From critically acclaimed author Susan Kandel comes a charming new mystery featuring Dreama Black and a cast of zany LA-based characters.
The first time I set eyes on Miles McCoy, I worried he might try to eat me. He was the size and girth of a North American grizzly, with long, silver-tipped hair, a long silver-tipped beard, and small dark eyes that bore into me like I was a particularly fine specimen of Chinook salmon. It couldn’t have helped that I’d used a honey scrub the morning we met. I should’ve known better. Not just about the scrub, but about a lot of things.
Like braving the freeway during rush hour.
Like thinking you can’t get a ticket for parking at a broken meter.
Like racing up to his penthouse in gladiator sandals, and expecting not to twist an ankle.
Like watching his fiancée shoot herself, and assuming it was suicide, instead of murder.
Meet Dreama Black. A 28 year-old, third-generation groupie trying to figure out who she is after being publicly dumped by the rock god whose mega-hit, “Dreama, Little Dreama” made the name and the girl world-famous. Now Dreama supports herself by running custom-designed, themed tours of her hometown of L.A. When she is hired by a Raymond Chandler-obsessed rap producer to create a “L.A. noir” tour as his present to his soon-to-be bride, Dreama gets pulled into the middle of a possible murder, corrupt cops, and an unforgettable pair of femme fatales.
Published by: Witness Impulse Publication Date: May 23rd 2017 Number of Pages: 304 ISBN: 0062674994 (ISBN13: 9780062674999) Series: A Dreama Black Mystery, 1 Purchase Links:Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗
Read an excerpt:
The first time I set eyes on Miles McCoy, I worried he might try to eat me. He was the size and girth of a North American grizzly bear, with long silver-tipped hair, a long silver-tipped beard, and small dark eyes that bore into me like I was a particularly fine specimen of Chinook salmon. It couldn’t have helped that I’d used a honey scrub the morning we met. I should’ve known better. Not just about the scrub, but about a lot of things.
Like braving the freeway during rush hour.
Like thinking you can’t get a ticket for parking at a broken meter.
Like racing up to his penthouse in Balenciaga gladiator sandals, and expecting not to twist an ankle.
Like watching his fiancée shoot herself, and assuming it was suicide, instead of murder.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, which is another thing I should know better about. Because if I’ve learned anything at all from my study of film noir (which got me into the whole sordid Miles McCoy mess to begin with), it is to tell the story in the precise order in which it happened.
The trouble started the day before, which was Valentine’s Day, a pagan holiday named after the Roman priest who defied Claudius II by marrying Christian couples. After being hauled off in shackles, the soft-hearted cleric was beaten with clubs, stoned, and when that didn’t finish him off, publicly beheaded. Makes you think.
It had poured rain for eight days running, which isn’t what you sign on for when you live in Los Angeles. But that morning, as I stepped outside for a run, the sun was blinding—so blinding, in fact, that I didn’t see the fragrant valentine my neighbor’s dog, Engelbart, had left on the stoop for me. Not that I minded spending the next twenty minutes cleaning the grooves of my running shoe with a chopstick. It was a beautiful day. The rollerbladers were cruising the Venice boardwalk. The scent of medical marijuana was wafting through the air. Engelbart’s gastrointestinal tract was sound.
An hour later, I hopped into my mint green 1975 Mercedes convertible, and made my way up Lincoln to the freeway. I was headed to Larchmont, an incongruous stretch of Main Street, USA, sandwiched between Hollywood and Koreatown. This was where studio executives’ wives and their private school daughters came for green juice, yoga pants, and the occasional wrench from the general store that had served Hancock Park since the 1930s. It was also where my mother and grandmother ran Cellar Door, known for its chia seed porridge and life-positive service. I helped out whenever my coffers were running low. Which was most of the time.
You are probably frowning right about now. Surely a young woman who owns a classic convertible—as well as Balenciaga gladiators—should not be perennially low on funds. But it’s true.
The car came from my grandmother, who received it as part of her third (fourth?) divorce settlement and gave it to me as a gift when I strong-armed my mother into rehab for the fourth (fifth?) time. The sandals I purchased online in a frenzy of self-loathing shortly after watching my ex-boyfriend the rock god serenading his current girlfriend the supermodel on an otherwise uneventful episode of Ellen. I’d tried to return the sandals, but one of the studs had fallen off, making them damaged goods. Like their owner. Not that I’m hard on myself. It’s just that my career—I take clients on custom-designed, private tours of my hometown of L.A.—wasn’t exactly thriving, which is why I was easy prey for the likes of Miles McCoy. But I’m getting ahead of myself again. Here comes the good part. The part where I’m driving like the wind and almost don’t notice the flashing lights in my mirror. I knew I should have fixed that taillight.
