I spent the holiday season pondering this case. After consuming two fruitcakes, more eggnog than usual, and a partridge in a pear tree – I threw my suspect 5×8 cards up in the air and decided the first three that landed right side up would lead me to my perps. How foolish one can be when one is in a sugar down slide. Alas and alack – there were too many variables. Too many nut-case civilians trying to play sleuth back at me. I was faced with answers that had no relevance to my questions, bore no semblance of sanity – facts were skirted – allegations scorned – my superior methods of interrogation were ignored – all in all – it was a total cock up.
And these last five interviews? Ha. An ex-cop looking for some old grubby statue of a falcon, a guy who get’s off on amusement parks and has a signing dog, a wee lass who’s hung up on shoes, a dignified looking gent who’s really a pool shark and a blonde who looks like an angel and writes stuff about the devil. I mean, are these people for real? I dread writing up my report. My Chief is gonna think I’ve lost it. Maybe I have. Maybe I should just hand in my keyboard and sail off in the sunset. No. That won’t work. I get seasick. The mountains, maybe? No. I have allergies. The desert. Yeah, that’s …no. I hate brown on brown. I’m a color person. Honolulu? Yes! The Moana in Waikiki. The verandah and pu-pu’s…and Chi-Chi’s…lot’s of Chi-Chi’s…and…
SCENE OF THE CRIME: ON THE BUBBLE – DAY FIVE – 2007
THE CRIMES: Writing some of the best damn fiction out there.
ROBIN BURCELL http://www.robinburcell.com
The good news is that Robin will have a new book out this year – THE FACE OF A KILLER. The only bad news is that she’s kept her readers waiting far too long. The other news is check out this photo – and then remember that even though she’s no longer a cop – she still knows how to use that thing – so don’t mess with her, okay?
EE: So, Robin – my San Fran spy tells me you were seen hovering over lattes at Starbucks on Union Street with a certain famous romance writer who lives close by. Is it true (Oh, please God!) she’s run out of plots and called you for help?
RB: Well, that’s what I told the paparazzi that were snapping photos of the event, but the truth was that I happened to walk in at the same time as her, and she asked me to pass the sugar. I said, ‘raw or regular?’ And she said, ‘Which is best?’ So you can see how that was misinterpreted. I’ll take my photo ops any way I can get ’em.
Okay, we’ll buy that for now.
EE: And what about that rumor that you’re a high-ranking member of James Lincoln Warren’s (aka JLW) PHART’S, but you’re afraid if it gets out you’ll have to go into a witness protection program?
RB: Highly over-rated rumor. Not true in the least. Besides, even if the truth did leak out, the organization is so highly secretive, it makes the secret society of Freemasons look like the public information office.
Damn, but she’s a hard nut to crack.
EE: Word on the street (I love cop shop talk) is that your former role as Prez of NorCal MWA was really a cover up for a special ops job you’re doing for the Maltese Society to find that damn falcon.
RB: Well, that was before I realized the dang falcon was right there where we meet each month in the display case at Historic John’s Grill in San Fran all along. Of course, I’m a trained investigator. Not everyone can lay claim to such refined skills.
Huh? I went to several of those meetings. It was there? All that time? Doesn’t say much for any of us so-called sleuths, does it!
CHRIS GRABENSTEIN http://www.chrisgrabenstein.com
Even though Chris is guilty of writing TV commercials – we can ignore that part of his shady past. After all – anyone who can rescue a wonderful guy like Fred (the one without the shades) – he can’t be all bad. Fred, by the way, was a star on Broadway appearing in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ – and is helping Chris weather the pressures of stardom after winning the Best First Novel Anthony for TILT A WHIRL.
EE: Rumors are rampant that Bruce Willis – your former comedy troupe member – is hankering to become a mystery writer, but you’re not returning his calls. What’s up with that?
CG: Yes, he’s ready to moonlight again. But every time he calls, it sounds like he’s trapped in a building without any shoes hiding from German terrorists with semi-automatic weapons. I remember when Bruce did his first movie, back when we were still doing improv comedy for ten dollars a show down in the east village in a basement theater just off the Bowery and he had to shave his head (something he seems to do on a regular basis these days) to play a bald guy riding the Roosevelt Island tram.
Gosh, I like the way you skirted that question. But hey, who needs another mystery writer, huh? I mean, we can live without Bruce in the bookstores.
