Gore in the Garden
(A Washington Whodunit)
by Colleen Shogan
I am very excited to have Colleen Shogan visit today!!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a political scientist and senior executive at the Library of Congress. I live outside Washington, D.C. with my husband and beagle mutt, Conan. My favorite pastime is reading by the pool.
What are three things most people don’t know about you?
- Most people think I’m an extrovert, but I also like spending time by myself.
- I’m a morning person and do my best work then.
- I was the valedictorian of my high school.
What is the first book you remember reading?
An Encyclopedia Brown book.
What are you reading now?
“There Will Be No Miracles Here” by Casey Gerald
What books have most inspired you?
Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” inspired me so much, I read it twice.
What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?
I’ve always read mysteries for leisure and relaxation. One day, I took a walk in my neighborhood and came up with the plot for “Stabbing in the Senate,” the first book in my series. I decided to take a shot at writing my own mystery novel, and I haven’t stopped since.
Do you have a special place you like to write?
In the spring, summer, and fall, I write outside in my backyard on our deck next to our pool.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
I work on Capitol Hill and there’s no shortage of intrigue. I’m observant and I pay attention to conflict, adversity, and behavior. Paying attention ensures that I have an unlimited supply of ideas for future books.
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
It can be difficult finding the time to write. Since I have a full-time job that sometimes extends into the evening hours, it’s hard to squeeze in time each day for writing.
What do you think makes a good story?
I start with the characters and the setting. Once I have those ingredients, the plot comes together in support of them.
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
Most people assume that my main character, Kit Marshall, is based on me. She’s really not. There may be similarities, but I would likely never take the risks that Kit does. In some ways, Kit is aspirational for me.
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
Most cozies are set in a small town, and my series takes place in Washington, D.C., an urban setting. My books aren’t about politics, but they do reveal some of the inner workings of our nation’s capital. That affords them a slightly higher level of seriousness than other amateur sleuth mysteries. I also think my characters are more modern in their mannerisms, conduct, and behavior than most other books in the genre.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I’m currently writing the sixth book in the series, tentatively titled “Larceny at the Library.” I think it will be a real fan favorite in 2020.
Thank you, Colleen, for dropping by today!
Keep reading for my thoughts about Colleen’s new book, Gore in the Garden.
About Gore in the Garden
Gore in the Garden (A Washington Whodunit)
5th in Series
Camel Press (July 16, 2019)
Paperback: 224 pages
After her boss narrowly escaped political defeat, Kit Marshall is settling into life as a busy congressional staffer. While attending an evening reception at the United States Botanic Garden, Kit’s best friend stumbles upon the body of a high-ranking government official. The chairwoman of a congressional committee asks Kit to investigate, and she finds herself once again in the thick of a murder investigation. The complications keep coming with the unexpected arrival of Kit’s younger brother Sebastian, a hippie protestor who seems more concerned about corporate greed than the professional problems he causes for his sister. To make matters even worse, the romantic lives of Kit’s closest friends are driving her crazy, diverting her attention from the mystery she’s been tasked to solve. The search for the killer requires her to tussle with an investigative journalist right out of a noir novel, a congresswoman fixated on getting a statue of James Madison installed on the Capitol grounds and a bossy botanist who would do anything to protect the plants he loves. When the murderer sends a threatening message to Kit via a highly unusual delivery mechanism, Kit knows she must find the killer or risk the lives of her friends and loved ones.
Kit Marshall attends a reception with her boss, Congresswoman Maeve Dixon, best friend Meg, hubby Doug, and her brother Sebastian, at the United States Botanic Garden, just in time to witness the corpse flower bloom. As the group leaves the Garden Meg makes a quick stop to the bathroom. Her screams alert them back into the building where they find the Architect of the Capitol dead. Kit is quickly pegged to be the liaison between the police and Congress and conduct her own investigation. She also has to run interference when her brother becomes part of protests on the hill, reduce conflicts between her staff, and keep on top of her real job as Chief of Staff Dixon. All this plus she has to stay one step ahead of the killer or she will be their next victim.
This is another fabulous addition to this series. I loved the way the corpse flower played into the story. The University of Wisconsin had one and whenever it bloomed it was big news around here.
All the characters I have come to love return, including Kit’s pepperoni loving pup. We also meet Kit’s brother that was too busy along with her parents to attend Kit and Doug’s wedding. I have to say Kit is more forgiving than I would be but then again there is a murderer on the loose. I enjoyed that Doug is now working close enough that he can assist her in her investigation.
Because of Ms. Shogan’s experience, she gives what feels like a believable picture of life behind the scenes in a Congressperson’s office. With the current climate in Washington politics, a book like this is very current but not as divisive. The murder is Kit’s main focus and other things on her plate are the staff’s summer picnic, their love lives and trying to keep her brother out of trouble and may even stay in D.C. Shogan brings all the subplots together seamlessly and the story maintains a great flow until we get near the end, then the pace spikes as the killer is revealed. I was holding my breath for more than a few moments.
The author did an excellent job of describing Kit’s surroundings. It has been a long time since I have been to Washington and she introduced a few new sites I didn’t know existed but her words took me right where I needed to be.
While taking place in a big town, Colleen keeps things pretty cozy. Engaging characters, a captivating story, set in an awesome place, will have readers rapidly flipping the pages. The twists are exquisite and our protag has guts, knows how to think on her feet and doesn’t back down.
I highly recommend this entire series, but each book can be read on its own.
About Colleen J. Shogan
Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. She conceived of the plot of her first mystery, “Stabbing in the Senate,” one morning while taking a walk in her suburban Washington, D.C. neighborhood. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. She is currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress who works on great initiatives such as the National Book Festival. Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan. Colleen’s first book won the Next Generation Indie Prize for Best Mystery. Her books have been RONE and Killer Nashville finalists in the mystery category.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”