I pulled over, cut the motor, handed the cop my license and registration. He looked down, then did a double take. “Dreama Black?”
That would be me.
“The Dreama Black?” he continued. “As in ‘Dreama, Little Dreama’?”
Perhaps I should explain.
I am a twenty-eight-year-old, third-generation rock ’n’ roll groupie—or “muse,” as the women in my family like to put it.
My grandmother, a fine-boned blonde who never met a gossamer shawl or Victorian boot she didn’t like, spent the sixties sleeping her way through Laurel Canyon, winding up in a house on Rothdell Trail (a.k.a. “Love Street”) purchased for her by a certain lead singer of a certain iconic band whose name is the plural of the thing that hits you on the way out.
My mother, blessed with thick, dark tresses and a way with mousse, was consort to many of the pseudo-androgynous alpha males of American hair metal, her chief claim to fame an MTV video in which she writhed across the hood of a Porsche wearing a white leotard and black, thigh-high boots. She also bought Axl Rose his first kilt.
As for me, well, I was on my way to freshman orientation when this guy I’d been seeing, who’d played a couple of no-name clubs with some friends from summer camp, intercepted me at LAX, put his lips to my ear, and hummed the opening bars of a new song I’d apparently inspired. Instead of boarding the plane for Berkeley, I boarded the tour bus with Luke Cutt and the other skinny, pimply members of Rocket Science. Four world tours, three hit albums, two Grammys, and one breakup later, “Dreama, Little Dreama”—an emo pop anthem that went gold in seven days and has sold eleven million copies to date—had made me almost famous forever.
“Step out of the car, please.”
The cop removed his sunglasses. Peach fuzz. Straight out of the academy. “So.”
He wanted to get a picture with me.
“I’d love to get a picture with you,” he said.
I smoothed down my cut-offs and striped T-shirt, removed my red Ray-Bans, ran my fingers through my long, straight, freshly balayaged auburn hair. The cop put his arm around me, leaned in close, took a couple of snaps on his phone. Let me guess. He’d had a crush on me since tenth grade, when he saw me in a white tank and no bra on the cover of Rocket Science’s debut C.D., and now he was going to post the pictures on Instagram to show all his buddies.
“Awesome.” He gave me a brotherly punch on the arm. “No way is my wife going to believe this. She’s crazy about Luke Cutt. Hey, is he really dating that Victoria’s Secret Angel? She is smoking hot.”
An Agatha, Edgar, and SCIBA nominee, Susan Kandel is the author of the nationally best-selling and critically acclaimed Cece Caruso series, the most recent of which, Dial H for Hitchcock (Morrow), was named by NPR as one of the five best mysteries of the year. A Los Angeles native, she was trained as an art historian, taught at NYU and UCLA, and spent a decade as an art critic at the Los Angeles Times. When not writing, she volunteers as a court-appointed advocate for foster children, and loves to explore secret, forgotten, and kitschy L.A. She lives with her husband in West Hollywood.
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Susan Kandel and Harper Collins. There will be 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Dream A Little Death by Susan Kandel. The giveaway begins on May 23rd and runs through June 27th 2017
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
May 3 Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story? I have to chuckled when thinking about this question. While writing Forbidden, I had to write a scene about a helicopter battle scene. Now understand that I’ve been in a medivac chopper, but I know nothing about flying them. To make the battle scene sound authentic, I read up on how to fly a helicopter, all the maneuvers pilots do in battle, and what action will cause a chopper to crash. I sent a draft of that scene to a beta reader who was quite impressed. It was cool!
I’m truly honored to be one of IWSG’s hosts this month. I hope to visit as many blogs as possible to say hello and share. I’m pretty excited about a promo coming up in June. Forbidden will be featured for an entire month at CMash Reads . I’ll be doing interviews, feature Forbidden’s characters (maybe even the real nasty culprits), setting development, etc. There will be giveaways, and Forbidden ebook will be FREE during the last five days of June. It’s going to be crazy fun.
I’m still very busy with promoting my second novel, Forbidden, since its launch in January with Amazon KDP. My goal this year is to obtain 100 reviews. Yes, I know, you’re shaking your head and saying, “Good luck, Chickypoo.”
