Book Blast and Giveaway: Pistols and Petticoats

book-cover-pistols-and-petticoats

Genre: Mystery, NonFiction, History
Published by: Beacon Press
Publication Date: February 28th 2017 (1st Published April 26th 2016)
Number of Pages: 248
ISBN: 0807039381 (ISBN13: 9780807039380)
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads

A lively exploration of the struggles faced by women in law enforcement and mystery fiction for the past 175 years

In 1910, Alice Wells took the oath to join the all-male Los Angeles Police Department. She wore no uniform, carried no weapon, and kept her badge stuffed in her pocketbook. She wasn’t the first or only policewoman, but she became the movement’s most visible voice.

Police work from its very beginning was considered a male domain, far too dangerous and rough for a respectable woman to even contemplate doing, much less take on as a profession. A policewoman worked outside the home, walking dangerous city streets late at night to confront burglars, drunks, scam artists, and prostitutes. To solve crimes, she observed, collected evidence, and used reason and logic—traits typically associated with men. And most controversially of all, she had a purpose separate from her husband, children, and home. Women who donned the badge faced harassment and discrimination. It would take more than seventy years for women to enter the force as full-fledged officers.

Yet within the covers of popular fiction, women not only wrote mysteries but also created female characters that handily solved crimes. Smart, independent, and courageous, these nineteenth- and early twentieth-century female sleuths (including a healthy number created by male writers) set the stage for Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski, Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta, and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, as well as TV detectives such as Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison and Law and Order’s Olivia Benson. The authors were not amateurs dabbling in detection but professional writers who helped define the genre and competed with men, often to greater success.

Pistols and Petticoats tells the story of women’s very early place in crime fiction and their public crusade to transform policing. Whether real or fictional, investigating women were nearly always at odds with society. Most women refused to let that stop them, paving the way to a modern professional life for women on the force and in popular culture.

Read an Excerpt

With high heels clicking across the hardwood floors, the diminutive woman from Chicago strode into the headquarters of the New York City police. It was 1922. Few respectable women would enter such a place alone, let alone one wearing a fashionable Paris gown, a feathered hat atop her brown bob, glistening pearls, and lace stockings.

But Alice Clement was no ordinary woman.

Unaware of—or simply not caring about—the commotion her presence caused, Clement walked straight into the office of Commissioner Carleton Simon and announced, “I’ve come to take Stella Myers back to Chicago.”

The commissioner gasped, “She’s desperate!”

Stella Myers was no ordinary crook. The dark-haired thief had outwitted policemen and eluded capture in several states.

Unfazed by Simon’s shocked expression, the well-dressed woman withdrew a set of handcuffs, ankle bracelets, and a “wicked looking gun” from her handbag.

“I’ve come prepared.”

Holding up her handcuffs, Clement stated calmly, “These go on her and we don’t sleep until I’ve locked her up in Chicago.” True to her word, Clement delivered Myers to her Chicago cell.

Alice Clement was hailed as Chicago’s “female Sherlock Holmes,” known for her skills in detection as well as for clearing the city of fortune-tellers, capturing shoplifters, foiling pickpockets, and rescuing girls from the clutches of prostitution. Her uncanny ability to remember faces and her flair for masquerade—“a different disguise every day”—allowed her to rack up one thousand arrests in a single year. She was bold and sassy, unafraid to take on any masher, con artist, or scalawag from the city’s underworld.

Her headline-grabbing arrests and head-turning wardrobe made Clement seem like a character straight from Central Casting. But Alice Clement was not only real; she was also a detective sergeant first grade of the Chicago Police Department.

Clement entered the police force in 1913, riding the wave of media sensation that greeted the hiring of ten policewomen in Chicago. Born in Milwaukee to German immigrant parents in 1878, Clement was unafraid to stand up for herself. She advocated for women’s rights and the repeal of Prohibition. She sued her first husband, Leonard Clement, for divorce on the grounds of desertion and intemperance at a time when women rarely initiated—or won—such dissolutions. Four years later, she married barber Albert L. Faubel in a secret ceremony performed by a female pastor.

