Saturday, May 28, 2016

"Murder Run" by Shelly Frome

Murder Run
by Shelly Frome

Murder Run by Shelly Frome is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my interview with the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

In this crime novel, a wayward handyman grapples with the suspicious death of his employer, a fragile choreographer who secluded herself in the Litchfield Hills. As the fallout mounts, the reader is taken to various locales in and around Manhattan, an escapade in Miami Lakes and back again to the hills of Connecticut until this twisty conundrum is finally laid to rest.

Chapter One
“Wake up, pal, we got a situation . . . Hey, I’m talkin’ here. Maybe she makes it, maybe she don’t. I’m sayin’ you better move it!”
The voice came out of the past. The words cut into the here-and-now of the Connecticut night.
Left with just the dial tone, Jed Cooper hung up, got off the cot and tried to get his bearings. Though he’d been house-sitting this junk trailer for a while, he still had to grope around to find the pull cord for the lights. He waited a few seconds more and punched in the unlisted number of the she the guy must’ve been talking about.
It was busy.
He reached for his jeans, work boots and a pullover sweater, got dressed and called her number again. No luck. He hit redial three more times and gave up.
Scuffing past the frayed wires hanging across the water-stained ceiling, banging into the space heaters as he jerked open the little frig, he took a few swigs of bottled water and thought it over. There was no hope of getting a bead on who the street-wise caller was. And there was still only one person who could possibly need him at this hour and was close by. Plus, chances were the guy had disconnected her phone.
Jed straggled out into the March dampness, skirted around the rusty snow plow blade and hurried up the path. He slid behind the wheel of the Chevy pickup, cranked the old motor, gave it hardly any time to idle and took off onto Green Hill Road.
Off the beaten path in the Litchfield Hills there were no street lights. Under the misty cloud cover, his brights only made matters worse. And way out here his cell phone was useless.
Taking the dips and rises as best he could, he began to have second thoughts. Granted the guy had to be talking about Miss Julie. Putting aside what in God’s name he was doing at her place, what if he was laying in wait? And even if he’d split, what were the repercussions? Could Jed just tear into a single woman’s hidden drive this late at night? And then what? Check things out, or call up to her window to see if she was okay? Or, hoping no one had spotted him, ring her bell? Suppose he got no answer?
Besides, there were too many incidents already on his record. One more, and he’d had it.
But then again, she’d gotten so skittish today she didn’t even let him finish his chores. Told him to put down the chainsaw and completely changed her mind about clearing the drive. “If I can see the road, someone can see me,” she said. “I want you to go up to the attic and put a latch on the crawl space.”
But why? What was that all about? She didn’t say, wouldn’t tell him.
His pondering tapered off as he dealt with the pitted lane. Straining his eyes, he took an immediate left onto Nonnewaug Road coursing past the stands of maples.
For a second he caught a glimpse of what could’ve been a Lincoln parked by the side of the road. Not just any Lincoln though–a Continental, the vintage one with the single blade fenders and squared-off hood. It was another flickering memory out of the past but had no bearing right now. Or did it?
Focusing hard, keeping his mind on what he was doing, he made a sharp right. Gearing down, he spun his wheels navigating the muddy patches, shot forward as he cleared, eased onto the gravel, jerked the hand brake and killed the motor. He got out onto the drive at the side of the weathered cape, glanced up and spotted a flitting shadow under the gabled window. He’d wired-in motion detecting flood lights for her that should’ve lit up the area but nothing snapped on.
He thought of calling out. He thought of rushing over to the road to see if the Lincoln was still parked there partially hidden under the trees. He thought of putting this whole thing down to some kind of hoax.
Just as he was about to honk the horn and damn well do something, he heard the cellar door slam shut.
Yelling out, Jed reflexively ran around to the back in time to see a burly shape make for the tree line. Which was a stupid move, slogging through underbrush and waist-high weeds and briars. Plus, whoever it was had a hitch in his stride and couldn’t possibly know where he was or what he was doing.
Jed took off after him. But, despite everything, the guy kept changing direction. Like a gimpy street kid ducking down a dark alley and then darting here and there through the traffic. Like Jed himself used to do way back then.
Rushing straight ahead, Jed tripped over a tangle of bittersweet roots, warded off the sprays of honeysuckle lashing across his face and kept going until it finally dawned on him. Even if he caught up, the guy outweighed him and could take him out with a few punches. He was obviously leading Jed on, away from the house and it didn’t much matter in which direction.
Jed turned around and headed back for the cellar. Banging into things, he brushed past the mess the guy had made, located the breaker panel, flipped the switches and climbed the stairs as the lights came back on. He called her name as he passed the kitchen and cut around the dining room but there was no answer.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"I couldn’t put it down. The characters were well-written and true to life. Frome has created a puzzle worth solving with this mystery. It keeps the readers on their toes and makes one try to second guess what’s going on. I’m looking forward to more from Shelly Frome, and I highly recommend this story of Jed’s past and present dilemmas." ~ A McGraw
"Shelly Frome is a master storyteller and yarn spinner as he brings his expertise of screen and stage, acting, newspaper and magazine writing, as well as his years of experience as a play write and college drama professor. Go ahead make your day and add this exciting, engaging and descriptive novel to your library. Shelly Frome shoots from the hip and always hits his target. So, put on your seatbelt and hang on for a wild ride filled with unexpected twists and turns at every corner!!" ~ Gerry Corn
"Murder Run is a fascinating book. It unwinds like a coil. Things seem simple at first, but soon you find yourself in a jam like the main character, Jed, who is peculiarly vulnerable at a time when a friend is killed for knowing too much. Jed, like us, knows very little, but the story builds and leads in a remarkable number of directions. I like the way Frome gives us a sense of place in Connecticut hills and Manhattan corridors. Before we know it the mob enters to coagulate the action. We meet great characters, like Nathan the Wise, an operator, and Rocco, who dies not so young. It is what my learned friends call a good read." ~ Lee A. Jacobus
"Shelley Frome takes the reader from the rural hills of Connecticut deep into midtown Manhattan, from the lakes of Miami to the docks in New Jersey. With huge bouts of suspicion and conspiracy, that keep you coming back until the very end. At one point compassion for an aging mafia messenger with oncoming Alzheimer’s, a teenage girl with psychic aspirations, and the murder victim herself who simply saw too much. You will get caught up in all that is Murder Run!" ~ Becky Ryan-Willis
"I was pretty darn pleased with this novel. It was my first introduction to Shelly Frome, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say it won’t be my last." ~ Kristin

