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Genre: Adult, Christian, Fiction, Historical, Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Whodunit Press
Publication date: October 17, 2016
Number of pages: 340
December 5th, 1941. Houston socialite, Tracy Truworth, is always on the lookout for something suspicious. Especially after growing up with her nose in the latest Katie McClue mystery novel, a series featuring a twenty-something female detective and her constant feats of derring-do. And for Tracy, escaping reality through reading
Then days later, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, and just a few days after that, Germany declares war against the U.S. Rightly so, President Roosevelt returns the favor. Of course, Tracy immediately finds herself caught up in the War, just like the rest of the nation. But it's her curiosity that leads her on a collision course with a killer, and she arrives at the bombshell's apartment only moments after the blonde has been murdered. Though Tracy is accused of the crime at first, she quickly finds herself working as an Apprentice P.I., under the tutelage of a real private investigator. Soon, they're hot on the trail of the bombshell's murderer. Then from singing at the hottest nightclub around, to a car chase in her 1940 Packard, Tracy's investigation takes her far from her blue-blood upbringing. And it isn't long before she finds the War is hitting a lot closer to home.
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First, I'm hoping to give readers an updated flair of the great mystery novels and movies of the late 1930s and 40s. It was a colorful time before modern forensics, when fictional detectives and amateur sleuths had to rely on their intuition and people skills to uncover the identity of a killer. Much like the lead character in this book, Tracy Truworth, the protagonists of those days were larger than life, the stories were not quite so gory, and the crimes weren't shown with such blood-and-guts imagery. When you entered the world of a mystery in those days, you knew you were stepping into a fictitious place for the moment, and you could escape reality, rather than feel like you were involved in something that might be shown on the 6:00 news.
And second, I'd like to show readers the incredible selflessness of people of that generation. There's a very good reason why Tom Brokaw has called them the “Greatest Generation.” From the homefront to the front lines, these people who grew up with absolutely nothing during the Great Depression were now willing to sacrifice everything, including their own lives, to stop fascism from taking over the world. One way or another, nearly everyone was involved in the War Effort. Men signed up in droves to go off to fight, and if, for some reason, they were unable to serve, many found it a great source of embarrassment. And women as a whole went to work for the first time, since workers were desperately needed here to produce airplanes and such so that we could win the war. People at home "went without" to ensure our military was well supplied. We've never seen the whole country join together to fight an enemy like we did in WWII.
2. Can you tell us about the other books you will be writing for this series?
The second book currently has a working title of "Swell Time for a Swing Dance," a title which is subject to change, of course. :) This book is due out next Fall, and the story starts out at a New Year's Eve gala for the Houston Museum of Art. The victim of a "murder at midnight" plot is a dapper fella who had been wowing the crowd all night long with his incredible swing-dancing skills . . . though apparently someone wasn't too pleased with his boogie-woogie abilities. As Tracy and her boss, Sammy Falcone, P.I., investigate the murder, they learn the victim was once a member of the "Swingjugend," or Swing Kids, a group of German young people who defied Hitler and the Nazis by listening and dancing to swing music. As she investigates more, Tracy learns the young man found dead on the dance floor had escaped Germany and made his way to the U.S., while 300 of the Swing Kids were rounded up in August of 1941, and sent to concentration camps — all because of the way they dressed and the music they listened to. Now Tracy tries to figure out why someone who had escaped the dangers of Nazi Germany met his end in Houston, TX, at the very moment when the year 1941 came to an end, too.
3. Do you have any funny or interesting “fan mail” or book signing stories?
I recently hosted a booth at a two-day Book Festival, and signed and sold lots of my books. On the first morning of the festival, a young family of four kids and a Mom stopped by, and the youngest girl was taking a look at my Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Capers books, geared toward kids and cat lovers. The girl was utterly adorable, and after reading the backs of all the books, she decided to try the first in the series. So I signed it for her and chatted with the family for a few minutes. Then we said our goodbyes, and I figured I might see them the next time I came to this same festival.
So I was pretty surprised when, just an hour before the event ended the following day, this same family came rushing in and stood before my booth. While the little girl was doing her best to act "nonchalant," her brother had no intention of doing so. Instead, he proudly looked me in the eye and informed me that his younger sister had read the whole book in one day — quite a feat for any child and obviously a source of great amazement to him — and was now back to buy the other three books in the series. When I asked the little girl what she thought of the book, she played it cool while her brother acted as her spokesperson and told me in no uncertain terms that the book was now her "favorite." And so it went. He told me everything, and as near as I could tell, didn't leave out a single detail while she simply stood by looking adorable. I think it took seven major muscle groups for me to hold my laughter, because honestly, I thought the whole scene was pretty hilarious. In the end, they bought the entire series, and they left with promises of stopping by to say hello the next year. Humor aside, I really have to applaud parents like that, who are raising their kids to be such great readers. They’re giving their children a chance at a much brighter future.
