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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Speak Out Before You Die

We interrupt this blog for another in our continuing series of annoying announcements: the second book in my new “cozy” mystery series is available now as an ebook, and will be published in paperback in August.

For those who write book reviews on their blogs and would be interested, I’ll provide the first five people who email me, a free copy of the ebook (through a coupon on Smashwords to be read on any ereader device or on your computer) or a paperback book, or both if you prefer. My email is Please don’t leave your email or mailing address in the comments section. All emails and mailing addresses will remain private.

The cover is done by that extraordinary talent, Casey Koester, whom you might know better as Noir Girl from her blog.  The vector graphic style used here is the same style she applied on the first book in the series, Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red, and I hope her participation on these covers will continue for several more books. She’s terrific, as you can see. I like the whimsical nature of the illustrations, the feel of being both from the era of the stories (late 1940s, early 1950s), and yet still seeming clean and modern.

And now (drum roll) the blurb: Speak Out Before You Die, the second in the “Double V Mysteries” series reunites wealthy Juliet Van Allen and ex-con Elmer Vartanian on New Year’s Eve, 1949. Guests are gathered in snowbound mansion for the wedding of Juliet’s widowed father to an elegant younger woman just after the clock strikes midnight. When Juliet finds what appears to be a threatening note directed at her father, she calls Elmer to pose as a hired servant to help ferret out the danger…but midnight is approaching and time is running out. There may be murder as the old year dies.

What interests me about these characters of Juliet and Elmer, who began their partnership for mutual survival in the first book Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red -- is that neither is a mastermind sleuth. I’ve always been a bit annoyed at the great literary detectives who possess so much knowledge on bullet wounds and African poison darts, and who also seem to solve the crime in the last few pages of the book by producing evidence which the writer has withheld from the reader. (“I had my assistant wire these documents from the War Office last night which PROOVES that the colonel was a VEGETARIAN!”)

There’s a scene at the end of the movie “Murder by Death” (1976), the Neil Simon parody of great detectives where Truman Capote berates the famous sleuths for withholding clues from the reader until the last minute. When I first saw that scene as a teenager I agreed with his complaint, erupting in righteous indignation.

“Hey...yeah!” I said.

That was pretty much all I said at the time. I never claimed to be articulate, just indigant.

Fast forward to now and my two characters who are not geniuses. Juliet and Elmer are ill-equipped to find murderers. She is the daughter of a wealthy financier and museum administrator, and he is an ex-con, who had made more use of his opportunities to read literature in prison that she did at finishing school. They are intelligent enough, but not more than anybody else. They have no superior gifts. With their back stories, including the pain over the outcomes of their previous marriages, they carry a lot more emotional baggage than most.

The edge they have going for them is their growing relationship. Their trust in each other and their reliance on each other’s opinions and perspectives is what guides them through the sticky mess of who done it. Their relationship, with its ups and downs, will be the engine that drives the series, and takes them through the brave new world of the 1950s.

Speak Out Before You Die (the title, though appropriately lurid, is actually from a line in a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson) ebook version will be on sale for the next month at 99 cents, then will be ruthlessly jacked up to $2.99. The paperback will be sold for $12, plus postage. You’ll be able to buy the paperback directly from me, or in the coming weeks from CreateSpace or Amazon. Currently, the ebook is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords:

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