Bad Boy Beat By Clea Simon: Review/Giveaway/Interview

May 11, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Claire A Murray

This week we have a review of Bad Boy Beat by Clea Simon, along with an interesting interview with Clea. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase the book from Amazon.

Bad Boy Beat by Clea Simon
Review Claire A Murray

Emily Kelton is a probationary reporter for the Standard, a scrappy, Boston daily newspaper. The job is a step up from the suburban weekly she’d spent two years writing for, but her success there gave her a strong dose of confidence: she knows how to report. She’s a lone wolf, with ambition to move out of the cop beat to the City Hall bureau, which her friend Roz covers, and then to larger political entities. Just prove it to Saul, her editor, she thinks. Emily’s confidence, bordering on arrogance, comes through in the sarcastic and sometimes caustic remarks to, and thoughts about, her older, more experienced colleagues—the dinosaurs of years past.

There is no room in her career plan to learn the computer research and other tools used at the Standard. The street is her beat, interviewing people, following the police trail, and pumping everyone for information.

Emily ignores the inner voice that cautions her many times. Don’t get involved with detective Jack Harcourt, assigned to the series of murders she’s covering. How is her former lover involved with the victim of a recent murder? Is the new young and very pretty intern trying to move into Emily’s shoes? Was the witness she interviewed being truthful? Should she wait until there’s more street traffic and daylight before checking out this murder scene?

The worst might be the nagging reminder she should be following up on a City Hall lead from Roz, her only friend, and now there’s a wedge between them. Emily barges on, confident she knows how to ferret out and report the news before anyone else. A string of murders spurs her into following leads that can only lead to one conclusion—danger.

Bad Boy Beat brought me back into the heart of Boston—night club life, numbered alleys, and an incredible lack of parking spaces. If you want a swift mystery with plenty of clues, you’ll enjoy this. As for Emily Kelton? … definitely a flawed character, and the reader will have to decide if she’s ever going to lighten up and discover you can learn from dinosaurs.

Claire A Murray writes crime, mystery, fantasy, and sci-fi short stories and novels. She also writes reviews, hosts Zoom write-ins for aspiring and experienced authors,and is completing a suspense fantasy novel so she can return to her trilogy and two other novels awaiting revision. Play the Hand You’re Dealt is her crime and mystery short story collection. Find her at

Interview with Clea Simon:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Clea: As long as I can remember! Professionally, I began my career as a journalist about 40 years ago (gulp!). My first mystery, Mew is for Murder, came out in 2005.

KRL: Can you tell us a little about it?

Clea: Mew is for Murder, which Poisoned Pen Press published in 2005, featured a reporter, Theda Krakow, who is interested in writing about a woman with too many cats – a supposed cat hoarder. But “cat ladies” have a lot of enemies, and when the woman is killed Theda not only gets involved in solving her murder but also in placing all her cats! That started me on writing cat cozies, which have made up the majority of my mysteries.

Clea Simon

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?

Clea: I am also the author of three nonfiction books, all of which blend memoir and research, usually psychological studies: Mad House: Growing Up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings (Doubleday, 1997), Fatherless Women: How We Change After We Lose Our Dads (Wiley, 2002), and The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats (St. Martin’s, 2002). Obviously, these all came out before I started writing mysteries. They were the bridge between my journalism and my current writing.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? I understand this one is a bit darker than some of yours, what was that like and what made you decide to go in that direction?

Clea: I’ve been writing the occasional darker book for a while now. Both World Enough and Hold Me Down are classified as “psychological thrillers,” and they’re both pretty dark. They both were named “must reads” by the Massachusetts Book Awards, too! But although this one has touches of noir and it definitely isn’t cozy – there are blood, guts, and sex – I think of Bad Boy Beat as just a fast, fun mystery. I’m not sure where it came from, except that I’ve been a reporter like my protagonist Em is. And I love the idea of how a character’s background affects her perception of the world, no matter how objective she tries to be! Other than that, the phrase “DB in PA 149” (dead body in Public Alley 149 in downtown Boston) just came to me. So that’s the opening!

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?