4. What is your work schedule like when you are writing? Do you write full time or part time?
Ha! I guess you could say I write full-time and then some. (Though I am well aware how very blessed I am to be able do so.) My writing schedule varies somewhat during the year, because, as a full-fledged Christmas-o-holic (who puts up yard lights that can be seen from the Space Station), I always devote a lot of time to decorating in October and November. Then I fall into the usual joyful hustle and bustle of Christmas activities, including hosting a party or two of my own. I also sell my books at various shows in November to December, so I don't get a lot of writing time during these months unless I'm on a deadline. However, I do find time for research during the holiday season, so I can settle down and start writing again the first of the year.
Strangely enough, I seem to get more writing done during the summer months, and I'm not sure why that is. I also wrestle with insomnia (runs in my family), so if I can't sleep I just get up and work on my latest book. To be honest, I actually enjoy writing in the middle of the night, when the world is quiet and free from everyday distractions, and I can really concentrate on my work. Funny, but the insomniacs in my ancestry were all very accomplished and highly successful, so I guess you could say insomnia does have its plus side . . . :)
5. What inspired the idea for "Bad Day for a Bombshell?"
Quite frankly, this book was inevitable. I’ve long been a fan of the old mysteries, those that were actually written in the 1930s and 40s. Top that off with a love of vintage clothing (I’ve been a collector for a couple of decades), and a love of swing dance and big band music . . . and well, I just knew that someday I’d write a 1940s/WWII mystery novel. I’m surprised that it took me this long to get to it, but I had too many other projects going before this one. (So many books to write, so little time . . .) As for the specifics of the plotline, amazingly, I started out with one plotline, but the more I got into the story itself and the more I got to know my characters, well, the more I realized my first plotline just wasn’t the right one for this book. Not only that, but the first time I wrote my lead character, Tracy Truworth, I gave her the profession of being a newspaper reporter, kind of a Brenda Starr-type character. Yet the more I developed my heroine, the more I saw that she needed a different occupation to suit her personality. So I gave her the goal of being a Private Investigator instead, with her starting out as an Apprentice P.I. So I veered off the original plan and let the story go in a completely different direction. I have to say, I’m very glad I did. It’s a much better fit, especially for a mystery series.
Though at least he’d removed my handcuffs.
“Soooo . . . little missy,” he said in a slow drawl, one he seemed to have acquired somewhere between the apartment building and the police station. “This is all about a man, huh? And looking at your fiancé, being the handsome fella that he is, I can see why you’d want to ‘fight for your man.’ So when your fiancé called it quits, you headed straight for the girlfriend that he had on the side, and you got into a brawl. Only she was more of a scrapper than you thought, and the fight got more heated than you expected. And you ended up grabbing a knife and killing the little tart.”
“Excuse me?” Michael jutted out his chin. “I did not know the deceased in any way, and I was not having a dalliance with some mere floozy in a low-rent apartment. As for why Tracy stabbed this woman, I cannot say.”
I slammed my hands on the table and stood up. “Again, Betty was shot! She was shot, with a gun. She wasn’t stabbed. A stab wound makes a cut, whereas a gunshot leaves a hole. And I did neither of those things to her.”
Then I turned to Michael. “And why, pray tell, are you here? I thought our relationship was over.”
As always, Michael sighed. “I am here to represent you, Tracy. Pro bono. I am your lawyer.”
To which I let out a little shriek. “This is the best I can do for a lawyer?”
Now my mother glared at me. Or at least, she tried to glare at me, but no matter how hard she seemed to work at it, she could not manage to hold her gaze steady.
“Michael has a brilliant legal mind,” she huffed. Just before she turned her smiling face toward my ex, while her gaze fought to catch up. “Right, Michael?”
He raised one eyebrow. “Actually, Mrs. Truworth, I am only here to represent Tracy with the hopes of getting her out on bail soon.”
I gasped. “Out on bail? I haven’t been arrested. There isn't going to be any need for any bail since I did nothing wrong.”
Nana touched my shoulder. “Tracy is not a murderer. She wouldn’t harm a fly.”
My mother scrunched up her face. “Who knows what Tracy would do? I can’t believe she actually got up on stage and sang this evening. How terribly common. And improper. And who knows what she did to ruin her engagement, though we do know it was clearly all her fault.”
“Tracy was going to break up with Michael,” Nana interjected. “She was planning on doing it tonight. He just did it first and saved her the trouble.”
Michael turned to me. “I’m shocked by this news. Positively shocked. It seems I hardly even knew the woman I was about to marry.”
I rolled my eyes. “Why would this come as a surprise? Maybe if you’d spent more time with me, we might’ve actually gotten to know each other.”
Michael sighed. “I don’t think it’s possible for a man to ever spend enough time with you, Tracy. Because you’re much too selfish and immature. And I won’t be spending much time here, either, since I’m only handling things to get you released while you await your trial. After that, I simply do not have the time to take on a murder case.”
