Need Christmas Present Idea?

Need a Christmas present or hostess gift for someone who likes to read? Consider giving a journey back into the Roaring Twenties via my Roaring Twenties mysteries, set in 1924 with a vaudeville and silent movies backdrop. The first in the series, THE IMPERSONATOR, won the national award for Best First Crime Novel in 2012, the second, SILENT MURDERS, had a terrific review in the New York Times. 

Find them in your local bookstores, libraries, or online at amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.

Take one missing heiress, an unscrupulous uncle, and a young vaudeville performer fallen on hard times; add several murdered girls, a mysterious Chinese herbalist, and a handsome bootlegger; then move from the seamy world of Prohibition-era vaudeville to Oregon’s rugged coast, and what do you have? A formula for suspense, as Jessie finds herself torn between her deceitful charade and her determination to find out what really happened to the girl she is impersonating.

 

 

In the second Roaring Twenties murder mystery, Jessie trades her nomadic vaudeville life for a modest but steady job in the silent film industry. She quickly learns that all Hollywood scorns the Prohibition laws: studio bosses rule the police and gangsters supply speakeasies everywhere with bootleg hooch and Mexican dope. When a powerful director is murdered at his own party and Jessie’s waitress friend is killed for what she saw, Jessie takes the lead in an investigation tainted by corrupt cops. Soon tangled in a web of drugs, bribery, and greed, she finds herself a prime suspect as the bodies pile up.

The third in the Roaring Twenties mystery series takes Jessie from silent films back into the world of vaudeville to track down a performer with something to hide. At the request of her silent film star boss, Mary Pickford, Jessie uses her vaudeville talents to investigate the murder of an extra by a Hollywood actress already sentenced to death for the crime. Her inquiries lead to the discovery of a blackmailer and more than a dozen actors facing ruin or even death if their secrets are exposed. If the convicted actress is innocent, then who killed the blackmailer?

The fourth book begins in the fall of 1925 when a projectionist is gunned down in the theater booth. The killer flees to the balcony and vanishes. Jessie’s investigation succeeds where the police fail, thanks to her vaudeville skills and connections. A killer seeking revenge for an Old World massacre is targeting a group of Balkan immigrants, one by one. Jessie deduces the reason the killer is never apprehended—but fails to spot the killer until it’s almost too late. A young deaf girl whose mother has gone missing plays a significant role.

 

 

 

 

STOLEN MEMORIES, below, is not part of the Roaring Twenties series, although it is set in that decade, in France and England.

A brutal attack along the banks of the Seine leaves a young Englishwoman close to death in a Paris hospital without a memory in her head. She soon comes up against a vengeful husband who accuses her of the theft of priceless art, the French gendarmes who have linked her to a murder on the Riviera, and a scorned lover who is trying to kill her. The husband, who believes his wife’s amnesia is faked, spirits her away to an ancient chateau in the French province of Champagne, where prehistoric dolmens and standing stones dot the fields and caves hewn out of limestone are used for more than storing wine. For weeks he tries threats, bribery, and hypnosis to pry the truth out of her. As her memory returns piecemeal–some corroborating, some clashing with what she is told–she struggles to establish her identity. But who is trying to poison her and bury her in an avalanche of slate? Who is laying a trap for her deep within the wine caves of Champagne? The story takes place in 1928 against a backdrop of pagan ritual and an early Christian midsummer festival known as the Fires of John the Baptist.

 

 

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Did I pass the Page 69 Test?

The Page 69 Test

from Marshal Zeringue  SUNDAY, AUGUST 27, 2017

“Murder in Disguise”

 Mary Miley grew up in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and France, and worked her way through the College of William and Mary in Virginia as a costumed tour guide at Colonial Williamsburg. As Mary Miley Theobald, she has published numerous nonfiction books and articles on history, travel and business topics.

Miley applied the Page 69 Test to Murder in Disguise, her fourth Roaring Twenties mystery, and reported the following:

From page 69:

If I had been on trial for my own life, I do believe I would have felt more composed than I did on that day, Tuesday, November 3, as I climbed the steps and entered the courthouse at Main and Temple. After all, a lifetime spent in front of audiences that jeered as well as cheered should have equipped me with enough poise to soothe any amount of stage fright, and a jury is nothing more than an audience empowered to judge and to determine a performer’s fate. I knew my part to perfection. I’d chosen my costume carefully—an ivory tunic dress with its pleated skirt demurely hemmed below the knee—and applied my makeup—a light application of kohl rimming the eyes and subdued lipstick—to emphasize my wide-eyed, ingénue honesty.

So why was I shivering like a dead leaf in a gale? Because it wasn’t my life; it was David’s. And I owed him a life for what he did for me in Oregon last year.

