Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Trouble With Charlie by Merry Jones (Giveaway, Interview and Review)

Title: The Trouble with Charlie
Author: Merry Jones
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing

About the Book:   With the dark twists of a Hitchcock movie and the light camaraderie of a Lisa Scottoline novel, The Trouble with Charlie tells the story of a man, and the soon-to-be-ex wife who is suspected of killing him.  Elle, the wife, finds Charlie, the soon-to-be-ex husband, dead on her sofa, stabbed with her kitchen knife.  As police investigate, she realizes that she has a gap in her memory; she can't account for her whereabouts when he was killed.  And it turns out she had plenty of motive for murder, some she didn't even know she had.

Charlie had secrets.  not just about infidelity, but secrets about dangerous business clients, an obsessed assistant, and an illegal international sex ring.  The more Elle finds out about Charlie, the less she knows about their marriage -- and herself -- and the more peril she faces.  Strangest of all, Charlie seems reluctant to leave.  He hangs around, believing that she's killed him, haunting her.  Taunting her.  Of course, Elle doesn't believe in ghosts -- even so, as she unravels secrets, she strives to solve the mystery.  She survives murderous attempts by Charlie's powerful, unscrupulous business associates.  More than just Elle's safety is in danger. 

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My thoughts: Boy, this book was not at all what I thought it was going to be about. It is told from Elle's point of view, and with the gaps and fuzziness in her memory, you can't be sure that the information that you are getting is what is actually correct.  It really made me feel what Elle must have been feeling.  Sort of a disconnect to reality, not knowing who you can trust - or even if you can trust yourself.

She has a great group of friends who support and believe her even when the police are closing in.  It helps that one of these friends is a lawyer and is able to give her counsel (even though she doesn't always follow it!)  So, she is suspect number one in the murder of her husband with even Charlie's ghost (or one of her hallucinations - she doesn't know which) accusing her.  She decides that the only way she can prove her innocence is to find out who actually killed him.  She doesn't know where to begin, but when her husband's partner Derek shows up asking lots of questions, it begins to formulate some ideas in her head. As she digs, more dead people show up, which just bring more questions.

I liked the way the story was told, with us only learning things as Elle learned them. Because she wasn't even sure if she had killed Charlie, I didn't know either.  Some of the things that she found out in the end did take me by surprise, and in my mind, not all loose ends were wrapped up - so wondering if we will see more of Elle and her friends in the future.

The book was written without chapters, just breaks.  Normally this drives me nuts, but I read this book so quickly that it didn't bother me this time!

~I received a complimentary copy of The Trouble with Charlie from Oceanview Publishing and Partners in Crime in exchange for my unbiased review.~

About the author:  Merry Jones is the author of The Trouble with Charlie as well as the Harper Jennings thrillers:  Summer Session, Behind the Walls, Winter Break and the Zoe Hayes mysteries:  The Nanny Murders, The River Killings, The Deadly Neighbors, The Borrowed and Blue Murders.

She has also written humor including I Love Him, But. . ., and non-fiction including BIRTHMOTHERS: Women who relinquished babies for adoption tell their stories.  Jones taught writing at Temple University, ran her own video/multi-media production company, worked in Corporate Communications for Sun (Oil) Company, and directed/produced broadcast television.  A member of the Philadelphia Liars Club, Mystery Writers of America and The Authors Guild, Jones earned an MA from the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School, a BA from Cornell University, and lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, daughters and Corgi.  Contact her at merryjones.com.

Merry Jones was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.  Please enjoy getting to know her a little better below.

1. How do you typically write?  Do you plot it all out beforehand or do you just let the story pour out?

Usually, I have a detailed plot outline to begin with.  But I use it as a backup.  Often, the characters disagree and refuse to follow the plan.  A character may insist that she/he is not the murderer; another might commit a crime I hadn’t anticipated.  Sometimes the characters’ ideas work better than the ones I had.  And if they don’t, I have the original outline to rely on.

