Great Party! Sorry About the Murder. Synopsis: Former cop (now private detective) Milo Rathkey has been scraping by since his divorce ten years ago. Most of his work involves following cheating spouses and finding missing people. He considers it unexciting. When Milo was eight his cop father was shot and killed, and his mother went to work as a cook for John McKnight on an estate called Lakesong. Milo lived at Lakesong for the next ten years. When John died he left Milo fifteen million dollars and half of the Lakesong estate to be shared with John’s son Sutherland. Milo is dragged into the world of the wealthy, specifically to a New Year’s Eve party hosted by the beautiful Mary Alice Bonner, whose husband James is a bully and all around nasty character. After the party, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, James in shot in his home office. His friend police Lieutenant Ernie Gramm asks Milo to assist in the investigation. The suspects include the wife, the son, two low life thugs, the brother, and two business associates, one of whom is having an affair with Mary Alice. As Milo attempts to find the murderer, he is introduced to Sutherland’s world, and Sutherland to Milo’s. The victim, James Bonner is in both worlds, as Milo comes to find out. The solution has a twist but if the reader catches the clues, it is right in front of them. On audio, the novel is narrated by Tom Lennon. Interview with D.B. Elrogg below.
Q) What is your background, and what influenced you to write a novel?
A) My career centered around television, first for local stations (including WCCO in the Twin Cities) and then CBS News and ABC News. I’ve written one or two guest pieces for magazines, but never as a staff member. All my writing was the quick, get to the point, let the visual tell the story of television. Alyce on the other hand, has been a talented and gifted English teacher for almost thirty years. Her writing is much more formal, so every time I write the word “very” I get an electric shock! English teachers have an aversion to the word “very.” I do get to use it in dialog because people say it all the time.
Q) Trump especially. Why not non-fiction, like many journalists?
A) We never did have much interest in writing nonfiction books. I think the process would be mind numbing and I have great respect for those that do it. Writing fiction, especially fiction with a little humor, is far more fun, and we’re retired. Fiction does sell better but we’re not writing to become fabulously wealthy. We wanted to do something together and to have fun. We did, however, blow our first royalty check at Baskin Robbins. We each got double scoops!
Q) Al Roker writes fiction too; and now Bill Clinton. Generally, fiction sells better unless the person is famous or in the news spotlight. Did any of the events in your novel actually happen?
A) I have a relative who said there is no way the ending of Great Party could occur in real life. I assured her—not only could it occur, but it did. Of course the story lines are changed and embellished to fit our plots! I tend to write, and Alyce tends to fix, until we come to writing scenes involving women. Then she writes and I keep my mouth shut. There is an occasional “Oh come on, how long can she be mad about this?” To which the response is “More than four pages.” Alyce is also the stickler on not using poetic license. “How did he get out on the lawn? There’s no door there!’ I have to admit ninety nine percent of the time she’s right.
Q) Of corpse. Fav authors or influence?
A) We are fans of Agatha Christie, especially for how she crafts a mystery. Her readers get a chance to solve the crime, if they avoid the red hearings. We hope our books do the same although rising to Christie’s level would be next to impossible. I also appreciate writers who create interesting characters. Lynn Florkiewicz, Faith Martin, and P.B. Kolleri are among my favorites, although I wish Kolleri would quit traveling and get back to England.
Q) What news stories influenced your writing? Any anecdotes to share?
A) In my time as a television reporter and producer I covered a multitude of crimes, many of which will appear in our books. The scam being run by James Bonner in Great Party actually happened in Duluth in the seventies. Likewise our second book mirrors a real life murder. Our third book will probably have a fictional account of a double murder which occurred in St. Paul in the eighties. In that case I was allowed to read the police file and realized how conflicting the various witnesses were in their accounts. Even people’s perceptions of the victims were wildly different.
Q) What’s next for you? Sequel?
A) We have just finished the first draft of book two. We will rewrite it two more times before publishing it. Hopefully it will be out in October. We write for the fun of it, and are pleasantly surprised by the number of great reviews by people who seem to enjoy it as much as we do.