Page 69 finds the reader at the start of Chapter 12 and the beginning of the courtroom scene where Jessie’s significant other, David, is being tried for murder and a host of Prohibition-related crimes. Jessie is one of the witnesses. David’s shady lawyer is confident of acquittal—why not? He’s bribed the jurors—but things don’t go as expected. Things never do. That’s what keeps the reader turning pages.

Is this page representative of the rest of the book? Well, yes. As a matter of fact, it’s representative of my entire Roaring Twenties series, because it furthers the saga of David and Jessie’s relationship, which began in the first book, The Impersonator, and continues through the second and third. One of my goals in creating this subplot story arc is to illustrate the absurdity of the Prohibition laws that corrupted our legal system in horrifying ways.

Readers tell me they enjoy being immersed in the 1920s, easily America’s most intriguing decade. This was an era that soared from the heights of silent movies to the depths of Prohibition, a time when vaudeville, gangsters, flappers, bootleggers, and jazz came right into the parlor courtesy of a new invention called radio. As the male establishment watched in horror, women declared their independence with the ballot, raised their hems, bobbed their hair, smoked cigarettes, slurped bathtub gin, and shimmied at speakeasies late into the night.

Learn more about the book and author at Mary Miley’s website, blog, and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: Murder in Disguise.

–Marshal Zeringue

Published in: on August 27, 2017 at 4:39 pm  Comments (2)  

Murder in Disguise Gets a Nice Review

Author: MARY MILEY

Title: MURDER IN DISGUISE

Publication: PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Issue: 19TH JUNE 2017

 Murder in Disguise: A Roaring Twenties Mystery, Mary Miley. Severn, $28.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8714-6

The shooting murder of projectionist Joe Petrovitch, during a showing of Chaplin’s The Gold Rush at a Hollywood movie theater, propels Miley’s engrossing fourth Roaring Twenties mystery (after 2016’s Renting Silence). The police rush to the theater, but the gunman escapes without a trace. The victim’s wife, a hairdresser at the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio, asks script girl Jessie Beckett, who’s a skilled amateur sleuth, to investigate. With help from Adele Astaire (Fred’s glamorous sister and dance partner), actress Myrna Loy (later to achieve fame in The Thin Man), assorted vaudevillians, and police detective Carl Delaney, spunky, resourceful Jessie sets to work. Aficionados of showbiz history will delight in the technical details of filmmaking in the silent era and the peripatetic lives of the performers. Readers will also get the lowdown on bootlegging, speakeasies, and gin joints. Series fans will be pleased to know that David Carr, Jessie’s love interest, has a tidy subplot of his own.

 

Published in: on June 26, 2017 at 3:26 pm  Comments (2)  

A Pre-Order Deal on Book #4

For readers who want a hardcover copy of Book 4 in the Roaring Twenties series, I noticed that my publisher has posted it on amazon.com for pre-orders at a discount. The regular hardcover retail is $29, but pre-orders are $22.68. (One wonders where they get these odd prices . . . last week it was $22.46) The book won’t be released until August 1, when it will  be available in ebook format as well. Paperbacks don’t appear until about 6 months after that. 

Published in: on April 15, 2017 at 5:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Making of a Book Cover

As most of you know, authors have little or nothing to say about the cover design for their books. I am very fortunate that my publishers have always listened to my comments and have adjusted their artwork accordingly. Here is what happened earlier this month when the publisher sent me the cover art for my next book.

This is what they sent. murder-in-disguise-1

It’s a beautiful cover, one I would love to have if I had written a romance novel. I responded that I was disappointed because it was so similar to the previous book’s cover (also shades of brown featuring a girl wearing a cloche hat) and because the cheerful smile on the pretty lady looked seemed more suited to a romantic romp than a murder mystery.

Next they sent this, a cover that had been developed at the same time but was their second choice. I preferred it over the pretty girl cover because it was 1) different, 2) red and black are good mystery/thriller colors. But when I showed it to 3 people, only one of them could identify the round thing. One person thought it was a part of a gun; another thought it was a gear. Can you tell what it is? It’s a film reel. I was similarly perplexed by the reddish thing on the right, which at first I thought was a rosebud. Only later did I see a hat. I expressed my concerns.murder-in-disguise-2-revised

So they sent this version, where you can see a bit of film looping from the reel and where the man in the hat is sharper and carrying a gun. This is good for another reason: the story begins with the shooting death of a silent-film projectionist in a movie theater in the Roaring Twenties. I’m very happy with the final results. So . . . what do you think? Is it a compelling cover? (P.S. The book is due for release August 1.)

murder-in-disguise

 

Published in: on February 5, 2017 at 1:13 pm  Comments (7)