Coming Soon: Saint Francis Of Dogtown

Out November 2019

A woman is raped and murdered in a quiet rural subdivision. The killer is just leaving as Francis X. Lenihan, a dogged process server, pulls up. Francis has come to serve papers, but there’s no one home—just as the stranger had told him. Francis leaves his card in the door, and two days later, in St. Louis, there are homicide detectives from two counties at his door. Francis helps the police all he can, but they need more. If only he could sort through his beer-soaked memory and recall the vanity plate on the killer’s muscle car. Meanwhile he has reluctantly accepted the assignment placed on him by Rose, the formidable young woman who has tracked him down to his favorite bar: Find my mother’s killer and bring him to justice.

            Cops and criminals, break-ins and brawls, a killer on the loose. The idiosyncratic Francis wades through a slough of dicey situations, peril at every turn, his process server wiles put to the test. Francis has no hesitation about grabbing the bull by the proverbial horns. The question is; How badly will he be gored? Maybe he should just stay put in the cozy confines of the local bar where the regulars buy him drinks for the favor of singing Irish ballads.

New Work: No Big Thing

WHITE TRASH TO PICK UP TRASH, read the headline and so the story unfolds. Imagine a family living in rural Missouri, a family respected in their community, a family with typical problems in their workaday lives. What if the patriarch of this family had been involved in white supremacist activities in the distant past and was coasting on romantic notions of that time? What if he applied in the name of the Ku Klux Klan to join the State’s Adopt-A-Highway program and had to fight an uphill battle to make it happen? What if the courts ruled in his favor and he enlisted his grandson, an army vet, to go on litter patrol? What if litter patrol on the outskirts of St. Louis was an even more dangerous mission than the ones the grandson had experienced in Iraq? What if that patriarch was gradually slipping into dementia and perhaps unmindful of the conniving forces—neighbors, reporters, state bureaucrats, even the hierarchy of the Klan itself—hoping to take advantage of the snowball he had set in motion. Imagine that and you would have the bones of NO BIG THING, a funny, thoughtful take on the obvious and not-so-obvious forms of discrimination.

Throw in a colorful cast of supporting characters—a rough-and-tumble meth dealer, a fledgling social anthropologist, a Baptist minister, a Deadhead with wanderlust, an idealistic lawyer, a recreational thief with a unique specialty, and you have a novel that could take its place on a library shelf somewhere between Hiassen and Vonnegut.   

NO BIG THING is based on actual events that took place in and around St. Louis in the 1990s and involved litigation that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. 

Wm Stage In a checkered life, Wm. Stage has been a tree trimmer, ambulance driver, public health officer, process server and newspaper columnist. He is a Vietnam-era veteran of the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and in 1991 he was called to active duty with the U.S. Air Force Reserves during Operation Desert Storm. Adopted at the age of three months, Wm. grew up an only child in Grand Rapids where he spent his youth roaming the farmlands on the southeast edge of the city. He attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Grade School and Catholic Central High School. Having been arrested on several misdemeanor charges, he joined the Army on his 18th birthday and was assigned to a medical transportation unit in Germany.

In 1972, he began natural history studies at Thomas Jefferson College, the now-defunct “hippie college,” located on the campus of then-Grand Valley State College in Allendale, Michigan; he graduated four years later with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree, the same degree awarded every student attending TJC. In 1978, he was driving ambulances in Grand Rapids when recruited by The Center For Disease Control, Atlanta, and assigned to the St. Louis City Health Department as a public health officer / STD epidemiologist.

Soon after arriving in St. Louis, he began to moonlight as a feature writer for local newspapers and magazines. In 1982, he left his position with CDC to devote himself to journalism and photography. He has taught feature writing at the Defense Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana; and photojournalism at Saint Louis University School for Professional Studies. Presently his commentaries may be heard occasionally on KWMU-FM, the NPR affiliate in St. Louis.

His books include:

Ghost Signs: Brick Wall Signs in America [1989]
Mound City Chronicles [1991]
Litchfield: A Strange and Twisted Saga of Murder in the Midwest [1998]
Have A Weird Day: Reflections and Ruminations on the St. Louis Experience [2003]
The Practical Guide To Process Serving [2007]
Pictures of People [2006]
Fool For Life [2009]
The Painted Ad: A Postcard Book of Vintage Brick Wall Signs [2011]
Not Waving Drowning [2012]
Creatures On Display [2015]
No Big Thing [2017]

Wm. Stage lives in St. Louis with his wife, Mary, and their nine children.

You can find out more about Wm on Wikipedia.