by Diana Hockley
This week we have a review of Dead Red Alibi by R.P. Dahlke aka Rebecca Dahlke, and a fun interview with her. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of Dead Red Alibi, along with a link to purchase it where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Dead Red Alibi By Rebecca Dahlke
Rebecca Dahlke’s novels have always been good value in terms of humor and mystery, culminating in a darned good story!
Her female protagonist, Lalla Bains, is a charming and likable character whose ongoing romance with Sheriff Caleb is about to be fulfilled with matrimony. Unfortunately, a hitch occurs which has Lalla rushing off to Arizona. She is accompanied by her boisterous and bouncy cousin, Pearlie, to inspect a property which has been left to Lalla by her aunt. Pearlie’s joy at discovering an antique racing car in the shed and driving it at breakneck speed is only surpassed by her determination to entangle Lalla in the murder investigations and solve the cases before the local police.
Finding her father down a mine hole in the company of the local town’s sheriff – who is just happens to be dead – is pretty much par for the course. The discovery of another dead body shortly afterward with Lalla’s father’s jacket beside it is not good news, but nothing daunted, Pearlie forges ahead with the investigation. After all, she’d been planning to open a private detective agency back home with Lalla, so why not launch their business in Arizona instead?
The arrival of Caleb in pursuit of his bride rounds out the investigative team which springs into action, using him as a sounding board as he is unable to operate out of his jurisdiction.
Lalla’s father, having sold his crop dusting business, is now retired and immediately becomes a suspect in the murder cases, not that it concerns him much as he has, in a manner of speaking, acquired a dog and is settling very nicely into his new surroundings. There are some interesting ladies in Arizona!
The aspect I always enjoy with Dahlke’s novels is the energy which leaps off the pages – or in this case, the kindle face. The story is fast-paced and well-written. In an excellent move, the author has elected to continue the series without the crop dusting background which backed the previous novels. This has laid the way for a refreshing new series while still keeping the delightful characters.
I look forward to more Lalla Bains adventures!
Interview with Rebecca Dahlke
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Rebecca: Since I was knee high to a mouse, or a rat. Whichever is bigger.
KRL: When did your first novel come out?
Rebecca:My first book, and of course it was a mystery, Flying Through Forty and it was published in 2002. It was rewritten and retitled to become A Dead Red Cadillac.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense?
Rebecca:I don’t seem to be able to write anything without a mystery in it. I like the slight-of-hand that goes along with plotting, setting up the characters, hiding clues here and there, and then at last, revealing the culprit.
KRL: Did you set out thinking you might write a series, or did this evolve from the first book?
Rebecca:I wrote the first book, and then spent way too many fruitless years trying to sell it. The Dead Red Series came about after, my two years running my father’s crop-dusting business was behind me. Yet, there was plenty of fodder for several stories, and my son, John Shanahan was by then a full time aero ag pilot, happily shared his stories, and songs with me. He was a natural story teller, song writer, and all around great guy.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book?
Rebecca:I knew, after my son died in a work related accident (2005) that A Dead Red Oleander would be the last book centered in the aero ag industry. At first, I thought I would start an entirely new series with new characters based around the area I now live in, S.E. Arizona. But as I looked through my hundreds of reviews for these books, I noticed that there are very few mentions about the aero-ag industry, and if they did, it was only as an aside. What most reviewers talked about was how much they enjoyed the family dynamics of my primary and secondary characters. With the introduction of Pearlie Bains, Lalla’s cousin, introduced in A Dead Red Oleander, I knew my readers would be disappointed to lose them. Of course, we have yet to see whether Pearlie will use her super powers for good or evil. I guess we’ll find out in the next book. I’m kidding, of course. Pearlie is mortal like everyone else, she just doesn’t think so.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Rebecca:I go to a lot of effort to write a darn good mystery! It’s just an added bonus that readers are so entertained by the antics of my characters.
KRL: Do you do a lot of research and how do you go about obtaining information?
Rebecca:I research what I don’t know. A Dead Red Alibi required new help from the Cochise County sheriff’s department, as well as Search and Rescue, and mines, and Jeeps. I don’t know diddly about any of those things.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Rebecca:I schedule my days. Morning for promoting and social media, and after lunch is writing, or researching.
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?
Rebecca:I take notes about the plot, I write out names for new characters, ones that will give weight and purpose to their role in the book. Then start asking questions of the characters, writing along about what one character would do, and why. I usually know how a book begins and who the killer is. Secondary plots too. After all of this is worked out, I start writing. Sounds simple, until the second, third and fifth drafts and I start to question my sanity, my role in life, and why did I ever think I knew how to write a book!
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Rebecca:In the morning when I’m fresh, after a cup of coffee and a leisurely breakfast on my veranda overlooking the sea … no wait, sorry, that’s someone else’s life, not mine!
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Rebecca:Try impossible. Rejection letters galore.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Rebecca:Though I may live to regret giving a publish date for a book that is at this point only a glimmer in my eye–the fifth in the Dead Red Series to be published in March of 2015. There! I said it.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Rebecca:Not the ones who’re bestsellers. My heroes and heroines are the writers who’ve helped me, and others, with their time and knowledge. I believe in karma. Good things happen to those who share.
KRL: What do you read?
Rebecca:Historical Mysteries. I read Ann Perry early on, and so admire her character development, her twisty plots. I like and admire MaryLou Locke, Ann Parker–both of these authors write about the struggle of American Women in the 1880s.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Rebecca:TV: Elementary, PBS Mysteries-all of them, and Downton Abbey. Masters of Sex, and now Turn, AMC’s historical fictional series about the American Revolution.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Rebecca:This is a beautiful time to be an author. Anyone with a creative mind, a brilliant plot and the knowledge of the craft can get published on Amazon, and if they’ve written something that resonates with the public, they can become enormously successful. Which can reap awards, money and even a nifty contract with a New York publisher, or not. It’s a lot of talent, hard work and perseverance.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Rebecca:It’s work. Hard work. Lonely work. But I’ve never wanted anything to be anything else. I’m a mom, a wife, a grandmother, but I’m also a writer. One who has people who happily read my books and ask for more! I love my readers!
KRL: You had a goat in Dead Red Oleander and a dog in Dead Red Alibi. Do you always include animals in your books and do you have a current pet or pets?
Rebecca: I had a dog in A Dead Red Cadillac and the same dog in A Dead Red Heart. Pets bring people together, they can heal a broken heart, save a life, or just be a much needed companion. In A Dead Red Miracle, the walk-on stray that Noah Bains has been feeding at night will have a respectable job, when he’s not chewing up someone’s shoes.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Rebecca: When I lost my son, I also lost my only grandchildren. However, I’d like to share with your readers that I’ve recently been in communication with my oldest granddaughter. My advice to grandparents who’ve lost contact with their grandchildren–never, never, never give up!
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
To enter to win an ebook copy of Dead Red Alibi, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Alibi,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 18, 2014. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
Click on this link to purchase this book & a portion goes to help support KRL!