I rolled my eyes again and sat down. “Of course you don’t. Though once again, may I remind you, that I have not been arrested. Or charged with anything. Because I didn’t kill Betty. There isn’t going to be a murder trial. At least not for me, anyway.”
“Tracy is innocent,” Nana announced.
The detective leaned forward. “Not from where I stand. Maybe she’d like to explain that shiner she’s got. I still think she and Betty got into a fight. As near as I can tell, little missy, Betty must have walloped you pretty good.”
Whereby I glanced at my mother. “Betty didn’t hit me. My own mother did. In public, at the dance.”
“And she had better not lay a hand on you ever again!” Nana clenched her teeth and stood up.
My mother put a hand to her forehead as though she might faint. “How dare you both accuse me like that! I did no such thing!”
“And that only makes things even more interesting,” Detective Denton grinned. “Your mother beats you up and then you go and take it out on an innocent girl . . .”
I shook my head. “I did not kill Betty! But maybe we should talk about why you’re allowing a crowd in here while you’re questioning me. Because I would like Michael and my mother to leave.”
Detective Denton leaned back and grinned even wider. “Oh, please, by all means, let’s let these people stay. This little Marx Brothers’ routine is teaching me a lot about Tracy Truworth and why she had motivation to kill Betty Hoffman.”
Michael suddenly gulped. “Betty Hoffman? Did you say Betty Hoffman? Betty was living in that apartment building? And now she’s . . . dead?”
Detective Denton pulled out a notepad and flipped over a few pages. Then he started writing something before he raised an eyebrow to Michael. “So you did know the deceased, after all.”
Michael tugged at his collar. “I may have met her once or twice. At the Polynesian Room.”
I’m sure my eyes were about to pop out of my head when I turned to Michael. “When did you have time to go to the Polynesian Room? Or down to Galveston? I thought you were working day and night.”
He sniffed. “One must occasionally entertain for business purposes.”
Nana snorted and sat down again. “Business purposes! I’ll bet. It sounds to me like the only kind of business you were involved in was monkey business.”
“What a terribly common thing to say,” my mother retorted.
All the while, Detective Denton wrote more and more notes on his notepad. “This must be my lucky day. Neglected doll. Philandering fiancé. And mother who humiliates her in public. Boy, oh boy, the jury is absolutely gonna love this one. This will probably make the front page of the paper. I’ll be famous after this case.”
I groaned, wondering if there was any hope at all for me to get out of this gigantic hole I’d suddenly found myself in. A hole that my mother and ex-fiancé seemed to be digging just as fast as they could make their shovels move. The more they dug, the more Detective Denton was determined to see me hang. Did the facts in this case even matter? Or was he just trying to wear me down and get me to admit to a crime that I hadn’t even thought of committing? To think, all this had happened because I’d had momentary hopes of reviving Betty.
I was suddenly very thankful that I’d taken pictures of the crime scene. Because, judging by the way things were going, I might need all the evidence I could get to prove my innocence.
Detective Denton leaned forward and touched my hand. “So, Tracy, you say that Miss Hoffman was shot . . . where did you get the gun?”
“She made a comment about shooting me with her father’s gun the other day,” Michael added with a frown.
I let out another shriek. By now I was reaching the point where the thought of committing murder was actually starting to sound like a good idea, starting with my ex-fiancé.
I raised both eyebrows and stared at him. “What kind of a lawyer are you? Aren’t you supposed to come to my defense, instead of doing your level best to incriminate me?”
He sighed. “I am hardly a criminal lawyer, Tracy. Though I am well aware that sometimes it’s best to simply confess and throw yourself on the mercy of the court. Perhaps you could go for an insanity plea.”
My mother touched Michael’s arm. “Don’t worry, Michael. Insanity does not run in our family. Tracy will not produce any heirs who would turn out to be insane.”
This from a woman who was drunk and had just slapped her own daughter in front of an entire room full of people.
I shook my head in disbelief. “There won’t be any heirs because Michael and I are no longer engaged. And besides that, I’m not insane and I didn’t kill Betty.”
Nana threw her hands up in the air. “Tracy is not a murderer. How many times must I repeat it? I’m going to call my own lawyer.”
Just then the door to the already crowded room flew open wide. Speaking of insanity pleas, in strode none other than Sammy himself, a man whose hobbies included walking around with a box full of obituaries. As always, he wore his trench coat and fedora.
I stifled a moan. Of all the interrogation rooms in all the police stations in all the towns in all the world, why did this Humphrey Bogart look-alike have to walk into mine? He was all I needed to add to this group who was about to convict or commit me.
Detective Denton let out a laugh. “Now who do we have? Another character in this little Vaudeville Act? This is better than going to the movies.” He jerked a thumb at Sammy. “Especially since this new guy is a dead ringer for Sam Spade.”
That’s when I dropped my head into my hands. Could this night get any more bizarre?
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