Saturday, June 15, 2019



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 the help of her beau, Prohibition Agent James Burton, who attempts to catch the elusive culprits 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 acts as the maître d’ for the Hollywood Dinner Club, owned by rival Beach Gang leaders. During a booze bust, the Downtown Gang’s mob boss, 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 solve both murders and help clear Sammy’s name.

As the turf war between rival gangs rages on, Jazz relies on her wits and moxie to rescue her brother and her friends before the Downtown Gang exacts its revenge.

Book Details:

Title: Deco Dames, Demon Rum and Death

Author: Ellen Mansoor Collier

Genre: Cozy mystery

Series: Jazz Age Mysteries, book 5

Publisher: Decodame Press (December 28, 2018)

Print length: 249 pages



If you could talk to someone (living), who would it be and what would you ask them?
Hard to pick one: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Elon Musk, Tilman Fertitta (he was so nice when I met him recently), Oprah Winfrey, Essie Davis–they alI fascinate me! First I’d ask: What drives you?

If you could talk to someone (dead), who would it be and what would you ask them?
Nellie Bly: What motivated you to become a journalist?
Zelda Fitzgerald: Did you help pen Scott’s stories? 
Agatha Christie: Why did you become a writer and how do you come up with your ideas?
Dorothy Parker: Why do you have a death wish?
Shakespeare: Did you write all your own plays/sonnets or did you have help (as rumored)?
Coco Chanel: How do you handle your critics?
Erte’: What inspires you? How did you become so prolific?

If you could live in any time period which would it be? 1920s.

If you could step back into a moment or day in time, where would you go?
1919-1920  The day when women got the right to vote. Also V-day.

If you could time travel for an infinite period of time, where would you go?

1920s Paris and meet all the literary greats and artists of that time: Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Picasso, et al.

If you could be anything besides a writer, what would it be?
I’m very visual and like to be active, but writing novels can be rather static and confining.
I worked as a magazine journalist (writer/editor) for 20+ years and got to meet lots of interesting people, some famous, most ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Besides a foreign correspondent, I’d like to be a screenwriter/director, a casting agent/talent scout, a literary agent or maybe a commercial interior designer, perhaps for restaurants and hotels.

If you had to do community service (or already do volunteer work), what would you choose?
I’d work with animals or children—better yet, both.

If you were on the Amazon bestseller list, who would you choose to be one before and one below you?
Rhys Bowen, Amy Metz and Kerry Greenwood
. Wow! Thank you!

If you could meet any author for coffee, who would you like to meet and what would you talk about? Kerry Greenwood, author of the Miss Fisher mysteries. Love the TV series!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
Europe, preferably Belgium, or South of France or Italy, but I’d need to learn the languages. My college French won’t cut it!


5 things you need in order to write:  
    •    some ideas
    •    peace & quiet
    •    soft jazz
    •    comfy chair
    •    fruit tea or flavored ice coffee

5 things you love about writing: 
    •    dress code, hours
    •    making up stories and characters
    •    word play, putting your thoughts in characters’ dialogue
    •    researching interesting topics
    •    interacting with appreciative readers, seeing your novels on shelves!

5 favorite foods: 
    •    baked salmon
    •    pesto on fresh bread
    •    stuffed squash
    •    grape leaves with meat
    •    chicken and dumplings–I could go on and on!

5 things you always put in your books: 
    •    mystery
    •    history
    •    light romance
    •    animals
    •    food  

5 favorite places you’ve been: 
    •    Saint Chapelle and  Tuileries Jardins in Paris
    •    Kensington Gardens in London
    •    Capetown in S. Africa
    •    Florence and Sicily, Italy
    •    Austin, Texas (when I was in college)

5 people you'd like to be stuck in a bookstore with:
    •    Dorothy Parker
    •    F. Scott Fitzgerald
    •    Ernest Hemingway
    •    Agatha Christie
    •    James Lee Burke

5 favorite books:
    •    Mademoiselle Chanel
    •    Rebecca (by Daphne Du Maurier)
    •    Whiskey River (by Loren Estleman) His Detroit series is about a journalist (Amos Walker?) who covers historic Detroit, from the 1920-s 1950s.
    •    1939 (about Jack Kennedy)
    •    The Jealous Kind or most anything by James Lee Burke (his writing is so good, he makes violence almost seem palpable)


What’s your all-time favorite place?
Any sidewalk café in Paris.

What’s your all-time favorite memory?
Going fishing with my father.

What’s your all-time favorite movie?

easily. More recently, I loved the 1920s scenes in Midnight in Paris.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Jerks and bad drivers.

What’s the loveliest sight you’ve ever seen? 

 Sainte Chapelle in Paris, a church full of stained-glass windows.

What’s the most beautiful sound you’ve heard?
Notre Dame church bells, birds singing.

What’s your favorite time of day?
Midnight—I’m a night owl!