Interview With the Author
Shelly Frome joins me today to discuss his new book, Murder Run.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
If the reviews on Amazon are any indication, readers over, say, sixteen years of age who enjoy a combination of mystery and crime fiction would easily be able to relate to this percolating tale. Then again, those who prefer a traditional cozy might very well welcome the change.
What sparked the idea for this book?
Someone very close to me passed away in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. I turned to crime fiction because it was the only way I could pursue some sense of justice in a seemingly random world.
So which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
A haunting set of circumstances is, doubtless, the only viable springboard for me and then coming up with a sympathetic, embattled character to carry out a seemingly impossible quest.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
The hardest part was transforming the actual victim into a fictitious character so that I could allow the story to become self-generating and keep myself and my own feelings from getting in the way.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope readers will be able to relate to Jed’s plight (the embattled main character) and become involved in an odyssey that takes him from a sleepy Connecticut village to the mean streets of New York and back again.
What is your writing routine?
A lot of daydreaming comes into play, unfinished business, and a point every day when I have to rewrite, or push the narrative forward, or both.
How did you get your book published?
Luckily, I’m one of the few writers of crime fiction on my publisher’s list and he always seems to like my latest project. Hopefully, he’ll continue to be encouraging because he realizes how much time, effort, and caring is involved.  
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Find your niche and your unique voice, read everything you can relate to in what seems to be your genre, and keep up with the marketplace in every way you can. If you’re able to latch onto a seasoned editor you can trust, so much the better as you discover your strengths and weaknesses and continue to polish your craft.
Great advice. Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
Since my father passed away when I was only three and my mother always seemed to be preoccupied, I seemed to have developed a strong curiosity about the world, along with a sense of wonder.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
I loved reading stories, any kind of stories including comic books. For some reason, I was chosen by my grade school teachers as the class reader, the one who could hold everyone’s attention and bring the tales alive.  
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I received my first inkling when my classmates in junior high school in Miami kept asking me to write cliffhangers during study hall to keep them amused.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I suppose it was Salinger, Hemingway, Ray Bradbury, James Lee Burke, even Kate Atkinson and P. D. James - anyone with a distinctive way of transporting you into a compelling set of circumstances nothing like my own, replete with characters I could care about.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
If nothing else, they all seem to have been engrossed enough to read my work from start to finish. Some of them keep telling me my stories are like seeing a good movie. Which may stem from the fact that I’ve written a book on screenwriting and a Hollywood novel and am the movie columnist for Southern Writers Magazine.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m currently in the throes of making my copy editor happy making changes for a transatlantic cozy entitled Murder Crosses the Pond that will be released in the fall.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Shelly. Best of luck with your future projects.

About the Author
Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the film columnist at Southern Writers Magazine, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, and a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, and Tinseltown Riff. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio and texts on The Artand Craft of Screenwriting and writing for the stage. Murder Run, his latest crime novel, was recently released. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three ebook copies of Murder Run by Shelly Frome (US only).