It’s like pulling hen’s teeth finding reviewers who are in the right genre and available. So far, I have 20 reviews, the average rating is 4.6. Pretty darn good but I need a lot more.
Here’s the deal, my lovely fellow authors and readers. I will send an ebook to you for FREE in exchange for an honest review posted on Amazon and Goodreads. If that’s not your gig, please post this offer on your blog and/or facebook.
In Mundy’s Landing, bygone bloodshed has become a big business. During the rigorous winter of 1666, all but five colonists in the small Hudson Valley settlement died of starvation. Accused of unimaginable crimes, James and Elizabeth Mundy and their three children survived, but the couple were later accused of murder and executed. Left to fend for themselves in a hostile community, their offspring lived out exemplary lives in a town that would bear the family name. They never reveal the secret that died with their parents on the gallows… or did they?
“We Shall Never Tell.” Spurred by the cryptic phrase in a centuries-old letter, Emerson Mundy has flown cross-country to her ancestral hometown in hopes of tracing her ancestral past—and perhaps building a future. In Mundy’s Landing, she discovers long lost relatives, a welcoming ancestral home… and a closet full of skeletons.
A year has passed since former NYPD Detective Sullivan Leary solved the historic Sleeping Beauty Murders, apprehended a copycat killer, and made a fresh start in the Hudson Valley. Banking on an uneventful future in a village that’s seen more than its share of bloodshed, Sully is in for an unpleasant surprise when a historic skull reveals a notorious truth. Now she’s on the trail of a murky predator determined to destroy the Mundy family tree, branch by branch.
Genre: Thriller/Suspense Published by: William Morrow Mass Market Publication Date: March 28, 2017 Number of Pages: 384 ISBN: 0062349775 (ISBN13: 9780062349774) Series: Mundy’s Landing #3 (Stand Alone) Purchase Links:Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗
Read an excerpt:
July 20, 2016
Los Angeles, CA
We shall never tell.
Strange, the thoughts that go through your head when you’re standing at an open grave.
Not that Emerson Mundy knew anything about open graves before today. Her father’s funeral is the first she’s ever attended, and she’s the sole mourner.
Ah, at last, a perk to living a life without many—any—loved ones; you don’t spend much time grieving, unless you count the pervasive ache for the things you never had.
The minister, who came with the cemetery package and never even met Jerry Mundy, is rambling on about souls and salvation. Emerson hears only We shall never tell—the closing line in an old letter she found yesterday in the crawl space of her childhood home. It had been written in 1676 by a young woman named Priscilla Mundy, addressed to her brother, Jeremiah.
The Mundys were among the seventeenth-century English colonists who settled on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, about a hundred miles north of New York City. Their first winter was so harsh the river froze, stranding their supply ship and additional colonists in the New York harbor. When the ship arrived after the thaw, all but five settlers had starved to death.
Jeremiah; Priscilla; their sister, Charity; and their parents had eaten human flesh to stay alive. James and Elizabeth Mundy swore they’d only cannibalized those who’d already died, but the God-fearing, well-fed newcomers couldn’t fathom such wretched butchery. A Puritan justice committee tortured the couple until they confessed to murder, then swiftly tried, convicted, and hanged them.
“Do you think we’re related?” Emerson asked her father after learning about the Mundys back in elementary school.
“Nope.” Curt answers were typical when she brought up anything Jerry Mundy didn’t want to discuss. The past was high on the list.
“That’s it? Just nope?”
“What else do you want me to say?”
“How about yes?”
“That wouldn’t be the truth,” he said with a shrug.
“Sometimes the truth isn’t very interesting.”
She had no one else to ask about her family history. Dad was an only child, and his parents, Donald and Inez Mundy, had passed away before she was born. Their headstone is adjacent to the gaping rectangle about to swallow her father’s casket. Staring that the inscription, she notices her grandfather’s unusual middle initial.
Donald X. Mundy, Born 1900, Died 1972.
X marks the spot.
Thanks to her passion for history and Robert Louis Stevenson, Emerson’s bookworm childhood included a phase when she searched obsessively for buried treasure. Money was short in their household after two heart attacks left Jerry Mundy on permanent disability.
X marks the spot…
No gold doubloon treasure chest buried here. Just dusty old bones of people she never knew.
And now, her father.
