We took the train into Manhattan Wednesday evening for my reading at KGB. KGB is a great little bar, a second-floor walk-up in the East Village dedicated to whiskey and literature (and Soviet memorabilia).
There were eight of us scheduled to read on Wednesday night, all mystery writers, all members of the New York chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, a mixture of established and emerging writers, all talented writers with wonderful stories. For me, it was an opportunity to “go public” with my work-in-progress, the black comedy Death and White Diamonds. I finished the first draft of the manuscript less than a month ago and will be dealing for some time with edits, but it seemed the perfect opportunity to read a brief excerpt and get some feedback from mystery readers and writers.
“I should probably tell you that Richie goes away for the week-end with his girlfriend Lorraine. One thing leads to another an now she’s dead. Richie is fairly certain that he didn’t kill his girlfriend, but his memory is a little hazy in spots. The one thing he knows for sure is that when someone finds out that she’s dead, he’s going to be the prime suspect. So he decides to dispose of the body.”
I really like Death and White Diamonds and I was anxious to find out whether an audience of mystery readers and writers would like it. I was gratified to hear laughter from the very first sentence. “Lorraine was still much too large to be used as bait, but the kitchen in the beach house was well-equipped.”
And then I jumped right into a scene where Richie turns his girlfriend into bait for a fishing expedition. “In one end of the sausage maker, I fed Lorraine parts and from the other end the machine extruded ground Lorraine.”
Later, on the boat, Lorraine bait is packed into a chum cannon and “the next thing I knew, little bits of Lorraine were being sprayed out across the water, a graceful arc of ground Lorraine, shimmering in the late-morning sun.”
But there was still far too much Lorraine to dispose of on a fishing excursion. “At this rate, it would take a month of such excursions to say good-bye to Lorraine. I hate long goodbyes.”
And, if that weren’t problem enough, by the end of the excursion, Richie had two more dead bodies to deal with. Richie was philosophical. “My attempt to dispose of Lorraine had not gone according to plan.”
I left KGB late Wednesday night exhausted and gratified and perhaps just a little bit tipsy and in the ensuing twenty-four hours, sales on my other three books all spiked.
And that would be plenty to call it a good week (no, in truth, to call it a great week) but Thursday afternoon, I was back on the road, heading south to the Noyes Museum of Art in Oceanville NJ. The Noyes is a wonderful little museum bordering the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.
I knew that I was taking a chance using four pints of fresh raspberries to make a pot of chili ( a very big pot to be sure, but four pints of raspberries was still an unconventional ingredient). Would people like the chili or would they be off-put by the raspberries?
So in the last forty-eight hours someone called my new manuscript “hilarious” and someone else called my chili “divine.” And I almost forgot. I got an email last night that the new paperback edition of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Murder should be available in time for Christmas.
Usually my life is not like this.
If things go according to plan (and we know from Richie’s experience they often don’t) I intend to do absolutely nothing for a couple of days.