It’s not clear why the then thirty-five-year-old, five-foot-three Clement decided to join the force, but she relished the job. She made dramatic arrests—made all the more so by her flamboyant dress— and became the darling of reporters seeking sensational tales of corruption and vice for the morning papers. Dark-haired and attractive, Clement seemed to confound reporters, who couldn’t believe she was old enough to have a daughter much less, a few years later, a granddaughter. “Grandmother Good Detective” read one headline.

She burnished her reputation in a high-profile crusade to root out fortune-tellers preying on the naive. Donning a different disguise every day, Clement had her fortune told more than five hundred times as she gathered evidence to shut down the trade. “Hats are the most important,” she explained, describing her method. “Large and small, light and dark and of vivid hue, floppy brimmed and tailored, there is nothing that alters a woman’s appearance more than a change in headgear.”

Clement also had no truck with flirts. When a man attempted to seduce her at a movie theater, she threatened to arrest him. He thought she was joking and continued his flirtations, but hers was no idle threat. Clement pulled out her blackjack and clubbed him over the head before yanking him out of the theater and dragging him down the street to the station house. When he appeared in court a few days later, the man confessed that he had been cured of flirting. Not every case went Clement’s way, though. The jury acquitted the man, winning the applause of the judge who was no great fan of Clement or her theatrics.

One person who did manage to outwit Clement was her own daughter, Ruth. Preventing hasty marriages fell under Clement’s duties, and she tracked down lovelorn young couples before they could reach the minister. The Chicago Daily Tribune called her the “Nemesis of elopers” for her success and familiarity with everyone involved in the business of matrimony in Chicago. None of this deterred twenty-year-old Ruth Clement, however, who hoped to marry Navy man Charles C. Marrow, even though her mother insisted they couldn’t be married until Marrow finished his time in service in Florida. Ruth did not want to wait, and when Marrow came to visit, the two tied the knot at a minister’s home without telling Clement. When Clement discovered a Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Marrow registered at the Chicago hotel supposedly housing Marrow alone, she was furious and threatened to arrest her new son-in-law for flouting her wishes. Her anger cooled, however, and Clement soon welcomed the newlyweds into her home.

Between arrests and undercover operations, Clement wrote, produced, and starred in a movie called Dregs of the City, in 1920. She hoped her movie would “deliver a moral message to the world” and “warn young girls of the pitfalls of a great city.” In the film, Clement portrayed herself as a master detective charged with finding a young rural girl who, at the urging of a Chicago huckster, had fled the farm for the city lights and gotten lost in “one of the more unhallowed of the south side cabarets.” The girl’s father came to Clement anegged her to rescue his innocent daughter from the “dregs” of the film’s title. Clement wasn’t the only officer-turned-actor in the film. Chicago police chiefs James L. Mooney and John J. Garrity also had starring roles. Together, the threesome battered “down doors with axes and interrupt[ed] the cogitations of countless devotees of hashish, bhang and opium.” The Chicago Daily Tribune praised Garrity’s acting and his onscreen uniform for its “faultless cut.”

The film created a sensation, particularly after Chicago’s movie censor board, which fell under the oversight of the police department, condemned the movie as immoral. “The picture shall never be shown in Chicago. It’s not even interesting,” read the ruling. “Many of the actors are hams and it doesn’t get anywhere.” Despite several appeals, Clement was unable to convince the censors to allow Dregs of the City to be shown within city limits. She remained undeterred by the decision. “They think they’ve given me a black eye, but they haven’t. I’ll show it anyway,” she declared as she left the hearing, tossing the bouquet of roses she’d been given against the window.

When the cruise ship Eastland rolled over in the Chicago River on July 24, 1915, Clement splashed into the water to assist in the rescue of the pleasure boaters, presumably, given her record, wearing heels and a designer gown. More than eight hundred people would die that day, the greatest maritime disaster in Great Lakes history. For her services in the Eastland disaster, Clement received a gold “coroner’s star” from the Cook County coroner in a quiet ceremony in January of 1916.

