Greenwich Foot Tunnel

It’s called the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. An underground passageway that  thousands of people in London use every day to get from one side of the Thames to the other.

But, when Dalton Lee is summoned to the tunnel at midnight, he descends the steep spiral staircase and finds no one there. But not for very long . . .

“Murder Becomes Mayfair” goes on sale October 1

PRE-ORDER THE KINDLE VERSION – (Just $3.99!)

PRE-ORDER HARDCOVER VERSIONS – (Get them in time for holiday gift giving)

RSVP FOR THE BOOK’S LAUNCH PARTY IN DALLAS, SEPT. 30 – (Get a signed copy at a discount)

And here it is — the cover art for “Murder Becomes Mayfair”

Earlier this week, our VIP readers got a first glimpse at the cover for my newest mystery thriller, “Murder Becomes Mayfair.” Now, it’s your turn to see the artwork for the third installment in the “Murder Becomes” series, featuring architect/detective, Dalton Lee. (Preorder here).

I wonder if readers realize how much thought goes into a book cover. This book presented a challenge we’d not faced before.

Should the artwork reflect a well-known architectural icon of London, like Westminster Abbey or Big Ben? Or should it be true to the title and show the beautiful Georgian architecture of Mayfair?

We decided to focus on the neighborhood, believing the shot of these Georgian town homes still evokes London. Putting Big Ben on the cover of a book about Mayfair just seemed wrong to us.

Then came the question of the background color. “Murder Becomes Manhattan” has a rich black cover, while “Murder Becomes Miami” has a cover that is a deep ocean blue. For variety, we went with the color of brick for “Murder Becomes Mayfair,” lightened some so the Georgian buildings beneath would still pop through.

We hope you like the fact the cover is true to the series in its fonts and design, but unique in the color that it projects from the bookshelf. Let us know your thoughts.

Hardbacks of “Murder Becomes Mayfair” go on sale October 1. What nefarious plot has The Organization planned for London? Can Dalton Lee and his team stop it before it’s too late?

 

Learn more about this eerie thriller at murderbecomes.com.

The answer is ‘yes.’ And, ‘no.

This fall, I have at least three book clubs reading “Murder Becomes Manhattan.” When I appear at a book club, one question I am always asked is, “How do you go about writing one of your novels? Do you pretty much have the plot laid out when you start? Or do you change it along the way?”

The answer is ‘yes.’ And, ‘no.’

I am a linear thinker, so my tendency is to produce a book in a linear way. But it is almost impossible to write a good mystery thriller that way. That’s because you want the stray comment offered by someone in Chapter 17 to become the vital clue unearthed in Chapter 46. You want the subplot between two characters carefully developed in the first half of the book to take a sudden veer into unexpected territory in the second half.

But that requires some serious planning, some meaningful forethought, and sometimes what we in the industry call “backwriting”. I have backwritten a lot in “Murder Becomes Miami,” which comes out in November. That means I thought of a very cool way to shake things up late in the book, but for the shake-up to make sense, I had to go back and insert a few elements earlier in the book. The result I think is a book that’s more rich, I think, and something different to some degree from what I thought it would be when I launched into it.

That said, if I constantly stopped and shifted and backwrote, I might never finish a book. So here is what I do: I tend to charge forward with a general idea of the plot. I allow for the possibility of twists and turns I didn’t expect along the way but continue barreling forward with the goal of getting the entire story told.

THEN, I go back and refine, and shape, and sculpt, inserting some elements and discarding others, until the final story is ready for you to read.

How do you write? Similarly, or somehow different?

Meet architect/detective Dalton Lee

Dalton Lee is a connoisseur of QUALITY items. This is not someone who shops at WalMart or drives a Kia.

In Murder Becomes Manhattan, the architect/detective at one point decides to have a drink at The Constellation Room, a penthouse-level lounge in one of the city’s finest hotels. And he asks the server to bring him one of the world’s finest bourbon whiskeys out there, a Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight.

