospital workers.
Reading the latest Lenny Moss novel, really all of them, will entertain, educate, and inspire.
Book author Timothy Sheard is a veteran nurse, publisher, mentor to writers and union organizer with the National Writers Union, UAW 1981. He launched Hard Ball Press to help working class people write and publish their stories and has published more than 200 authors.
[Essayist Harry Targ is professor of political science at Indiana’s Purdue University and coordinator of its Committee on Peace Studies. Among his numerous publications is his recent Challenging Late Capitalism, Neo-Liberal Globalization and Militarism: Building a Progressive Majority, which is available HERE.]