Monday, March 21, 2016

Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville Tour: Cozy Mystery Series and GIVEAWAY

Title: Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville 
Author: Ellen Mansoor Collier 
Series: Jazz Age Mystery #4 
In 1920s Galveston, society reporter Jazz Cross is in for a surprise when she attends a traveling vaudeville show with her beau, Prohibition Agent James Burton, and discovers that an old flame acts in the production. That night, they find a stabbing victim behind the Oasis — her half-brother Sammy’s speakeasy — who’s identified as an actor in the troupe. When the victim disappears and later turns up dead, Jazz must help prove that Sammy wasn’t the killer.
Meanwhile, a ring of jewel thieves is turning up all over town, robbing rich tourists of their precious gems. After a second vaudeville actor is found dead, Jazz discovers that the events behind the scenes are much more interesting than the outdated acts onstage.
To make matters worse, Sammy’s old nemesis demands that he settles a score and forces him into yet another illegal scheme. Can Jazz help solve the murders and prove her brother’s innocence—so he can escape the Downtown Gang for good?
A historical Jazz Age mystery inspired by real-life Galveston gangs and local landmarks.

Exclusive Excerpt from the Book!
“Please take your seats. The Villains, Vixens and Varmints Vaudeville Show is about to begin.” The master of ceremonies’ mellifluous voice boomed across Martini Theatre, and lights dimmed as a uniformed usher escorted me and Agent Burton to our front-row seats.
The society editor—my boss, Mrs. Harper—snagged two front-and-center seats to Friday night’s opening performance. No doubt the traveling troupe expected the Galveston Gazette (rather, me) to give them a rave review.
Well, we’d see if this dog-and-pony show lived up to its billing, literally. The MC gave a short introduction and a chubby clown paraded onstage with a spotted pony, a small terrier-mix perched atop its back. When the clown tried to coax the pup to stand on its hind legs, the spunky mutt refused to cooperate, while the audience laughed with glee....
I’d tried to beg off this assignment, but my boss always found a way to make me work until the last minute. “Vaudeville is so old hat,” I protested.  “Wouldn’t you rather attend? It’s right up your alley.”
“What do you mean by that, young lady?” Mrs. Harper eyed me under her wide-brimmed floral Edwardian bonnet. “Are you implying that I’m an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy, not as modern as you young flappers?”
Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. “Not at all. I thought you’d enjoy the show more since I prefer moving pictures. I can’t wait to see The Jazz Singer!”
“Take your young man and have a good time. Besides, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
My young man? She made Agent Burton sound like a pet Scottie.
Sure, I was sweet on him, despite my mixed feelings: Did I really want to date a Federal officer with such a dangerous occupation? As the lone Prohibition agent in the “Free State of Galveston”—where mobsters mingled with police and politicians—I worried his days might be numbered. The Treasury Department could ship Burton off to a new town on an even riskier assignment. Worse, Galveston gangsters could gun him down any moment, just for doing his job.
During intermission, the MC announced a last-minute replacement for Dan Dastardly in the closing act. After the break, “Milo the Magician” took the stage, elegant in a tux, top hat and white gloves, and performed his requisite card tricks and rabbit in the hat....
The final act highlighted a short scene from The Perils of Pauline, featuring a dastardly villain wearing a black mask and cape trying to kidnap helpless, hapless Pauline. Twirling his handlebar moustache, the evil masked man tied poor Pauline to a tree while the Tom Mix character managed to chase off the villain, and rescue his beloved damsel-in-distress. Yes, the act was so corny and hammy that it was comical, but I enjoyed the melodrama of it all.
After the show, the performers gathered on stage, and as each act stepped forward to take their separate bows, the applause grew louder. When thePerils of Pauline actors appeared, the audience stood up, clapping wildly and cheering as the performers grinned and waved. Seems I was wrong about vaudeville: The appreciative audience gave all the actors a standing ovation.
Strange, I noticed the villain smiling at me from his vantage point onstage—or was he? Surely I imagined it...until he took off his hat and held it out to me like a rose, or a bribe. Then he gave me a bold wink—right in front of  Agent Burton. Blushing, I did a double-take: Was the villain flirting with me? Or did he know I worked for the Gazette?
“Looks like the mystery man has his eye on you,” Burton teased. “Should I be jealous?”
“Dan Dastardly?” I laughed it off. “He must want a mention in the Gazette.  You know actors and their egos.”....
As we left, I glanced at the stage and saw the villain staring after us, his arms crossed, looking puzzled.  What did he expect—an interview? A bouquet of flowers? My phone number?

Enter the giveaway below! 
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About the Author 
Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in a variety of national magazines. Several of her short stories have appeared in Woman’s World. During college summers, she worked as a reporter for a Houston community newspaper and as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries.
A flapper at heart, she’s worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism and served on UTmost, the college magazine and as president of WICI (Women in Communications).
FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, BATHING BEAUTIES, BOOZE AND BULLETS, released in May 2013. She lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible.
“When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. Finally I had to stop researching and start writing, trying to imagine a flapper’s life in Galveston during Prohibition.” 

Author and Buy Links 


  1. Congrats Ellen. A jazz mystery is definitely different.

  2. Sounds like a great read.

  3. Love the cover of the book. Would enjoy reading about the Jazz Age.

    1. Thanks, Dianne! I designed it myself with vintage photos I found. Last year I revised all the covers and now have a complete set of illustrated and photo covers available. E

    2. Nice cover ;)
      Hope all success for you Ellen

    3. Nice cover ;)
      Hope all success for you Ellen

  4. THANKS for featuring us VAMPS today, Summer! You're the leopard's spots! Appreciate all the nice comments--hope you can read the whole series. Enjoy! E


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