A Wicked Welcome to Kimberly G. Giarratano **giveaway**

by Julie, making seasonal adjustments in Somerville

I am delighted to welcome Kimberly G. Giarratano to the blog. I’ve heard about her new book, which will be released in February, and asked her to come on the blog and give you all a sneak peak.

Greetings, wicked readers! My name is Kim, and I coming at you from a rainy Poconos day. Frankly, we’re in a drought, so I’m happy to see the precipitation. My grass is brown; my trees are stressed; and the deer look parched. I swear one of them was eyeing up my sweat the other day.

Rain aside, I am feeling sunny because I’m here to discuss my debut adult mystery, Death of a Dancing Queen (Datura Books, Feb 14), or as I lovingly refer to it — my East Coast, Jewish Veronica Mars fanfiction.

Like most fans, when Veronica Mars went off the air, I was at a loss because there was nothing out there to take its place (and this was before streaming services like Acorn or Britbox where I could watch enough British crime dramas to last three lifetimes). And so to mostly entertain myself, I decided to write my own private eye story starring a snarky, young heroine who solves bonkers crimes. But to really make it mine, the protagonist had to be formed in my own image — a Jewish girl from New Jersey, birthed in New York City, but raised in its suburbs. Hence, Billie Levine was born.

Although I grew up in Monmouth County — home to sprawling subdivisions and shopping centers — I wanted Billie’s environment to be a little more constricting. No half-acre lots built on old farmland, but rather postage-size backyards and neighbors within shouting distance. Towns, all with their own police department, libraries, mayors, and exorbitant property taxes stacked one on top of another, living within Manhattan’s shadow.

Billie would be from Bergen County. I spent a lot of time there in college, and I could think of no better spot for Billie’s blue collar family to figure out their lives than in Teaneck, New Jersey.

A long time ago, one of my cousins, visiting from Texas, remarked on how congested New Jersey was. “There are so many towns,” he said. “One right after the other.”

Yes, what else would there be? There are no unused areas in North Jersey; the outskirts of town is another town.

That congestion, that frustration of an hour commute to travel twenty miles, that feeling that everyone is constantly on top of you — that is what I wanted my poor Billie to feel.

Sure, I moved to the mountains to escape the headaches of Jersey congestion, but headaches are what make Jersey so infuriatingly special.

There’s a reason why Jersey Strong is the Garden State’s unofficial slogan, and it has to do with more than rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. Because the high taxes, traffic, flooding, and close proximity make its residents resilient. Jersey folk are strong; you have to be to survive living here.

Although this author might’ve left her home state for the Poconos, I couldn’t imagine a better place for a person, fictional and real, to grow up in than New Jersey.

Readers: Where did you grow up? Do you still live there now? What is your hometown notorious for?

One commenter will win an advanced readers copy of Death of a Dancing Queen. Warning: this book is hardboiled, not soft-boiled, so there is salty language and a bit of violence. If that isn’t your thing, let me know in the comments, and I’ll take your name out of the proverbial hat.

About the book:

After her mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Billie Levine revamped her grandfather’s private investigation firm and set up shop in the corner booth of her favorite North Jersey deli hoping the free pickles and flexible hours would allow her to take care of her mom and pay the bills. So when Tommy Russo, a rich kid with a nasty drug habit, offers her a stack of cash to find his missing girlfriend, how can she refuse? At first, Billie thinks this will be easy earnings, but then her missing person’s case turns into a murder investigation and Russo is the detective bureau’s number one suspect. 

Suddenly Billie is embroiled in a deadly gang war that’s connected to the decades-old disappearance of a famous cabaret dancer with ties to both an infamous Jewish mob and a skinhead group. Toss in the reappearance of Billie’s hunky ex-boyfriend with his own rap sheet, and she is regretting every decision that got her to this point.Becoming a P.I. was supposed to solve her problems. But if Billie doesn’t crack this case, the next body the police dredge out of the Hudson River will be hers.


Kimberly Giarratano is an author of mysteries for teens and adults. Her debut novel, Grunge Gods and Graveyards, won the 2015 Silver Falchion Award for Best YA at Killer Nashville. A former librarian, she is currently an instructor at a SUNY Orange County Community College and a reviewer for BookPage. She is also the chapter liaison for Sisters in Crime. Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, Kim and her husband moved to the Poconos to raise their three kids amid black bears and wild turkeys. While she doesn’t miss the Jersey traffic, she does miss a good bagel and lox.

Visit her website at www.kimberlyggiarratano.com

48 Thoughts

  1. Thanks, Kimberly! Your summary of Billie Levine’s environment reminds me how my stories leverage unique details. I grew up in the suburbs and enjoyed world travel in corporate life, but I became enamored with small town living during our current adventure. Those little but important quirks of living in a few square miles with hundreds instead of thousands of people are the makings for some intriguing mysteries based on local tales.

  2. Oh my, no New Jersey for me lol! Sounds suffocating! No, I prefer small towns, lots of country, fewer people. Course, I grew up in a small town and still live just a few miles from there, so it’s where I’m most comfortable.

  3. Born and raised in Teaneck, NJ, 1943, lots of fond memories, now in Texas, very different!

  4. Welcome to the blog, Kimberly, and congratulations! I love the sound of this book. I am on the opposite coast from my hometown in the greater Los Angeles area, and that’s fine. Although Temple City was contiguous with all the other San Gabriel Valley suburbs, I later realized it was just a transplanted Midwestern town. High school sports, a downtown Main Street, the works.

    It wasn’t notorious until “Genie” was discovered, a girl who had been imprisoned and maltreated by her father and never spoken to. When she came into the outside world as an older teen, she didn’t have language. Linguists pounced on her. She lived a few blocks away on my street and nobody knew. Horrifying.

    Also thanks for your SINC work – I heard you speak at the breakfast on Saturday!

  5. Hi Kimberly!
    Your book sounds wonderful!
    I live in a small town in Mooresville, Indiana. I moved one block away from my house I grew up in. I love my hometown.🥰
    So nice to meet you and learn about your book!

  6. Billie Levine sounds like a been through it and came out the other end all the better type gal. Maybe a bit like me just different circumstances. We even have the Alzheimer connection since my Mom had it too. She sure makes me want to read “Death of a Dancing Queen” and it’s not added to my TBR list. Can’t wait to read and review it.

    Fort Chaffee, AR was where I was born.. By the use of the word “fort”, I imagine you realize that I am an Army brat – and proud of it. Since we left there at my ripe age of 5, I don’t remember much about the actual town we lived in (no living quarters on base) – Fort Smith. They closed the base and my Dad was stationed in CA. I wasn’t the typical Army brat though. My Dad was a career man and said he learned the hard way not to volunteer for anything. After doing most of his overseas travels before I was born, he managed to get put on stabilized assignment when we went to Fort Ord. Having served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, just as I was going into high school, Dad had the years in to retire with full benefits and moved us all back to AR. So guess I really was an Arkie since that’s where I’ve stayed since other than a couple years when I ventured over the state line to TX.

    Fort Smith is notorious for the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas where Judge Isaac C. Parker, known as the “hangin’ judge” presided. Parker sentenced 160 people to death. Of those, 79 were executed on the gallows. His courthouse is now marked as a National Historic Site, where “more men were put to death by the U.S. Government… than in any other place in American history.”
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  7. Welcome to the blog! Death of a Dancing Queen sounds fantastic. Cary Grant died in my hometown, but the steep hills, big mansions, and Mississippi River make it special.

  8. Welcome Kim and congrats! Death of a Dancing Queen sounds great.

    I grew up in a suburb of Buffalo, NY. I don’t live there any more. Buffalo has a lot of history, but I think what it’s best known for is snow. LOL

  9. I was born in Seatlle and have lived in Portland, OR for most of my life, with the exception of college years in Helena, MT. Portland is famous for roses and bridges. Congratulations on the new series – it sounds fun!

  10. Welcome to the Wickeds, Kim! It’s so lovely to have you here and so exciting to hear about The Death of a Dancing Queen. I’m a Jersey girl myself–Montclair. I lived there from ages three to ten, the longest I lived anywhere until I was an adult, so I think of it as my hometown. Lots of famous people have called Montclair home from Yogi Berra to Buzz Aldrin to Stephen Colbert. I lived for a time nextdoor to Joe Walsh of the James Gang and the Eagles. He played his first paying gig in my father’s old prep school tuxedo.

  11. I’ve already read and enjoyed this sparkling book, so you are in for a treat if you win a copy! I was born and raised in Chicago, where the long shadow of Al Capone’s machine gun still darkens the imagination. Now I live in central New Jersey, so Billie’s adventures feel familiar!

    1. Oooh, Chicago. I am fascinated by Prohibition era gangsters like Capone. My grandma said her aunt had connections to Murder, Inc. Possibly my great grandpa knew Bugsy from the neighborhood too.

  12. OMG your book sounds really good! I was born in a small town in Illinois but we moved to St. Louis County when I was four years old. I lived there until the summer before my senior year in highschool. We moved to a small town in Franklin county, Missouri. It was about the size of the town I was born in. I met my future husband there and we live in the country outside that small town now.
    Washington MO is right on the Missouri River and Lewis and Clark traveled through here when they went west.

  13. I grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania surrounded by woods. Big cities traffic is not my cup of tea .I read mostly cozy mysteries but would like to get to know Billie

  14. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Great place to grow up (60’s & 70’s) but I left in 80’s and haven’t looked back. What’s it known for? Cars, Motown, Faygo pop, Vernor’s ginger ale, BetterMade potato chips, Detroit style coney islands, Sander’s hot fudge, and Buddy’s pizza. Sensing a food theme here? You betcha!

  15. I’ve spent my whole life in Stacyville, Iowa, a tiny rural town literally within walking distance of the Minnesota border. Not much we’re famous for but we sure like the Bratwurst Days festivities every summer, and our local “celebrity” is the owner of the grocery store who in March finally decided to retire at 83 years old and being in business 57 years. She got a standing ovation all down Main Street when their final Brat Days float rolled by.

  16. I grew up and still live in central NJ. If you aren’t local you don’t know where one town starts and the other ends. But we have a number of parks, gardens and a national wildlife refuge within a 20 minute circle

  17. I was born in Brownsville, Texas about a stone’s throw from Mexico at Mercy Hospital and grew up 30 miles north in Harlingen, Texas (originally named Six Shooter Junction).

  18. I was born in Brownsville, Texas, a stone’s throw from Mexico at Mercy Hospital. I then was transported to Harlingen, Texas 30 miles north of there to grow up in a friendly place (originally called Six Shooter Junction). All of this is called the Lower Rio Grande Valley. I used to visit a friend in Morristown, NJ and thought that it was a cool place to visit. The Valley is a lot like NJ with one town running into the next town all the way to Laredo. It was famous for its tall Palm Trees and citrus, though less so now. I can’t wait to read your book especially since it is Veronica Mars-ish. I love Veronica Mars and have the whole series and the movie and the books that came out after. I love the vibe in Neptune and Veronica’s narration. It was a bummer when it was cancelled. Good luck on the book and i would love to win a copy.

  19. I grew up in and around Detroit. I live in Northern MN. Detroit is know for Motown, Coney dog, & Vernors Gingerale. Notorious for … a football team that disappoints.

    Where I live now is known for forests and lakes, the BWCA. It’s the birthplace of Jessica Biel, but her family didn’t live here long. Notorious for … an ex mayor who once stole a toilet seat.

  20. I grew up in Toledo, Ohio. I actually live in the house that I grew up in. Our town is known as the hometown for Jamie Farr (M*A*S*H*) and Danny Thomas (St. Jude’s Hospital/Actor). Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

  21. Looks like a great story, Thanks for the intro to Billie. And when I think about, I don’t live far from where my folks lived when I was born. (Although I have been other places in between), I guess we are known for hot dish!

  22. Sounds like a rollicking book. In the fifties, families went wherever the father’s job took them, so I don’t HAVE a home town.

Comments are closed.