Clement’s exploits and personality certainly drew attention, but any woman would: a female crime fighter made for good copy and eye-catching photos. Unaccustomed to seeing women wielding any kind of authority, the public found female officers an entertaining—and sometimes ridiculous—curiosity.

Excerpt from Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction by Erika Janik. Copyright © 2016 & 2017 by Beacon Press. Reproduced with permission from Beacon Press. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

erika-janikErika Janik is an award-winning writer, historian, and the executive producer of “Wisconsin Life” on Wisconsin Public Radio. She’s the author of five previous books, including Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Catch Up With Our Ms. Janik:

Website // Twitter // Goodreads // Wisconsin Public Radio

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Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Erika Janik and Beacon. There will be 5 winners of one (1) print copy of Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik. The giveaway begins on March 3rd and runs through March 8th, 2017. The giveaway is open to residents in the US & Canada only. Enter the drawing here.

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Partners in Crime Book Tours

Move Over Miss Marple

Move Over Miss Marple WordleI’m delighted to announce that in April I’ll be leading a course for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Fayetteville, Arkansas. More commonly known as OLLI, the institute is a division of the University of Arkansas. I’m glad to have this chance to return to a place that holds such happy memories; I earned my master’s degree at the university and taught undergraduates there for four years before moving on in pursuit of my doctorate.

During the OLLI course, we’ll be exploring the role of female sleuths in mystery fiction since the days of Miss Marple. The course is structured to run in two-hour sessions meeting once weekly, which allows participants to research authors and writing practices as well as giving everyone time to read excerpts in between sessions. I’m already collecting material to share and looking for more—see details at end of this post.

First, here’s the description for “Move Over, Miss Marple” from the OLLI spring catalog:

This course will explore the role of female sleuths in American and British mystery fiction. The first session will introduce types of female characters—both amateur and professional—in crime solving fictional roles. We’ll explore the differences in character roles and responsibilities within the context of the genre.

In the second session, we’ll discuss how the characters’ dialog and action help bring a region to life in a mystery series. We’ll investigate the way writers create a sense of place, blend fact with fiction, and address social issues and controversies as part of plotting the sleuth’s role.

Our final session will focus on the increasingly popular sub-genre of crime fiction known as the ‘cozy’ mystery. We’ll analyze key structural elements and characteristics defining a cozy mystery. Using the information developed in the first two sessions, we’ll study the variety of types and sleuths within the sub-genre.

The course is appropriate for both writers and readers looking for a deeper understanding and appreciation of women in the mystery genre.

I’ll be sending advance packets via email to registered participants and plan to include “Recommended Reading” lists and (hopefully) excerpts of books that relate to our session topics. And while the main focus is on American and British mystery fiction, I can easily extend that to Canada or the Caribbean. That’s where you all come in!

READERS: who are your favorite female sleuths? Share details in the comments (author, book/series title) and a brief explanation why you’d recommend these to others. I’ll add your name to a drawing for a free copy of Deadly Ties (Kindle or Audiobook edition, your choice). Keep for yourself or pass along as a gift!

Have a favorite website that features cozy mysteries and/or female sleuths? Share that, too! This could be a great way to drive more traffic to sites you enjoy and want to support.

WRITERS: if you have a female sleuth, I’d love to consider promoting you and your work—to include excerpts or sample chapters—as part of this course. Email dogmysteries [at] gmail dot com for details.

You’re also welcome to post in the comments of this post for additional publicity. And if you’ll suggest other authors’ work for inclusion , I’ll add your name to the drawing, too.

READERS AND WRITERS: I’d be very grateful if you’d help me get the word out via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. Reblogging in part or whole is welcome with a link back to my website. My goal is to introduce course participants to as many authors, books, and websites as possible.

In addition to sharing the “Recommended Reads” with registered participants, I’ll happily post the collection here by the end of April so we can learn about “new to us” authors and celebrate books together!

Doodle does Christmas!

Bad-Mouthed book cover

Looking for a terrific, laugh-out loud mystery featuring a one-of-a-kind dog as narrator? I enthusiastically recommend the Doodlebugged mystery series written by the award-winning author Susan J. Kroupa. Doodle’s antics are the perfect choice for dog lovers on your holiday shopping list.