Now this is no paid endorsement, I promise you. I have had a Buffalo Trace and it is truly sublime. So it just made sense to me that Dalton Lee should savor this expertly crafted elixir.

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is distilled, aged and bottled at the most award-winning distillery in the world. Made from the finest corn, rye and barley malt, this whiskey ages in new oak barrels for years in century old warehouses until the peak of maturity. The taste is rich and complex, with hints of vanilla, toffee and candied fruit.

But don’t just take my word for it.

I received a nice email today from the distillery’s CEO, thanking us for calling them out in the book. So should you look into Buffalo Trace the next time you want to nurse a terrific bourbon, know it will not only help make you as debonair as Dalton Lee — it will also connect you to a gentlemanly organization if ever there were one.

Embedding the clues

Murder Becomes Manhattan has essential clues to the killer’s identity, and the victim’s connection to The Organization, scattered throughout it. But they are subtly woven in, delivered in passing. At least, I hope they are.  😉

The importance of subtlety in delivering clues has become more apparent to me as I watch such television series as “Scandal” and “Castle” and “How to Get Away With Murder”.

On the latter show, it was a small detail of background wallpaper in an incriminating photograph that revealed the racy photo was actually taken in the home of the character played by Viola Davis. In another episode, house numbers briefly seen in a video turned out to be integral to identifying someone being somewhere they should not have been.

Last night’s episode showed a newscast with a reporter delivering damning information and in the middle of the report, someone runs past the camera behind the reporter and mugs it. I have no doubt that small detail will loom large later in the show.

With mystery readers becoming more and more savvy, I believe it is becoming more and more difficult to embed clues the reader will not recognize as having importance. What deftly hidden clues have you found well executed in the mystery writing you have encountered?

Murder Becomes eBooks with links

I am very excited that Murder Becomes Manhattan is now available for pre-order at both Amazon and Smashwords.

Available as of October 26 are the eBook versions, which contain links to lots of rich online photos and videos that enhance the murder mystery experience. We expect pre-orders of the hardcover and softcover versions to also be available by November 1.

Downloads of the eBook versions and purchase of the print versions will launch November 11!

Pre-order Murder Becomes Manhattan here.

Novel Concept?

One of the great challenges associated with writing a mystery is how to make it stand out from the 100 gazillion other mysteries out there. I concocted the angle of letting the eBook versions of Murder Becomes Manhattan contain links to pictures, videos and other content that might enhance the reading experience.

Or does it? Most murder mystery readers I have shown the concept to have found it fun and worthwhile. But I do wonder if some will consider those links distractions to the story.

The entire book contains about 40 links. I have tried to scatter them throughout the book, although some of the early chapters have a greater abundance of them than the chapters near the book’s climax. And I tried to focus on including only those links that I felt might be worth exploring. A video of a popular song that causes one of the characters to have a public meltdown. A recipe to the perfect grilled cheese sandwich the primary detective craves.

And of course links to the murder scenes and the apartment lived in by one of the victims.

But what do you think about this — if you will pardon the pun — NOVEL concept. Beneficial? Or an irritation?

Architecture for each book’s location

There’s so much groundbreaking architecture in Manhattan. Who can resist the pull of the Guggenheim Museum, the New York Public Library or Grand Central Station? Yet none of those get coverage in my novel Murder Becomes Manhattan. Why is that, a couple of early readers have asked.

My primary detective in the “Murder Becomes” series, Dalton Lee, is a world-renowned architect with projects across the globe. In each book, his knowledge of architecture will help him solve the murder at hand. So I wanted architecture to play a key role in each book.

The architectural form Manhattan is most renowned for is the skyscraper. That is the city in which it debuted and that is the city in which it has been perfected over time. And in the 2010s, it is the city in which a revolution in skyscraper design is underway.

Since I cannot focus on ALL of the tremendous architecture available in my murder locales, I chose to settle on the subset of architecture most important to each place. In my mind, in Manhattan, that should be the skyscraper, and in my next mystery, Murder Becomes Miami, it should be the Deco architecture that city is known for. But do you agree?