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Lee Alvarez takes a job ferreting out the saboteur of a start-up company’s Initial Public Offering in the heart of Silicon Valley. Little does she know early one morning she will find the CEO hanging by the neck in the boardroom wearing nothing but his baby blue boxer shorts.
Was it suicide? Was it murder by one of the many people who loathed the man on sight, such as his business partner? Or maybe one of the many women in his life, including his famous rock singer ex-? The bodies start piling up while Lee is planning her very own Christmas wedding. Ho, ho, ho.
Lee Alvarez, protagonist of the humorous Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, speaks out, much to her mother’s dismay.
Q: Aloha Lee, and welcome to Island Confidential. Why don’t we start by telling our readers a little bit about you?
A: Here’s something few people know. I love the sound of a ukulele. I bought one and tried to play, but it’s harder than it looks. After several minutes, the tips of my fingers were raw. A musician friend heard me and said maybe if I practiced every day for a year, I could advance from ‘horrible’ to ‘amusingly bad’. Lovely idea, but I don’t have the time for such a commitment. So the instrument is gathering dust under my bed. Now and then I pull it out and twang on it, just for laughs.
On a more serious note, I’ve come to terms with the fact I don’t have the talent to be a prima ballerina. At best, I am a mediocre dancer no matter how hard I work at it, and I do a barre nearly every single morning. It doesn’t help that I’m 5’8” tall, either. A good ballerina is usually around 5’4” in height. When I turned sixteen I had to face facts. I’d never advance to anything other than the chorus of a second-rate ballet company.
What I am, however, is a crackerjack ferret. I’m good a putting together past scenarios and coming up with the right answers. Before Dad’s sudden death two years ago due to an aneurism, he taught me everything he knew about the detective business, hoping I would follow in his footsteps. Our little family has built a thriving investigative service, Discretionary Inquiries. We’re Silicon Valley’s answer to software, hardware, and intellectual property thefts. But I have noticed it seems like I’m always falling over dead bodies, especially when I’m not looking.
And those are my two secrets, a hidden uke and dusty toe shoes. I guess we all have our ‘what if’ things. But I’m smart enough to know that not being able to do a first-rate glissade arabesque is probably one of life’s better regrets to have. It’s not in on the uke yet.
Q: Who’s the character in the book you get along with the best?
A: A year ago, I would have said my kid brother, Richard. He’s a computer geek – actually, a genius – and the main reason why Discretionary Inquiries leads the pack in technologically driven Silicon Valley. You may remember Richard. He’s the one who showed up twenty minutes late to the annual board meeting eating a sauerkraut and peanut butter sandwich. It stunk up the boardroom for a week. He’s a little on the weird side, but I love him to pieces. These days the person I get along with best is my fella, Gurn Hanson. Let’s face it, I’m in love. We manage to get married in the latest Alvarez book, The CEO Came DOA, in between assorted chaos, villainy, and laughs. He’s quite a guy!
Q: Which other character do you have a conflict with?
A: Okay, let’s talk about my mother, Lila Hamilton Alvarez, she who can crack an oyster shell with a single glance. Here’s an excerpt from The CEO Came DOA which I think best describes our differences:
I studied my mother as objectively as possible. She was so loving this. I was right not to try to take the wedding away from her. Besides, soon she would have a new grandchild and leave me alone.
Whoops! Did I say that out loud? No, no, I was just thinking it. I used my inside voice. I’m good.
I relaxed a little and reflected. Yes, here sat the woman who was the Rolls Royce to my Chevy, the conservative to my liberal, the haute couture to my thrift shop, but fate had still seen to throw us together. Chalk it up to one of life’s ironies.
Whoops! Did I just get philosophical on me? Go away, inside voice. Time for a martini.
Q: Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?
A: Heather Haven is a nice lady, has a good heart and all that, but frankly, she’s peculiar. She can find the most bizarre ways of murdering someone. And she puts me into some pretty stressful situations. I have a tough time keeping up. Of course, I get to wear a spectacular wardrobe, but that’s small compensation.
Q: What’s next for you, Lee?
A: I have no idea. Right now I’m on my honeymoon in Kauai, with my gorgeous hunk of a husband, Gurn Hanson. Sun, fun, a Mai Tai or two, love, and relaxation. Wait a minute. She’s at it again. That Heather Haven is involving me in something to do with strychnine poisoning. What the… Whoops! Gotta go. A new murder to solve. But at least it’s in the balmy breezes of a Hawaiian island!
Q: Well, if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and I’ll buy you a Loco Moco. Thanks for visiting Island Confidential!
About The Author
After studying drama at the University of Miami in Florida, Heather went to Manhattan to pursue a career. There she wrote short stories, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and two one-act plays, which were produced, among other places, at the famed Playwrights Horizon. Once, she even ghostwrote a book on how to run an employment agency. She was unemployed at the time.
Her first novel started the Silicon Valley based Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series. Murder is a Family Business, Book One, won the Single Titles Reviewers’ Choice Award 2011, followed by the second, A Wedding to Die For, 2012 Global and EPIC finalist for Best eBook Mystery of the Year. Death Runs in the Family won the coveted Global Gold for Best Mystery Novel, 2013. DEAD….If Only won the Global Silver for Best Mystery Novel, 2015. Her fifth novel of the series, The CEO Came DOA, debuts September, 2016. She loves writing this series mainly because she gets to play all of the characters, including the cat!
Heather’s other series, The Persephone Cole Vintage Mystery Series, is set in Manhattan circa 1942, during our country’s entrance into WWII. The Dagger Before Me, Book One, was voted best historical and mystery novel by Amazon readers in October, 2013. It was followed by Iced Diamonds. Book Three, The Chocolate Kiss-Off, is a 2016 Lefty Award Finalist Best Historical Mystery.
On a personal note, her proudest award is the Silver IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) Best Mystery/thriller 2014 for Death of a Clown. The stand-alone noir mystery is steeped in Heather’s family history. Daughter of real-life Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus folk, her mother was a trapeze artist/performer and father, an elephant trainer. Heather likes to say she brings the daily existence of the Big Top to life during World War II, embellished by her own murderous imagination.
Heather gives lectures, speaks at book clubs, and moderates author panels in the Bay Area, as well as teaching the art of writing. She believes everyone should write something, be it a poem, short story or letter. Then go out and plant a tree. The world will be a better place for it.