by Terrance Mc Arthur
We are thrilled to be reviewing the latest book of one of our own, Sunny Frazier. We also have an interesting interview with Sunny. At the end of this post you will find details on how to enter to win a copy of A Snitch in Time and a link to purchase it.
A Snitch in Time By Sunny Frazier
Review by Terrance McArthur
In fiction, snitches don’t last long. They come to bad ends repeatedly in mystery novels. Of course, many people don’t like snitches, even the law enforcement officers who use them, but they are useful. They make great murder victims.
Sunny Frazier’s A Snitch in Time: Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries Book 3, starts with a narcotics detective shouting a message into a phone at a snitch who missed a meet, but the detective finds that the guy had a good reason for not being there. He’s dead.
Meanwhile, Christy Bristol, an office assistant with the sheriff’s department, is up in the foothills for a vacation with her former co-worker, Lennie, who is now an heiress running a weekly newspaper.
The snitch’s murder sends them to the crime scene, where Christy’s job skills (and a former lover) get her conscripted, shanghaied, and roped into transcribing reports and taking calls for what turns into a task force, because bodies keep dropping. The murders are happening to ne’er-do-wells, bad guys, and people who wouldn’t be missed by the high and mighty-self-righteous. In fact, an old friend might be on the short list of the to-be-killed.
Christy is also an astrologer, so Lennie talks her into using her knowledge (and a pile of reference books and star charts) to reverse-horoscope the traits of a murderer.
Forced to work for homicide against her will, and not allowed to stay with journalists, Christy is put up in the cabin of a forest ranger who is supposed to be out of the area…or is he? Some of the complications are near-inevitable, including a visit from a jealous DEA-agent boyfriend. Bound up more and more into the web of the case, Christy finds herself fighting for her life in the hill country.
Sunny Frazier has written an interesting hybrid mystery, here. Christy works for the Sheriff’s department, and she’s surrounded by deputies, detectives, and what they do. However, she isn’t a sworn officer, and she goes around the rules like a meddling amateur. It isn’t a police procedural like the 87th Precinct series. It isn’t a cute cozy like Miss Marple. It’s…a cozy procedural and it’s very funny.
Frazier has a deep knowledge of the right side of the law, gained through years of office work and contacts in the field. She knows the San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra Nevada range that borders it, and she has a good grasp on the people of the region. Her eye for the ridiculous is sharp, and her depiction of romantic tension could be used for some cuddlesome reading. The characters are in lines of work known for swearing, yet most of the colorful language is described, rather than depicted.
I’m not an astrology believer (I read my horoscope on my birthday “for entertainment purposes only”) but I thank my lucky stars that I read A Snitch in Time; it was a night and a morning well spent.
Interview with Sunny Frazier:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Sunny: I’ve been writing since the 5th grade. But I’ve been publishing since I was 15 and in the journalism class in my high school.
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? A little about it?
Sunny:My first novel was Fools Rush In. It was first published in 2006 through Wolfmont Press. It was reprinted in 2010 by Oak Tree Press. The plot is based on the first narcotics case I worked on with the undercover narcotics team of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department. It involves a meth manufacturer and his group of dealers. This pre-dated Breaking Bad. My protagonist, Christy Bristol, does a horoscope on the leader and it backfires on her. Much of the story is true, based on reports I wrote up and search warrants. I used the real criminals’ birth dates to cast the horoscopes needed for the story.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not what else have you written?
Sunny:I have written a children’s book that I’m brushing off after 30 years. It’s the Pirates of the Caribbean meets the Food Channel. The history of food, which I find fascinating. When I first pitched it to an agent, he told me kids didn’t want to read about pirates, they wanted to read about space ships. Tell that to Johnny Depp!
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Tell me a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.
Sunny: My narc team worked the east side of the county, where you live, Lorie. The foothill towns are quirky. I received lots of calls from a woman who was always accusing her neighbors of being drug dealers. She became a regular, and at some point Kate Anderson and I went up there to visit and take a look around. I told Kate I wanted to set a murder there. We had a huge video camera (this was the early 90’s) and I made Kate pose like a corpse on these very strange cement statues we discovered. Nobody seemed to know their origin. An Indian woman on horseback clomped up to us and just stared at our crazy antics. Turns out she was the mail delivery person. I put that in the book. The hero of all my books is Christy Bristol, who works in law enforcement as an office assistant. She also does astrology. Her sidekick is Lennie Watkins, a very free spirit. The two women repeatedly find themselves in dicey situations.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away?
