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I’m thrilled to announce the latest Fina Fitzgibbons Brooklyn Mystery, Dorset in the Dark. It’s Fina’s sixth book, available now on Amazon.
Here’s a quick summary: On a cold spring morning, private investigator Fina Fitzgibbons finds Cassandra Thatchley slumped over on a park bench, the victim of a memory-impairing drug. Her ten-year-old daughter Dorset is missing. Meanwhile, Fina’s father is hospitalized, and Denny wants to move from Brooklyn.
And here are few lines from one of the first scenes—Fina wakes up to a call from her favorite NYPD detective, Jane Templeton:
Outside, a cold March wind hit me full in the face. We’d been lucky so far this month—no frost to spoil the magnolias that bloomed in the backyard and the grass was doing a good job with green although the air that morning had a distinctive dampness to it, as if it were longing for the white stuff. I noticed a few new leaves on the ornamental pear tree in the front yard as I wrapped my arms around me and thought of warmer days soon to come. In the distance, the lights lining the Brooklyn Bridge gleamed and I quickened my pace. No sounds except for distant trucks rattling across metal, although in the early morning light, long shadows began spooking me, so I jogged the rest of the way to the park a few feet from the Promenade. That was when I saw her, a woman in a dark coat sitting on a bench in front of the swings.
“You’re out early,” I said, running in place to keep the blood flowing. She didn’t answer. She’d probably come here to be alone and think, just like me, and I was disturbing her.
I walked to the fence separating the playground from the Promenade and gazed across New York Harbor to the Statue of Liberty. I tried to focus on work, but my brain was fizzing with last night’s pandemonium, what with the babies crying and Denny moaning about the high cost of living in Brooklyn and swearing we had to move and the phone buzzing with a crazed neighbor’s call asking me to investigate another robbery in his drugstore on Montague Street.
While I stared out over the slow-moving water, the past intruded. I thought of Mom and the many times we’d stood on this very spot together. And then in my mind I was back in high school and sitting next to her on the subway as she went for her umpteenth job interview shortly after she’d been fired from Heights Federal. Waiting for her outside the office into which she’d disappeared, I prayed for her just to be calm and impressive, not that frenetic, insistent Mom I’d known of late. I leaned against a wall, watching the traffic on Canal Street, wishing I understood Chinese while two men quarreled outside a hardware store and a shard of late afternoon light slashed pedestrians standing on silent corners. I could still see the slump of her shoulders when she returned. “Not this time,” she’d said. It was the lowest we’d ever gotten, and I knew I had to do something or we’d lose the house, so I began taking out the garbage for old Mrs. Adams across the street, then graduated to scrubbing her floors and throwing out old newspapers. Soon she recommended me to two of her neighbors, and before I knew it, Lucy’s Cleaning Service was born, a business that kept us off the streets. I can still remember the day I came home with a check to cover half the mortgage, waving it in front of Mom’s shocked face. It was enough so that our lawyer could plead our case with the bank. And after that, we’d never missed a payment. But cleaning homes and offices every night after class and on weekends meant I barely squeaked through the last two years of high school.
The wind picked up and seagulls squawked overhead. “You’d like your grandchildren,” I whispered as the sky lightened, rosy and cloud-ladened, and I let the clean smell of the ocean dispel the ache in me. “Carmella has your eyes and Robbie, your temperament—thank God.” I heard the breeze laugh, and before I got too far down maudlin lane, reminded myself how lucky I was to have a husband who loved me; to have two healthy, happy toddlers; to have a mother-in-law who didn’t meddle and helped with my business; to live close to my best friend since kindergarten, Cookie, who also helped me in my detective agency. I needed to get her involved in the drugstore robberies.
Watching the sun glint on the windows of a passing tug, I gave up on planning and turned back to the woman on the bench, who by now was pitching over, about to fall off her perch. Was she sleeping? In an alcoholic stupor? My heart skipped a beat. I walked over and, putting a hand on her shoulder, tried to steady her. “Ma’am?”
No response. I noticed a slight film of perspiration on her forehead as I removed her gloves and felt for a pulse. She was alive. I lifted an eyelid. Her pupils were dilated, it seemed to me, but I was no doctor.
“Are you okay?” I tried to ask, but my voice wouldn’t cooperate. In the distance, I heard the moan of a foghorn and sounds of runners on the Promenade, indistinct words, the beat of happy feet pounding the asphalt.
No answer from the woman.
