by Colleen J. Shogan
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
During a government shutdown, Kit’s congresswoman boss is found standing over the dead body of a top staffer she tangled with in front of the press. The police are about to name her as the prime suspect. The weapon was the Speaker’s gavel, an item entrusted to the congresswoman the previous night. The killer knows Kit is on the case. Can she solve the mystery in time to save her job and her life?
Smartphones are great time wasters. I fiddled with various apps as I waited. The next level of “Angry Birds” was within my grasp when I heard footsteps and voices across the hallway. I got up and stood in the doorway to greet my boss.
From the look on her face, she was not pleased. She charged like a linebacker to the exit of the Speaker’s lair with Jack Drysdale on her heels.
“Stop, Congresswoman Dixon. You’re not listening to reason!” From behind, Drysdale placed his hand on Maeve’s left shoulder in an attempt to prevent her from leaving the suite.
Maeve had impressive reflexes. She turned her body toward him and grabbed his wrist with her right hand. “Don’t touch me! Is this how the Speaker’s staff treat members of the House?” Her voice was loud and filled with vitriol.
The gaggle of reporters who had been relaxing inside the anteroom trailed behind me. This was better than a boring pen and pad session. One of them murmured, “I think that’s Dixon from North Carolina.”
This was not a good development, but Maeve didn’t know that the press had a front row seat to her implosion.
Maeve clutched Drysdale’s wrist for several seconds until she let it go. Apparently her physical assault didn’t intimidate him. He ran ahead and stopped directly in front of her.
Stretching his arms out wide to slow her down, Jack made his last stand. “I apologize. I shouldn’t have done that. Please come back in the office so we can sort this out. You’re a valuable part of this caucus and the Speaker wants to work with you on this deal.”
Maeve shook her head. “You guys in House leadership are typical politicians. You can’t take no for an answer. I’m not ready to make a decision. Now get out of my way.”
Unmoving, Drysdale locked eyes with Maeve. She didn’t look away and squared her shoulders. I could almost feel the tension around me as the reporters anxiously waited for the outcome. What was Maeve going to do? Knee him in the groin if he didn’t back down?
After a moment that seemed like an eternity, Drysdale gave in and stepped aside. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and hurried into the hallway to catch up with her. As we exited the corridor, I glanced back to the doorway where I’d been standing. Every reporter was on his or her phone, ostensibly calling in the most salacious story of the shutdown thus far. A junior member of Congress and the Speaker’s top aide had nearly come to blows in the Capitol. A high school reporter could make that story fly.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. She writes the Washington Whodunit series published by Camel Press. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. She is currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress. Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan.
Where are you from?
I grew up about in a suburb east of Pittsburgh. I still have family in Pittsburgh and travel there several times a year to visit. The city has made a real comeback. It’s definitely a sports town, but there’s also a pretty vibrant scene for writers and artists.
These days, I live in Arlington, VA, which is right outside of Washington, D.C. I’ve lived there for about fourteen years now. In my opinion, it’s the best place to live in the greater D.C. area. It has terrific restaurants, shops, and a nice sense of community. Plus we only live about four miles from the city.
Tell us your latest news?
Homicide in the House was just released on June 15. It’s the second book in the Washington Whodunit series published by Camel Press. The books feature an amateur sleuth protagonist who works on Capitol Hill. I was really pleased that the first book in the series, Stabbing in the Senate, won the Next Generation Indie prize for “Best Mystery” in 2016. That was unexpected and a big thrill.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’m a political scientist by training and have written a fair amount of nonfiction, including a book on presidential leadership. I started writing fiction after I conceived of the plot of Stabbing in the Senate one morning when I went for a walk in my neighborhood. I hadn’t been thinking about writing a novel. It simply was one of those occasions when my mind drifted and I came up with a pretty good story. I wrote it down when I came home from my walk and then started writing it a few weeks later. I haven’t stopped since that day!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Even when I published my first novel, I wasn’t fully convinced I was a mystery writer. That’s sort of bizarre. I’m staring at a book I’d written, yet the reality of it didn’t really sink in. However, when people started actually reading the book, posting reviews of it, and enjoying it, I considered myself a fiction writer.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Before my current job at the Library of Congress, I worked in the United States Senate as a policy staffer. That time gave me a lot of material for Stabbing in the Senate and Homicide in the House. Of course, the characters and the murders are completely fictional! But I try to include details in my books that help the reader understand what it’s like to work in Washington, D.C. these days.
What would you like my readers to know?
The main character, Kit Marshall, works in Congress and consequently, politics is in the background as the story unfolds. But these aren’t political thrillers or books primarily about politics. I certainly don’t promote particular political beliefs in the books. Instead, they’re traditional or “cozy” mysteries set in our nation’s capital. If you want a good beach read this summer, my books fit the bill.
Colleen J. Shogan will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.