A new Washington Whodunit: Calamity at the Continental Club by Colleen J. Shogan

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The Mayflower Society is about to hold its annual meeting at Washington D.C.’s swanky gathering place for the elite, the Continental Club. That means Kit Marshall’s upper-crust future in-laws, Buffy and Winston Hollingsworth, are coming for a visit. Annoyed that Kit has not set a date to marry Doug, Buffy wants her to commit to a high society wedding at the club. Kit, though chief of staff for a congresswoman, feels uncomfortable with Buffy and Winston’s crowd.

Kit receives an unexpected reprieve in the form of murder. En route to her morning jog, she encounters the corpse of the leader of the Mayflower Society, conservative multimedia tycoon Grayson Bancroft. On the security cameras, no one was seen entering or leaving the club, which means the culprit had to be an overnight guest. Little love was lost on Bancroft, but the police have their prime suspect: Doug’s father.

Buffy and Winston, formerly disdainful of Kit’s sleuthing, urge her to investigate. With her future in-laws’ freedom and reputations at stake, Kit sets out once again to solve a murder mystery, this time aided by her fiancé Doug in addition to her friends Meg and Trevor and her dog Clarence. Her search for clues will take her from the club to the Smithsonian Museum, the National Archives, and Mount Vernon.

Calamity at the Continental Club is Book 3 of the Washington Whodunit series, which began with Stabbing in the Senate and continued with Homicide in the House.


Island Confidential: Colleen, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist? 

Colleen Shogan: Kit Marshall is a plucky, thirty-something Capitol Hill staffer who somehow finds herself embroiled in murder on a routine basis in Washington, D.C. In this book, she’s dealing with her recent proposal and planning a wedding while she solves a double homicide. She’s got her hands full!

How similar are you and Kit?

CS: I previously worked as a congressional staffer, but I’m not Kit Marshall. Instead, Kit is a pastiche of all the women I worked with on Capitol Hill. She’s no one person, but blends a lot of traits and characteristics. Kit tries to balance a lot in her life. She’s a little obsessed with keeping everyone happy: her fiancé, her best friend, her boss. But she also likes to have fun and has an impetuous side. She’d be a good person to know in Washington.

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

CS: Yes, absolutely. I’ve read a number of cozy mystery series and one of my pet peeves is characters who remain static. There’s something comforting to readers about that consistency but it can also grow boring. So I try to keep relationships evolving. Kit’s fiancé, Doug, changes a lot in this story, and that’s going to have long term effects for the role he plays in the series.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

CS: Sure, all the time. What’s the point of writing mysteries if you can’t fantasize about killing people who bug you the most?

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

CS: My settings are true to life. This book is set at a fictitious social club in Washington, D.C. but it strongly resembles several real-life locations. At times, you may need to take small liberties to make a particular plot work, but I am pretty obsessive about making sure I’m describing Washington in an accurate way. I want people who have never lived in our nation’s capital to understand what it’s like to reside there.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

CS: America Ferrera might make a good Kit Marshall. Or maybe Kelly Clarkson. I don’t like it when movies are made and the character in the book wasn’t super skinny, but then the actress who plays her is a size 2. That ruins it. For Meg, I picture a Clare Danes or Kristen Bell. For Doug, it’s harder to say. I think Charlie Day could do it. He could bring a lot of humor and wit to Doug.

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

CS: The best advice has to do with perseverance. It’s important to keep writing and revising. Not everyone is going to like what you write. That doesn’t mean a lot of other people won’t love it! I’ve been lucky and haven’t received too much bad advice. I do remember an agent I met who liked my concept for a mystery series based in Washington, D.C. But she didn’t like the working title of my first book, Stabbing in the Senate. Quite frankly, I adored the alliterative title and so did everyone else who heard about it. So I had to say “thanks, but no thanks!”


About the Author

Colleen Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked in the United States Senate and for the Congressional Research Service. She’s currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress, working on great outreach initiatives such as the National Book Festival. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob Raffety and their beagle mutt, Conan.

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A new Mary-Alice mystery in the Miss Fortune world: Black Widow Valley

Young men have been disappearing in Black Valley, New York–which now has the misfortune of being known as “Black Widow Valley.” As it happens, Mary-Alice Arceneaux has a personal connection with the tiny community, and is called in to help. Mary-Alice is thrilled to be a part of the investigation–but by the time she arrives at the forbidding Kilmer House where she will spend the night, she realizes she may be in over her head. Fortunately (?), Sinful’s Sheriff Robert E. Lee is on the case too!

