Sunday, December 30, 2018



When young Galveston Gazette society reporter Jazz Cross hears rumors of grave robbers at the Broadway Cemetery, she and photographer Nathan Blaine investigate, hoping to land a scoop. The newshawks witness meetings held by clandestine gangs, and enlist her beau, Prohibition Agent James Burton, to help capture the elusive gangsters red-handed.

Meanwhile, the supernatural craze takes Galveston by storm, and Jazz is assigned to profile the society set’s favorite fortune teller, Madame Farushka. Sightings of a ghost bride haunting the Hotel Galvez intrigue Jazz, who sets up a Ouija board reading and séance with the spiritualist. Did the bride-to-be drown herself—or was she murdered?

Luckily, Sammy Cook, her black-sheep half-brother, has escaped the Downtown Gang and now works at the Hollywood Dinner Club, a swanky nightclub owned by rival Beach Gang leaders. During a booze bust, Downtown Gang leader Johnny Jack Nounes is caught and Jazz  worries: will Sammy be forced to testify against his former boss? 

Worse, when a mystery man turns up dead, Sammy is framed for murder and Jazz must find the real killer and clear Sammy’s name. As turf wars rage on, Jazz relies on her wits and moxie to solve both murders before the Downtown Gang exacts its revenge. 

Book Details:

Title: Deco Dames, Demon Rum And Death

Author: Ellen Mansoor Collier

Genre: Historical cozy mystery

Series: A Jazz Age Mystery, book #5

Publisher: Deco Dame Press (12/18/2018)

Print length: 290 pages


A few of your favorite things: Books, antique markets (I collect Deco flapper accessories), museums, traveling, my dogs, good coffee and peach iced tea.
Things you need to throw out: Old clothes and magazines (I’m a former magazine journalist and feel guilty if I don’t read all the articles, but I try to recycle).

Things you need in order to write: Comfortable chair/peace & quiet or mild background noise—depends on my mood . . . if I need stimulation, I’ll take my laptop and sit outside at a café or patio.
Things that hamper your writing: Loud noises/voices, writer’s block (when I’m stuck on a scene), trolls, phone calls/marketers. I live in a big city, and it’s often hard to find blocks of time without being interrupted constantly.

Things you love about writing: Those “Eureka!” moments when you finally work out a problem scene or resolution or tie together plot twists; being able to work around the clock when inspiration hits, often in my PJs; great reviews and compliments! 
Things you hate about writing: Trolls—the fact that anyone can rate your work when it’s clear they haven’t even read your book(s); editing; writer’s block; interruptions.

Easiest thing about being a writer: Dress code (or lack thereof).

Hardest thing about being a writer: I’m outgoing, and it’s hard to isolate yourself and focus at times; marketing, coming up with fresh ideas and plot twists in a series; working with artists who don’t understand your vision; being attacked in print by trolls .

Favorite foods: German chocolate cake, stuffed grape leaves with meat, salmon, juicy medium rare steak.
Things that make you want to throw up: Hot peppers; super spicy foods.

Favorite music or song: Instrumental jazz.
Music that make your ears bleed: Techno.

Favorite beverage: Arnold Palmer, peach tea, mango margaritas (can I pick more than one?)
Something that gives you a pickle face: Pickles, beets, horseradish.

Favorite smell:  Cinnamon.

Something that makes you hold your nose: The usual.

Something you’re really good at: Procrastinating.

Something you’re really bad at: Anything mechanical or technical.

Something you like to do: Visit art museums; go to plays; movies; concerts; dance; swim. 

Something you wish you’d never done: If I told you, I’d have to kill you off in my novels, LOL.

Things you always put in your books: Animals, humor.

Things you never put in your books: Sex scenes (I always worried what my mother would think).

Things to say to an author: “I love your books! How do you do it? I couldn’t put it down! I want to buy a dozen books and give them to my friends! Can I have your autograph?” (Just kidding).
Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: I didn’t finish; I lost interest; the ending was predictable; I thought it was boring (thankfully no one has told me that).

Favorite places you’ve been: Paris, London, Rome, Siracusa, Sicily, Venice, New Orleans, Galveston (of course).

Places you never want to go to again: Jasper, Texas.

Favorite genre: Historical mysteries.

Books you would ban: Explicit erotica.

Favorite things to do: I love outdoor antique markets, the thrill of the hunt—takes my mind off everything, especially writing (but it’s also great for people-watching!); Taking walks (nature trails); drinking tea or coffee at sidewalk cafés; listening to great music; a good meal with good friends.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: Going to the dentist.

Things that make you happy: Good books; traveling abroad; getting great reviews; a beautiful view; my dogs; listening to good music; especially jazz; weekend getaways.
Things that drive you crazy:
Loud noises; traffic jams; people talking and/or eating at plays and movies; rude waiters/clerks/people.

