Monday, January 31, 2011

Dump the body

by Rebecca Cantrell

Your protagonist blows a tire on a deserted road. When she checks for the spare, she finds the body of a young girl (mid-teens.) What does she do?

Living in Berlin in the 1930s with a small income, Hannah doesn’t have a car. In “A Trace of Smoke,” she couldn’t even drive, but by “A Night of Long Knives,” she was a good enough driver to steal Ernst Röhm’s staff car and light out after Hitler. In the upcoming “A Game of Lies” a certain wine-red Opel Olympia plays a key role too.

Here’s a quick step through the cars in Hannah’s life:

Boris’s car in “A Trace of Smoke,” except that his was black and had that fancy flask of expensive whiskey in the glove box (and gloves too).Hitler’s staff car, a twin to the one Hannah steals in “A Night of Long Knives.” (and no, I don’t actually know what kind of car Röhm drove, but if you’re going to steal, steal big)

That wine-red Opel Olympia in “A Game of Lies,” except that this one’s not red. But it did come in dark red, plus white, sea blue, green, medium blue, beige, medium green, green and five shades of gray (light sand gray, dark gray, German khaki which is more gray than green, light gray, and grayish beige). That many shades of gray under the Nazi regime. Oh, the irony.

So, what if she found a body in any of those? Hannah was a nurse, so the first thing she would do is check for a pulse. Assuming there was no chance of resuscitation, she’d dump the body somewhere and hope it would be found and sorted out. Then she’d sort things out but good with the owner of the car.

After that she’d stick with the transportation she’s most familiar with: trains, subways, buses, and zeppelins.

How about you? What would you do with a body in the trunk?

Speaking of bodies in trunks, I just realized that today is the release of our own Kelli Stanley's THE CURSEMAKER!!! Here's a teaser:

THE CURSE-MAKER, Kelli's newest book in the Arcturus "Roman noir" series and follow up to her award-winning debut novel NOX DORMIENDA.
Booklist starred: " engrossing mystery ... Stanley serves up fascinating and never heavy-handed information on Roman life."

Publisher Weekly pronounced that "all will wish this historical series a long life"

Library Journal said "if readers enjoyed Stanley's first Roman noir, they won't want to miss this."

Kirkus added that THE CURSE-MAKER "captures the details and rhythms of daily life in the ancient empire."

That's the blessing of the big three reviewers, folks!

Set in the beautiful but corrupt spa-town of Aquae Sulis (Roman Bath), it's a story about greed, revenge, ghosts, necromancy and a curse-maker whose curses come true. It's available online and nationwide at Barnes and Noble and independent bookstores or in an e-edition for Nook, Kindle, etc.!

Go, Arcturus!


Meredith Cole said...

I love all those pictures of those old cars, Becky. I think I'm going to have trouble with the topic this week, too, since my sleuth doesn't have a car either. Hmm. Body in a subway car?

Michael Wiley said...

I love the cars, too, Rebecca. One day, someone will publish a collection showing the various cars that appear centrally in mysteries. I have the feeling that the collection would look a lot nicer than the collection of cars driven by the mystery writers.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Meredith! It's tough, this American car assumption, isn't it?

Body on a subway. Unless it were in a pool of blood, who would even notice? Only the observant, photographer type...maybe even after she took a picture.

I think it could work nicely!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Hi Michael! That would be a great collection, although it would be depressing (and fascinating) to see the author's cars next to their sleuths. I'll go first. You saw Hannah's various rides. I drive a dark blue Mini Cooper S (JCW package because my husband is a race nut). You?

Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks for the launch day shout-out, Becks!! :)

When I answer this question on Thursday, I'll either have to talk about Miranda or switch it to a chariot for Arcturus! ;)

I LOVE the post and the photos and lists of Opel colors! And all those grays ... you're right, such an ironic and telling detail. A Cordoba tan Ford plays a role in CITY OF SECRETS ... back when cars had "real" names!

As for me, I'd be very happy with a 1940 Chrysler New Yorker ... sigh! :)


Rebecca Cantrell said...

I think you should write about Arcturus and his chariot! I moved aside the armor, and there she was...

I can totally see you in a Chrylser New Yorker from 1940. My dream car is actually the Mini, so I got lucky there.


TracyK said...

"That many shades of gray under the Nazi regime. Oh, the irony."

What a great line!

Years ago, I almost bought an old Mercedes, the kind that Nancy Drew drove. I was soo excited until the mechanic told me that the underbelly was all but rusted out. Which probably explains why it was in my price range in the first place. I was devastated.

And congratulations Kelli!

Graham Brown said...

Hey Becks - love the cars and the series. Can't wait to see what happens in the next one.

The many shades of gray for the Nazi's was rather ironic.

Reece said...

They really should make a film of the Hannah books. Fantastic cars, zeppelins ... what a great-looking movie that would make!

My first car was a 1960 Cadillac that had belonged to my aunt. It had huge fins and was known as "the Batmobile." Still my most memorable ride.

And congratulations, Kelli!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Tracy! I love the idea of buying Nancy Drew's old car. That is so geeky cool. And then it was rusted out. A sad tale of innocence lost.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Graham! I also found it interesting that the Opel Olympia came in more shades of gray than any other color. Guess those old black and white films were more accurate than I thought.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Reece: I certainly wouldn't mind if the books were filmed. I'd really like a mini-series, like on PBS mysteries. One day...maybe then I could get to ride in the cool Zeppelins and cars that Hannah does.

Michael Wiley said...

Me? I drive a 1998 Honda Accord (scratched up pretty well but still running nicely). Before the Honda, a Saturn. Before that, no car for about 7 years. My favorite car? -- A very badly beaten red Mercury Capri whose windshield wipers and headlights stopped working near the end, though it didn't much matter since (at the end) the car wouldn't top 30 miles an hour.

Rebecca Cantrell said...


A Capri? Now here's how I picture you: