It’s New Year’s Day, and Jude Dillane, owner of The Corner Lounge, is cleaning up after last night’s celebration when she discovers the body of a man with a knife through his heart in the dumpster out back. She recognizes the victim immediately—it’s Michael Bevins, younger brother of her customer and neighbor, Art Bevins. Devastated, Jude becomes even more horrified when she learns that Michael is the latest victim of the New Year’s Eve Serial Killer whose horrible crimes stretch back more than twenty years. Determined to find this monster, Jude risks her life as she gathers evidence that leads her closer and closer to the killer and the staggering truth that he may be someone very close to home.
Award-winning author Cathi Stoler spent some time with The Big Thrill talking about her latest On The Rocks Mystery, LAST CALL:
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
LAST CALL continues the Murder On The Rocks series at The Corner Lounge on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a setting I wanted to keep. It is the element that brings the plot, character and voice together to help readers become totally immersed in the story. The LES is an interesting neighborhood with historic buildings, river-front promenades, fabulous thrift shops, vintage clothing stores, and great restaurants that all play a part in the story. Jude Dillane and The Corner Lounge are very much a part of that neighborhood, and seeing it as she would see it creates a perfect sense of place.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
The biggest challenge was to write about a serial killer and make it believable. You can’t look at someone and say, “He’s a serial killer.” I wanted to dig into the motivation behind the killings, although again, no two serial killers have the same forces driving them. Researching serial killers and the FBI Profilers who track and capture them was compelling and enlightening and gave me the opportunity to craft a killer who is extremely brutal, capable, and unique.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
There are many going back to the works of Agatha Christie, Sir Author Conan Doyle, and P.D. James, to name a few. These authors inspired me to read when I was younger and motivated me to write when I was older. LAST CALL is modern mystery/thriller, set in the present and reflective of more current writers who have influenced me, such as Alison Gaylin, Megan Abbott, Ruth Ware, and Daniel Silva. Their characters, plots, and excellent writing inspire me to do better with each book.
Cathi Stoler is an award-winning writer. Her Murder On The Rocks Series features The Corner Lounge owner, Jude Dillane, and includes Bar None, LAST CALL, and Straight Up. She’s also written the suspense novels Nick of Time and Out of Time and the Laurel and Helen New York Mysteries. She is a board member of Sisters in Crime New York/Tri-State, MWA and ITW.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.