Thursday, August 1, 2013

Featured Author: Ellen Mansoor Collier

Ellen Mansoor Collier was here in June to talk about her novel, Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets, the second book in her Jazz Age mystery series. She's back today to give us a peak at the first book, Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play, which is now available in print on Amazon or Ellen can provide signed copies if you e-mail her at: decodame@flash.net.


About the book

"Boardwalk Empire" meets "The Great Gatsby" in this soft-boiled "Jazz Age" mystery, inspired by actual events. Prohibition is in full swing in 1920s Galveston, Texas: the "Sin City of the Southwest." Jasmine Cross, a young society reporter, feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette. 

During a night out with her best friend, Jazz witnesses a bar fight at the Oasis--a speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother, Sammy Cook. But when a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses there and later dies, she suspects foul play. Was it an accident or murder?

Soon new Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn't talk. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz, but she refuses to rat on Sammy. As turf wars escalate between two real-life rival gangs, Sammy is accused of murder. To find the killer, Jazz must risk her life and career, exposing the dark side of Galveston's glittering society.


Excerpt from Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play

Why in the world was Agent Burton here? Everyone stopped working to watch him make his grand entrance. People don’t usually parade around in a newsroom: They sort of shuffle or stumble or stomp—unless a story’s really hot, then they’ll run. I felt like running away too, but I stayed glued to my chair, pretending to work, my heart racing.

Burton seemed to enjoy the attention as he headed my way. He was hard to ignore: Standing before me, all six feet-plus of golden skin and hair, he towered over my desk. Looking up, I noticed the curious eyes watching us in the too-quiet newsroom. The reporters stopped typing, fingers poised over keys, hoping for a scoop. Mrs. Harper stared with unabashed interest.

“To what do I owe this disturbance?” I adjusted my cloche, acting nonchalant.

He grinned at me, then looked around the suddenly still office. “I need to ask you a few questions. Can we go somewhere private?”

“What do you want?” I put on a brave face so the newsboys wouldn’t see me sweat.

Burton scanned the hushed room. “You really want to discuss it here, out in public?”

He had a point. Did I want the whole staff listening in on my private conversation? He probably wanted to talk about Sammy, who was no one else’s business.

“Let’s go outside,” I agreed. Head down, I followed him past a leering Hank, feeling like a naughty kid going to the principal’s office.

Nathan entered the newsroom, a camera slung over his shoulder, stopping to stare at Burton. “Jazz, is everything jake?”

“Everything’s berries.” I smiled to pacify him, but I admit, I had the jitters.

“I remember him. Your boyfriend?” Burton seemed amused.

“He’s the staff photographer.” I ignored his wisecrack. “And a good friend.”

Outside, I felt safe among the throng of people and automobiles passing by in a rush. The hustle and bustle of the streets and sidewalks seemed almost comforting. I looked around for Golliwog, but she must have been making her daily rounds for scraps.

“How was lunch?” In broad daylight, Burton didn’t seem quite as menacing or intimidating. Plus a group of hard-boiled reporters peered out the newsroom, spying on us.

“Fine.” I crossed my arms, partly to cover my growling stomach. “So what brings you here?”

“Sorry to barge in that way.” He smiled, tugging on his hat. “But I had to get your attention. You wouldn’t give me the time of day the other night.”

“Can you blame me? A raid isn’t exactly the best way to meet new people.”

“I think we got off on the wrong foot.” Burton stuck his hands in his pockets, jingling some change. “Perhaps we can talk over dinner, instead of standing out here on the sidewalk?”

“Dinner?” Was he serious? “Just like that?” I snapped my fingers. “You waltz in as if you owned the place—like you did at the Oasis—and expect me to dine out with you, a total stranger, because of your badge? You’ve got a lot of nerve, mister.”

“I wouldn’t be a Prohibition agent if I didn’t.” He looked smug. “How about tonight?”


Don't miss the second book in the series:
Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets

It’s 1927 in Galveston, Texas—the “Sin City of the Southwest.” Jasmine (“Jazz”) Cross is an ambitious 21-year-old society reporter for the Galveston Gazette who tries to be taken seriously by the good-old-boy staff, but the editors only assign her fluffy puff pieces, like writing profiles of bathing beauties. The last thing Jazz wants to do is compare make-up tips with ditzy dames competing in the Miss Universe contest, known as the “International Pageant of Pulchritude and Bathing Girl Revue.”

She’d rather help solve the murders of young prostitutes who turn up all over town, but city officials insist on burying the stories during Splash Day festivities. After Jazz gets to know the bathing beauties, she realizes there’s a lot more to them than just pretty faces and figures. Jazz becomes suspicious when she finds out the contest is also sponsored by the Maceos, aspiring Beach Gang leaders and co-owners of the Hollywood Dinner Club, where the girls will perform before the parade and pageant.

Worse, her half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis, a speakeasy on a rival gang’s turf, asks her to call in a favor from handsome Prohibition Agent James Burton—an impossible request that could compromise both of their jobs and budding romance. While Agent Burton gives her the cold shoulder, she fends off advances from Colin Ferris, an attractive but dangerous gangster who threatens Sammy as well as Burton. In the end, she must risk it all to save her friends from a violent killer hell-bent on revenge. Inspired by actual events.


About the author

Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines, including: Family Circle, Modern Bride, Glamour, Biography, Cosmo, Playgirl, etc. Several of her short stories have appeared in Woman's World. A flapper at heart, she’s the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items.


Formerly she’s worked as a magazine editor, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism. During college, she once worked as a cocktail waitress, a short-lived experience since she was clueless about cocktails. Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play is her first novel. She lives in Houston and visits Galveston whenever possible.

Connect with Ellen:
Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Buy the books:
Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play: Amazon |Barnes & Noble
Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

2 comments:

  1. Many thanks for featuring FLAPPERS! Can't wait to read your books, Amy. Stay cool this summer!
    Best, Ellen

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very happy to have you back, Ellen! Hurry up with that next book and come back and tell us about it!

    ReplyDelete