As you may have noticed, I am fascinated by the 1960s and '70s. (Hey, I was there...although I was a little kid for most of the good stuff.) My friend and former Daily News colleague Shaun Mullen lived it, and frankly I don't know anyone in this region who has written more -- or better -- about that unique moment in American history. In the years before I came to the paper, Shaun assembled some remarkable packages about Vietnam and the disproportionate toll the war took from the streets of Philadelphia. It's been a decade since Shaun left the Daily News and established base camp in his home state of Delaware, where he writes an excellent blog called Kiko's House and works on other projects.
Like his new book, The Bottom of the Fox, which is arguably the book that Shaun Mullen was born to write. Set mainly in the 1970s and dawn of the 1980s, his tome packs a remarkable amount into its 125 pages. Ostensibly, it's an investigation into the unsolved 1981 murder of bar owner Eddie Joubert, a local gadfly who was hacked to death by an ax murderer in the cellar of the ramshackle bar he owned near the Delaware Water Gap in upstate Pennsylvania, a joint called the Bottom of the Fox. But what writer Mullen really accomplishes (at a lightning pace) is both to capture a special place and a unique time, the 1970s, a time of hippies and squatters and rampant drugs and small towns with dark secrets. The book takes a surprising turn near the end and really hits its stride when he turns his righteous wrath onto the powerful -- the callous cops and corrupt prosecutors -- how allowed a string of murders of everyday folks to stay on the books.