“Mason’s Philly” serves up a mystery with a side of South Philly

South Philly native Kevin Sommerer penned a novel that relies on his roots to propel the plot. 

Although he resides in Boothwyn, Kevin Sommerer will always consider South Philly home, deeming his native turf the chief influence on his worldview. This former resident of the 1500 block of McKean Street is paying tribute to his birthplace through “Mason’s Philly: Discreet Denial,” a 302-page labor of love that calls on the environs as a setting for a deftly planned detective tale. 

Still familiar with his former stomping grounds thanks to employment with the United States Postal Service, Sommerer takes readers back to circa 1998 for “Discreet Denial,” enlisting the title character to find a missing friend. As the protagonist yearns for a breakthrough, the narrative mentions of four decades’ worth of local contributions to the city’s history. This guarantees that the action and references will, according to the Amazon synopsis, “satisfy everyone’s craving for Old World-style South Philly.”

“I’ve always loved mysteries and the city, more particularly the area, where I grew up, so it made sense for me to combine them in this book,” the 50-year-old said of the brainchild that has been receiving solid feedback and earning commendable sales since its October 12 release. “Through it, I think I’m revealing a love for my upbringing and a connection to the people from here, too. I don’t think those are things you shake off no matter how far you go or how long you’ve been gone if you have the pleasure of growing up here.” 

“We need those memories to hold on to traditions,” said the author. His homage to South Philly includes references to food, local occurrences, and sports outcomes, among other things. “A lot of kids today don’t learn about the old traditions…it’s not all passed down like it used to be. I think we are forgetting a lot about what made South Philly such a small town.”

Sommerer began “Mason’s Philly” in 2001 and revisited the text in 2018. It doesn’t take a detective to figure out that he wants to make Philly-based readers, especially ones with South Philly backgrounds, take pride in their roots. But it’s not just about a trip down Memory Lane. Sommerer feels “Mason’s Philly” is notable because it offers glimpses not necessarily of simpler times but of transformational ones.

To ensure his book doubles as a big “thank you” to South Philly, Sommerer plans to donate a portion of his December sales to Philabundance and the Philadelphia Youth Network.

“Feeling the love from all these readers the last month makes me feel that small-town hospitality again,” noted Sommerer, who also hopes to unveil his children’s book “The Cat and the Mailman” soon. “It’s strangers coming together to help a local guy. It’s everyone pulling for me even though they don’t even know me when in fact they do know me because I am them or someone in their family.”

Order a copy of “Mason’s Philly: Discreet Denial.”