Welcome to my new website and blog. I’m so excited to be launching my debut novel, An Act of Murder. It is the first book in my new mystery series being published by Camel Press (Seattle, Washington). The protagonist, Emmeline Prather, is an English professor on the small (fictional) campus of Copper Bluff. I also teach college English—but never have one of my classes proven lethal! Ask my literature students, and they will tell you the only part of class that can turn murderous is my fanatic devotion to F. Scott Fitzgerald. I have to admit I have become a bit maniacal once or twice when discussing The Great Gatsby. It is, after all, one of my favorite mysteries. As a work of literature, The Great Gatsby is not often categorized as a mystery, but it has, at its heart, a great mystery. Who is Gatsby? How did he make his money? Are the stories about him true?
Recently, I read The Love of the Last Tycoon, Fitzgerald’s final novel. For many years, I resisted reading it because it was the last book he ever wrote. I was saving it. But as I read this unfinished work, I made several comparisons between it and The Great Gatsby. Readers are introduced to a young narrator, in this case female, who possesses the same youthful devotion to the main character, Monroe Stahr, as Nick does to Gatsby. Also, there is a love triangle, and the main character here, too, is at a disadvantage. In the style of The Great Gatsby, The Love of the Last Tycoon moves away from Fitzgerald’s semi-autobiographical writing and focuses on a fictional character—though the reader can certainly make connections between the characters in the novel and Fitzgerald’s time in Hollywood (especially his love affair with Sheilah Graham). Had the novel been completed before Fitzgerald died of a heart attack, I believe it might have achieved the same acclaim as The Great Gatsby.
Although I can’t fairly recommend The Love of the Last Tycoon as a mystery, I think the novel would be a favorite among Fitzgerald fans or even fans of The Great Gatsby. If you’re looking to read a classic mystery this summer (and you’ve read The Great Gatsby more times than you’d publically admit), check out some of my other favorite mysteries: Rebecca, Crocodile on the Sandbank, and The Murder of Rodger Ackroyd.