 2. How does your family feel about having a writer in the family?  Do they read your books?

I think they’re amused, maybe a little baffled.  Maybe a little proud. 
My husband reads everything I write, usually more than once, because he’s my first reader.  My older daughter reads my books, but she’s in no hurry.  She picks them up years after they come out.  My younger daughter doesn’t even open my books—She says they’re too scary.  My sister reads them dutifully, as does my aunt. I guess the answer is that some relatives sometimes read some of the books, but everyone in the family is very encouraging.  A cousin invited me to her book club. Lots of cousins have come to some signings. At family gatherings, everyone asks me how my books are doing. I don’t know if they really want to know, but at least they ask.

3. What do you do in your spare time?

Hahaha.  Writers don’t have spare time, do they? There’s always another book to write, another promotion effort to make, a website to update, a blog to post. But one thing I squeeze into my schedule is sculling.  I row out of Vesper Boat Club on the Schuylkill River, usually in my single shell or in a double with my husband. I love the exercise, but more than that I love being on the water, moving with it, seeing the turtles and ducks and geese, feeling the breeze and the current.  It’s intoxicating.  And calming. 

4. What themes do you love to read or write about?

I read a lot of genre books—suspense and thrillers, to keep up with what’s happening in my area of fiction.  But I also like historical fiction and non-fiction.  I like books that take me out of my everyday world, that take me to another time and place. 

5.  If your book was made into a TV series or movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?  Feel free to add pics.

I LOVE imagining this.  I have a few suspense series out, so I’ll just pick one for this: THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE.  Matthew Perry or Michael Weatherly (DiNoso on NCIS) or possibly Chris Noth could be Charlie Harrison.  But then, so could Nicholas Bishop or Mark Valley (both are in Body of Proof). Or Colin Firth (might as well dream, right?) Sandra Bullock would be a good Elle Harrison.  And Elle’s friends? Lisa Kudrow is Jen, Courteny Cox is Susan (the original friends) and Michelle Williams is Becky.

6.  Was there anything (or anyone) while growing up which helped you decide you wanted to be a writer? 

My family seemed to like my stories, but they never particularly encouraged me to write.  I’d say the encouragement came from my teachers.  In elementary school, I remember looking forward to Fridays, when we’d have a creative writing hour.  From second to sixth grade, I had the support and enthusiasm of Mrs. Chones, Mrs. Kellen, Mrs. Isaacs, Mrs. Shellist—These teachers took a genuine interest in the imaginations and creativity of their young students.  They gave us the opportunity to express our ideas, and they stimulated us to develop our little voices.  By the time I was in high school, I’d already developed a clear passion for writing.

7.  Do you have a job outside of being an author?

I teach writing part time.  I taught at community college for five or six years, at Temple University for a dozen.  Now I'm leading a workshop in suspense writing for a local continuing education program.

8.  What would you tell a beginning writer?

Three things:  Write. Write. And write.  Reading is important, but continuing, developing your technique and voice, perfecting your style, honing in on your subject matter -- All of the skills needed for writing can be acquired only by writing. 

9. What were your favorite books growing up?

Early on, I loved Winnie the Pooh.  Especially Eeyore.  And Babar.  And Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.  And the tales of Baba Yaga, who was a witch in a house built on chicken legs.
By the time I was about ten, I'd become addicted to suspense -- Anything from Nancy Drew to Fu Manchu.  I was big on Sherlock Holmes.  And Poe.  Agatha Christie.  I also loved the Gothic romances -- Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.  And the mischief of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
And then came teenage years when I came in touch with literature -- Catch 22, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, Exodus.  Notes from Underground and other Russian novels and on and on.  It's not possible to list everything. 

Get a copy for yourself:

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The Trouble with Charlie
Publisher/Publication Date: Oceanview Publishing, Feb 2013
ISBN: 978-1-60809-074-7
280 pages


Gina @ Hott Books said...

This sounds very good. I've wanted to read it because I really liked the cover but now I want it more. THANKS!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the interview and opportunity to spotlight Charlie on your delightful site! All best, Merry Jones


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