FEATURED AUTHOR: AMY KORMAN
ABOUT THE BOOKIt’s December 15th, time to mix up the holiday cocktails in tranquil Bryn Mawr, PA. Then a Samsonite full of gold goes missing, Bootsie’s not-so-bright brother Chip is kidnapped, and shady lawyer Scooter Simmons is offering investors shares in a fake golf resort. For antiques dealer Kristin Clark and her friends, this Christmas is murder….
LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT INTERVIEW WITH AMY KORMAN
Things you need in order to write:
A floppy-eared basset hound, coffee, and preferably some chirpy birds flying by my open window.
Things that hamper your writing:
The dishwasher, the dryer, gotta ignore these while you’re writing, which is surprisingly hard to do!
Hardest thing about being a writer:
Actually planting yourself at a desk at 6 a.m.
Easiest thing about being a writer:
It’s pure escapism if it’s going well, and that’s so fun!
Summertime by Kenny Chesney. Instantly conjures the sunshine!
Music that make your ears bleed:
I can’t think of any except the tunes they play at the dentist?
Has anyone else tried the California red Zinfandel wine by Rancho Zabaco? Even the name is cool.
Something that gives you a pickle face:
All the Agatha Christie characters love to drink tea—I wish I liked it too.
Last best thing you ate:
Shout-out to a tiny restaurant near us in the Philly suburbs called Po Le which makes the best pastas and is run by a wonderful family. I order the shrimp and cappellini.
Last thing you regret eating:
This year’s Halloween Oreos were amazing! Maybe I DON’T regret eating them . . .
Things you’d walk a mile for:
My dog. Then again, he’s a basset hound, and a mile is kind of far for him. He likes a leisurely stroll in the sunshine, then some Milkbones and a nap.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room:
Things you always put in your books:
I love a salty older lady and a brusque elderly man who like to say what they think, and Honey Potts and Jimmy Best in Killer Wasps fit that description. I’m also fond of a bossy character who somehow always wins, like Eula Morris in Killer Holiday. Eula’s bossy and controlling, and the main characters all loathe her, but she ends up hitting the Powerball jackpot and going on a round-the-world cruise!
Things you never put in your books:
So far, no one’s been murdered in a Killer Wasps mystery. They’ve been shot, kidnapped, and had paintings, jewelry and a suitcase full of gold bars stolen, but no deaths as of 2017.
Mysteries, preferably British and on the lighter side, but I also love Sue Grafton’s grittier Kinsey Milhone books. And anything by Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse.
Books you would ban:
My chemistry textbook from high school is not one I’d like to dive into again.
Things that make you happy:
Dogs, country music, my family, summer, a bike ride, palm trees, friends, and unexpected road trips.
Things that drive you crazy:
The Real Housewives and Don’t Be Tardy on Bravo. I can’t stop watching!
The last thing you did for the first time:
I learned how to assemble a bike. With a lot of assistance.
Something you’ll never do again:
Unlike some of Kristin’s friends, who like to do detective work under the cover of darkness and with a few drinks inside them, I can’t remember the last time I was out past 1 am. But never say never!
EXCERPT FROM KILLER HOLIDAY
Chapter OneBootsie McElvoy burst through the front door of The Striped Awning, a bag of ice in her right hand and the biggest bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon I’ve ever seen in her left. She dug into her L.L. Bean tote for a bottle of red wine, a shaker of nutmeg, and a bag of fun-size candy canes, all of which she deposited next to a display of 1940s barware near the front of my antiques store.
“Kristin, it’s December fifteenth, which means it’s time for you to start offering shoppers a specialty cocktail the minute they set foot inside your store,” Bootsie told me. “I’m going to mix up a batch of the Delaney family Christmas drink, the Bourbon Blitzen, which never fails to produce a White Christmas vibe. One sip and you’ll feel like you’re singing and dancing with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye at a snowy Vermont inn. This should double your sales totals for the month.”
“Thanks!” I said gratefully, since Bootsie’s family’s boozy drinks are known throughout our village of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, for their potency and tendency to produce unwise purchases.
“The drinks sound good, but you’re also going to need about four thousand more of these pinecones, triple the greenery, and eight hundred additional strands of lights,” Joe Delafield informed me; he’d arrived twenty minutes earlier to help me decorate my store for the Christmas rush.
