Saturday, October 11, 2014

I'm starting a new feature on A Blue Million Books, called...Cool Book of the Week. Every Saturday there will be a new cool book on the block. Today's cool book is by Ellen Mansoor Collier's Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play, the first book in the Jazz Age Mystery trilogy. What's so cool about it? Read on...


Would your grandmother like this book?

Yes, my grandmother was a feisty flapper who attended college and taught school before she married my grandfather. She was outspoken, independent and a rebel in her own right. One of my favorite photos shows her leaning against a 1930s car looking very chic in a wonderful period dress and hat. I display one of her slinky black satin gowns on my closet door—it’s the cat’s meow! 

What is your elevator pitch for this book?

Young society reporter Jasmine Cross feels caught between two clashing cultures in 1920s Galveston: the seedy underworld of booze and bars and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette.

How did you come up with the plot?

We took a “Mobsters Tour” in Chicago, and I was fascinated to learn that Galveston had its own rival gangs and Al Capone-clones, namely the Beach Gang and Downtown Gang. 

How is this book different from other books in this genre?

Seems that most 1920s-30s flapper mysteries feature rich debutantes, heiresses or independently wealthy women or wives, while Jazz is a young middle-class journalist trying to make her mark in a man’s world. While my novels tend to be classified as cozy mysteries, I do include some hard-boiled elements, so I’d call them soft-boiled. I’m delighted that many men like to read my novels as well!

Why is your book cool?
I think readers are interested in learning about the Prohibition period, a very dangerous and decadent time in American history. Gangsters fought for power and control over their turf, and could be as ruthless and reckless as the drug cartels of today. I base my novels on actual crime families and events, but the plots and main characters are totally fictitious. As a journalist, I enjoyed doing the necessary research to make sure I got my facts right. In all my novels, I incorporated real Galveston locations and landmarks, and used period slang and expressions to add authenticity and atmosphere.

About the book:

Boardwalk Empire meets The Great Gatsby in this soft-boiled historical mystery, inspired by actual events. Named one of the "Best Beach Reads of 2013" on Goodreads.

Rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the "Sin City of the Southwest." Jazz Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, suspects foul play when a bank VP collapses at her half-brother Sammy's speakeasy. Was it an accident or a mob hit?

Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn't talk. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz, but despite her attraction, 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.

Check out the two sequels in Collier's Jazz Age Mystery series: Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets, and Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns.

About the author:

Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles, essays and short stories have been published in a variety of national magazines. During college summers, she worked as a reporter (intern) 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 was active in WICI (Women in Communications), acting as president her senior year.

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. Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns is the last novel in her Jazz Age Mystery series, published in May, 2014. She lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible.

Connect with Ellen:
Website | Facebook | Goodreads |

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

Why reviewers think Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play is cool:

"An elegant and hugely entertaining mystery set during Prohibition times in Galveston. Great style and a fantastic sense of authenticity....Well-written, cleverly plotted and very enjoyable."   –Christoph Fischer, Top 500 Amazon Reviewer (June 2014) Author, Time To Let Go, Sebastian, etc.

"Collier’s new series, set in 1927 Galveston, Texas, hit the spot for me, and is an entertaining bit of snappy summertime escapism. I was completely charmed by Jazz Cross, the spunky, intrepid flapper-reporter. Collier combines historical trivia with a cozy mystery beautifully, and I’m falling in love with her 1920s Galveston." 
–Audra Friend, Unabridged Chick Blog (June 2013)

"A wonderful mystery set in Prohibition-era Texas. This is fast becoming one of my favourite new series of mysteries." –Rachel Cotterill (Book Reviews Blog, U.K ), (May 2013) Author of Rebellion and Revolution

"Fantastic! FLAPPERS really brings to life Galveston’s glamorous past in a way that feels authentic and realistic. The mystery sucks you in immediately and leaves you fretting for the characters until the very end!"  –Lauren George, Reader/Reviewer, Amazon (5 Stars) (September 2012)

In honor of Cool Book Week, Flappers is $2.99 until October 18. How cool is that?