Welcome to my stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for The Drop-Dead Temple of Doom (The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries) by Heather Haven. Stop by each blog on the tour for interviews, guest posts, spotlights, reviews and more!
A MOUTHFUL OF POISON FROG….
WHERE’S THE LAW OF THE JUNGLE?
The Drop-Dead Temple of Doom (The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries)
by Heather Haven
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The Drop-Dead Temple of Doom (The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries)
8th in Series
Setting – Ancient Mayan ruins, El Mirador, Guatemala
Publisher – The Wives of Bath Press (September 15, 2021)
Number of Pages – 332
Ace detective Lee Alvarez is perfectly cozy at home with her cats when she and her former Navy SEAL husband receive a panicky call from JJ, an archaeologist cousin, who’s on assignment deep in the Guatemalan jungle. The news? JJ is pregnant– and the father of her child has gone missing in the wilderness. The site director won’t let JJ call the police, so she asks Lee to travel to the jungle and track down her missing man.
Begging for help from Lee Alvarez sure makes sense–Lee’s family runs Discretionary Inquiries, a ritzy Silicon Valley P.I. firm. Lee is the star detective, her Uncle Tio’s on staff as the genius chef, and Lee’s brother, Richard, is a whiz at all things technology. Not to mention the presence of Lee’s very high class, upscale, and frankly scary mother Lila. Who–by the way—steamrolls her way onto Lee’s jungle trip.
A beleaguered Lee, the judgmental and prissy Lila, and Lee’s gorgeous SEAL husband (turned partner-in-crime) depart on the adventure of a lifetime, perfect for cozy mystery armchair travelers. And, once in the jungle, the already-gripping story takes a grisly turn: the three investigators have barely arrived in the lush, verdant wilderness when they discover a dead man–the assistant to JJ’s missing husband–dressed in traditional Mayan warrior garb with a poisonous frog crammed in his mouth.
And that’s just for starters: author Haven concocts a wild ride through the jungle that’s simultaneously fun, potentially fatal, and always entertaining.
Fans of cozy authors like CeeCee James, Hope Callaghan, and of course Janet Evanovich, will discover a new favorite series! Lee’s gang will also appeal to lovers of female PIs, especially those with lots of colorful friends and relatives, like Linda Barnes’ Carlotta Carlyle and Lisa Lutz’s Izzy Spellman. A near certainty: If you like THE SPELLMAN FILES, you’ll love the Alvarez family!
Interview with The Drop-Dead Temple of Doom Author Heather Haven
Tell us a little about yourself.
I love the written word. It just fascinates me. There’s nothing I admire more than someone who writes beautiful imagery that stirs the heart. Remember Don McLean’s Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)? The lyrics are absolutely gorgeous. Add that beautiful, haunting music and you have something memorable. If Vincent Van Gogh looks down from time to time, I believe he knows he did something right to evoke such a wondrous piece of work.
As for me, I started my career in New York City back in the Stone Age. I wrote ad copy, comedy acts, and had several plays performed there. I even ghost-wrote a book once, but never thought of writing my own novel until my husband and I moved from New York to California. Then there was no stopping me. Besides the Silicon Valley-based Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, there is the Manhattan-based Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, Love Can Be Murder Mysteries, Snow Lake Romantic Suspense, and standalone, Murder under the Big Top, inspired by my mom’s stint as a performer with Ringling Brothers’ Circus. Just to break up the monotony, my short stories are featured in an anthology, Corliss and Other Award-Winning Stories.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing when I was eleven. I would listen to melodies on the radio and if they had no lyrics, I would make up words to go with them. My mother saved them all. I reread some of them decades later. They weren’t too bad. But I was no Don McLean!
Did you always want to be an author? What made you choose the cozy mystery genre?
At the tender age of nine I read Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock. I was smitten. Several years later I read Agatha Christie, the queen of the mystery, the plot maker, the one who made crime writing all warm and fuzzy, and there was no turning back. As for choosing to write (and read, mostly) cozies, while I am a big believer that sex is here to stay, I don’t particularly want to read the detailed actions of the participants while I’m trying to solve a mystery. I’m from the ‘fade to the ceiling’ school of thought. I also don’t want to read a lot of gory details about the murder itself, and I don’t want to read curse words that are taking the place of what should be descriptive writing. While I can cuss with the best of sailors when I stub my toe, I don’t want to inflict that on others, so you will rarely find them in my books.
Do you prefer to read cozy mystery books, or do you have another favorite genre? What are you reading now?