The service concludes with a prayer as the coffin is lowered into the ground. The minister clasps her hand and tells her how sorry he is for her loss, then leaves her to sit on a bench and stare at the hillside as the undertakers finish the job.
The sun is beginning to burn through the thick marine layer that swaddles most June and July mornings. Having grown up in Southern California, she knows the sky will be bright blue by mid-afternoon. Tomorrow will be more of the same. By then, she’ll be on her way back up the coast, back to her life in Oakland, where the fog rolls in and stays for days, weeks at a time. Funny, but there she welcomes the gray, a soothing shield from real world glare and sharp edges.
Here the seasonal gloom has felt oppressive and depressing.
Emerson watches the undertakers finish the job and load their equipment into a van. After they drive off, she makes her way between neat rows of tombstones to inspect the raked dirt rectangle.
When something is over, you move on, her father told her when she left home nearly two decades ago. She attended Cal State Fullerton with scholarships and maximum financial aid, got her master’s at Berkeley, and landed a teaching job in the Bay Area.
But she didn’t necessarily move on.
Every holiday, many weekends, and for two whole months every summer, she makes the six-hour drive down to stay with her father. She cooks and cleans for him, and at night they sit together and watch Wheel of Fortune reruns.
It used to be because she craved a connection to the only family she had in the world. Lately, though, it was as much because Jerry Mundy needed her.
He pretended that he didn’t, that he was taking care of himself and the house, too proud to admit he was failing. He was a shadow of his former self when he died at seventy-six, leaving Emerson alone in the world.
Throughout her motherless childhood, Emerson was obsessed with novels about orphans. Treasure Island shared coveted space on her bookshelf with Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, The Witch of Blackbird Pond…
She always wondered what would happen to her if her father died. Would she wind up in an orphanage? Would a kindly stranger take her in? Would she live on the streets?
Now that it’s happened he’s down there, in the dirt … moving on?
She’ll never again hear his voice. She’ll never see the face so like her own that she can’t imagine she inherited any physical characteristics from her mother, Didi—though she can’t be certain.
Years ago, she asked her father for a picture—preferably one that showed her mother holding her as a baby, or of her parents together. Maybe she wanted evidence that she and her father had been loved; that the woman who’d abandoned them had once been normal—a proud new mother, a happy bride.
Or was it the opposite? Was she hoping to glimpse a hint that Didi Mundy was never normal? Did she expect to confirm that people—normal people—don’t just wake up one morning and choose to walk out on a husband and child? That there was always something off about her mother: a telltale gleam in the eye, or a faraway expression—some warning sign her father had overlooked. A sign Emerson herself would be able to recognize, should she ever be tempted to marry.
But there were no images of Didi that she could slip into a frame, or deface with angry black ink, or simply commit to memory.
Exhibit A: Untrustworthy.
Sure, there had been plenty of photos, her father admitted unapologetically. He’d gotten rid of everything.
There were plenty of pictures of her and Dad, though.
Exhibit B: Trustworthy.
Dad holding her hand on her first day of kindergarten, Dad leading her in an awkward waltz at a father-daughter middle school dance, Dad posing with her at high school graduation.
“Two peas in a pod,” he liked to say. “If I weren’t me, I’d think you were.”
She has his thick, wavy hair, the same dimple on her right cheek, same angular nose and bristly slashes of brow. Even her wide-set, prominent, upturned eyes are the same as his, with one notable exception.
Jerry Mundy’s eyes were a piercing blue.
Only one of Emerson’s is that shade; the other, a chalky gray.
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Wendy Corsi Staub and William Morrow. There will be 3 winners of one (1) Print copy of Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub. The giveaway begins on March 30th and runs through May 2nd, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.
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.
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 🔗
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.
“Erika Janik does a fine job tracing the history of women in police work while at the same time describing the role of females in crime fiction. The outcome, with a memorable gallery of characters, is a rich look at the ways in which fact and fiction overlap, reflecting the society surrounding them. A treat for fans of the mystery—and who isn’t?” ~ Katherine Hall Page, Agatha Award–winning author of The Body in the Belfry and The Body in the Snowdrift
“A fascinating mix of the history of early policewomen and their role in crime fiction—positions that were then, and, to some extent even now, in conflict with societal expectations.” ~ Library Journal
“An entertaining history of women’s daring, defiant life choices.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
Erika 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.
Don’t Miss Your Chance to Win Pistols and Petticoats!
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.