With four books now in the series, this is the perfect time to catch up with Doodle. Each book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone, but why stop at just one? Grab a copy of each and share the joy of Doodle this holiday season! All four in the series are budget-priced PLUS Bad-Mouthed (#4) will be on sale for just 99¢ as part of a one-day-only special on Saturday, December 12th. Grab it while you can!

To learn how the Doodlebugged series came to be, read my earlier post titled Nosing Out a Series. Here’s a snippet of the fun you can expect with Doodle’s latest adventure:

 

Who knew chasing a rat in the middle of a Christmas pageant could cause so much trouble? Certainly not Doodle, the obedience-impaired labradoodle who works for the “boss,” Josh Hunter of Hunter Bed Bug Detection, nor Molly, the boss’s ten-year-old daughter. But then Doodle is the first to admit he doesn’t quite get Christmas.

Doodle’s antics during the pageant draw the attention of a popular video-blogger, who asks to do a feature on his sniffer-dog skills. But when the blog airs, pretty much the opposite of what Molly and the boss expected, the boss’s phone rings off the hook with distraught customers who think Doodle’s bed bug “finds” can’t be trusted. Molly, searching for a way to set things right, befriends the blogger’s son, a boy alienated from his mother who wants only to go live with his father. Throw in a handful of threatening letters, some lost dogs, and a devastating fire, and Molly and Doodle have their hands full—well, in Doodle’s case, his paws—finding out just who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. A charming cozy for all seasons and for dog lovers of all ages.

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KroupaSue&Shadow400Susan J. Kroupa is a dog lover currently owned by a 70 pound labradoodle whose superpower is bringing home dead possums and raccoons and who happens to be the inspiration for her Doodlebugged books. She’s also an award-winning author whose fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, and in a variety of professional anthologies, including Bruce Coville’s Shapeshifters. Her non-fiction publications include features about environmental issues and Hopi Indian culture for The Arizona Republic, High Country News, and American Forests. You can find her books on her website as well as her Amazon sales page.

Compulsively Readable Gifts

If your taste in fiction runs toward thrillers, you should definitely consider adding Libby Fischer Hellmann to your list of “want to read” authors. Long-time readers of this blog will remember I featured Libby last year after learning we have an audiobook narrator (the gifted Robin Rowan) in common. You can read that earlier post here.

While Libby and I have some common elements in our professional portfolios—editing, for example, as well as public speaking and crisis communication experience—she’s far more prolific as an author. Libby’s books cross the spectrum of crime fiction: suspense mysteries; historicals; PI novels; amateur sleuth; police procedurals; and a cozy mystery. Her fiction has been nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, and Edgar awards, and has repeatedly garnered Readers’ Choice awards (see the entire list here.) She’s also past president of Sisters in Crime–a busy woman indeed!

If you’d like to add Libby’s work to your collection—or buy as a gift—now’s the time! She has a box set (Kindle edition) of the Ellie Foreman mysteries on sale through December 2nd. This is the series the critics describe as “a masterful blend of politics, history, and suspense.” You can get all four books for just $5.99 now through December 2nd. Find the box set on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and iBooks. And with book #5 in the series coming in just a few months, this is a perfect time to catch up!

Libby box set

Here’s a sample of the reviews for the books included in this set:

Jeremiah Healy, author of Turnabout calls An Eye for Murder “a clever mystery puzzle…a wonderful thriller.”

The Midwest Book Review has this to say about Picture of Guilt: “Hellmann has surpassed herself. Well-crafted, intense and exciting, right up to the last page… a must read.”

Crimspree Magazine declares A Shot to Die For is “a traditional mystery with a modern edge… the author’s confidence shows from beginning to end… refreshing as soft serve ice cream on a hot summer night.”

And as proof that Libby’s work appeals to readers across the spectrum, Tracy Farnsworth of the Romance Readers Connection says that “the story is action packed with twists that keep you turning the pages. Ms. Hellman has done a fabulous job in bringing two worlds together. … a must read.”

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I’ll be back soon with recommendations and suggestions for dog-related mystery fiction and some more terrific authors. Until then, happy reading!

