New York Times Best Selling Author

Buster Midnight’s Cafe

“Country music between covers…Style, tone, and lesson in one succinct package.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review

A wise and sassy narrator, marvelous characters, and a plot that blends Hollywood scandal, lifelong friendship, mystery and romance—these are the specialties served up in Sandra Dallas’s offbeat, inspired debut novel.

Effa Commander is no spring chicken, but her spirit shines and her smart mouth still puts fools to shame. The fool in question is a gossip hound writing a scurrilous account of her beloved friends who, though departed, remain the most celebrated citizens of Butte, Montana: the great Hollywood legend Marion Street (nee May Anna Kovacks) and Buster Midnight, the boxing champion whose love for Marion led to the notorious “Tinseltown Crime of Passion” and the end of his career.

Prodded by her bosom buddy, Whippy Bird, Effa Commander takes pen in hand to set the record straight and tell what really happened on that violent night. But to do that, Effa Commander must recount the story of all their lives: hers and Whippy Bird’s and May Anna’s, and Buster and Toney McNight’s and Pink Varscoe’s. Childhood friends, they all became wives and husbands—with the exception of May Anna, of course. She went to work in Venus Alley, hitched herself to a big-time director just passing through on his way to Hollywood, and the rest is history.

Narrated by the irrepressible Effa Commander, this wry and loving chronicle of more than fifty years of friendship carries some universal, homespun truths about what’s really important in life.


Author’s Note

During the 1980s, I covered hard-rock mining for Business Week and often went to Butte, Montana, to write about the copper industry. Walking down the old streets, climbing the stairs of the Victorian buildings, eating in restaurants that had been in Butte for decades all evoked a sense of the past. Even my fortune cookie from the Pekin Noodle Parlor seemed to say something about life in Butte: “Comes Pleasure, Follows Pain.” One afternoon at home, not long after I’d visited Butte, the plot of Buster Midnight’s Café flashed into my mind, complete with names, setting, and the first line of the book. The idea was so compelling that I sat down and wrote the first chapter, which was then a couple of pages. It was all rewritten, although that first line stayed. I thought I was writing an historical novel, but I learned from readers and reviewers that I’d really written a book about loyalty and friendship.

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