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The Body In The Ballroom by R.J. Koreto Banner

The Body in the Ballroom

by R.J. Koreto

on Tour July 1-31, 2018

Synopsis:

The Body in the Ballroom by R.J. Koreto

President Teddy Roosevelt’s daring daughter, Alice, leaps into action to exonerate a friend accused of poisoning a man just about everyone hated.

Alice Roosevelt, the brilliant, danger-loving daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, has already risked an assassin’s bullet to solve one murder. She never expected to have to sleuth another, but she’d never pass up the opportunity, either. Anything to stave off boredom.

And such an opportunity presents itself when Alice is invited to a lavish ball. The high-society guests are in high spirits as they imbibe the finest wines. But one man, detested by nearly all the partygoers, quaffs a decidedly deadlier cocktail. An African-American mechanic, who also happens to be a good friend of former Rough Rider-turned-Secret Service Agent Joseph St. Clair, is suspected of the murder-by-poison, but Alice is sure he’s innocent and is back on the scene to clear his name.

From downtown betting parlors to uptown mansions, Alice and Agent St. Clair uncover forbidden romances and a financial deal that just might change the world. But neither Alice nor her would-be protector may survive the case at hand in The Body in the Ballroom, R. J. Koreto’s gripping second Alice Roosevelt mystery.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: June 12th 2018
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 1683315774 (ISBN13: 9781683315773)
Series: Alice Roosevelt Mystery #2
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Author Bio:

R.J. Koreto

R.J. Koreto has been fascinated by turn-of-the-century New York ever since listening to his grandfather’s stories as a boy.

In his day job, he works as a business and financial journalist. Over the years, he’s been a magazine writer and editor, website manager, PR consultant, book author, and seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine. He’s a graduate of Vassar College, and like Alice Roosevelt, he was born and raised in New York.

He is the author of the Lady Frances Ffolkes and Alice Roosevelt mysteries. He has been published in both Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He also published a book on practice management for financial professionals.

With his wife and daughters, he divides his time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

 

Q&A with R.J. Koreto

Welcome!
Writing and Reading:

Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

Both! This book uses real-life characters in fictional situations and even some fictional characters are based on actual historical figures. Immigration and race—very much in the news today—was also a huge issue 100 years ago. I hoped to bring some perspective to the discussions by showing Irish, Jewish and African-American New Yorkers trying to find their place in a changing America at the turn of the century.

But it’s not all serious! I have the 18-year-old Alice Roosevelt throwing some jealous hissy fits when her bodyguard, ex-Rough Rider Joseph St. Clair, starts showing an interest in a woman journalist. Alice would never admit to an attraction for the handsome cowboy, who just sees her as a little sister anyway, but that doesn’t mean she wants another woman to have him. I have a friend who had a very jealous girlfriend many years ago, so those scenes practically wrote themselves.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

I start with the basics of “whodunit” from the beginning. I know who committed the murder even as I write the first paragraph. It’s like erecting a scaffold, and then putting in the bricks one by one. If you don’t have a plan, you find yourself going in directions that take you nowhere.

The tricky part is adding all the people who could have done it, to keep the reader puzzled.

But I try to remain flexible, too. Sometimes when they’re down on paper, plotlines are less interesting than they were in my head, while other possibilities present themselves.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?

I’ve long been a journalist, and the character of society reporter Felicia Meadows was based on some journalists I’ve known over the years. The newspaper business has long been male-dominated, even many years after my book takes place, and women were often pushed into what were considered appropriate topics for women, like society gossip and fashion. So I had a lot of fun creating Miss Meadows, imaging how tough and bright she’d have to be to make it in those times as she tries to get herself a frontpage story.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I usually write evening and weekends, and I don’t like it if it’s too quiet. Music or TV in the background is necessary. And soda, with lots of ice. I drink way too much diet Coke.

Tell us why we should read this book.

It really comes down to relationships. This may be too much of a blanket statement, but I think it’s largely true that although readers like a clever plot and a relatable theme, they really want engaging characters who play off his each other well. I have the 30-year-old Wyoming-native Joseph St. Clair, whose formal schooling ended at 14, and who has been a cowboy, deputy sheriff, Rough Rider, and now Secret Service agent guarding Alice Roosevelt. She, meanwhile, is only 18, born to great wealth and privilege in New York City. One reviewer commented that the two of them are continually fascinated with each other, as they try to understand each other’s way of looking at the world, and that’s the relationship that keeps the reader interested.

My model was Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and his assistant Archie Goodwin. They are utterly different and struggle to understand each other, but you can’t imagine them without each other. They can hardly function without each other.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Such a wide range. I used to read a lot of science fiction, especially Isaac Asimov, who was capable of such breathtaking visions.

Among classic mystery stories, I like Rex Stout for his witty dialog and rich characterization; Agatha Christie for her brilliant plotting skills; and Georges Simenon, who could set a scene like nobody else.

What are you reading now?

I just finished “City of Lies,” by Victoria Thompson, an author who excels at portraying strong, independent women in historical periods. I’ve been a fan of her older “Gaslight Mystery” series and this new series is off to a terrific start. She has long been an inspiration to me.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?

I’m very excited about my next project, which is the most ambitious book I’ve tried writing. In Victorian England, young police constable Alan Heath, in a rural village, comes across the brutally murdered body of the Earl’s daughter, a young woman he’s known his whole life. On and off for over 30 years Heath tries to solve the murder in a career that takes him to London and India and the battlefields of World War I. Only on the eve of his retirement, as a high-ranking detective at Scotland Yard in the 1920s, does Heath finally pull it all together. Over the years, we see him change, England change, and the Earl’s family decline in the war’s aftermath, as if the unsolved murder has cursed them.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

That’s always a tough one! Emma Watson, who played Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, might make a good Alice. She doesn’t really resemble Alice but I think she could do a great job with Alice’s imperious tone.

For Agent St. Clair, a young Paul Newman would’ve been great. St. Clair provides a lot of humor in the book, and Newman could do comedy very well.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
In addition to writing, my wife and I like taking our Yellow Labrador Retriever, Rose, for long walks.

Favorite meal?
My wife makes a winter dish of pan-fried porkchops with apples. With a cold beer on the side, there’s nothing better.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

 

Catch Up With R.J. Koreto On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

 

Read an excerpt:

President Roosevelt and I were just finishing out talk when A moment later, the office door opened, and Mr. Wilkie, the Secret Service director, walked in. I stood to greet him.

“St. Clair. Glad to see you’re back. Very pleased with the way it went in St. Louis.” He turned to the president. “Have you spoken to him yet, sir?”

“Yes, and he’s agreed.” Wilkie looked relieved, too.

“Very good then. If you’re done, sir, I’ll take St. Clair to her. My understanding is that arrangements have been made for Miss Roosevelt to leave tomorrow afternoon.”

“Exactly. We’re all done then. St. Clair, thanks again. And I’ll be up in the near future, so I expect to see you again soon.” We shook hands, and I followed Mr. Wilkie out the door.

“Is she smoking on the roof again, sir?” I asked. That’s what happened the first time I met Alice in the White House.

He grimaced. “No. My understanding is that she is in the basement indulging a new hobby of hers. But you’ll see.” He led me downstairs, and that’s when I heard the unmistakable sounds of gunfire. Mr. Wilkie didn’t seem worried, however. “Miss Roosevelt somehow got hold of a pistol and has set up her own private firing range in a storage room. We launched an investigation to figure out how Miss Roosevelt obtained such a weapon but were unable to reach a formal conclusion, I’m sorry to say.”

No wonder they wanted me back.

And just as when Mr. Wilkie had sent me to get Alice off the roof, he once again cleaned his glasses on his handkerchief, shook my hand, wished me luck, and departed.

I heard one more shot, and that was it. She was probably reloading. The sound came from behind a double door at the end of the hallway. I carefully opened it, and she didn’t notice at first.

I watched her concentrating on the pistol, her tongue firmly between her teeth as she carefully focused on reloading. It was an old Smith & Wesson single-action, and she was damn lucky she hadn’t blown her own foot off. She was shooting at a mattress propped against the far wall, and from the wide scattering of holes, it was clear her marksmanship needed a lot of practice.

“A little more patience, Miss Alice. You’re jerking the trigger; that’s why you keep shooting wild. And that gun’s too big for you.”

It was a pleasure to see the look of shock and joy on her face. She just dropped the gun onto a box and practically skipped to me, giving me a girlish hug. “Mr. St. Clair, I have missed you.” She looked up. “And I know you have missed me. They say you’re back on duty with me. We’re heading to New York tomorrow, and we’ll have breakfast together like we used to and walk to the East Side through Central Park and visit your sister Mariah.”

I couldn’t do anything but laugh. “We’ll do all that, Miss Alice. But I’m on probation from your aunt, so we have to behave ourselves. You have to behave yourself.”

“I always behave.” She waved her hand to show that the discussion had ended. “Now there must be a trick to loading revolvers because it takes me forever.”

“I’ll teach you. Someday.” I made sure the revolver was unloaded and stuck it in my belt. Then I scooped up the cartridges and dumped them in my pocket.

“Hey, that’s my revolver,” said Alice. “It took me a lot of work to get it.”

“You’re not bringing it to New York, that’s for sure, Miss Alice.”

She pouted. “I thought you’d relax a little after being in St. Louis.”

“And I thought you’d grow up a little being in Washington. You want to walk into the Caledonia like a Wild West showgirl? Anyway, don’t you have some parties to go to up there?”

“Oh, very well. But promise me you’ll take me to a proper shooting range in New York and teach me how to load and fire your New Service revolver.”

“We’ll see. Meanwhile, if you don’t upset your family or Mr. Wilkie between now and our departure tomorrow, I’ll buy you a beer on the train.” That made her happy.

We walked upstairs as she filled me in on White House gossip.

“Oh, and I heard you were in a fast draw in St. Louis and gunned down four men.” She looked up at me curiously.

“A little exaggeration,” I said. I hadn’t killed anyone in St. Louis, hadn’t even fired my revolver, except for target practice.

“You didn’t kill anyone?” she asked, a little disappointed.

“No. No one.”

But then her face lit up. “Because your reputation proceeded you, and they knew there was no chance of outdrawing you.”

“That must be it,” I said.

“But look on the bright side,” she said, still full of cheer. “New York is a much bigger city. Maybe you’ll get a chance to shoot someone there.”

***

Excerpt from The Body in the Ballroom by R.J. Koreto. Copyright © 2018 by R.J. Koreto. Reproduced with permission from R.J. Koreto. All rights reserved.

 

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  One Response to “BODY IN THE BALLROOM by R.J. Koreto (Interview, Showcase & Giveaway)”

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Cheryl.

    Nice post.

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