Publisher: Sunbury Press (August 15, 2015)
Category: Mystery, Detective, Amateur Sleuth, Crime
Tour Date: Oct & Nov, 2015
Available in: Print & ebook, †244 Pages
Murder Run centers on Jed Cooper, a wayward handyman grappling with the untimely death of his employer, a fragile choreographer who secluded herself in the Litchfield Hills.
As the fallout mounts, the reader is taken to various locales in and around Manhattan, an escapade in Miami Springs and back again to the Connecticut hill country until this twisty conundrum finally plays itself out.
Praise for ‘Twilight Of the Drifter’ by Shelly Frome:
“This is a thoughtful, careful study of the south in a way that makes a time and a place come alive. One thing I liked especially about it is the dialogue and the pacing of the narrative. Frome is writing from deep understanding and with a skill that is enviable. A good mystery from a good writer.”-Lee Jacobus, LeeJacobus.com
“Rich in southern history and mystery.”- Patricia Gligor, Author of ‘Mixed Messages’ & ‘Desperate Deeds’
“Shelly Frome’s southern fried literary characters in “Twilight of the Drifer” haunt the reader like a stirring and heartfelt Blues song.
This crime story loses no time in transporting the reader into the dark underbelly of the gritty world of the Missisippi Delta.† Mr. Frome’s vivid and picturesque use of description paints one unforgettable reading experience.”- Gerry Corn, Amazon Reviewer
Praise for ‘Tinseltown Riff’ by Shelly Frome:
“Capture Real Energy Reading This Fast Moving and Intriguing Book!”- Jo-Anne Vandermeulen, Author of ‘ Conquer All Obstacles’
“Tinseltown Riff by Shelly Frome took me on a trip through the movie industry that was a surprise and a lot of fun.† Not your typical Hollywood story.† On this wild ride through the industry, you’ll be watching over Ben’s shoulder as he does his best to make it in the Big Time, only to trip and fall, time and time again.† I recommend this story to readers looking to get away from it all, who are looking for an adventure, and who want to be entertained.”- A. McGraw, Amazon Reviewer
“Tinseltown Riff is an amazing collage of false and failed people trying to make it in the superficial atmosphere of Hollywood. Caught in their own world of make believe the oddball characters shuffle the deck and don’t always come up with a full one. Scam artists feast on the likes of Ben trying to draw his way back into the movie world, and failed actresses trying to recreate themselves. Add in a hit man from the Vegas mob on the prowl for lost drugs, records and money. This unusual mix
of offbeat characters makes for entertaining reading and intrigue.”-
Julian Stuart Haber, Author, ‘A Nail In The Body of Christ’ and ‘Blood Avenger’
“Wake up, pal, we got a situation . . . Hey, I’m talkin’ here. Maybe she makes it, maybe she don’t. I’m sayin’ you better move it!”
The voice came out of the past. The words cut into the here-and-now of the Connecticut night.
Left with just the dial tone, Jed Cooper hung up, got off the cot and tried to get his bearings. Though he’d been house-sitting this junk trailer for a while, he still had to grope around to find the pull cord for the lights. He waited a few seconds more and punched in the unlisted number of the she the guy must’ve been talking about.
It was busy.
He reached for his jeans, work boots and a pullover sweater, got dressed and called her number again. No luck. He hit redial three more times and gave up.
Scuffing past the frayed wires hanging across the water-stained ceiling, banging into the space heaters as he jerked open the little frig, he took a few swigs of bottled water and thought it over. There was no hope of getting a bead on who the street-wise caller was. And there was still only one person who could possibly need him at this hour and was close by. Plus, chances were the guy had disconnected her phone.
Jed straggled out into the March dampness, skirted around the rusty snow plow blade and hurried up the path. He slid behind the wheel of the Chevy pickup, cranked the old motor, gave it hardly any time to idle and took off onto Green Hill Road.
Off the beaten path in the Litchfield Hills there were no street lights. Under the misty cloud cover, his brights only made matters worse. And way out here his cell phone was useless.
Taking the dips and rises as best he could, he began to have second thoughts. Granted the guy had to be talking about Miss Julie. Putting aside what in God’s name he was doing at her place, what if he was laying in wait? And even if he’d split, what were the repercussions? Could Jed just tear into a single woman’s hidden drive this late at night? And then what? Check things out, or call up to her window to see if she was okay? Or, hoping no one had spotted him, ring her bell? Suppose he got no answer?
Besides, there were too many incidents already on his record. One more, and he’d had it.
But then again, she’d gotten so skittish today she didn’t even let him finish his chores. Told him to put down the chainsaw and completely changed her mind about clearing the drive. “If I can see the road, someone can see me,” she said. “I want you to go up to the attic and put a latch on the crawl space.”
But why? What was that all about? She didn’t say, wouldn’t tell him.
His pondering tapered off as he dealt with the pitted lane. Straining his eyes, he took an immediate left onto Nonnewaug Road coursing past the stands of maples.
For a second he caught a glimpse of what could’ve been a Lincoln parked by the side of the road. Not just any Lincoln though–a Continental, the vintage one with the single blade fenders and squared-off hood. It was another flickering memory out of the past but had no bearing right now. Or did it?
Focusing hard, keeping his mind on what he was doing, he made a sharp right. Gearing down, he spun his wheels navigating the muddy patches, shot forward as he cleared, eased onto the gravel, jerked the hand brake and killed the motor. He got out onto the drive at the side of the weathered cape, glanced up and spotted a flitting shadow under the gabled window. He’d wired-in motion detecting flood lights for her that should’ve lit up the area but nothing snapped on.
He thought of calling out. He thought of rushing over to the road to see if the Lincoln was still parked there partially hidden under the trees. He thought of putting this whole thing down to some kind of hoax.