I am a big cozy fan but often read humorous books, as well. My favorite author of those is P.G. Wodehouse. I have almost every book he’s written. No matter how many times I read Right Ho, Jeeves!, it makes me laugh. He’s most famous for the Jeeves and Bertie Wooster collection of short stories and books but he was a prolific writer of screenplays, plays, novels, short stories, pretty much anything. He was a fine, fine writer, even though politically, he was wanting. I also love Erma Bombeck and Jean Kerr.
Do you have a favorite place to write?
When I am home, I write at my desk just off the kitchen. When we cruise, I love to write on the balcony staring out at the ocean. I haven’t done anything like that for over a year and a half and it doesn’t look like I’ll be on any ship’s balcony for a while. But maybe if we get this Covid thing under control, who knows?
What’s on your desk (if you write at one!)?
Too much! To my right, there’s a stack of papers with all the revisions for The Drop-Dead Temple of Doom. It’s about a foot high. To my left is a small box with stuff that needs to be gone through and put away. I am surrounded by mugs filled with pen, pencils, and reading glasses, not to mention (but I will) a box of Kleenex and a large bottle of moisturizer. My actually writing takes place in about a two foot square space.
What is the first book you remember reading as a child? What was one of your favorite books you read as a child?
Uncle Remus! I remember finding a large book with cartoons of the stories in someone’s attic when I was about five. They gave me the book and I read it over and over until the book literally fell apart. I understand there is some controversy about these books now. As for me, however, being a literal kind of kid, I thought it was really about a fox, a rabbit, and a bear, all being silly. I never tied them into living people. Also, being born and raised in the south, that’s how I more or less talked, so I related to the characters.
Do you like audiobooks, physical books, or e-books better? Why?
As I write from home and don’t do many long trips, I don’t listen to a lot of audio books, but when I do, they really take me away! When we travel, I always bring my ereader. I have over 300 books on it. I never run out of things to read! Physical books? How can they miss?? Give me any one of the three and I’m happy.
If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?
I wouldn’t mind going back to Italy, somewhere around Florence.
What or who has influenced you the most as a writer?
Well, I’ve already mentioned Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse. There’s Janet Evanovich, Carolyn Hart, Ernest Hemingway, and many, many more. I learn from every writer whose works I read. That’s what it’s all about.
Do you have any author friends who support you while you’re writing? Do you belong to any writing groups?
Yes, I am most fortunate. I have some friends I’ve been hanging around with for decades and they are amazingly supportive. As for a writing group, there are four of us who having been exchanging our work and ideas for years. I could never do any of this alone!
Finally, what are you working on now? Can you tell us a bit about it?
I’m writing the 4th book of the Persephone Cole Vintage Mystery Series, Mother’s Day Can be Murder. The series takes place in 1942 Manhattan during the beginning of the country’s entrance into WWII. The stories revolve around one of the country’s first female detectives, a full-figured gal named Persephone (Percy) Cole. She is 5’11”, strong, able, and very secure living in a man’s world. At 35 years old, which was considered middle-aged for the times, she has a mouth on her, wears Marlene Dietrich pants suits, altered for her size, and her father’s fedora hat. She is also a single mother who moves back into her parents 4th floor walk-up on the lower east side, as much for her 8-year old son’s sake as that of her parents.
From the git-go I loved Percy. I accidentally created my ideal protagonist, a woman who could go anywhere a man could go, do anything a man could do, and was smarter and sassier about it.
Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions! I really enjoyed reading your answers!
Thank you for inviting me. Much appreciated!
About Heather Haven
After studying drama at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida, Heather went to Manhattan to pursue a career. There she wrote short stories, novels, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and two one-act plays, produced at several places, such as Playwrights Horizon. Once she even ghostwrote a book on how to run an employment agency. She was unemployed at the time.
One of her first paying jobs was writing a love story for a book published by Bantam called Moments of Love. She had a deadline of one week but promptly came down with the flu. Heather wrote “The Sands of Time” with a raging temperature, and delivered some pretty hot stuff because of it. Her stint at New York City’s No Soap Radio—where she wrote comedic ad copy—help develop her longtime love affair with comedy.
She has won many awards for the humorous Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, and Corliss and Other Award Winning Stories. However, her proudest achievement is winning the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) 2014 Silver Medal for her stand-alone noir mystery, Murder Under the Big Top.
As the real-life daughter of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus folk, she was inspired by stories told throughout her childhood by her mother, a trapeze artist and performer. The book cover even has a picture of her mother sitting atop an elephant from that time. Her father trained elephants. Heather brings the daily existence of the Big Top to life during World War II, embellished by her own murderous imagination.
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The Drop-Dead Temple of Doom Tour Participants
I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT
Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST
Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
Novels Alive – GUEST POST
MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
Christy’s Cozy Corners – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
I Read What You Write – REVIEW, GUEST POST
Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT
BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT
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