Year 2047, City of Samarra, capital of the Republic of Islamic Provinces & Territories
Fifteen American travelers have vanished. Surrendering to Mayor Aamir’s demands, Captain Sharif becomes the reluctant keeper of his city’s bloody secret – and the witness, Eliza MacKay. The devout Muslim is horrified to discover that if he exposes the cover-up, his family will suffer dire consequences.
The CIA has the lying Sharif in their cross hairs. Sharif’s only hope is to prove his country’s government is free of guilt. Secretly, he hunts forensic evidence. Cryptic messages, backstabbing informants, and corruption threaten Sharif’s resolve to see justice served. When he discovers the shocking truth, he and MacKay become the targets of a ruthless killer.
Sharif is tortured by his attraction to the impetuous Eliza MacKay. In spite of her struggle with PTSD, he’s drawn to her vivacious personality. Islam forbids the intimacy he craves. In desperation to save Eliza, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.
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TODAY’S FEATURE IS – A Vicious Attack
City of Samarra, Republic of Islamic Provinces & Territories
Feigning sleep, Eliza listened to the sound of Sharif making coffee in his kitchen at the end of his shift. A breeze from the open window carried the scent of his clothes toward her. The distinct smell of gun-fired residue and blood made her gag. She decided not to wait for him to kick the bed to wake her. She got up and dressed in the bathroom. Without saying a word, Eliza zipped out to the hallway.
She listened as the ancient city of Samarra woke up to harmonic sounds. The city came to life each morning at six o’clock with the first call to prayer: Fajr, the prayer before sunrise. The haunting musical sound of the Muezzin called the devoted. Dogs, roused by the earnest supplication, barked. Even Eliza, who had no religious convictions, sat in quiet contemplation, deeply moved. She stilled her mind’s chatter and waited.
Waited for a thread of wisdom to be shared by The One Most High. Waited for merciful revelation of why she had survived and her little boys had suffered and died. Waited alone in the heavy silence.
With each of the four daily prayers, Eliza had watched in awe as the city’s ambiance shifted during prayer. Even within the compound walls, the Muslim faithful halted their activities for prayers. An air of tranquility was palpable. Even those who appeared less devout and ignored the religious practice slowed their pace. The Muezzin’s melodious voice reminded the devout of their connection with Allah, of the teachings of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.
She had learned that everyone regardless of rank, wealth, sins, or honor stood shoulder to shoulder and intoned their praises to Allah, the forgiver of sins, the lord of peace and harmony. Women were segregated to the rear of the prayer hall, the musallah – for sake of modesty, Eliza had been told.
She eavesdropped on Sharif’s prayers. The change in his demeanor struck her. He became like a child singing songs of praise to an adoring father. His devotion to Islam and the teachings of the prophet Muhammad appeared to be based on genuine love, rather than fear of Allah’s punishment.
When Sharif had gone to bed, she listened and watched as the city’s soul burst forth. From her high vantage point, she could see the insane rush of traffic, businessmen competing for a cab, and women ushering their children to school. The vibrancy of the scene reminded Eliza of the excitement of Cairo. Old men bravely pushed carts of vegetables and fruit, others skillfully herded their goats among the passing vehicles. An air of expectancy, anticipation, even urgency in the way the citizens walked and talked spoke of their eagerness to get on with day.
She opened the kitchen window which offered view of the city. A few blocks away, a wide river rushed toward the Persian Gulf, a few thousand miles to the south. A treed park bordered its banks. She spotted a soccer field, possibly a school, and a two-story mall. Tall office buildings and luxury hotels in the distance dotted the downtown section. The four minarets of the city’s ancient Guardian Mosque reached high into the morning’s tangerine sky.
In so many ways, Samarra appeared like every other urban center stuck in the 1990’s, with a strong agricultural element. Adapting over thousands of years, the city had endured countless invasions and survived as a phoenix rising from the ashes time and time again. The land possessed a soul. It emanated an energy of an untouchable guru – indifferent and yet passionate, unconquerable and yet benevolent.
Eliza felt a connection to the land, its history, and its people. It was more than the exotic culture’s sensory seduction of spices, architecture, and mystical landscape. As the human race migrated out of Africa thousands of years ago, tribes had settled in the Middle East. Perhaps the ancient bones of her ancestors lay in unmarked graves beneath her feet. She sent a prayer to the old ones, just in case they were open to favor her with a miracle.