This modern retelling of Lost Man’s Lane takes the action from the sultry bayous of Southwest Louisiana to the rustic hamlets of upstate New York State.

 

The Miss Fortune series has been described as Miss Congeniality meets Golden Girls, a lighthearted fish-out-of -water adventure with a dash of romance in Louisiana bayou country.

Black Widow Valley is an authorized Kindle Worlds novella written in Jana DeLeon’s Miss Fortune world.

$1.99 on Kindle


The Mary-Alice Files  

We first meet Mary-Alice Arceneaux in SCHOOLED, where she plays a supporting role. In MARY-ALICE MOVES IN, our heroine relocates to Sinful and takes center stage. In BAYOU BUSYBODY, Mary-Alice uses her expert knowledge (derived entirely from her mystery reading) to deal with a strange missing-person case while Ida Belle and Gertie are out of town. In THE VANISHING VICTIM, Mary-Alice is eager to join Gertie and Fortune to do whatever it takes to save Ida Belle from a terrible injustice. ALOHA Y’ALL takes the action from the bayous to the Big Island. BLACK WIDOW VALLEY gives Sheriff Robert E. Lee a turn in the spotlight, and brings Mary-Alice way up to New York State.


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Aloha, Y’all: Miss Fortune Goes to Hawaii

CIA operative Fortune Redding crossed a ruthless arms dealer. Now she’s hiding out in remote Sinful, Louisiana, with a fake identity, fake hair, and a real price on her head. Now Ahmad’s men are getting close, and she has less than 24 hours to make it to the safe house in Hawaii. They’ll be looking for a woman traveling alone, so Fortune needs a companion. A respectable, low-profile, non-trigger-happy companion. Which rules out Gertie and Ida Belle. But there’s one person who might fit the bill…

Mary-Alice Arceneaux just got a big surprise for her 70th birthday–a trip to Hawaii, courtesy of young Fortune Morrow. But with bounty hunters on their trail, and family secrets lurking in the unlikeliest of places, the southernmost state has a few more surprises in store.

ALOHA, Y’ALL comes with ten authentic recipes including loco moco, Spam fried rice, and St. Charles Hotel Chicken Gumbo (original 1920 recipe).

The Miss Fortune series has been described as Miss Congeniality meets Golden Girls, a lighthearted fish out of water adventure with a dash of romance in Louisiana bayou country. Many thanks to Jana DeLeon for letting us write in her Sinful world!

 

$1.99 on Kindle


The Mary-Alice Files  

We first meet Mary-Alice Arceneaux in SCHOOLED, where she plays a supporting role. In MARY-ALICE MOVES IN, our heroine relocates to Sinful and takes center stage. In BAYOU BUSYBODY, Mary-Alice uses her expert knowledge (derived entirely from her mystery reading) to deal with a strange missing-person case while Ida Belle and Gertie are out of town. In THE VANISHING VICTIM, Mary-Alice is eager to join Gertie and Fortune to do whatever it takes to save Ida Belle from a terrible injustice. Now ALOHA Y’ALL takes the action from the bayous to the Big Island.


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A New Miss Fortune Mystery Novella: The Vanishing Victim

Sinful’s newest resident, Mary-Alice Arceneaux, is starting to catch on to the fact that the Sinful Ladies’ Society does more than brew 100-proof cough syrup to sell at the church bazaar.

When her new friend Ida Belle gets into serious trouble, Mary-Alice wants to help the Sinful Ladies in their quest for justice. But this means that the unflappable Mary-Alice will have to endure a visit to the Swamp Bar (where decent ladies don’t go) and battle her vindictive cousin, Mayor Celia Arceneaux. Will Mary-Alice’s gentle temper and unshakable faith in human nature endure?

The Miss Fortune series has been described as Miss Congeniality meets Golden Girls, a lighthearted fish out of water adventure with a dash of romance in Louisiana bayou country.

$1.99 on Kindle


The Mary-Alice Files  

We first meet Mary-Alice Arceneaux in SCHOOLED, where she plays a supporting role. In MARY-ALICE MOVES IN, our heroine relocates to Sinful and takes center stage. In BAYOU BUSYBODY, Mary-Alice uses her expert knowledge (derived entirely from her mystery reading) to deal with a strange missing-person case while Ida Belle and Gertie are out of town. In THE VANISHING VICTIM, Mary-Alice is eager to join Gertie and Fortune to do whatever it takes to save Ida Belle from a terrible injustice.


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