Lee Carruthers from Marilynn Larew’s Leee Carruthers Series sits down with us for an interview today.
What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
I was a recent graduate of Yale’s masters program in Islamic studies and inhabiting a cozy cubicle at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, following money laundering and terrorist funding in North Africa when my life imploded. I learned that my father (also a CIA officer) was maintaining a second family in Falls Church, Virginia. This nearly destroyed me. I adored my father. I couldn’t believe he’d betray me like that. Everybody at the Agency knew I was his daughter. I just couldn’t go to work and see them stop talking when I walked past the water cooler. Sidney Worthington (a.k.a. Marilynn Larew) rescued me and posted me to Beirut to continue my money hacking. It was there that he/she sent me on the first mission not covered in my job description. I had to acquire a whole different skill set just to stay alive.
What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I like my self-reliance and unflappability best. They stand me in good stead when I’m doing a “little job” for Sidney
What do you like least about yourself?
Least? My smart mouth. It’s going to get me killed one day.
What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
In Hong Kong Central she had me escape from a walled village in Hong Kong’s New Territories by poking roof tiles out and hoisting myself up into the rafters. I then climbed down the side of the wall using a rope made of torn up curtains and dropped to the ground, just missing a truck in the parking lot. If I’d hit it, I would’ve broken my back. I always say it’s better to be born lucky than smart.
Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
All the time, mostly about the crazy thing she wants me to do. In The Spider Catchers, she had me steal an SUV and escape from a terrorist camp. In Dead in Dubai, she nailed me in a wooden box and put me on a ship bound for Karachi. She knows how I hate small spaces.
What is your greatest fear?
I fear two things: small spaces and heights. She knows that, but she keeps putting me in places like that any way.
What makes you happy?
Safety. I like a nice quiet night at home, possibly reading something on my Kindle. The little jobs I do for her/Sidney are going to get me killed one day.
If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
If I could rewrite anything, I’d rewrite my father’s story I adored him. I thought he was the greatest man on earth. To find that he had another family and a daughter with big blue eyes and curly blonde hair broke my heart. It also left me with serious trust issues. I have a great deal of difficulty trusting men, which has seriously messed up my love life. I also don’t much like cute little blondes.
Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
Two of the characters in my books bug me, for different reasons. In The Spider Catchers, Alicia should never have been sent into the field. She was too inexperienced and too naïve. She managed to fall in love with a human trafficker and wind up in a terrorist camp, and I had to go after her.
The second person bugs me on a really personal level. In Hong Kong Central, Secret Service Special Agent Jennifer Evans is a beautiful blonde with a perfect figure. She is the partner of Jim Sanders, a man I grew to love in Paris. She broke us up. When we all met up again in Hong Kong, she tried to keep us apart, a thing Jim said would never happen again, but she did her best. Blondes give me a pain in the first place, and her constant interference made life difficult for both of us.
Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
Besides me, there are only two continuing characters in the series – Mike Donovan, Sidney’s chief researcher, and Sidney Worthington himself. Mike has to stay in place. He does all the research heavy lifting for me when I’m in the field. Sidney? Yes, I’d love to trade places with Sidney for a while. I’d love to be the caller rather than callee. I’d call him in the middle of the night and tell him to pack up and leave in the morning. Then I’d send him to Aden or the Central African Republic and see how he likes dodging bullets.
Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
Marilynn is a historian, retired from the University of Maryland System, where she taught US frontier history, the history of the Vietnamese war, Vietnamese military history, and the history of terrorism. You can see she likes vicarious violence. She knows her terrorists though. She told me while we were working on The Spider Catchers that whenever she thought of something rotten for the terrorists to do, before the week was out they actually did it. She said it made her feel really creepy. She also studied money and banking. Her dissertation was on the Cincinnati bank that started the Panic of 1819. I think her most unusual publication is about Vietnamese military history in 300 BC. She lives with her husband Karl, who is also a novelist, in a 200-year-old brick farmhouse on the Mason-Dixon line in Pennsylvania.
Her website is www.arilynnlarew.com. There you will find introductions to all of my adventures and a short story about me and an atomic bomb, which is free if you sign up for her newsletter. You’ll also find an introduction to the adventures of a colleague of mine, Baltimore PI Anne Carter. I think you’ll like it.
What's next for you?
I’m not sure. I left the CIA without much thought of what I would do next. I just knew I was tired of the never-ending job of putting money launderers out of business only to see them back in under a month.
I have to go somewhere though. The apartment I lived in in Paris belongs to the Agency. She wants me to go to Boston. I ask you. Boston in the winter? I have a friend who has an IT business near Boston. He’s been after me to come and work with him for a long time, and she wants me to do that, but I’m not sure that information technology is what I want to do. I might have been saved by the bell. Sidney called me last night with a little job he wants me to do in Hanoi.
Hong Kong Central
Despite the fact that she quit the CIA, Lee Carruthers is in Hong Kong doing a little job for Sidney Worthington. He thinks something is wrong at Wong’s Antiques. Lee finds Henry Wong—just as he’s being kidnapped by the Chau Fong Triad. What does a Triad want with an antiquities dealer? That’s one of many questions, as Lee reunites with an old lover, is caught in the middle of burgeoning democracy demonstrations, and uncovers secrets that may once again upend her life.