To lure in passing foot traffic, I’d brought in armloads of holly and spruce branches from my backyard (cost: free, thankfully), spray-painted pinecones silver (the paint was only $5.28 at the hardware store), and added some cheerful-looking blinking white lights. This would probably bring tons of holiday shoppers through my front door!
Joe paused, eyeing the room with his signature critical stare. “The effect I’m going for is that a bunch of HGTV-crazed elves with subscriptions to Veranda magazine snuck in and decorated for four straight days. Gerda, we’re going to need the blinking lights to stop blinking, pronto. Pull the plug, please.”
Joe’s assistant for the day was the eponymous owner of Gerda’s Bust Your Ass Gym, which is housed inside the beauty salon across the street. Since Gerda stands a lofty six feet tall in flats (or sneakers, which is her usual footwear, since fancy shoes aren’t her style), she’d agreed to hang ornaments, bringing her signature grim attitude to the proceedings.
“Cute idea,” Bootsie observed, casting a dubious stare at my front window, which was filled with antique silver-plated candlesticks, flatware, and wineglasses. “Is that your holiday inventory?”
“Nobody going to want that stuff,” said Gerda, who moved here from her native Austria a few years back. Gerda, who’s incredibly muscular and brings in sell-out crowds at her Pilates classes, isn’t the most tactful person in the world. “People want, like, scarves and Fitbits and iPhones.”
I sighed, knowing Gerda was right. Those were the gifts on most holiday wish lists.
“Luckily, I’ve solved all your problems,” Bootsie told me. “I ran into Eddie from the Pub this morning, and he needs a place to hold some late-night poker tournaments this month, so I brokered a deal for The Striped Awning. You’ll be hosting twice-weekly games from 10 p.m. till 1 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays till Valentine’s Day.”
“What!” I erupted, alarmed by this idea. “First of all, that doesn’t sound legal.”
“It’s fine,” she told me, waving away my concerns. “I mean, it’s not like it will be a professional betting operation. Eddie’s limiting each night to ten players and three hours. Some cards, a few drinks, a few small wagers. What could go wrong?”
“A lot!” I said. “They’ll blow cigar smoke and drop Dorito crumbs everywhere. Not to mention get arrested for operating a casino without a license. A lot could go wrong!”
“You worry too much,” Bootsie informed me dismissively. “Plus, he’ll pay you two hundred dollars a night.”
I opened my mouth to respond, but no words came out. Bootsie knew she had me—there’s no way I can refuse an extra four hundred dollars a week, even if it puts me on the wrong side of the state gaming commission.
Just then, though, the front door was thrown open by one Sophie Shields, a tiny blonde who at the moment was looking slightly wild-eyed.
“Ya won’t believe what just happened!” shrieked Sophie. “The Colketts were helping me put up curtains in my new dining room, since Joe here never finished decorating my place—and the curtains are orange silk, by the way, they’re totally Elle Decor meets a J. Lo red-carpet gown. So Tim and Tom Colkett were talking paint colors when I heard a horn honking, so I opened the front door, thinking it was the delivery boy from the Hoagie House. I figured I’d go out and pay the driver, when boom!
“A guy dressed as Santa leaned out of the driver’s seat of a black SUV that had pulled right up in my driveway and aimed a gun at me and the Colketts!” The Colketts are the town’s leading landscape designers, who’ve lately turned their talents to party planning and interior design.
“Then the guy yelled, ‘Hey, Sophie, this one’s from your ex, Barclay!’ and shot my favorite handbag!” Sophie finished. “I was reaching into it to pay for the hoagies, thank goodness, so it acted as a protective shield. Also, I think maybe this Santa guy doesn’t have great aim.”
We all stared at her for a moment.
“Are you sure, Sophie?” said Bootsie finally. “Because this sounds like BS.”
“Yeah, Sophie, maybe you been hitting the wine bottle today,” seconded Gerda. “I know the Colketts are day drinkers. Maybe you been guzzling alcohol, too.”
“It’s true!” Sophie bleated. “Just look at this Ferragamo satchel! If it hadn’t had gold hardware to block the trajectory of the bullet, me and the Colketts would have been toast!”
Excerpt from Killer Holiday by Amy Korman. Copyright © 2017 by Amy Korman. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.
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