Digging for Treasure

Group_of_Gun_Dogs_from_1915

Gun dogs: in Dogs of All Nations (W.E. Mason, 1915)

While mystery fiction has quite a few dog-related series, none of them were set in a boarding kennel at the time Deadly Ties was published. Makes a great setting with plenty of characters coming and going—and dogs, of course!

The kennel becomes the physical “anchor” for the book, and for the entire series. As the series opens, kennel owner and dog trainer Maggie Porter is focused on attracting clients and getting the kennel up and running. Her opening coincides with the Merchants’ League’s latest campaign to promote tourism. It’s a new twist on a folktale: business leaders have created a regional “Treasures of the Ozarks” marketing campaign to encourage tourism. The world of business loves tag lines and slogans, and my fictional business leaders are no different. In the story, some clever PR person christens Waterside Kennels  “the newest treasure of the Ozarks.”

And here’s where I should confess: although I’m fascinated by Ozark myths and legends, I didn’t rush right out and buy a metal detector when I first heard the tales about buried treasure. I will tell you, though, that meeting  historian and folklorist Mr. Philip Steele fired up my imagination. With his encouragement, I began plotting a series of books that will include regional folktales and superstitions.

As I researched the old tales, I discovered a great many folks are convinced that treasure really exists, and they’re determined to find it. Others are just as convinced that the treasure talks are pure fiction, and are heartily sick of treasure hunters trespassing on their lands. Since many of those trespassers like to cut fences and dig holes—which they leave unfilled for some unlucky wanderer to fall into—I can certainly appreciate the landowners’ perspective, and I’ve taken care to alter some of the details I was given. That hasn’t stopped some from demanding more information. At one signing, a reader approached with a copy of the book in one hand and a map in the other, and wanted me to mark the location of the silver mentioned in the story!

I’ve also discovered that treasure hunting seems a recession-proof occupation. Since I started researching this series back in the late 1990s, I continue to see the topic of treasure active in online discussions. Even now the forums frequented by coin collectors have posts debating the best places now to use their metal detectors in their quest for Indian silver, Spanish gold, or Civil War relics.

One of the most active sites appears to be TreasureNet, with most participants passionate about metal detecting. That’s where I first came across the Treasure Hunter’s Code of Ethics. (Who knew?) You can find the code posted wherever you buy metal detectors; while the language might vary  from one site to the next, the key principles remain the same. It’s too bad the trespassing treasure hunters won’t abide by the Code.

The treasure hunters’ forums are full of tales and superstitions. And when a tale leads to a “find” that’s enough to keep them searching for more. And so the legends live on, and folktales are passed along, from one generation to the next, keeping the old tales alive. What’s truth? What’s not? Find the right mix, and you have a story waiting to be told.

Nosing Out a Series

Mysteries, amateur sleuths, and dogs: a common combination, some might say. Browse the shelves of any bookstore (physical or virtual) and you’ll find a fascinating collection of mystery fiction, with no two books alike. Each of us brings a different twist to the story; sometimes it’s the regional setting, or perhaps the sleuth’s occupation, and it’s certainly the dogs! You’ll find all sorts featured, to include Basset Hounds, Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, and Poodles. Then there are hybrids, mixed breeds and of who-knows-what dogs, all equally loved and cherished for the wonderful companions that they are. That’s certainly true about the dog in the series featured today.

First, an introduction to today’s honored guest:

KroupaSue&Shadow400Susan J. Kroupa is a dog lover currently owned by a 70 pound labradoodle whose superpower is bringing home dead possums and raccoons and who happens to be the inspiration for her Doodlebugged books. She’s also an award-winning author whose fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, and in a variety of professional anthologies, including Bruce Coville’s Shapeshifters. Her non-fiction publications include features about environmental issues and Hopi Indian culture for The Arizona Republic, High Country News, and American Forests. She now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Southwestern Virginia, where she’s busy writing the next Doodlebugged mystery. You can find her books and read her blog on her website, as well as her Amazon Author page.

