Arlene Kay, author of such hits as DIE LAUGHING and INTRUSION, follows up with the newest novel in her Boston Uncommons series, MANTRAP. The novelfollows the ever-popular, romantically linked characters Eja and Demming, who must prove the fatal crash of a munitions heir was not a tragic accident but murder most foul.
For those of you unfamiliar with Kay, she has two graduate degrees, one in constitutional law and one in political science. She then ended up becoming a senior executive with the federal government, where she was known as an unconventional public servant. Kay enjoyed her twenty years there and rejoiced in the unintentional humor that surrounded her. She left government work to move to Cape Cod and craft clever, entertaining mysteries filled with mayhem and a pinch of romance. Like MANTRAP, available online and in stores.
Tell us about MANTRAP.
MANTRAP, the second in the Boston Uncommons series, blends mystery with a dollop of romantic suspense, and a whopping dose of luxury. The setting is lush, a beautiful Cape Cod village shaken by the tragic death of Dario Peters, heir to a vast fortune. His grieving grandmother insists Dario was murdered and persuades my amateur sleuths Eja Kane and Deming Swann to prove it. They soon discover that Dario was a thoroughly unpleasant chap (the Brits would call him a bounder), loathed by the locals, and feared by his adversaries. In fact his character, or lack thereof, is key to understanding his death. Along the way the issue of law versus justice constantly looms. One final point—the banter between Deming and Eja has been likened to the vibe between Nick and Nora Charles, or Lord Peter and Harriet Vane.
Do you have a favourite supporting character in MANTRAP?
Anika Swann, Eja’s prospective mother-in-law and Deming’s mom, confounds all those stereotypes about women of a certain age. She’s bright, beautiful, brave, and totally supportive of Eja. No evil troll hoping to supplant her son’s fiancée. No sir! Anika is a strong presence, and co-conspirator in all four books in the series.
How did you get your start in writing?
Like so many authors, I have always written. Initially I fancied myself as a cross between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, a swashbuckler who could eviscerate strong men (or women) with my rapier sharp wit. As that dream faded, I focused on the fictional genre I have always loved. I kept character sketches of likely victims/perpetrators and scanned the news for intriguing situations. For a mystery writer there are no natural deaths!
Did you ever want to be anything besides a writer?
I sailed into law school from graduate school, intent upon becoming Perry Mason. Life intervened and once I faced the unpleasant prospect of supporting myself, my real goal was to succeed in a career where initiative and ambition would be rewarded. Believe it or not, I found that in government service. I became a senior executive with the Federal government and embarked on a career filled with unintentional humor.
Where did you get the inspiration for the Boston Uncommons mystery series?
An account in the New York Times of a young banker’s alleged suicide became the inspiration for SWANN DIVE, the first in the series. The cycling death of an heir to a vast fortune inspired MANTRAP. (I love trolling the obituaries.) Those absurd television ads for gold propelled GILT TRIP into a novel, and a weird article in the Boston Globe magazine about making ugliness a protected class resulted in SWANN SONG.
What would you say are your biggest challenges/rewards in writing a novel?
Creating fresh, intriguing characters and plots is always a challenge. Mystery readers are an incisive, intelligent group who will take you down in a minute if you disappoint them. They want and deserve an author’s best effort at all times. The biggest reward is sharing my fictional friends with others who can appreciate and love them too.
What is your proudest moment?
Like many writers, the moment I received my first publishing contract was exhilarating. I almost had a Sally Field moment (you like me, you really do). It’s a tangible affirmation in a profession with so much subjectivity and rejection.
Would you like to leave a message for your fans?
I am thankful for every person who buys/reads my books, especially for those who offer encouragement and feedback. Keep it coming, guys!!
An artful combination of humor, sex and savagery make Arlene Kay’s mysteries unique. The published author of INTRUSION; DIE LAUGHING; The ABACUS PRIZE; and this year’s Boston Uncommon Series (SWANN DIVE; MANTRAP; GILT TRIP; & SWANN SONG), is a former federal executive with one of those alphabet agencies who traded the trappings of bureaucracy for the delights of murder most foul. She wisely confines her crimes to fiction.
To learn more about Arlene, please visit her website.