Ellen Mansoor Collier
Has just released Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns, book 3 in her Jazz Age Mystery Series.
During Prohibition in 1920s Galveston, the Island was called the “Free State of Galveston” due to its lax laws and laissez faire attitude toward gambling, girls and bootlegging. Young society reporter Jasmine (Jazz) Cross longs to cover hard news, but she’s stuck between two clashing cultures: the world of gossip and glamour vs. gangsters and gamblers.
After Downtown Gang leader Johnny Jack Nounes is released from jail, all hell breaks loose: Prohibition Agent James Burton’s life is threatened and he must go into hiding for his own safety. But when he’s framed for murder, he and Jazz must work together to prove his innocence. Johnny Jack blames Jasmine’s half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis speakeasy, for his arrest and forces him to work overtime in a variety of dangerous mob jobs as punishment.
When a bookie is murdered, Jazz looks for clues linking the two murders and delves deeper into the underworld of gambling: poker games, slot machines and horse-racing. Meanwhile, Jazz tries to keep both Burton and her brother safe, and alive, while they face off against a common enemy.
Please scroll down for an excerpt from the first book.
I have not yet read all three books but here is my review of books one in the series:
“Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play (A Jazz Age Mystery #1)” by Ellen Mansoor Collier “ is an elegant and hugely entertaining mystery novel set in Prohibition times and the Jazz Age of Southern Texan Galveston of 1920s.
With great style and a fantastic sense of authenticity this book pulls out all fun registers of those days.
Young newspaper employee Jasmine, Jazz, Cross, has big plans. Drawn into a murder investigation and trapped between legal and illegal alliances she is a great protagonist for the action that involves illegal boozing murder and gang war.
Gossip and romantic interests come into play as well when handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids her brother’s establishment.
This is great fun in a setting that almost never fails to entertain and that fuels our imagination and nostalgia, regardless of the crimes.
This novel utilises those trump cards, but besides all that it is well written, cleverly plotted and very enjoyable.
About the author:
Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles, essays and short stories have been published in a variety of national magazines. During college summers, she worked as a reporter (intern) for a Houston community newspaper and as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries.
A flapper at heart, she’s worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism and served on UTmost, the college magazine, and was active in WICI (Women in Communications), acting as president her senior year.
Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets, released in May 2013. Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns is the last novel in her Jazz Age Mystery series, published in May, 2014. She lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible.
Connect with Ellen:
Barnes & Noble (all books): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/ellen-mansoor-collier?store=allproducts&keyword=ellen+mansoor+collier
EXCERPT from Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play
Calm and collected, Sammy walked around the Oasis speakeasy like a kindergarten teacher soothing his students. “Keep quiet—this will all blow over soon.” ….
Suddenly a loud bang sounded, a crash, a door cracking. Heavy footsteps pounded down the stairs and three men in dark suits entered the bar, holding badges. Their pistols raised high above their heads, the trio circled the room like Wild West gunslingers. No place to hide. A stocky man shoved Dino against the wall and, for once, he didn’t fight back. Sammy must have warned him to be on his best behavior. Frank crept toward the back like a spy, trying to disappear into the woodwork.
I’d never been in a raid before, but I’d seen them on news reels. My heart banged in my chest as I braced myself for the worst.
What if we all got arrested and thrown in jail?
“Federal Agent James Burton, Treasury Department. Don’t move and no one will get hurt!” yelled the tallest of the trio. Over six feet, he wore a fancy three-piece beige suit and felt hat. I didn’t know flatfoots got paid so well.
Cool as ice, Sammy sauntered out from the kitchen, smiling at the coppers as if they were regulars.
“Welcome! How can I help you gentlemen?”
“You can tell us where you keep your booze,” Agent Burton said, scanning the room.
“Booze? You’re in the wrong place, boys. All we serve here is good food and soda pop.” Sammy wiped his hands on a dirty red apron he’d thrown on for effect. “Hungry? How about today’s special—home-made spaghetti?”
“We need a drink to quench our thirst,” said Burton. “On the rocks, since we’re on duty.”
Sammy feigned surprise—not a bad job of acting for an amateur. “How about root beer or a Coke? The only cold drinks we serve here are soda pop. We’re bone dry.”
“That’s not what we heard—Mr. Cook, is it? We hear this place is full of hooch.”
I held my breath, trying to quell a bad case of the screaming meemies. How’d he know Sammy’s name? Who mentioned any hooch? Agent Burton and his men slid between the tables, his eyes dancing back and forth, studying each customer, as if memorizing their faces.
A burly cop in glasses pointed to an older bald man cowering in his chair. “You there! What’s that poison you’re drinking?”
“It’s lemonade,” the man stammered. “I swear.”
“Looks like a cocktail to me.” The agent stuck his finger in the glass, tasted it, then threw it down. Glass splintered into tiny slivers as liquid seeped into the wood floor. The agents circled the room like hawks, glancing into the kitchen and behind the bar.
When Agent Burton opened the office door, Sammy froze.
“Say, who’s this youth?” Burton pulled Buzz out by his collar. “Is he yours? Isn’t he a bit young to be hanging out at a juice joint?”
I’d forgotten about Buzz. There were no laws against child labor, but naturally society didn’t consider it proper to employ youths in a bar, especially during Prohibition. Dropping his friendly façade, Sammy marched over to Burton, his boots crunching on broken glass, and took Buzz’s arm. “I told you it’s a diner, not a bar. Leave him alone. Who do you think you are?”
“Like I said, name’s Burton. James Burton,” he said, as if talking to a dim-witted sot. “I’m the new head of Galveston’s Prohibition enforcement office.” He held up his badge like a shiny trophy.
The two men were polar opposites: With his tanned skin and thick honey-blond hair, Burton resembled a Golden Retriever ready to attack a Doberman. No contest, if you ask me.
“You’re wasting your time here. No need to harass my help or my customers.”
“Seems your customers like to play rough.” Burton tapped his own cheekbone, indicating Sammy’s black eye.
I nudged Nathan under the table, impressed by Sammy’s bravado. But maybe this wasn’t the best time to question authority. His big mouth could earn him a fat lip.
“What’s going on?” I whispered to Nathan. My throat was so dry, I could barely speak.
“Who knows? Never been invited to a raid before.”
Burton must have heard us because he strode over to our table, and draped an arm over my chair. “Evening, ma’am. What’s a classy dish like you doing in this crummy gin mill?”
“Get your hands off me!” I gulped, shrugging off his arm.
He backed away, as surprised as I was by my response. Up close, I noticed how young he was, late twenties, face smooth and tanned.
Nathan stood up, a full head shorter than Burton. “Back off, buster. Leave my date alone.”
Obviously Burton’s gun and badge failed to impress Nathan. What he lacked in stature, he made up for with attitude. An attitude that could land us both in jail.
“Your date?” He raised his brows. “Lucky guy.” Then he took a sip from my teacup, and spit it out.
“If you’d asked me politely, I could’ve told you it was Coca-Cola.” Watch it, Jazz. In school, I’d often gotten in trouble for talking back to my teachers, but they hadn’t carried a badge or a gun.
“Excuse my manners, miss. I can’t resist a pretty face and a smart mouth.” Why all the fuss—over me? I hate to admit, I felt a bit flattered, but I didn’t want this kind of attention.