What’s your favorite thing to do? I love to travel, swim, take walks, go to museums and plays, antique shop, enjoy a nice meal. Dying to go on a cruise, but afraid I’d get seasick. 

What’s your favorite snack?
Popcorn or peanuts.

What’s your favorite dessert?
German chocolate cake with thick frosting.

What’s your favorite beverage?
Arnold Palmers and mango margaritas.

What’s your favorite ice cream?

Almond Joy, anything with coconut and chocolate.

What’s your favorite hobby or past-time?
Collecting Deco items, especially at big outdoor markets~ love the hunt and the history!

What’s your favorite thing to do when there’s nothing to do?
Nature walks, reading.

What’s one thing you never leave the house without?
Make-up and iced tea/water.

What drives you crazy?
Needless noise, people eating and talking at movies, rude clerks.

What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
George Barbier’s Eventails (My Gold Diggers cover)

What movie genre do you prefer: drama, comedy, action, adventure, thriller, or horror?
Absolutely no horror. I like a variety of movies, depends on the subject and acting.
On TV, I tend to prefer period pieces with some drama, action and comedy, no horror . . . really enjoyed series like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Downton Abbey, and Mad Men.  

What would you rather watch: MSNBC, CNN, or Fox? 

What do you collect?
Deco flappers items, vintage purses, and compacts

What’s your latest recommendation for:
Movie: I loved watching The Greatest Entertainer with my mother, the last movie we saw together (she had a big crush on Hugh Jackman).  The Man Who Invented Christmas is my new favorite holiday movie, so fascinating: Imagine Dickens with writer’s block!
TV:  Big Texas Fix features a young couple who restores historic homes in Galveston (on the DIY/HGTV network on Saturday nights).
Also I caught the first episode of Songland, and the collaboration between songwriters and singers seems so interesting, from concept to creation, a bit like writing novels.
Netflix/Amazon Prime:  The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (wonderful!) and The Highwaymen.


Nathan and I arrived a few minutes early, to allow him time to set up his camera equipment. Madame Farushka, dressed like a Cleopatra clone with flowing scarves and arms of jangly bracelets and huge hoop earrings—probably real gold, with her fees—seemed to enjoy playing dress-up.  With a dramatic flourish, she flung open the double stained-glass doors and led us down the dark hall past a beaded curtain entrance into her parlor, filled with massive carved Victorian furniture and ugly gargoyle bronzes.

A new Ouija board sat in the middle of a round oak table, with four chairs evenly spaced apart, a candelabra in the center. Madame rose to untie the thick silk cords and closed the heavy burgundy velvet curtains trimmed with long fringe, blocking out any twilight in the already-dark room.

Nervously I eyed the flickering candles. Sure, they helped set the supernatural mood, but to me they represented a fire hazard.

The flames cast an eerie glow: shadows and misshapen faces and figures of statues and religious icons seemed to magnify and flash like images in a fun-house mirror.

I got the shakes, feeling as if I’d stepped onto the set of The Phantom of the Opera. All we needed was an enormous swaying crystal chandelier to complete the Gothic scene....

Lily briefly described her encounters with the ghost bride, Marilyn, but didn’t mention murder. She glanced at the Ouija board, exclaiming, “I’m so excited.  How exactly do these work?”

After Madame explained the rules—we must remain silent during the reading while she asked the questions—we solemnly took our seats, scooted our chairs closer and placed our fingers on the celluloid triangular-shaped planchette, or pointer.  Then she chanted in low tones: “Oh, dear spirit, why do you haunt the Hotel Galvez? What unfinished business must you resolve?”

The planchette was still.  No vibration, no movement. I stole a peek at Nathan, who tried not to laugh. The women seemed so intent on the Ouija board’s powers that I felt guilty, and obediently shut my eyes. Madame again attempted to summon the bride.  “Tell us, spirit, why did you seek out Lily?   Do you have a message for her, for all of us? Why is your soul so troubled?”....

Madame Farushka’s eyes were closed and she swayed back and forth to a silent rhythm. Tilting my head, I signaled Nathan to start taking photos. No one paid attention as he quietly moved around the dark room and took a few shots. His flash added to the atmosphere, the puffs of smoke creating a cloudy haze.

The planchette vibrated and kept sliding across the board. Wary, I watched Lily and Madame for any evidence of trickery or manipulation, but everything appeared above board, so to speak. Slowly the planchette picked up speed and floated across the Ouija’s surface, spelling out a familiar, frightening word:  M-U-R-D-E-R.

Excerpt from by Deco Dames, Demon Rum and Death.  Copyright © 2018 by Ellen Mansooer Collier. Reproduced with permission from Ellen Mansooer Collier. All rights reserved.



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).

She lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts and visits Galveston whenever possible.

“When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. Finally, I had to stop researching and start writing, trying to imagine a flapper’s life in Galveston during Prohibition.”

Connect with Ellen:
Website  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest 

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