Just as he was about to honk the horn and damn well do something, he heard the cellar door slam shut.
Yelling out, Jed reflexively ran around to the back in time to see a burly shape make for the tree line. Which was a stupid move, slogging through underbrush and waist-high weeds and briars. Plus, whoever it was had a hitch in his stride and couldn’t possibly know where he was or what he was doing.
Jed took off after him. But, despite everything, the guy kept changing direction. Like a gimpy street kid ducking down a dark alley and then darting here and there through the traffic. Like Jed himself used to do way back then.
Rushing straight ahead, Jed tripped over a tangle of bittersweet roots, warded off the sprays of honeysuckle lashing across his face and kept going until it finally dawned on him. Even if he caught up, the guy outweighed him and could take him out with a few punches. He was obviously leading Jed on, away from the house and it didn’t much matter in which direction.
Jed turned around and headed back for the cellar. Banging into things, he brushed past the mess the guy had made, located the breaker panel, flipped the switches and climbed the stairs as the lights came back on. He called her name as he passed the kitchen and cut around the dining room but there was no answer.
He hurried up to the bedroom and stopped short. Though he’d never entered, never gone beyond the pull-down attic ladder, he could picture exactly what should have happened. She should’ve opened her window and cried out the second Jed pulled in. Or shouted the moment the guy split. Or certainly just now when Jed barged into the cellar, hit the breaker switches and began calling for her.
Hesitating a few seconds more, he slipped through the open door and found the bedroom half in shadow. Lit only by the little Coleman lantern he’d given her in case the power went off, knowing how frightened she was of being alone in the dark.
And there, in the dimness, he saw her. On the canopy bed, wearing a ruffled nightgown, looking half her age like a sleeping princess. Only she was lying sideways, on a slant, her back to him clutching her raincoat. And she didn’t appear to be breathing. Didn’t respond at all even as he stood over her.
In his panic, he thought of CPR . . . but didn’t know how to do it and was afraid to touch her . . . spotted the phone cradle but couldn’t dial 911 because the handset was missing.
He found the wall switch and the bathroom lights, scoured the medicine cabinet and the nightstand for prescription vials. But there were no pills anywhere, no beta blockers or whatever it was she said she was taking. He thought of opening her mouth, at least doing that, but stepped back and froze when the motion-detecting floods flashed onto the rutted drive below, merging with the sound of squealing brakes.
He didn’t have to wait to find out what was next. First the crackle of the police radio and, in practically no time, Road Trooper Charlie Tate was up the stairs and upon him.
Tate glanced at the lifeless form on the bed, glanced back and uttered the inevitable words:
“Right. Jed Cooper. Now how in hell did I know it would be you?”
Interview with the Author
1) Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’m a professor emeritus of dramatic arts at the University of Connecticut specializing in acting and film, and a former starving actor in New York City and summer stock, appearing off-Broadway while studying with Gene Frankel and Uta Hagen. I have a BA in drama from the University of Miami and an MA in theater from the University of Florida with a thesis based on firsthand research at The Actors Studio. I’ve written many plays that have been produced, and directed dozens of plays for high school, community theater, and college. I also write monthly profiles for a newspaper chain and am the film columnist for Southern Writers Magazine.
2) Where and when did your writing journey begin?
I guess my writing journey as such began when I first started writing short stories as an undergraduate in Miami before moving on to playwriting. Then again, there was that time I began passing around cliff-hangers I wrote for the amusement of fellow students at Shenandoah Junior High Schoo
3) Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
Hemingway had an influence on my writing in terms of a moral code and a leaner style; Salinger for giving characters free rein; Donald Westlake’s crime capers in terms of a certain clean, driving pulse; James Lee Burke for a sense of place influencing just about everything (along with P.D. James), and Ray Bradbury for a marvelous sense of joy and storytelling.
4) What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
As an incurable storyteller, there are periods of daydreaming, musing over gaps that need to be deepened or altered while I go about my chores and whatnot; and a session just about every afternoon when I go back to whatever I’m working on, fill in those gaps and move on.
5) How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
Unfortunately my wife passed away in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. Unable to accept that haunting memory, in my imagination it soon transformed into a crime begging to be solved. But the story could only have a life of its own if I took a hiatus of a year and then stepped aside. And that’s when a wayward handyman from the farmland of Indiana (shades of James Dean) took over—a fish out of water who found he was a person of interest, who had to exonerate himself and champion his fragile employer who suffered an untimely death, and on and on it flowed onto the mean streets of New York.
6) What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?
As far as I can tell, I’m one of the few crime and mystery writers who creates character-driven chases and conundrums, where everything seems to comes to life and is so vivid that, in a sense, readers feel they’re not only reading a novel but also watching a movie. In short, it’s hard to pin me down and categorize my style.
7) Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
Jed, the central character, is doubtless my favorite because he has the latent energy to put something on the line, get to the bottom of this untimely death, take on the city and these nefarious and colorful characters and see this dicey venture through.
8) Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
The scenes where Jed discovers the pulse and realities of New York: Time Square, Little Italy, Chinatown, Greenwich Village, etc
9) What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
I hope they realize what it takes to cut through the games people play and the great change that comes about when you leave your passive defenses behind, tap your underlying potential along with dealing with your shortcomings, and truly begin to care.
11) What are your hopes for this novel?
I hope readers will be involved as well as entertained and pass the word, and that reviewers will tune into the thrust of this escapade and help keep the work out there for some time.
12) What do you have in store next for your readers?
I’m working on a transatlantic village mystery and one that takes place in my new hometown nestled in the Blue Ridge (Black Mountain, North Carolina).
Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He is also the film columnist for Southern Writers Magazine.
His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter and Tinseltown Riff. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage.
Murder Run is his latest foray into the world of mystery/crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.
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