Monday, May 19, 2014

Featured Author: Ellen Mansoor Collier

Fans of Ellen Mansoor Collier and her Jazz Age Mystery series will be thrilled to know the third book in the series, Gold-Diggers, Gamblers and Guns, has been released. I'm happy to have her back today with with an excerpt. Ellen has previously been here to talk about book one in the cozy mystery series, Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play and book two, Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets. To read an interview with Ellen and excerpts from both books, click here and here.

About the book:

During Prohibition in 1920s Galveston, the Island was called the "Free State of Galveston" due to its lax laws and laissez-faire attitude toward gambling, gals and bootlegging. Young society reporter Jasmine (“Jazz”) Cross longs to cover hard news, but she's stuck between two clashing cultures: the world of gossip and glamour vs. gangsters and gamblers.

After Downtown Gang leader Johnny Jack Nounes is released from jail, all hell breaks loose: Prohibition Agent James Burton’s life is threatened and he must go into hiding for his own safety. But when he’s framed for murder, he and Jazz must work together to prove his innocence. Johnny Jack blames Jasmine’s half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis speakeasy, for his arrest and forces him to work overtime in a variety of dangerous mob jobs as punishment.

When a bookie is murdered, Jazz looks for clues linking the two murders and delves deeper into the underworld of gambling: poker games, slot machines and horse-racing. Meanwhile, Jazz tries to keep both Burton and her brother safe, and alive, while they face off against each other, as well as a common enemy.

Excerpt from Gold-Diggers, Gamblers and Guns

In the background, I heard a scuffle, loud voices, furniture scraping across the floor, an object being thrown. Burton tensed up and turned toward the noise, his slate-blue eyes darting around the room.

“What’s all the ruckus? A fight?” I stared at the casino, hoping for some excitement. The other diners also shifted in their chairs, whispering and clucking like nosy busybodies. Finally a diversion from the “James and Jazz nightclub act.”

“I’ll go see what’s wrong.” Burton stood up just as two bouncers escorted, or rather dragged, a dark, disheveled middle-aged man in a top hat and tuxedo, toward the exit. His swollen face had taken quite a pummeling, resembling raw beefsteak. A bleached blonde floozy  followed him, loudly complaining, “Unhand him, you beasts! That’s no way to treat a paying guest. He won fair and square. The Maceos owe us money!”

I gripped Burton’s arm, his muscles taut beneath his sleek suit. “James, wait. You’re off-duty now. This isn’t your department.”

“I can’t stop being a lawman just because I’m out with my girl.”

My girl? When had we made it official?

Holding my breath, I watched as he approached the Maceos’ men, asking, “Where are you taking him?” When they refused to answer, he rushed toward the commotion in the back.
How could I blame him? Curious, I leapt out of my chair and pretended to look for the powder room, making eye contact with the gun molls giving me the once-over. Did they think Agent Burton was going to raid the place?

Rows of slot machines and black jack tables sat positioned in full view of the dining room, beckoning diners to try their luck. A few gold-diggers decked out in beaded gowns and feathers draped their arms over geezers old enough to be their fathers, if not their grandfathers, betting at the craps tables.

“Want me to blow on your dice, honey?” I heard one gal purr to a fat cat in a top hat. How could he refuse?  Some guys in tuxedoes guarded a couple of closed rooms, frowning as I glanced their way. I imagined the high-rollers were losing their shirts while club owners Ollie Quinn and the Maceos counted their profits like Ebeneezer Scrooge.

In the powder room, the mirrored walls reflected the elegant seating area with its marble wash basin and gold fixtures—real gold or plated? —straight out of a movie set.

“Nice gown.” I smiled at a flashy flapper who wore an ice-blue sheath with a big bow on one hip, her plunging neckline dangerously close to revealing all her assets.

“Gee, thanks!” she drawled. “You don’t look so bad yourself, sister.”

“Any idea what that fight was all about?” I washed my hands, acting nonchalant.

“Who knows? Those gamblers are always accusing each other of cheating.”

I wanted to ask more questions, but an older Negro attendant handed me a fluffy towel with a frown. I rushed back to the table just as Burton returned with Sam Maceo glued to his side....

“Who was that man?” Burton pressed. “The one with his nose out of joint.”

“A couple of wiseguys got hot under the collar, that’s all. Accused this city slicker of cheating. So Rose took care of the situation on the spot.”  Maceo shrugged it off, knowing his brother Rosario Maceo provided in-house muscle and protection. “We call it cleaning house.”

“Does this city slicker have a name?” Burton asked.

“I’m sure he does.” Maceo gave Burton a pointed look, then turned his full charm on me. “Wouldn’t you rather be enjoying the company of this lovely lady?..."

“He wasn’t very forthcoming, was he?” I said to Burton after he left. “Did you see anything fishy?”

“A bunch of stuffed shirts sitting around a table playing poker. Seems a few goons ganged up on this joker, beat him to a pulp. Wonder if he really tried to cheat them?” 

“Did you recognize anyone?” I asked. “Any bigwigs?”

“Not off-hand. I think the victim is from out of town, maybe a card shark. I wonder what they plan to do next. Take him for a ride?” Burton suddenly stood up, put on his new Stetson and held out his hand. “Let’s go. Maybe we can follow them?”

Flustered, I grabbed my mesh bag, nervous yet excited at the thought of going on an actual police chase. “If you don’t mind, I’ll take the Champagne.” I shoved in the cork and picked up the bottle.  “Hate to let all this fine bubbly go to waste.”

All heads turned as we made our exit, the staff gallantly opening the wide double doors.  Outside, the humidity hit me like a slap and my carefree curls began to droop.

“It’s a 1925 Packard convertible,” Burton told the valet, scanning the area for signs of the men. “Say, did you see the last car that just left?  Any idea where it was going?”

“Beats me,” the youth said with a shrug. “But they were in some kind of hurry.”

As Burton stepped off the walkway, following the valet into the parking lot, an old Ford swerved around the corner, brakes and tires screeching, headed right at Burton.

“Look out!” I screamed, dropping the bottle of Champagne, hearing it shatter on the pavement, spraying liquid and tiny specks of glass. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion: I saw a flash of light and heard loud, popping noises, covering my head as shots rang out, staring in shock when Burton collapsed on the lot.

Other books in the Jazz Age Mystery series:

Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in a variety of national magazines. Several of her short stories have appeared in Woman's World. During college summers, she worked as a reporter for a Houston community newspaper and as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries.

A flapper at heart, she's worked as a magazine editor/writer, 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 and served on UTmost, the college magazine and as president of WICI (Women in Communications).

Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets, released in May 2013. She lives in Houston with her husband Gary and Chow mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible.

Connect with Ellen: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon | available at Barnes & Noble soon!


  1. Many thanks for featuring GOLD-DIGGERS today, Amy! Thanks for your support and encouragement. Good luck on your projects--will there be a GPJ sequel? Best wishes!! Ellen

    1. You're very welcome, Ellen. I'm always happy to have you here. Very jealous of your THREE books. There will be more GPJ...when they'll be released is the question...Thanks for being here and good luck with the trilogy!

  2. Don't be jealous, just keep writing your fun mysteries! Easier said than done, I know...

  3. Writing is the easy part...getting them published is proving to be the challenge! Thanks, Ellen.