EE: Okay, time for your Walter Mitty Dream Sequence. Whatcha got for us?
CG: I’m on stage. People are blowing into sticks of candy like flutes. I hear the strands of ‘Toot Sweet’. I jump on the bad guy. Okay, it’s Fred’s dream…but I want to have stage credit’s as good as our dog’s!
Hold that thought – I’ve got Carol Shorenstein Hays on the other line – we’re working something up. Just make sure I have two front row center’s on opening night, okay?
EEO: Which sex symbol do you think you most resemble?
CG: Fred Flint stone. Maybe Barney Rubble. Oh, you should have seen me eighty pounds ago…which is how much weight I lost three years ago. Weight Watchers On Line and Book Writing. Perfect together.
You LOST weight writing? Yo.
DONNA MOORE http://www.free space.virgin.net/Donna.Moore
I don’t know who the hell Donna Moore’s muse is – but I want her! Ken Brien has called her the Dorothy Parker of Scotland. Charlie Stella said – it’s like having Grouch Marx feeding you one-liners over your shoulder the entire trip.’ Is it any wonder Donna’s hilarious debut book – GO TO HELENA HAND BASKET has been nominated for a Lefty next month at Left Coast Crime?
EEO: Isn’t it true, Donna – that you’re madly in love with Bob Haskins, and patterned Robin Banks after him? Well, okay – so you made him a bit taller, but still?
DEM: Isn’t EVERYONE taller than Bob Haskins? We have the same test for telling a good book me and Bob. Apparently when he gets a new script he takes it to the lo and if he’s sitting there and his bum goes cold and numb – then he knows the script is a good one and he accepts the role. I’m the same. The number of times I’ve fallen off the loo reading a Ken Bruen…
Charming. Thank you for sharing that with us. I’m sure Ken Bruen is delighted to know he is found in all the better places.
EE: Rumors abound that now that Helen Mirren has let Jane Tennison retire, she’s interested in playing Helena – but you’re trying to convince her to play Heidi instead. So, what’s the scoop on that? Think Helen can handle it?
DM: Well, having seen the last episode of Prime Suspect, I’m beginning to think it was the cocktails that were the attraction, rather than the role of Helena. And let’s face it, Elaine, ANYONE can handle the role of Helena. She’s so dim. For some reason my family think she is based on me. I have no idea why.
Surely you jest! You’re not at all like Helena. Well, maybe a little bit…now that I think about it…there is a similarity. Not physically, of course. I’m sure it’s your great sense of adventure. Oh, wait! I know! It’s the shoes. That’s it. The shoes.
EE: And speaking of shoes (?) – I understand Imelda Marcos is angling for a spot in the Guinness Book of Records for having the most shoes – and she’s challenged you to surpass her. Is it true you’ve enlisted David Corbett to go undercover and get Imelda’s shoe count before you embark on your shopping spree?
DM: When they raided her wardrobes they also found some bulletproof bras. I asked David to sneak out a couple of those for me. You can never have too much bulletproof lingerie can you? Apparently she was most annoyed when it was reported that she had over 3,000 pairs of shoes and was reported to have said, "I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty." Yeah, like that makes a difference Imelda. For the record, I only have 100 or so pairs (do you like the ‘or so’, by the way?)
Like it? I love it. Never, ever, cop to the number of ANYTHING you have. Keep ’em guessing, chickie. That’s my motto.
ROBERT FATE http://www.robertfate.com
Philosopher? Riverboat Gambler? Rare Book Dealer? Nope. How’s about Oscar winner (special effects for DUNE) and the debut author of BABY SHARK – one of 2006’s most talked about books?
EE: So, Bob – going along with ‘write what you know’ – care to tell us how many roadside pool halls you frequented in order to soak up atmosphere for BABY SHARK?
RF: Like I can remember? My buddy, Snake, and I used to slip out the window during Ms. Herbert’s class and go to Chili Jake’s to shoot nine ball. That’s all I recall, and that’s all you get.
Oh, sure. Memory loss. Happens all the time. But okay, we’ll buy it for now.
EE: We will assume the rumors of the mini-rumble you supposedly were involved in at Ruby’s Red Dragon Bar in Waco wasn’t your fault, right? You were just kinda setting things up for those knock-out scenes in BABY SHARK to get some flavor, right? I mean, we all know it wasn’t really your fault the place went berserk.