Clea: I don’t do either consciously. I simply try to tell the story in the way that gets it to the page in the manner that’s truest to what is in my head, if that makes sense.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?

Clea: I try to write five days a week, and I set myself a word count. Usually, that means I try to write 1,000 words a day. I give myself permission to write badly – those 1,000 words might be all adjectives just to fill out the count! – and I know that none of them may make the final manuscript. But the discipline keeps me in practice, and if you write enough bad stuff eventually the good stuff starts coming out.

KRL: What is your ideal time to write?

Clea: For me, it is in the afternoon, after I’ve gone through all my other obligations for the day.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

Clea: I wish! No, I make notes on my phone, on my computer, and on a pad by my bedside when I have a thought about a scene or a development but basically it just happens organically. I’ve been working on something recently where I killed the same person twice and I realized I needed to go back and choose one. Luckily, once I started re-reading, it was obvious which murder scene was better than the other.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Clea: Yes.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

Clea: Not really. Just that you both have to have a thick skin (and keep submitting) and also be willing to step back and re-read your work. Maybe it really isn’t ready to be published and you need to do some more work on it.

KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?

Clea: Oh, they’re all wonderful! It just amazes me that people want me to sign their books! (Even though I’m a total fan girl about certain authors.)

KRL: What are your future writing goals?

Clea: I want to finish this weird, dark book that I’m working on now. Some days it feels like I never will! And then I’m hoping that I get to do a second Em Kelton book. (Severn House is too!) If Bad Boy Beat sells well enough, Severn House will let me continue it as a series!

KRL: Who are your writing heroes?

Clea: Sara Paretsky, Laurie R. King, James Lee Burke… so many of my peers!! Anyone who has kept writing despite it all and done their best to tell the stories in their heads, even when they’re not the most popular style or genre.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Clea: Oh, tons! I read a lot but I also talk to people. For my next standalone The Blue Butterfly (out next March on Severn House), I spent a lot of time at an artist’s building. The protagonist, Anya, is a painter, as was my mother, but I needed to make sure that what I remembered about mixing pigments and preparing materials, such as canvases, was still current. (I had a painter friend read the manuscript too. Her only criticism was about a scene where Anya is defending a friend, and my friend said: That would never happen! We’re all jealous of each other!)

KRL: What do you like to read?

Clea: Everything! Currently, I’m on a Deanna Raybourn kick – working my way through all her historical mysteries.

KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?

Clea: Impromptu, starring Judy Davis as the writer George Sand is one movie I constantly re-watch. As for TV, I’m loving Shogun and about to start Parish.

KRL: Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Clea: Yes: Just do it. Make yourself write. Every day if you can. Read a ton. Try to figure out why you love the books you love and why the ones you don’t like don’t work. Read your own work with the same thoughts. Re-read. Re-write. Work at it!

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Clea: That I only have one cat? People often tell me “Oh, you’re so prolific! How do you do it?” (Bad Boy Beat is my 31st mystery.) I tell them, this is my job. I’ve been writing mysteries since 2003. I love what I do, but I do consider it a job and I apply myself accordingly.

KRL: Do you have any pets?

Clea: Yes! The wondrous Thisbe, a tortoiseshell kitty who was rescued in West Virginia and brought north.

KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?

Clea: Only that I love to hear from readers – in large part, because I’m a reader too. I love browsing in bookstores (yes, the brick-and-mortar kind). Often, I’ll pick up a book that I never would have considered and take a look at the opening. If I’m still standing there reading, three pages later, I’m buying that book!

KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram?

Clea: Yes, thank you!
Twitter (X): @Clea_Simon
Instagram: cleasimon_author

Thanks so much! This has been fun.

KRL: Thanks for chatting with us!

You can click here to purchase this book.

To enter to win a copy of Bad Boy Beat, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “beat” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 18, 2024. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  2. Sounds interesting!

  3. Sounds like a great read.

  4. We have a winner!



  1. KRL loves BBB! | Clea Simon - […] you want a swift mystery with plenty of clues, you’ll enjoy this,” writes Kings River Life critic Claire A,…

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