We’ve recently seen a growth in cross-genre and blended-genre fiction, and that includes the world of mystery fiction. Today’s featured author offers a different kind of mystery that draws upon seemingly diverse styles to create a solid series that’s sure to attract a wide range of readers.
Jerold (“Jerry”) Last is a college professor and a writer of mystery fiction that’s sure to attract dog lovers. At the University of California’s Medical School, he puts his Ph.D. in Biochemistry to work studying asthma and the effects of air pollution on the lungs. Off campus, he applies his research skills to writing the popular Roger and Suzanne mystery series.
The writing process seems to be a family affair. Jerry’s wife Elaine provides editing and technical advice for the novels. Elaine breeds prize-winning (conformation and hunt tests) German Shorthaired Pointer dogs, a breed that’s featured in the series. Both love to travel, and that’s evident in the locales featured in the series. Experience living in Argentina and Uruguay helped Jerry choose the South American locales for his fictional sleuths. His fifth novel in the series sends them to the Galapagos Islands, and I hear Alaska is the next location for this dynamic sleuthing duo.
Here’s Jerry, talking about his work:
I’ve been a big fan of mystery novels all my life. I started reading The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew in grade school. Erle Stanley Gardner and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came next, before I hit my teens. As I moved towards college and nominal adulthood, my favorites became the masters of the private eye genre, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross MacDonald. I like the hard-boiled style, the role of the private detective as the hero, and the fast pace of the action as a complex plot unfolds. It just seemed, one day, that I should try constructing the puzzles as well as trying to solve them. And here I am.
I start with things I know—South America, California, German Shorthaired Pointer dogs, science, fictional California private investigators like Roger, and scientists like Suzanne on the faculty of the University of California. I start writing after the plot has had time to develop in my subconscious mind for a while. Part of the way through, it takes on a life of its own and leads me wherever the characters want it to go.
My books are not traditional cozies, even though they routinely pop up on Amazon in the cozy category. They’re better described as “tweeners” with a style that falls somewhere between cozy and hard-boiled. You won’t find “bad words” (at least in English), and there are no gratuitous sex scenes in my books because I think they take away from the flow of plot and suspense. However, there are pretty high body counts and scenes of violence in most of the novels and the novellas.
My target audience likes fast-paced action in “who done it” kind of mysteries. They like dogs, visiting interesting and unusual locations where exotic food is the norm, and a series format where they can revisit old friends in subsequent books.
The Deadly Dog Show
Ever wondered what it’s like to own—or maybe it’s more like to be owned by—a German Shorthaired Pointer? Get your own tutorial in The Deadly Dog Show! The seventh book in the series finds Roger and Bruce hired to go undercover impersonating the owner and handler of a Champion German Shorthaired Pointer named Juliet to investigate certain irregularities that might be occurring at dog shows in California.
To complicate this case the bodies of dead judges start popping up and Suzanne picks up a mysterious stalker sending her most unwelcome gifts. Throw in drug cartels and corrupt cops and it sounds like a typical job for our detective couple.
This suspenseful “whodunit” novel should appeal to mystery fans, dog lovers, and anyone who wants to learn more about the world of dog show competition. Read a Deadly Dog Show Excerpt.
Well done and captivating. I loved the character development and was truly drawn into the story with all of its twists and turns.
The Roger and Suzanne Mystery Series
The series includes five novels, two novellas, and an anthology of short stories to date, with more on the way! Here’s a list of what’s currently available exclusively on Amazon in Kindle editions. Locales are noted after each title.
The Ambivalent Corpse [Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay]
The Surreal Killer [Peru, Chile]
The Matador Murders [Uruguay, Chile]
The Deadly Dog Show [California, Texas, New York City]
The Origin of Murder [Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands]
The Body in the Parking Structure [Los Angeles, California]
The Body in the Bed [Montevideo, Uruguay]
Five Quickies for Roger and Suzanne [Salta, Argentina; Fortaleza, Brazil; and Los Angeles, California ]. this is a novel-length anthology of shorter (“quickie”) stories featuring all of the characters from the popular South American mystery series!
Follow this author!
To see details of all Jerry’s work, visit his Amazon sales page. For a more personal look at the author and his family (and dogs!), check out his blog entitled “South American Mystery Novels and Stuff” at http://rogerandsuzannemysteries.blogspot.com. Drop by and leave a comment!
Thanks so much for coming by, Jerry!
I’m intrigued by your description of the books as “tweeners.” For many of us (me included), our mystery fiction isn’t a perfect fit for the recognized subgenres. There may be more “tweeners” out there to discover!
I don’t have experience with German Shorthaired Pointers. How did you get started with that breed, and are you planning more mysteries featuring Juliet?
How did I get started with GSPs? They came as a part of a package deal with my wife Elaine when I first met her. She already owned Jake, her first GSP who was the beginning of her breeding program to try to create the perfect GSP, bred for functionality and temperament. Perfect in this context is structurally sound with good conformation so is competitive in the show ring, has the natural instincts to be used as a hunting dog, and enjoys cuddling on the couch at night to watch TV. If you enjoy an energetic and loving family dog, they are a wonderful breed.
At the end of The Deadly Dog Show Juliet has a litter of puppies including Romeo, a male dog. He is mentioned in a couple of subsequent books and will be featured if all goes as planned will star in a future series entry that will take place in the world of canine hunt tests. I’m pretty sure Juliet will also be there to mentor her puppy and hope it will be the novel that follows the current WIP, Roger and Suzanne’s Alaskan “holiday”.
More dog stories–great!
I like the idea of a “tweener”, and I love dogs. Looks like I’ve got to add this book to my TBR stack. I have a strong feeling I’m going to enjoy it. Thank you for sharing about yourself and your books.
Thank you for the kind words, Marja. The cover photo for the book is our own Jolie, the model for “Juliet” in the novel.