RF: You’re never gonna let me live that down. Have I got this right? The blonde in the purple corset said she’d be right back and I was just waiting around. It was all a mistake from beginning to end. Well, that brass knuckles business was a little bit my fault.
Well, I wasn’t going to mention the blonde in the purple corset, but since you did…
EE: But the real buzz around ThrillerVille is that Efren Reyes – the top men’s money maker in the game – hoped to convince you to model your protag after him instead of a woman. Is it true you had to let him beat you at pool to soothe his ego for being rejected?
RF: I’m thinking you know an awful lot about snooker and such, Ms. Flinn. But re: Mr. Reyes – not on his best day can he take me at the table – and you can tell him I said so.
Darling, I know a lot about a lot of things – but there just isn’t space here. I’ll pass your message on to Efren when I see him later. We’re having…er…coffee at his place.
ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF http://www.alexandrasokoloff.com
Who’d a thunk this gorgeous blonde – posing so angelical – seeming so lost in thought – perhaps about a favorite Debussy strain – could write such scary monster scenes? I had to leave the light on for weeks after reading THE HARROWING. I’m sure as hell glad Alex has joined us here at Murderati. I mean, I think it’s always prudent to be good friends with horror writers. One never knows when one might find themselves in their books. And not as one of the good roles either.
EE: So, Alex – that year in Istanbul? You wanna tell us about that when you were sixteen? Or, do you want to save that for another time? 🙂
AS: Seriously, it was very hard. I was blonder than I am now and so, so obviously American. I was harassed everywhere I went – abduction attempts – not fun. But that’s the year that I threw every practical plan out the window and decided to go into theater, because life is too precious not to do what you love. And Istanbul itself is a phenomenal city – it was life-changing.
Life changing? How about life CHALLENGING? Abduction attempts? Aieee! But wait – there could be a story here. I can see it now – Jude Law is at an outdoor cafe at the Grand Bazaar – the one commissioned by Suleyman…sipping thick Turkish coffee, pondering his life when he witnesses an attempt to kidnap a young girl. He springs to action… I mean, think about it, okay?
EE: Rumor has it that John Travolta is begging you to teach him ballet for his next film – but you turned him down. Was it because you just couldn’t envision him in tights, or what?
AS: I don’t have the slightest difficulty in imagining ANY man in tights – I have this Elizabethan fetish. I wouldn’t presume to teach JT anything about dancing – but I’d dance with him any time, any place, anywhere. Can you set that up?
Can I set it up? Darling, you’re talking to moi. Consider it done. John and I go back, you know?
EE: My favorite little spy tells me that you’re working on new lyrics for a duet with Paul Guyot for next year’s gala at ThrillerFest, but Guyot wants to make it a three-some and have Tony Bennett do back up.
AK: I have no doubt Guyot would be up for a three-some thing, but Tony Bennett wouldn’t have been my first guess for a third. Works for me.
You sure about Bennett? I mean – I can talk to Guyot. Between us – we could pull a few strings and get someone else. I hear Wayne Newton is writing a thriller and could use the exposure.
OKAY – THE REPORT IS COMPLETE. THINK THEY CAN FOOL ME, HUH? I’VE GOT THEM RED-HANDED. GUILTY AS CHARGED. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. I HOPE THEY GET WHAT THEY DESERVE. LIKE THEY SAY – IF YOU CAN’T DO THE TIME – DON’T DO THE CRIME. YOU BE THE JUDGE.
My very sincere thanks to all the terrific writers who had the courage and great sense of humor to play with me here – at ON THE BUBBLE. So – to end the year, let me once again offer my thanks- in order of appearance- to: Denise Hamilton, Stephen Booth, Paul Guyot, Robin Burcell, James Lincoln Warren, David Montgomery, Gayle Lynds, Gregg Hurwitz, Louise Ure, Jim Rollins, Laura Lippman, Ian Rankin, Alex Kava, Chassie West, Tess Gerritsen, Sarah Weinman, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Dylan Schaffer, Linda Richards, John Hart, M.J. Rose, Alexandra Sokoloff, P.J. Parrish, Chris Grabenstein, Raymond Benson, Robert Fate and Donna Moore.
MY LINE UP FOR 2007 IS ALREADY BURSTING – SO STAY TUNED!