Welcome back Elaine Viets, talking about her new anthology of short fiction, Deal with the Devil and 13 Short Stories and her new Angela Richman novella, Ice Blonde.
Strange things happen in Florida – at least to me. Once I was in a bank drive-in line with my car, Black Beauty. In the next drive-in lane was big, red-faced man with a cigar stuck in his mouth. He was driving a vintage red Mercedes two-seater convertible. On a broiling summer day, he had the top down.
I was waiting for my deposit receipt when he said, “Nice car.”
“Thanks.” Blackie is nice. He’s a 1986 Jaguar with red leather interior.
“How much?” the guy said.
“I said, how much?”
“He’s not for sale,” I said.
“You live around here?” he asked.
“You have a house? How much you want for it?” he asked.
“It’s not for sale, either,” I said.
“You’re nice, too,” he said.
Then, for reasons I couldn’t explain, I told the cigar chomper, “I like your car.”
My receipt arrived with a thunk! and I roared out of there, wondering what the hell was I doing. Why did I feel compelled to talk to – worse, to compliment – a cigar-chomping stranger?
That scene rattled around in my brain before it became the short story, “Deal with the Devil,” the title story of my new anthology from Crippen & Landru, Deal with the Devil and 13 Short Stories. I decided only a devil would be driving in the Florida heat in a convertible with the top down.
It was fun to collect my favorite short stories. I had some from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, including “Gotta Go,” the short story that introduced the Angela Richman, death investigator series, and “Vampire Hours,” from a Charlaine Harris anthology.
Crippen & Landru is the perfect publisher for mystery short stories. It’s named after two killers. Henri Landru was the French Bluebeard, who killed ten women between 1914 and 1919, along with the teenage son of one victim. He was guillotined, and his severed head is displayed at the Museum of Death in Hollywood, Calif.
Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen only killed one woman, his wife, in 1910, but his capture was a transatlantic thriller. Crippen tried to escape to Canada on a ship with his lover, Ethel Le Neve, dressed as a boy.
The ship’s captain, the story goes, “recognized the fugitives and just before steaming beyond the range of his ship-board transmitter” the captain sent a wireless telegram to the British authorities. A Scotland Yard inspector took a faster ship and arrived in Canada before the couple. The inspector arrested the guilty lovers, and Crippen was hanged.
You gotta love a publisher with a name like that.
Jeffrey Marks, the new publisher, asked me to do a short story collection. Crippen & Landru has published short story collections by my idols, including Peter Lovesey, Craig Rice, Margaret Maron, and The Columbo Collection by William Link. Just to think I’d be in that company sent shivers down my spine – my real spine, not the book’s.
The cover is by Gail Cross, who does covers for Stephen King, including Gwendy’s Button Box.
To write my new Angela Richman series, I took the Medicolegal Death Investigators Training course at St. Louis University. I was haunted by a bizarre manner of death that could flummox even the experts.
That became the basis for my new novella, Ice Blonde, my third Angela adventure.
Juliet Du Pres, the daughter of a wealthy Chouteau Forest family, sneaked out of her house to go to a high school holiday party with her forbidden boyfriend, Dex, a mechanic’s son. Despite the cold mid-Missouri weather, she refused to wear warm clothes – it would spoil her look.
“Juliet left the house in a blue velvet strapless dress, high heels and a light-blue velveteen jacket” and disappeared at 11:42 p.m. It’s below zero. At the party were drugs and booze, along with rivals for Juliet’s dazzling ice blonde beauty. On the drive home, Juliet had a fight with her boyfriend, jumped out of his car, and disappeared in the snow.
Now Dex is missing, too.
Where is Juliet? What happened to Dex?
Was Juliet kidnapped? Murdered? Or is she hiding out with her high school stud?
This third Angela story is a short, tightly written novella set in the dead of winter.Angela risks her job to investigate Juliet’s disappearance. The whole Forest is searching for the missing Juliet, except her two friends, Bella and Daisy. Do they know that Juliet is alive – or dead?
Chouteau County death investigator Angela Richman writes: “Did Juliet run away from her strict parents? Was she suicidal? I prayed the LaRouches’ delicate snow princess was still alive. The last thing I wanted was to do my job – to examine Juliet’s frozen body.”
Ice Blonde is a trade paper and e-book. https://tinyurl.com/ydf4k6ts
Deal with the Devil and 13 Short Stories is at www.crippenlandru.com
Elaine Viets returns to her hardboiled roots with her Angela Richman death investigator series. Ice Blondeis the latest in the series, following Fire and Ashes andBrain Storm. New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris calls Brain Storm“a complex novel of crime, punishment, and medical malfeasance.” Elaine has 30 bestselling mysteries in four series: hardboiled Francesca Vierling, traditional Dead-End Job, cozy Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper, and Angela Richman, Death Investigator. Elaine, a St. Louis native, took the Medicolegal Death Investigator Training Course for forensic professionals at St. Louis University. Her collection of short stories, A Deal with the Devil and 13 Short Stories, is published by Crippen & Landru. Elaine’s won the Agatha, Anthony and Lefty Awards. http://www.elaineviets.com