Proudest moments: Seeing my novels on display at hotels, gift shops and bookstores.
Most embarrassing moment:
Book signings where hardly anyone shows up.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: I went skiing at Snowmass, near Aspen, and realized I was seriously afraid of heights when I was in the ski lift–too late! Enjoyed the overall experience in retrospect, not the cold . . .

Something you chickened out from doing:
Bungee jumping.

The last thing you did for the first time: Skiing at Snowmass.

Something you’ll never do again: Go on a sleigh ride at Snowmass (too cold!).



The plump gypsy woman caressed my hand, studying my palm as if it held the map to Lafitte’s pirate treasure, rumored to be lost in Galveston Bay. Madame Farushka certainly looked the part in her colorful scarf, flowing hair, a fringed shawl wrapped over her peasant blouse and skirt. Was she an actress or a clairvoyant or a fake?

Flickering candles dotted the dimly-lit room, strands of sparkling beads and crystals criss-crossed the windows, the scent of sandalwood floated from an Egyptian bronze incense burner. A crystal ball gleamed in the center of the table, beckoning like a jewel from King Tut’s tomb.

The fortune-teller cleared her throat. “You face a lot of struggles as a working woman, with many challenges ahead.”

I bit my tongue to keep from blurting out: So what else is new? Every dame I knew had problems.

“I see a lot of changes in your life,” the seer chanted, gazing into the crystal ball. “Upheaval, uprooting.” She closed her eyes, swaying from side to side. Suddenly her dark eyes flew open and she looked up in alarm. “Someone close to you is in danger. Are you married?” Her kohl-rimmed gaze bore into my skull, as if reading my mind, daring me to reveal my secrets. Wouldn’t she already know them if she truly was clairvoyant?

I shifted in her silk slipper chair, tapping my fingers. “No, why?”

“A loved one then, perhaps a sweetheart or a family member. A young man. He’s in grave danger.” Madame Farushka gripped my hand, her voice a hoarse gasp. I tried not to be fazed by her theatrics, but I admit I was worried.

“What kind of danger?”

She peered into the crystal ball. “Terrible danger. Life or death.”

“Can you be more specific?”

“I’m sorry, but that’s all I foresee.”

OK, so now I was curious. “What does the man look like?”

She stroked her temples, rings of gold bracelets jingling on her arms. “He’s tall, handsome, young...with a dangerous occupation.”

That described my two favorite fellas: my fair-haired Prohibition agent beau, James Burton and Sammy Cook, my black-sheep half-brother. Sammy served as maître d’ of the Hollywood Dinner Club, the swankiest spot on the Gulf Coast.

“Is he blond or dark?”

The seer shook her head. “I’m sorry. I lost the vision.”

In other words, my dollar was all used up.

What a load of hogwash. Sadly their risky jobs always put Sammy and James in danger. This phony-baloney hadn’t told me anything new.

“Is that all?” I stood up, annoyed that I’d wasted a whole dollar on ten minutes of trivia.

“You’ll have to come back for a second reading.” She held out her palm, fishing for a tip. When I gave her a nickel, she scowled, as disappointed as I was. Now I wondered: Was she a fortune-teller or a fortune-hunter?

Excerpt from Deco Dames, Demon Rum And Death, by Ellen Mansoor Collier. Copyright © 2018 by Ellen Mansoor Collier. Reprinted with permission from Ellen Mansoor Collier. All rights reserved.


Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines. She's interviewed Suze Orman, Nancy Brinker, and many unsung heroines and heroes for various publications including: Family Circle, Biography, Modern Bride, First, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Country Accents, Nation's Business, Playgirl, etc. Several of her short stories, both mystery and romance, have appeared in Woman's World. Set during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston, her Jazz Age mystery series was inspired by real-life gangs and historic events, but the plot and details were changed to protect the guilty—as well as the author.

Formerly, Collier has worked as a magazine editor, a substitute teacher, a community newspaper reporter, and in advertising/marketing as well as public relations. During college, she once worked as the world's worst cocktail waitress, against her mother's wishes. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism, and served as president of WICI (Women in Communications, Inc.) and as an editor on UTmost, the UT Magazine, her senior year. Flappers, Flasks And Foul Play is the first novel in her Jazz Age Mystery Series, followed by Bathing Beauties, Booze And Bullets, Gold Diggers, Gamblers And Guns, Vamps, Villains And Vaudeville, and Deco Dames, Demon Rum And Death. 

Ellen says, "After a 'gangster tour' in Chicago where we visited Al Capone’s old stomping grounds, I found out Galveston had its own share of turf wars between rival gangs and bootleggers. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s."

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