by Julie, packing her bags in Somerville
I’m delighted to welcome Vicki Delany to the blog today! She is the author of multiple books, and is here to tell us about her new series, A Catskill Summer Resort Mystery Book. Welcome Vicki!
Back in Time
By Vicki Delany
It’s 1953. Think girdles and stockings, fancy cocktails, grand ballrooms, cigarette smoke (and more cigarette smoke), angel food cake and Cheeze Whiz on celery, Reds under the beds and slow moving fans.
It’s the Catskills. Comedians and big bands and glamorous singers. Paddle boats and bellhops, tomato cocktails and Jello-salads, swimsuit competitions and dance instructors.
Put them together and you have my new series, the Catskills Resort Mysteries. Out front: swimming pool, beach, lounge chairs, tennis games ,cards on the veranda, a full dining room. Behind the scenes: offices full of women pounding typewriters and answering phones, harried switchboard operators, non-stop smoking. Hundreds of employees from gardeners to bellhops to chambermaids to entertainment directors, lifeguards, and dance instructors.
And at the center of it all, Elizabeth Grady, war-widow, bookkeeper, reluctant resort manager. Her mother, Olivia Peters, retired Broadway dance star and unexpectedly the owner of a Catskills resort.
Elizabeth doesn’t want to manage a huge resort and her relationship with her mother, the Broadway star, has never been easy, but when Olivia’s third husband cheats her out of all her money, and then she inherits Haggerman’s from an admirer, she asks (begs) Elizabeth to help her. So here Elizabeth is, spending most of her summer in a stuffy office trying to keep the resort afloat and profitable. If a murder and rumours of communist infiltration don’t shut them down for good
It’s been a lot of fun putting this series together. Researching the food, the clothes, the slang, the cars, the habits of resort staff and guests. Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of material to work with. People who worked in the Catskills in its hey day, and those who stayed at the famous hotels (and not-so-famous) have fond memories of heir time. Unlike the authors of most historical books, I’ve had tons of film material to see – movies made in the era. I watched hours of Fred Astaire dance routines and big band performances to determine what sort of entertainment would have gone on in the ballroom in the evening. Movies also showed me the clothes and the hairstyles of the era.
I hope you’ll take a trip back in time with me and pay a visit to Haggerman’s Catskills Resort. Put on your best dress and your dancing shoes. Order a Manhattan from the bar, light up a cigarette, and grab a devilled egg or celery stick (complete with Cheeze Whiz) from the buffet.
Deadly Summer Nights by Vicki Delany, releases on September 7, from Berkley.
About the book:
A summer of fun at a Catskills resort comes to an abrupt end when a guest is found murdered, in this new 1950s set mystery series.
It’s the summer of 1953, and Elizabeth Grady is settling into Haggerman’s Catskills Resort. As a vacation getaway, Haggerman’s is ideal, and although Elizabeth’s ostentatious but well-meaning mother is new to running the resort, Elizabeth is eager to help her organize the guests and the entertainment acts. But Elizabeth will have to resort to untested abilities if she wants to save her mother’s business.
When a reclusive guest is found dead in a lake on the grounds, and a copy of The Communist Manifesto is found in his cabin, the local police chief is convinced that the man was a Russian spy. But Elizabeth isn’t so sure, and with the fate of the resort hanging in the balance, she’ll need to dodge red herrings, withstand the Red Scare, and catch a killer red-handed.
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than forty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea by the Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series for Crooked Lane Books, the Catskill Resort mysteries for Penguin Random House, and the Lighthouse Library series (as Eva Gates) for Crooked Lane. Vicki is the recipient of the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.