Sunny: Of course a book should entertain. But, I have several other things I like to throw in the mix. First, I try to demonstrate ways in which astrology can be used. I’m not trying to convert anyone and I don’t dip too heavily into how it’s done. Secondly, I try to add a bit of the literary into the story. In A Snitch in Time I worked in Henry David Thoreau, an author I love, but there’s always an underlying theme to the books. In Fools Rush In I wanted readers to see the drug trade from the drug dealer’s point of view. In Where Angels Fear I wanted to make the participants in the sex club ordinary people caught in a “compromising” position when one of their members goes rogue. In A Snitch in Time I wanted to explore the nature of female friendships.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Sunny: I’ve tried to be more disciplined, but as the career goes on, promotion, speaking engagements, blogs– all the things needed to maintain a presence start taking over the writing schedule. It becomes a juggling act. And, since I went into kidney failure, I cut myself some slack and take time to enjoy my own reading.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what needs to happen in your book?
Sunny: I don’t outline. I come to the table with a plot fairly well thought out before I sit down to write. The plots come together just as I’m finishing the last book. Right now I’ve started the 4th book and I know the plot of the 5th as well.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Sunny: I’m a morning writer. By 3 o’clock, my body wants to nap. But, since dialysis eats up three of my days a week (all I want to do is sleep afterward), my work week is four days. I have to accept that and work with it.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Sunny: No. I was publishing short stories and one anthology led to a publishing contract. Of course, I saw the value of independent presses early on. I never held out for the bigger publishing houses or an agent. I’m a realist.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Sunny: The first mystery I ever wrote won an award and was published in Murderous Intent magazine. I went to a small conference and both Sue Grafton and J.A. Jance asked me to autograph their copies. I’m sure they were just being supportive of a struggling author, but hey! Best moment of my life!
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Sunny: The stationery store in my hometown carried my books. I went there to pick up my sales and a woman was standing at the counter reading a story out of the anthology Valley Fever: Where Murder Is Contagious. I asked her, “Are you going to buy that book?” She clasped it to her chest and said “Yes. And this is the last copy!” That’s when I told her I was one of the authors and wanted to know if she’d like it signed. The look on her face was priceless.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Sunny:I’m being encouraged to put out booklets on how to write prize-winning short stories and another on all my tricks to promotion. I also want to try and write two books in the Christy series at the same time. I may be over-reaching.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Sunny: Chuck Palahnuik. Not everyone’s cup of tea (he wrote Fight Club. My fav is Choke) but I am in awe of the risks he takes in writing. I wish I could be that brave. Daniel Silva blows me away with every book. Right now I’m an Edward Rutherfurd fan, he writes historical fiction. But, I have my staples: Jance, Grafton, Michael Connelly, and Robert Crais.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Sunny: I’ve been familiar with the background of my stories since I pretty much lived them. However, I’m taking my protag to Mexico and I will have to do some research. I write until I hit a snag and then stop to do the research. I’m not one of these writers who like to research more than write.
KRL: What do you read?
Sunny: I used to be all about mysteries, but as I’ve gotten older I want to understand history. AARP says that’s not unusual. I feel I want to put my life in perspective. I love anything from Alexander the Great to the Elizabeth I. I’ve become a collector of books and pretty much a fanatic.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Sunny: I love both Sherlock and Elementary. I’m hooked on the ID channel; it’s what I watch in dialysis. Modern Family, Big Bang Theory. I’m a die-hard Jon Stewart fan and will go through withdrawal when he goes off the air.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Sunny: Learn as much about the industry as you can while you write. Listen to the advice of seasoned writers. Be wary of critique groups. Try to find a mentor. Embrace social media and marketing. You can’t believe how hard it was before the internet.
KRL: How do you feel about the growing popularity of e-books?
Sunny: I have trouble reading on a device, but I can see the practicality of them. I bought a Surface tablet and downloaded the Kindle app so I could have books to read when the transplant happens.
KRL: Do you read e-books yourself?
Sunny:I find it less satisfying than holding a book.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Sunny: I know there are authors out there who are unhappy with the way their careers panned out. Don’t be. It’s important to embrace the realities of the writing life, not be sucked in by the delusions. Not everyone will give your book a good review. You will probably not get on the bestseller list. The money isn’t going to put you on Easy Street. Maybe it will happen. Probably won’t. Love what does happen and concentrate on making the next book even better. Hold out for respect from your peers.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Sunny: People often forget I was in the Navy during the Vietnam era. We were pretty groundbreaking. Oh, and I caused riots in three countries: Haiti, Germany and Colombia. It was not my fault! I stand by that statement.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
Sunny: Haven’t gotten into Twitter yet. My website is sunnyfrazier.com. Yes, I’m on FB. I love having friends. I post fun stuff.
KRL: How do you compete in an overcrowded market?
Sunny: It’s all about who markets best. I love marketing. It’s a challenge to lure readers to my books. It’s really the fun part of the whole job. I don’t know why nobody gets it…
To enter to win a copy of A Snitch in Time simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Snitch,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 7, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
Use this link to purchase a copy of the book: