I’m delighted to welcome Clea Simon to the blog today! Clea has a new standalone suspense novel coming out later this month, and I invited her here to talk about it.
Hold Me Down opens with Gal, who used to be a rock star, back in town for a benefit. But when she sees someone from her past in the crowd – and that someone ends up dead, she’s sucked into a mystery that will make her revisit her own past and those of all she loves. Hold Me Down, a standalone psychological suspense, is a departure for Clea Simon, the author of such cat cozies as A Spell of Murder and (most recently) A Cat on the Case. But in all her books, she believes that strong female characters are key – because who doesn’t want a heroine we can believe in?
Do certain songs bring up memories for you?
That’s one of the questions Gal Raver is facing in Hold Me Down. Back in the day – some twenty years ago – Gal was a rock star, or close enough, with a touring band and songs on the charts. She not only sang and played bass, she wrote those songs, the ones that stick in your head and immediately bring you back to a certain place and time – they just poured out of her like hot lava. When we meet her, she’s retired, off the road and living a much healthier life, and only strapped on her bass again for a benefit: her former drummer (and dear friend) Aimee has died of cancer, leaving behind a ton of bills for her husband Walter and their daughter Camille. But as Gal rejoins her old bandmates at a local theater, reviving their hits (like “Hold Me Down”), she has to face the fact that she’s not able to do it anymore. Sure, she can play those old songs. But write one? Even though she knows more about music – and certainly about the music business – than she did in her youth, the magic just eludes her.
Of course, that’s not the most urgent problem Gal has to deal with. The night after the benefit, she hears that an old colleague – someone she’d seen in the crowd – has been found dead behind the venue. What’s worse, Walter has been arrested. And for some reason, he doesn’t seem willing to defend himself. At Camille’s urging, Gal gets involved. Camille reminds her so much of her lost friend, and all the questions she’s raising – why won’t her dad fight the charges? What could have happened? – resonate with Gal. Plus, she has some odd, flickering memories of the dead man, some of the few memories she has of that crazy, boozy time.
To save Walter, Gal has to go back to those memories. Reunited with her old crew, she starts asking questions, trying to understand what could have happened – and why. Some of that may be coded into the songs she wrote back then, apparently without thinking. Some of it might be lost forever in the craziness of the rock star life. While Gal is not your typical amateur sleuth, she has a vested interest in uncovering the truth. For Walter and Camille, of course. But just maybe because the truth will help her understand just what happened in the wild time – and figure out where the music went.
While Hold Me Down isn’t a cozy, I like to think there’s some similarity between this standalone and my cat books. For one, Gal – the musician at the center of Hold Me Down – is a very strong, independent woman, just like my Becca or Dulcie or Theda. And when one of her friends is in trouble, especially when he’s accused of murder, she will do anything to defend him and uncover the truth. If that means figuring out what really happened that night, behind the theater, or years earlier, she’s up for it. And, with the music as a guide, she’d love to take you along for the ride.
Readers: Do certain songs bring you back to a place or a time? Is there one song or artist who brings up all the memories for you? Even for those of us who aren’t rock stars, music can have such meaning, touching something deep within. What songs do that for you?
A former journalist, Clea Simon is the Boston Globe-bestselling author of three nonfiction books and nearly 30 mysteries including the new psychological suspense Hold Me Down. While most of these (like A Cat on the Case) are cat “cozies” or amateur sleuth, she also writes darker crime fiction, like the rock and roll mystery World Enough, named a “must read” by the Massachusetts Book Awards. Her new psychological suspense Hold Me Down (Polis Books) returns to the music world, with themes of PTSD and recovery, as well as love in all its forms. New York Times bestseller Lisa Unger called Hold Me Down “provocative, moving, and suspenseful. Don’t miss it,” while Caroline Leavitt (also a New York Times bestseller) said “Clea Simon’s devastatingly powerful mystery hits you like a punch in the heart.” Clea can be reached at: