Series: Rebecca Schwartz Mysteries #1
Release Date: August 2nd 2012 (first published January 1st 1990)
My Rating: 5 cups
Source:copy received in exchange for my honest review
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Rebecca Schwartz, nice Jewish lawyer with a few too many fantasies, is happily playing the piano in a whorehouse when she suddenly finds herself assigned to make sure a near-naked state senator escapes a police raid. That dirty job done, a lovely evening turns even more delightful when she’s picked up by the cops and spends the next two hours at the Hall of Justice. Could this day get any worse? Of Course! Guess who arrives home to find a dead hooker on her living room floor?
Handsome Parker Phillips, Rebecca’s new beau and the most attractive man she’s met in ages, is arrested for the murder. (Worse, she suspects he might actually have done it.)
On the plus side, another very attractive man is following the case--reporter Rob Burns of the San Francisco Chronicle, a possible ally. And there are other possibilities.
Fans of Janet Evanovich, Joan Hess, and Elizabeth Peters will get a kick out of this one.>
DEATH TURNS A TRICK was my first book and it sure wasn't going to be autobiographical. Uh-uh, that was for amateurs. And show-offs. Here’s how I was going to work it—I was a tall, thin reporter, so Rebecca Schwartz, my protagonist, would be a short, slightly curvy lawyer; I was a redhead, she’d be a brunette; I was Scottish by heritage, so she could be Jewish; and she could have a lovely family that she completely got along with.
And, boy, was she not going to have my personality. I’m pretty much of an outlaw by nature, so she’d have to be as solid a citizen as they made.
Well, it was a nice idea! Or maybe just ill-conceived. Did I name this blog Song of the Good Girl Halo-Polishing Detective? I did not. Who’d read THAT? Nobody likes good girls. We think we do, but, really, we all want to tap into what the Jungians call our Shadow, the hidden part, the part we know might come out if we relaxed our guard for an instant. Like if we drank too many margaritas and went home with the bartender. Or stood up to our pushy mom and didn't bring the kids to dinner every Sunday. Ohhhhh. Scary. We know she’s there! And whatever we do, she mustn't get control or….help! Little bartender babies! A permanent fight with the rents!
That’s why writing a detective series is so restful to most people—they just base their character on themselves, so it’s nice and easy to identify, and then give her a smart mouth and a gun so she can rock out. Woo-hoo! Suddenly, they’re in daily communication with the fun, fearless person they know is lurking within themselves. At least that’s what I imagined, once deep in Rebecca’s psyche. Because no way I made it easy on myself (see above). I was now stuck with a Good Girl lawyer detective who didn't know a thing about the law, ‘cause I didn't—hardly a recipe for a walk on the wild side. Okay, the lawyer thing was solvable—I had plenty of lawyer friends. But what about Goody Two Shoes Schwartz over there?
Well, an interesting thing happened. I guess in the end we all write from our Shadow, because next thing you know, Rebecca sure developed one—she wanted to be a good girl, like I did once upon a time (say at about age seven), or thought she did, but somehow, no matter how she tried, she just couldn't manage it. She kept doing all the things she wasn't supposed to do—both in her lawyer—aka professional—persona, and in her detective—aka problem-solving one. And that gave her that thing they tell you your characters are supposed to have in writing class—inner conflict! Who knew?
All of which adds up to the realization that the writing process is endlessly fascinating, a thousand per cent unpredictable, and very much its own uncontrollable system—much like the Rum Tum Tugger, it “do do what it will do and there’s no doing anything about it”. It’s a journey leading who-knows-where. Always an adventure!
Oh, yes, and, for the aspiring writer, it also adds up to a bit of advice. By all means learn from my mistakes and base your character on yourself! Think how much easier my life would have been if Rebecca had been a journalist instead of a lawyer. Still, if she’d been a rough and tumble action hero instead of a frustrated people-pleaser, I don’t think the book would have been nearly so funny. So I guess it worked out--I just did it the hard way.
New Orleans author Julie smith is a former journalist and the author of some 20 mysteries, including two series set in San Francisco and two in New Orleans. Her 1990 mystery, NEW ORLEANS MOURNING, won the Edgar Awaed for Best Novel. DEATH TURN A TRICK is the first book in the Rebecca Schwartz series.
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