She was thin, about five six or eight, much taller than me, with a high forehead, long dark wiry hair beginning to fleck with white, and a jutting nose. She wore jeans and, underneath a long coat, a polo shirt with a collar beginning to fray. Uggs on her feet. Observing the fine lines surrounding her mouth and eyelids, I pegged her as being middle-aged. On her left hand, she wore a wedding band with a hefty diamond. Her nails were long and painted with sky-blue polish. Not one chip. She was old enough and fit enough and well-put-together, so what was she doing here?
I shook her gently on the shoulder. Still no movement. I called 9-1-1.
To read more you can “look inside” for free on Amazon. And if you’d like a review copy of this or of any of my other books, please contact me at gagasue at gmail dot com
Death of a Brooklyn Landlord: A new Spinoff Series
A number of Fina’s fans thought Lorraine should have her own series. I agreed, and now Death of a Brooklyn Landlord, Lorraine McDuffy’s first book in a new mystery series is available for pre-order. The story begins with a telephone call in the middle of the night: Lorraine’s old flame has found a body in the back of his Brooklyn butcher shop. Here’s a blurb and excerpt. And here’s a link to the book.
Mystery & Thriller Writers: Guest Posts and WIPs
Please contact me if you write mysteries or thrillers and are interested in doing an interview or guest post or even in revealing a slice of your work in progress. Shoot me a line, I’ll promote your work. Send your email to: gagasue @ gmail dot com. Include a brief bio, links to your sites and/or books on Amazon or Smashwords along with images of headshots and covers. I’ll be glad to promote your work.
How to Compile in Scrivener
Here’s the first in a three-part series exploring the relationship between Scrivener and Word and Smashwords—How to compile a Smashing Word Doc in Scrivener. I hope it simplifies compiling a Scrivener file into a Smashwords-friendly MS Word document. In the second part, I detail steps to ensure a smooth MS Word upload to Smashwords. And in the third and final part, I show you how I create a hyperlinked TOC in three easy steps. And I have a few posts on how to use the Compile command to create ebooks. One features the mobi version created on Scrivener for Windows, another using Scrivener on a Mac. And yet another talks about how I create an ePub from my Scrivener file.
Like many authors, I use Scrivener to create my books. This powerful word processor has increased my daily word count and helped me put together plot. But it’s taken me a while to learn some of its more powerful features, non-techie that I am, and some of what I’ve learned, I share on my blog. My latest post concerns color coding first drafts in Scrivener. And here’s one that explores Scrivener’s Toggle-Split editing function. The post is about splitting and merging scenes. Another is about the powerful name changer, Project Replace. I use it a lot because I’m always tweaking the names of characters and places. Another is this post on editing more than one scene at once, a handy function when you want to check details.
Brooklyn Series Now in Print
The Fina Fitzgibbons Brooklyn mysteries are now in print. You can buy them on Amazon or from your favorite online bookseller. From Book 1: A Murder, A Kidnapping, & One Woman Who Never Gives Up . . . Twenty-two-year-old Fina Fitzgibbons stumbles upon a throttled woman in the heart of Brooklyn Heights and discovers that the dead woman’s four-year-old grandson is also missing. She begins a wild hunt for the strangler-kidnapper, Ralph. During the chase, she resists falling in love with her boyfriend, Denny, an NYPD patrol officer, steps on the toes of Detective First Grade Jane Templeton, and uncovers secrets about her own past. In the end, Ralph has a deadly surprise for Fina.
A List of Compound Words Here’s my list of compound words. Over 1600 of them. They’re from my style sheet, itself a compound word, but not written as one word, not even hyphenated. Crazy, our English language. And you wonder why I keep such a huge list of words, what with Merriam-Webster’s unabridged at my fingertips, online and ever updated. Who can figure …
Serafina lived in the late nineteenth century in Sicily, moved to Paris, and finally to Manhattan’s Lower East Side where she died in 1914. Or did she? Her descendant, Fina Fitzgibbons owns a cleaning establishment, Lucy’s She lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend, Denny and her cat, Mr. Baggins. She’s also a private investigator, and that’s where her story begins.
What I’m Working On
I’m writing the seventh Fina book and the second book in the Lorraine McDuffy mystery series. The working title is Death in Logan Square. Lorraine and Frank investigate the disappearance of a teen. Meanwhile, Brandy and her friends have taken up sleuthing in Brooklyn Twist, and Rosa’s prodding me to write Serafina’s fifth book. And if you’ve met Rosa, you know her jabs are not too gentle. She says there’s a strange smell coming from the fifth floor of their apartment building in Paris, the sixteenth arrondissement, to be exact. Serafina’s in Sicily mourning for her son and won’t return for a while so Rosa’s holding down the fort along with that French inspector, Alfonse Valois, so she needs me to get on with the fifth book.
Headshot: ©2014 jill brazel photography. Background image: *itKuPiLLi*