I’m pleased to announce my newest release, the romantic mystery Lido Key from eXtasy Books. This is the second in the Vic Fallon series I started a year ago with The Bundle, but it isn’t a sequel or follow-up. This is a stand alone entry in the series, and it evokes the pulp fiction style of Chandler, Spillane and Westlake. All of the elements are here – tough romantic hero, sexy heroine who’s hard as brass on the outside but soft in the middle, vivid atmosphere, a supporting cast of shady characters and liberal doses of hot sex.
Vic Fallon has worked on some strange cases since he left the Police force to become a Private Investigator, but when a former lover asks him to look into a bizarre blackmail demand, it’s one for his memoirs. Vic hasn’t spoken to Ariel Weston since his last trip to Siesta Key, Florida three years earlier. The end of their affair wasn’t amicable, and Vic swore that the next time he saw Ariel he’d drown her with the nearest Pina Colada. When Ariel gets caught up in a potentially embarrassing sex scandal, she appeals to him for help. Vic reluctantly agrees but finds himself in a real quandary when he realizes they still have feelings for each other.
The case pulls Vic out of his northern Ohio comfort zone to the Sunshine State, where he crosses paths with a corrupt local cop, a famous writer with a taste for booze and women, and a sleazy strip club owner who knows more than he’s letting on. Throw in one very cute Latina who develops a crush on him, and the puzzle gets more complex. Can Vic solve Ariel’s problem before the blackmailer ruins her life? Will Ariel succeed in convincing Vic to give their failed relationship another chance?
I’ve always enjoyed this type of story and when I conceived the Vic Fallon character, I wanted to include the elements that made those hard-boiled mysteries so much fun to read. Vic is a former cop who took a bullet in the line of duty and doesn’t really have to work. He lives in the Lake Erie town of Sandusky, Ohio and only takes a case when he’s bored or something comes along that intrigues him. In each story there’s a different woman for him to get involved with and his cases usually end up having a bizarre twist or two. He’s an old school hero when it comes to his morals – tough with the bad guys but more than willing to take one on the chin for the ladies.
To prepare for Lido Key I watched a lot of film noir crime capers from the forties and fifties. Quirky characters, moody atmosphere and witty dialogue laden with double entendres are part of the charm and I wanted to recreate that in a modern setting. Here’s an example, where Vic has a flashback of meeting Ariel for the first time:
Their initial meeting had happened on his first night in town, at a place called The Daiquiri Deck in Siesta Key Village. Vic hadn’t been actively looking for a hook-up when he went there after a day of beachcombing, but when he locked eyes with Ariel Weston from across the bar there was no escape.
Vic moved to the stool next to hers, drawn in like a marlin hooked by a determined fisherman. “Excuse me, Miss, but I’m new in town. Could you please direct me to your house?”
She began with a chuckle that escalated into full-blown laughter, then she playfully smacked Vic’s forearm. “That’s so lame, it’s cute!”
Her eyes scanned him up and down. “I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before, have I?” she asked in a low, smoky voice.
“No. Do I need a reservation to sit here?”
She laughed again. “A smart-ass. I like that quality in a man. Where are you from, smart-ass?”
“A whole other world. Would you like me to provide references before we go any further?”
She placed her hand on his on top of the bar and drilled his eyes with hers. “I don’t think that’ll be necessary, but since we’re going to be friends I think I should call you something more formal than smart-ass.”
“Are we going to be friends?”
“Unless you think you already have enough of them.”
“You can never have enough friends. Why don’t you call me Blake?”
“Is that your real name?”
“No, my real name is Vic. I just use Blake to fool people. What should I call you besides totally hot?”
“I like that, but let’s go with Ariel.”
“Thank you. I’m rather attached to it.” She massaged his hand. “I should tell you something, Vic. I’m married to a rich older man, we don’t have any kids and we’ve always had separate bedrooms. He doesn’t really notice if I’m not home, since he’s only there long enough to change clothes before he meets his latest girlfriend. He doesn’t ask me any questions and I don’t grill him about where he drops his pants. Does that bother you?”
“One man’s ignorance is another man’s bliss.”
“Ooh, a clever smart-ass. That’s another quality I like.”
“And we’re just getting started.”
* * * *
If you’re in the mood for a blast from the past with a contemporary twist, pour yourself a glass of Scotch, prop your feet on the desk, tip back your fedora and enjoy Lido Key.
It’s the stuff dreams are made of.
Tim Smith is a bestselling, award-winning author whose books range from romantic adventure to contemporary erotic romance. He’s also a freelance photographer. When he isn’t pursuing those two passions he can often be found in The Florida Keys, doing research in between parasailing and seeking out the perfect Mojito. More information can be found at his website, www.timsmithauthor.com.