Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Featured Author: Jerold Last

About the book

The sixth book in the popular Roger and Suzanne mystery series finds Roger and Bruce hired to go undercover impersonating the owner and handler of a Champion German Shorthaired Pointer named Juliet to investigate certain irregularities that might be occurring at dog shows in California. To complicate this case the bodies of dead judges start popping up and Suzanne picks up a mysterious stalker sending her most unwelcome gifts. Throw in drug cartels and corrupt cops and it sounds like a typical job for our detective couple.

The Deadly Dog Show can be read as a stand-alone novel.

Guest Post by Jerold Last


My first novel in the Roger and Suzanne South American mystery series, The Ambivalent Corpse, is set mainly in Montevideo, Uruguay. The premise is that our heroes find parts of a dismembered corpse on a rocky stretch of beach in Montevideo, apportioned equally between the Memorial to a German cruiser sunk in World War II and the Memorial to Jews killed in the Holocaust. Because of the murder victim’s strategic location shared between two antithetical monuments, the Uruguayan press names her “The Ambivalent Corpse.”

I got the original idea for this book’s title and the basic premise for the beginning of the plot in Montevideo in 1999 when my wife and I took a walk along the Ramblas, a walking path along the beaches and parks that line the edge of the city along the Rio de la Plata River, the border between Uruguay and Argentina. When we saw that strange juxtaposition of the two monuments it immediately got me thinking something like “one day, when I write a book, this has to go in it!”  As you can tell from the dates, it took a while for me to find the time to sit down and start writing the book, which was eventually completed and published in the autumn of 2011. I remembered the Graf Spee Memorial, which was a favorite spot for snapshot taking among the university students I knew from my first stretch of living in Montevideo in 1982, but I didn't remember the Holocaust Memorial from my earlier visit. Perhaps this shouldn't be too surprising since the Holocaust Memorial was first dedicated in 1995.

The novel's story sort of took over and wrote itself after the third chapter in the first draft became the first chapter in subsequent versions. Because of this change, the action began immediately in the new Chapter 1 thanks to the suggestion of my youngest son Michael, who I asked for comments. After I recovered from his criticisms, it was clear that he was correct. Much of the back-story and details came later, during editing of the book and after some friends read the later drafts and gave me helpful feedback. Those original first two chapters haven’t totally gone to waste. Part of one of those first two chapters, with a bit of revision, found its way into a subsequent book in the series; see if you can guess which one.  As we say in California, recycle, reuse, revise, and repeat.

Thus far the settings for four of my novels and two of the novellas in the Roger and Suzanne series have been in South America, especially Uruguay and Argentina, both places my wife and I lived during a sabbatical I took several years ago. I’ve been back to Montevideo and Salta, Argentina, site of my novella, The Empanada Affair (available in the anthology entitled Five Quickies for Roger and Suzanne), several times since then for collaborative research and teaching programs there, so I know the locales, the food, and the people I use for the books very well. My second novel in the series, The Surreal Killer is set in Chile and Peru. The third novel, The Matador Murders, is set in Montevideo and Santiago, Chile, all places I have spent time in since we lived in Montevideo and Salta in 1999 thanks to the various scientific collaborations that began during that sabbatical leave. Another novella, The Body in the Bed, set in Montevideo was also published at about this point in the sequence. We return to South America for my fifth novel, The Origin of Murder, which takes the reader on a murderous cruise through Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. Between Montevideo and The Galapagos, Roger and Suzanne got to stay home in California for The Deadly Dog Show.

I try to write books that are fast moving and entertain the reader while introducing them to an exotic region that is a long way from home for most English speakers. Montevideo, Salta, Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, and Iguazu Falls are characters in these books, and the books will have succeeded for me if readers say that they’d like to visit these places because they seem so vivid and real. I believe my strengths as an author are in inventing interesting plots, paying attention to story details, and trying to entertain the reader.  None of these books are true cozies. I call them “tweeners.” My characters are tougher and live in a darker world than most cozy novels feature, and there are scenes of violence in the books. But, I adhere to the cozy conventions of no cussing and no gratuitous sex scenes.

I’d love to see you pick up a copy of one (or more!) of my novels, read and enjoy it, recommend it to your friends, and write a good honest review that you publish on the Amazon book page where you purchased the book. 

About the author

The author is a Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of California’s Medical School at Davis, near Sacramento in Northern California. Jerry writes mystery stories that follow the cozy conventions of no graphic sex and no cussing but feature tougher protagonists and darker worlds than most cozies. Jerry knows the real world of dog shows from his own experience and that of his wife, Elaine, who breeds and shows prize-winning German Shorthair Pointer dogs. The cover photo is the author’s own dog Jolie (Grand Champion V. D. Nacht’s Classic Beaujolais, SH). Elaine provided technical advice for The Deadly Dog Show and editing for all of his books.

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