Friday, January 10, 2014

Great Escapes Book Tours Guest Post & Book Review: Rosemary And Crime

  Guest Post by Gail Oust, author of Rosemary and Crime
I went over to the other side.  Switched gears.  Changed horses.  I stopped being a romance writer—historical romance to be exact--and became a mystery writer.  I never sat down with pencil and paper and charted a new career path.  It sort of just happened, and I couldn’t be happier.
Writing as Elizabeth Turner, I’ve had nine historical romances published.  Nine!  The number amazes me when I remember dreaming of just having one book in print.  Over the years, the historical market has grown soft.  Today the majority of historicals are set in England during the Regency or Victorian eras.  My stories take place closer to home in locales such as Tidewater Virginia, New Orleans, Tucson, or my home state of Michigan.  So, after we retired to South Carolina, I resigned myself to the fact my writing days were, in all probability, behind me.  I played golf (though not very well,), joined a book club and a Red Hat group, played bunco, and regularly attended the Ladies Lunch Bunch.  But all the time, a vague feeling persisted that something was missing.
Inspiration to write my first mystery came--of all places--on the golf course.  As I mentioned, my golf game leaves a lot to be desired.  My ball had landed in a weed-filled gulley nowhere even close to the green.  As we hunted for my ball, one of my friends wrinkled her nose at the smell and uttered the words, “maybe it’s a dead body.”  That was all I needed to hear.  What if…a group of women really did find a dead body while golfing?  What if…they only found part of a body?  Maybe it’s a dead body turned into the three-book contract for the Bunco Babe series.  In Whack ‘n Roll, four women golfers discovered a severed arm in a Walmart bag.  The rest, as they say, is history.  When the Bunco Babes officially retired, my market-savvy agent suggested the possibility of another series, this one involving a spice shop. The first, Rosemary and Crime, debuted December 17th. 

Romance and cozies, I’ve discovered, have a lot in common.  Character development is key in both genres.  The heroine may be flawed, but she absolutely must be likeable.  No reader wants to spend their precious time in the company of someone they dislike and can’t relate.  Both types of books benefit from an interesting cast of secondary characters though they tend to be quirkier in cozies which I think is more fun.  I once had a romance editor tell me she didn’t care for plot.  I happen to disagree.  Plot forces characters to go through their paces, to showcase their strengths and weaknesses, to demonstrate their growth.  In a whodunit, a strong plot full of twists and turns is a necessity. I learned valuable lessons while writing historicals, things like setting, pacing, and voice, all of which has served me well in a different genre.  Probably the greatest difference comes in the area of research.  I no longer pore through costume books obsessing over corsets, crinolines, and hoop skirts, hats versus bonnets.  It’s forensics not fashion that merits my attention.  These days I’m more interested in time of death, rigor mortis, and the various ways to kill people.  My husband worries over my choice of reading material when he spots A Writers Guide to Poisons casually resting next to an issue of Bon Appetit.  I smile.  I’ve found my niche.  

Rosemary and Crime
Cozy Mystery
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (December 17, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1250011046

Piper Prescott, a transplanted Yankee living in the South, has got her sass back.  She might be down, but don’t count her out.  “Change of life?” she asks.  Bring it on.  Recently divorced, Piper decides to pursue a dream she’s secretly harbored:  owning her own business.  Spice It Up!, a spice shop in her adopted hometown, Brandywine Creek, Georgia.  But Piper’s grand opening goes awry when the local chef who’s agreed to do a cooking demo is found stabbed.  Not only did Piper find the body, she handled the murder weapon and doesn’t have a witness to her alibi, making the case look like a slam dunk to brand new police Chief Wyatt McBride.  Desperate to uncover the truth—and prove her innocence—Piper enlists the help of her outspoken BFF Reba Mae Johnson to help track down the real culprit.  The pair compile a lengthy list of suspects and work to eliminate them using their own creative brand of sleuthing techniques including stakeouts, breaking and entering, and one very unorthodox chocolate pie.  When Piper narrowly avoids being a victim of a hit-and-run, she knows she’s getting closer to the truth, but can she catch the killer and clear her name before she becomes the next victim?

Review: This was such a fun read. Gail Oust's writing is a bit like JoAnne Fluke and Leslie Meier. It is a wonderful small town cozy, filled with quirky characters and down home fun.

Piper and her BFF, Reba Mae will really find their way into your hearts. They are such opposites, with Piper running Spice It Up and Reba Mae running a beauty parlor.

What I loved about Rosemary & Crime was how quickly things happened. A lot of cozy mystery series start out slow, introducing the reader to the cast of characters, but not here, and guess what? It works.

There's a possible love triangle going on too. Piper and the vet...or Piper and the police chief? Hmmm. As long as there's not a chance of her getting back together with her ex, cos he's obnoxious. (And so is his new gal, Miss Peach Pit, Amber)

All of Gail's characters are well rounded, even the secondary ones. The one character that really impressed me was Piper's daughter Lindsey. Gail really has her nailed as a typical teenager, with all the angst that goes along with it.

Then there's Casey, the little dog Piper saved. I absolutely loved him. I've always been a sucker for books with animals.

The mystery was great too, with so many possibilities for the whodunit. I had no clue who the killer was until it was revealed.

A great start to this series!

Rating: 5 flowers

About This Author
Gail Oust is often accused of flunking retirement. While working as a nurse/vascular technologist, she penned nine historical romances under the pseudonym of Elizabeth Turner. It wasn’t until she and her husband retired to South Carolina that inspiration struck for a mystery. Hearing the words “maybe it’s a dead body” while golfing fired her imagination for writing a cozy. Ever since then, she spends more time on a computer than at a golf course. Author of the Bunco Babe mysteries, she’s currently working on a new Spice Shop mystery series.
Author Links:, Goodreads
Purchase Links:
AMAZON      Book World     B&N


Anonymous said...

This sounds like a really good. One that is right up my ally. I'm going to check out her Bunco Babes series too. It sounds like a lot of fun!

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