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Down in Key West, Sherri Travis and her best friend Marley are looking for a little fun in the sun. Promising to be back for last call, Marley leaves the Rawhide Saloon with an Elvis impersonator. She doesn’t return. With Hurricane Alma turning toward Key West, and the police saying Marley must be missing for seventy-two hours before they start searching, Sherri and Lexi Divine, a six-foot tall drag queen, hunt for Marley amidst the chaos of the evacuation.

LAST CALL author Phyllis Smallman spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I want readers to understand how someone can drown in their own home. In LAST CALL I was writing my worst fears, which makes a great basis for a thriller. We owned a home on the west coast of Florida for two decades. When hurricane insurance became too expensive, we dropped the coverage. From May until November we worried.

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?

The lives of humans have always depended on the weather. Men caught in blizzards or ships at sea, the primeval forces of nature have always controlled us. Distracted by our technology from what is truly important, we forget how quickly our lives can be irrevocably changed.

Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?

I was surprised that I’d written a book without a love interest. LAST CALL, at its root, is about friendship. No matter if we’ve just had a horrendous fight, true friends pull together when trouble comes calling.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

Life is dangerous. We tend to ignore that lesson and every so often we have to relearn it. We let our guard down and forget that while the jungle may have changed, now made of concrete rather than wood, its rules still apply.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?

When I was a teenager I discovered the Travis McGee mystery series. I named my protagonist, Sherri Travis, in honor of John D. MacDonald. His books began a life-long love affair with Florida and introduced me to environmental issues.


Phyllis Smallman’s first novel, Margarita Nights, won the inaugural Unhanged Arthur award from the Crime Writers of Canada. Her writing has appeared in both Spinetingler Magazine and Omni Mystery Magazine. Her Sherri Travis mystery series was chosen by Good Morning America for a summer read in 2010. The Singer Brown series won the gold medal from Independent Publishers.

Before turning to a life of crime, Smallman was a potter.

To learn more, please visit her website.