Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Can cats shoot?

Well, that's just one of the questions behind my second Pru Marlowe book, "Cats Can't Shoot." But the big one is: will my agent like it? I've now sent it off to her, which means I can dive into the fourth Dulcie Schwartz mystery (yes, I do have a crazy schedule). My agent always has brilliant suggestions, so I know "Cats" will get another thorough revision once she gets back to me. I still worry though... even if she thinks it is rough, rough, rough, will there be something there for her to enjoy?

The writing life!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Back to work

So after two FABULOUS events – thank you, Partners & Crime and Brookline Booksmith! – I am back to work! Still buzzing about all the people who came out – old friends, new ones, readers with great questions all – I'm now diving back into the second Pru book, tentatively titled, "Cats Can't Shoot." I finished the draft a few weeks ago, which means that it's almost new to me. I can see the flaws (hope I'm catching all of them!) and I'm at that point where I jump out of the shower to jot down notes to myself, like "Expensive handbag is awkward!" Then, later, I try to remember what I meant. It's all part of the process and by the time I do my next reading (May 17 at Harvard Book Store!) I will be through at least one more draft. So... back to work!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wow - Thank you, Richmond Times-Dispatch!

I was honored to have both of my new books reviewed in the Sunday Richmond Times-Dispatch. Book critic Jay Strafford got the difference in voice, the difference in characters, and he liked 'em both. THANK YOU!!

Mysteries: Felines, canines and plotlines

Published: April 03, 2011

Anyone who has ever been the human companion of an animal, particularly of a dog or a cat, knows that inter-species communication is no myth. This reviewer knows a Chihuahua who becomes ecstatic and zips into the kitchen at the words "cottage cheese." And we all have been made aware in hard times how our pets realize instinctively that we need comforting.

Which brings us to Boston-area crime novelist Clea Simon, who infuses her mysteries with human-pet interaction and whose books are models of the whodunit genre. In a somewhat rare occurrence, she has published two books simultaneously, one the continuation of a series and the other the beginning of one.

"Grey Zone," the third entry in the series featuring Harvard grad student Dulcie Schwartz, finds our heroine still working on her doctoral thesis, still teaching undergraduates, still missing her beloved late cat, Mr. Grey (who's known to remain communicative), and still growing accustomed to Esmé, her new kitten.

But life isn't all purrs and research. Her new faculty adviser scoffs at the direction her work seems to be going: Dulcie is now trying to prove not only the identity of the 18th-century novelist she's studying but also that the mysterious woman was murdered. Then there's the problem of the Harvard Harasser, who's making life miserable for female students.

Meanwhile, a former student of Dulcie's, Carrie Mines, goes missing, and a psychology professor, Fritz Herschoft, appears to have taken a dive out his office window. But the cops rule out suicide, and a plethora of Dulcie's pals are among the suspects.

Dulcie, of course, is too inquisitive — and she cares too much for her friends — to simply leave matters to the police. In doing so, she risks her life. But in the end, Mr. Grey and Esmé come through, and all comes right.

Simon's talent sparkles in a true puzzler, Dulcie shines with sympathy, and the story stresses the gravity of sexual harassment.

"Grey Zone" shows again that the animals in our lives are much more than our pets. It's a lesson that they know innately and prove every moment of their — and our — lives.

* * * * *

Fans of Gary Larson's "The Far Side" comic strip are likely to remember his parody of "Perry Mason," in which a cow leaps up in the back of a courtroom and says, "All right, I confess! I did it! That's right! The cow! Ha ha! And I feel great!"

In "Dogs Don't Lie," the opener in Simon's projected series featuring animal behaviorist Pru Marlowe, it's not a cow but a pit bull who's the suspect.

Pru, who's 33, has returned to her hometown in western Massachusetts after finding her New York City life a bit overwhelming. And she's not just a behaviorist; she's an animal psychic who can hear what animals are saying (and they can hear and communicate with her, too).

Far-fetched? Not really, given Simon's emphasis on strong women and animals in her books. This time, Pru has been training Lily, a pit bull rescued by computer programmer Charles "Chuck" Harris from a life of abuse. But when Pru visits Charles' house for a training session with him and Lily, she finds a horrifying scene: a dead Charles, his throat ripped out, and a distraught Lily, her muzzle covered with blood.

Pru is convinced of Lily's innocence and sets out to prove it (with some timely help from her senior tabby cat, Wallis — and, when the cops get doubly suspicious — her own). As is her wont, Simon peppers "Dogs Don't Lie" with a cast of credible culprits. Was the real killer Delia Cochrane, who claimed to be Chuck's fiancée, or Mack Danton, Chuck's business partner, or Chris Moore, Delia's previous boyfriend, or someone else entirely?

"Dogs Don't Lie" differs from "Grey Zone" — but not in ways that affect either's likability. Pru is independent, somewhat antisocial and fully smart-alecky, while Dulcie is none of the above. With that distinction driving the tone, "Dogs Don't Lie" has a more tongue-in-cheek feel.

With a clever plot, a surprising conclusion and another amiable heroine, "Dogs Don't Lie" has all the earmarks of the beginning of a successful series. It's a doggy departure from her body of work, but Simon brings her usual skills — and her great heart — to another story that animal lovers and mystery fans will lap up.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Yes, Dogs Don't Lie, the first Pru Marlowe pet noir, has been available for a bit now, but today is the official publication date! I've been so busy, I almost forgot to post that, but now I have. Pru and Wallis are officially launched! Much rejoicing here at Chez Musetta.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My informal blog tour

I've been busy!
The last few weeks, I've been chatting and writing and it's all finally coming to light. The most recent was a really fun interview I did for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Cat Lady. But I also had a real heart-to-heart with Ingrid King over at Conscious Cats and guest blogged at Meandering and Muses and at the Creatures n' Crooks bookblog both.

Oh, and this just in - I was also interviewed for The Big Thrill, the International Thriller Writers organization.
In all of these I talk about Grey Zone and Dogs Don't Lie - as I said, I've been busy! Plus, Musetta has a new game - she knocks her toy mouse down the stairs and I'm supposed to throw it back up to her.

In case the embedded links don't work:


Happy GREY ZONE (no fooling!)

Today is the official publication day of the U.S. edition of GREY ZONE, the third Dulcie Schwartz mystery! Celebrate with your favorite kitty (past or present).