I caught up with tabloid reporter and amateur sleuth Cassie O’Malley recently at the Eggery. The Eggery is nothing special – that is, of course, unless you like your eggs over easy, thick slabs of homemade bread dripping with butter, bacon extra-crispy, home fries extra-spicy, coffee so rich you can smell it from your car. You see what I mean: nothing special unless you like a waitress who knows when to leave you alone but who appears at your side scant moments before you yourself become aware of your desire.
Between bites of eggs benedict (actually, as a result of a typo on the menu, they were eggs bebedict, but that’s another story entirely), Cassie agreed to answer a few questions.
JM: You’ve built up something of a cult following with your stories in the Jersey Knews.
CO’M: Is that a question?
JM: Let me start again. Does it surprise you that you’ve become something of an underground sensation?
CO’M: I can’t say it’s what I set out to write about, but it could be worse. You know, there will always be people who are interested in stories about space aliens and sea monsters, about psychic spy rings and Siamese triplets.
JM: What kind of stories did you set out to write?
CO’M: When I was a student at Princeton, I had it all figured out. I was going to be an investigative reporter, walking the halls of power in Washington, a force for truth, beauty, and the American way, holding politicians to their promises by the power of my words, exposing the hypocrites and the cheats and becoming rich and famous in the process.
JM: What happened?
CO’M: Life happened. Or more to the point, death happened.
JM: Death happened?
CO’M: I married my college sweetheart, and less than a year later, he died in his sleep. You know, when a man dies in his sleep, we console ourselves with the conventional wisdom that it is a peaceful way to die. And yet, that quiet winter morning, some few months after relocating to our condo in Doah, snow falling silently on the Pine Barrens, a dog barking in the distance, I rolled over to give Rob a good morning kiss and he was dead, terror frozen permanently in his eyes and in my memory.
JM: I am sorry.
CO’M: Even after all these years, sometimes I hate Rob for dying.
JM: Do you mind if I change the subject? Recently, you’ve gained some attention for your activities as an amateur sleuth.
CO’M: Yes. I have.
JM: How did that happen?
CO’M: I was working on a story when I found the first dead body. I just figured I ought to follow the story to it’s logical conclusion.
JM: How many dead bodies have you found? How many cases have you solved?
CO’M: Three. You know, I used to watch that TV show, I forget the title, you know, the one with Angela Lansbury and every week in Cabot Cove, she’d find another dead body. After a while, I wondered why her friends and neighbors didn’t give her a wide berth, ’cause you knew every week one of ’em was going to die.
JM: And now you’re starting to feel like Angela Lansbury?
CO’M: Let’s just say, I notice my friends are keeping their distance.
JM: How do you deal with that?
CO’M: Tullamore Dew.
CO’M: Irish whiskey.
JM: Someone told me you used to have a blog of your own.
CO’M: I wanted a place to tell people I wasn’t just a character in a book. That I was a real person. With hopes, dreams, ambitions. Disappointments. That the Cassie O’Malley Mysteries were real stories, my stories. And that you were just a pseudonym. My invention. The fictional author.
JM: So which is it?
CO’M: Yes. Which is it?