Eliza began making breakfast. She placed the frying pan on the little stove, careful to not wake her keeper. She made scrambled eggs with peppers and onions mixed in. Aromatic coffee infused a feeling of home.
Sharif had bought her a jar of blueberry jam. “For good behavior,” he had said as he set the glass jar onto the old wooden table with a smack, and left.
A white cloth covered the small worn table. Well, it used to be white. It looked as though it had been used for multiple tasks, perhaps wiping up spills from the floor and soaking up blood from a wound. It appeared clean.
The aromas of street food vendors blended with the car exhaust, her eggs, and the blueberry jam on her bread. Eliza settled in for another long day keeping her distance from Sharif, and dodging her PTSD triggers.
She glanced around the room. It was getting smaller. Her heart pounded. She forced her shoulders to relax. I’ve got to get out of here, she thought as she forced down a mouthful of her breakfast. Yesterday she had pressed Sharif for time outside. His reply remained steadfast, “Not today.” When she had continued to push for more freedom, he threatened to put her in a regular cell and build a cement wall to keep her out of sight.
Over the past four days, she had developed a routine to pass the time. Yoga, meditation, snack, repeat. However, today she had reached the outer limits of controlling the PTSD, triggered by the walls closing in.
While Sharif slept, she planned to inform the day shift officer, Captain Khizar, she was going for a walk. She shivered. When Sharif had introduced him to her, Khizar barely acknowledged her. She had detected the smirk on the senior officer’s thin face. Her intuition emphasized the need to tread carefully around the officer who walked with a limp.
Eliza wore the required black uniform, put on her polished work boots, and pushed her hair up under the black cap. At the bottom of the stairs she listened for sounds of the men. She approached Khizar’s office and sighed with relief to find he had left. Going down a short hallway, Eliza turned right towards the crew quarters’ door. She hesitated, listening for sounds that indicated the mood of the cops.
Belly laughter and smacks against the wall made the door shudder. The men were absorbed in their amusement and might not be interested in challenging her request.
Eliza knocked on the door, careful to sound neither cowardly, nor aggressive. The door was swung open by a constable.
She held her breath. Skilled at hiding her emotions, Eliza looked into the officer’s eyes. The officer relaxed a little. An intimidating smirk grew on his face. Three other men in the room gathered behind him.
The day sergeant, a heavy-set man, came forward and said in a trivializing manner, “The whore is mine. Leave her to me.”
The sergeant sauntered up to her. His eyes lit up like those of a child about to open a birthday gift. He lowered his gaze to her dark boots, and then raised his focus to her mid-section, then to her chest. Finally, he looked at her eyes.
Eliza did not change her expression from that of bland indifference to his suggestive piercing stare. He had called her a whore, but she repressed the impulse to admonish him. She resisted the urge to put her hands on her hips. That would be sexually suggestive and body language might defeat her faster than the wrong choice of words.
“My apologies for the interruption,” she said in Arabic, her voice trembling despite her resolve. “I’m going for a walk.” She swung around toward the exit door.
The officers chuckled as the sergeant stepped forward and blocked her. His face came uncomfortably close to hers. He spoke with a grin, accompanied by the rhythmic flexing and gyrating of his hips.
“Welcome. Come in.” The three men cheered as the sergeant grabbed her shirt and pulled her into the room.
Romance Under Fire
Author Feather Stone / F. Stone / Judy Weir:
On our cattle ranch, when an animal was in distress or injured, I was put in charge of nursing it back to health. Never mind that I was just a kid and hated the sight of blood, but I had to muster up the courage to apply home remedies. My survival rate was pretty good. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that I would progress to nursing – humans. After one year into nurses training, I bolted. Bed pans and chronic diseases pushed me in different direction; a career of dealing with drug addicts, murder, suicide, fatalities, and biker gangs. In 1983 I graduated with honors as a paramedic and worked in the City of Edmonton’s Emergency Services.
For the next twenty years, I came face to face with scenes most people would rather not think about. I loved it. Having experienced life in the most deadly and gut wrenching events, and work alongside the police service, I gained the fodder for creating intense novels.
My first novel, The Guardian’s Wildchild, was published by Omnific Publishing in 2011. The setting is on a naval ship, under the command of a surely man who is under suspicion of treason. When a battered woman is brought to his ship for execution, he has no idea that she is about to turn his disciplined life into chaos – and that she is no ordinary woman. The Guardian’s Wildchild has a rating of 4.1 at Amazon.