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Friday, October 12, 2012


Kathleen Kaska, today's guest, writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series set in the 1950's when women were caught between the dichotomy of career and marriage, fashion exploded with a never-before-seen flair, and movies and music had the country dancing with gusto. Her first mystery, Murder at the Arlington, won the 2008 Salvo Press Manuscript Contest. This book, along with her second mystery, Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Murder at the Galvez will be released later this year. Before bringing Sydney into the world of murder and mayhem, Kathleen published three mystery-trivia books, The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book, The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book. To learn more about Kathleen, visit her at her website

Kathleen is offering a copy of Murder at the Luther to one of our readers who posts a comment. Be sure to check back on Sunday to learn who the lucky winner is. -- AP

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What’s So Funny?

When my three sisters and I first began texting, I thought LOL meant “lots of love.” Thinking I was expressing sisterly affection after such missives as “sorry to hear you’ve been ill,” or “sorry you had a bad day,” I concluded with LOL. They weren’t annoyed, they merely assumed it was the result of my quirky sense of humor in attempting to cheer them up. Good thing my novice thumb-wiggling was limited to family members.

I guess that quirky sense of humor also found its way into my Sydney Lockhart mystery series. Not text-lingo, of course, since this series is set in the 1950's; but snippets of actual conservations, anecdotal occurrences, and humorous miscommunications were used in the banter that takes place between my two main characters, Sydney and her zany, somewhat ditzy, filthy rich cousin Ruth Echland. That humor not only establishes the relationship of these two women, it lets readers get to know them intimately and adds to the story’s pacing. Ruth’s dumb-blonde comments are often delivered when Sydney is least expecting them or during a tense moment, causing Sydney to bang her head against a wall.

In the second book of the series, Murder at the Luther, Sydney is arrested for a murder she didn’t commit. She’s sitting in jail worried about what will happen to her poodle and ornery cat. While she’s still behind bars, Ruth shows up unexpectedly. Thereafter:

“Sydney Jean Lockhart!” [Ruth announces.]

I toppled off my cot and landed on the cold, filthy floor. The plates that had once held my lunch shattered. I sat for a moment, hoping I was still in the nightmare. I pushed my hair from my face and looked up. Yes indeed, I was still having a nightmare. It was four-feet eleven, wearing a red dress with a pleated-skirt and matching jacket trimmed in brown fur. Brown fur gloves covered her hands and a pillbox hat, also made of fur, sat on her head. The ermine look-alike was my cousin Ruth. She was standing at the door, hands on her hips; her size-five foot tapping rapidly on the cement floor.I looked down at her stylish footwear. “Ferragamo?” I asked.

“No, silly. AndrĂ© Perugia. No one can make a stiletto like Perugia.  My life is falling apart. Why didn’t you call me?”

I was grateful for her concern.

“Mother and I left several messages at the hotel. So, you’re too good for your family! Open this door right now!”

“They lock the doors around here, Ruth. It’s sort of a custom.”
In one of Sydney’s most desperate moments, afraid she might spend the rest of her life in jail, Ruth waltzes in with her own set of petty troubles. So, you get the idea.

And on those occasions when Ruth tries to help Sydney out of her disasters, it’s usually by doling out self-help material. In Murder at the Galvez, Ruth presents Sydney with How to Win Friends and Influence People, claiming it must be good since it was written by a man named Carnegie who invented libraries. In Murder at the Luther, it was Ten Tricks to Catch a Man, since Ruth believed Sydney’s finding a husband could easily alleviate her crankiness. And in Murder at the Driskill (still in the making), Ruth resorts to a magazine’s sensitivity survey, giving herself a score of 9 out of 10 and Sydney a 1.

But Sydney often gets the last laugh as when Ruth, either dripped in jewels and dressed in her most expensive duds, ends up kidnapped and facedown in a pig’s mud-wallow or is forced to wear a Betty Crocker disguise during an investigation.

And if Sydney were texting Ruth, the abbreviation would be JOY (joke’s on you).

Murder at the Luther buy link

Murder at the Arlington buy link

Thanks for joining us today, Kathleen. Readers, if you'd like a chance to win a copy of Murder at the Luther, post a comment. And don't forget to check back on Sunday to see if you've won. Unless you have a contact email in your Google profile, I have no way of getting in touch with you. You need to email me if you're the winner. -- AP


Kathleen Kaska said...

Thanks for hosting me today on Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers. I'd love to hear what folks have to say about why they enjoy humorous mysteries.

petite said...

I enjoyed learning about your books and the wonderful characters. Ruth sounds incredible. My sister is Ruth and she is 4'11". I love the era and the descriptions which are so vivid as well as the dialogue. Humorous mysteries add an additional quality.

traveler said...

I love this series set in the 1950's which was when Men were Men and I grew up then. What an exceptional time to experience normalcy. Thanks for this great intro to Ruth and the books. What a sense of humor and great quips.

Kathleen Kaska said...

Thanks for your kind words, Petite and traveler. I have a blast with Ruth. I never know what will come out of her mouth.

Nancy Lauzon said...

Hey Kathleen! I find laughter a great stress release, and there's so many dark, depressing novels out there, it's nice to be able to smile. I love to read books that entertain, which is probably why I write humorous mysteries!

Lesley Diehl said...

Hi Kathleen,

I liked hearing about the humor in your work. Your protagonist is my kind of gal. It sounds as if you've also created a funny and warm relationship between the two women. I've said it before, you are a multitalented writer, the mystery series and your nonfiction books. It's always great to read about you.

Diane Schultz said...

Love Murder at the Arlington and your characters. They are a good match for each other and makes me wish each one were my best friend, too.


Brenda W. tried to post a comment and had problems with Blogger. So I'm posting the following for her:

Sounds like these are interesting books!!! I love the Arlington and will look forward to trying this series.-- Brenda W.

Kathleen Kaska said...

Nancy, Lesley, Diane, and Brenda,
Just got back from an Internet dead zone. Thanks to all of you for stopping by and leaving such encouraging comments.
I agree, Nancy, it's so relaxing to pick up a lighthearted novel, not that I don't read the serious stuff from time to time.
Our protagonists have a lot in common, Lesley. We have to work hard to keep them out of trouble.
Ruth and Sydney would never admit it, Diane, but they are more alike than they realize.
Brenda, Hot Springs is like a second home for me and I never get tired of staying at the historic Arlington. I'm past due for a visit.

Anonymous said...

Any story is enhanced by a little humor.

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jenny milchman said...

LOL--*doesn't* it mean lots of love??

Your writing is great, Kathleen, so easy and fluid. I love the line about doors tending to be locked in prison.

Kathleen Kaska said...

"LOL" will always means lots of love to me, Jenny.