“No job is too trivial” for the Discreet Retrieval Agency, if only they didn’t tend to end in murder…
“After her philandering husband died and left her penniless in Prohibition-era New York, Lola Woodby escaped with her Swedish cook to the only place she could—her deceased husband’s secret love nest in the middle of Manhattan.” Needing to pay the rent, “Lola and Berta were forced to accept the first job that came their way, leading them to set up shop as private detectives operating out of Alfie’s cramped love nest.” Thus, the Discreet Retrieval Agency was born.
Lola and Berta were hired to retrieve a film reel in the series debut, Come Hell or Highball (2015). The man who had it was murdered, and they solved the case. Now, they’re back in Teetotaled, released today (October 4, 2016), and on the hunt once again. Initially, they’re tasked with “sneaking into a slimming and exercise facility and consuming only water and health food until they can steal a diary from Grace Whiddle, a resident at the ‘health farm.’ But barely a day in, Grace and her diary escape from the facility―and Grace’s future mother-in-law is found murdered on the premises.” Once again, Lola and Berta will need to solve the crime.
Recently, author Maia Chance answered some questions as part of a blog tour promoting the launch of Teetotaled, the latest entry in the Discreet Retrieval Agency series.
Your Discreet Retrieval Agency series is set in the 1920s. What kind of research did you do for this book?
I did quite a lot for Teetotaled, particularly researching health farms. It turns out that the 20’s were rife with weird health crazes. I also researched Yankee Stadium, ballroom dancing venues, Swiss finishing schools, wedding dress shops, and Coney Island. For researching the fine details of the historical environment—for instance cars, clothes, and houses—I use images. I love Pinterest for this.
How did you come up with the idea of the “health farm”?
By imagining the absolute LAST place Lola and Berta would enjoy being.
Lola Woodby loves the “not so occasional’ highball. Do you have a favorite cocktail?
Oh yes! It’s a Prohibition-era one, too: The Last Word. It’s a tangy mix of gin, Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice.
Lola also finds comfort in chocolate cake. What’s your favorite treat?
Chocolate. I am right there with Lola on that one. Chocolate cake is great, but I prefer the unadulterated stuff.
What do you find most endearing about Lola Woodby?
Lola gets set back and insulted quite a bit, and she just rolls with the punches. Least endearing? Sometimes she doesn’t say what’s on her mind when it comes to her personal relationships, which leads to misunderstanding.
What was the most difficult scene to write in Teetotaled?
I’m not sure about a particular scene—Teetotaled was a hoot to write—but I do struggle a little with making sure that the sidekick Berta doesn’t steal the show.
Do you have any special writing rituals?
I often write standing up, and I take frequent breaks to get up and do weird little exercises (maybe I belong in a health farm). Unless I’m working at the coffee shop, of course. Don’t want to look like “that crazy lady,” you know.
If you could pick any decade to live in which one would you choose?
That’s an interesting question. We tend to think of past decades as more innocent than our own, but I think human beings are always struggling with versions of the same problems. Researching Teetotaled, for example, I was reading about 1920s American politicians, and boy did they sound just like our contemporary politicians. But to answer your question, despite everything I’d say, if I could be a man, I’d pick the 1960s, but as a woman I’d choose the 21st.
What book is on your nightstand right now?
The Big Fat Lie by Nina Teicholz. It’s the surprisingly intrigue-filled story of the demonization of dietary fat in the 20th Food history is one of my keen interests.
What’s in store next for the Discreet Retrieval Agency Mysteries?
I’m just finishing up book #3 in the series, Gin and Panic. It’s shaping up to be a doozy.
Curious about Lola’s latest adventure? Click on the following link to read a pdf of Chapter One:
Teetotaled Sneak Peek
For more about Maia Chance, check out her previous blog tour on The Poisoned Martini or visit her website: www.maiachance.com. Look for my review of Teetotaled coming later this week.
And for those of you interested in classic cocktails, check out the recipes for The Last Word and a variation of it, Vieux Mot.