Now here’s Susan, sharing the background that inspired her terrific series:

Doodle, the highly independent labradoodle who narrates the Doodlebugged mysteries, is not afraid to admit he’s a service-dog flunkee. “Smart and obedient don’t always go hand in hand,” he says unapologetically about his “career change.” In the series, he works as a bed-bug-detecting dog for “the boss”, Josh Hunter of Hunter Bed Bug Detection. Doodle and Molly, the boss’s ten-year-old daughter, who’s equally independent, always seem to end up in trouble and with a mystery to solve. Bed-Bugged cover

I can see you crinkling your nose already. “Bed bugs?” you ask, barely suppressing the “euwww” that comes to mind. “How did you happen to write about that?”

The answer lies in the misfortune of one of my sons, an attorney who lives in the Arlington, VA. He called one day, quite upset, to tell me he was covered in tick bites.

“Ticks?” I asked. “Are they still attached to you?”

“No,” he said. “Just bites.”

“Can’t be ticks, then,” I told him. I live in the woods near the Blue Ridge Parkway where there’s no shortage of ticks. Inevitably, a tick bite comes complete with a tick, at least for the first few days. (And can also come complete with months or years of disease, but that’s another story.) “Could the bites be from bed bugs?” I asked.

bed-bug-dog (1)At the suggestion, my son investigated the possibility and discovered that bed bugs had infested the apartment directly over his. He complained to the manager, who promptly sent out a bed bug inspector. With a dog. The sniffer dog, as scent-detection dogs are often called, promptly found evidence of a substantial colony of bed bugs in my son’s apartment.

Bad luck for him, but great for me, because I’d been toying with the idea of writing about a scent detection dog that—how should I put it?—wasn’t in one of the glamour jobs of nose work. And I envisioned the books to be light cozy mysteries, suitable for dog lovers from kids through adults. Sniffing out bed bugs wouldn’t put Doodle in the potentially gritty situations that being a narcotics or police dog would.  Plus, I’d already decided that he would be a labradoodle, a cross between a poodle and a Labrador retriever, not the kind of dog that generally works in those professions. As Doodle puts it in Dog-Nabbed, when an undercover cop asks if he’d like to be a police dog, “Not sure what he means, since everyone knows German shepherds are the ones who go into police work. A little too intense for my taste, but in my experience German shepherds are all about intensity.”

I set out to do research and discovered that while sniffer dogs in the bed bug profession generally tend to be beagles or Labrador retrievers, there were, in fact, some labradoodle bed-bug dogs. I already had a model for Doodle in mind—the extremely independent, often challenging, and sometimes affection-impaired labradoodle we’d adopted as a puppy a few years earlier. His antics gave me plenty of material for a starting point.

ShadowPuppyX400

But I wanted the series to be more than “cute dog solves mystery”. Other than the fact that he’s the narrator, with some admitted stretching of his understanding in certain situations, Doodle acts like a dog: nose driven, literal (as in metaphor-impaired), attuned to body language more than words, and prone to misunderstanding what the humans around him are saying. He can’t speak except through his own body language, and he’s the first to complain how clueless humans are in understanding that.

And more than having him be a semi-realistic dog, I wanted him in a real family who has real problems outside the mystery of the moment. Though Molly drives the action and is the one who solves the mysteries, throughout the course of the books, the reader sees “the boss”, Josh, struggle as a single parent, sees his own fears and triumphs, and the budding possibility (beginning in book two) of romance—all filtered through the eyes of a dog, who sometimes gets it and sometimes doesn’t.

The series now has four books with a fifth one due out in the fall. You can read an excerpt of Bed-Bugged, the first Doodlebugged mystery, here. And you can read all about the books on Susan’s Amazon sales page or on her website.  And here’s a special offer from Susan:

And, for a limited time, you can get Bed-Bugged for only $0.99 at most ebook retail sites and learn just how Doodle got himself into the bed bug detection business, and, more importantly, how he met the boss and Molly.

Doodle would call that a win-win situation. I hope you will too.

Doodle

 

Let’s Get to Know Jerold Last

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 Last, Author

Jerold Last, Author

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.

Dog show cover copyTo 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.

Novels

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]

Novellas

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!

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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!