Welcome back to the seaside village
of Mystic Bay, where someone’s been found sleeping with the fishes. . .
Allie Larkin is still back home, healing up from a broken ankle and lending a
hand at her aunt’s Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack. But now that the famed
restaurant is branching out into the world of catering, Allie’s help is needed
more than ever—even on the lobster boat. The last thing she expects to find
once she’s out on the bay, however, is the dead body of a beautiful young
days pass and not even the police can ID the corpse, Allie takes it upon
herself to learn the truth about what happened. Her investigation leads her all
the way from the local piers to the secluded estates of Mystic Bay’s posh
elite. But how can she crack this case when everyone seems dead-set on keeping
their secrets beneath the surface?
churned with memories of last night, a night that had begun
magically, champagne and music and a nighttime glide across the bay to
multimillion-dollar yacht with a star and a handsome musician.
ended with my sister smeared with her boyfriend’s blood.
Shari Randall, Against The Claw
(Kindle Loc. 2102)
Against The Claw, the
second book in Shari Randall’s Lobster Shack Mystery series, will be released
by St. Martin’s Press on July 31. I interviewed Shari when her first in the series
was released, Curses, Boiled Again, which was a wonderful read. But so
often an author spends years developing the first book. It’s the second book,
written under time constraints, that is critical to the success of a series.
I’m pleased to report that I liked Against The Claw perhaps even more
than Curses, Boiled Again.
Why? It’s the authenticity. In cozies, the main character
inevitably finds a body. Shari builds scenarios that smack of realism. When
main character Allie Larkin innocently finds victims in the course of her life,
there is no stretch to believe the contrived. Readers are just as shocked as
Allie. It’s the author’s gift and a blessing to readers who are jaded and
immune to another body find. There is an emotional connection on the visceral
level that enables this authenticity. As a writer, I’m reading and studying.
There’s also a lot of fun reading. Shari must have anticipated
the first question I was going to ask because at the very end of the book she
supplied the recipe of Aunt Gully’s Love Sauce, which surprised me due to it
also being a bisque.
I have no need to welcome Shari to WWK, old-timer here that she
is—so just drop by and give Shari a high five and a virtual champagne toast.
Thank you for inviting me for an interview, EB. Champagne and
lobster rolls for everyone!
Miranda, the mother of Allie and Lorel, died giving birth to
Allie. How does Allie feel about that?
Allie doesn’t miss her mother the way she would if she’d known
her. She does have a sense of longing, a sense that there is a missing piece in
her life, but it’s wistful, not painful. Her Aunt Gully, who stepped into the
mother role for Allie and her sister, Lorel, has been too much fun and too big
a presence in Allie’s life for her to feel a sense of loss.
Does Lorel resent Allie?
We would have a field day if we could get Lorel to a therapist! On
some level, I think she does but it’s expressed mainly as exasperation. Allie
and Lorel are opposites - Allie is intuitive and artistic, Lorel is businesslike
and all about the numbers. Oil and water. Plus, Lorel is the older sister and
can be bossy. That’s why their relationship is so much fun to write – they are
two characters who want the same things but go about them in different, usually
Is Allie and Lorel’s difference in perspective due to their
I’ll leave that up to the armchair psychologists among our readers.
Bertha Betancourt plays a pivotal role in Against The Claw.
Does Bertha play Bruce Springsteen on her boat?
I love to picture Bertha blasting “Born to Run” while she’s out on
the lobster boat with the wind in her hair!
How did Bertha become Mystic Bay’s Lobster Lady?
Bertha’s family has been lobstering in the Mystic Bay area
practically since the town was founded in the 1600s. Some folks whisper that
the Betancourts were also pirates and Bertha loves playing that up. In my
research I’ve discovered many women who captain their own lobster boats, so Bertha
is part of a fine tradition.
Why did she offer housekeeping services to those owning homes on
islands in Mystic Bay?
Lobstering is a difficult profession and it’s seasonal. Bertha,
like many lobstermen and women, often has to take other jobs to make ends meet.
Mystic Bay has plenty of wealthy residents who need their stunning vacation
Is the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack open for dinner or is it a
It’s open for lunch and dinner.
Actually, if Aunt Gully is there before opening and thinks you look hungry,
she’ll make you a lobster roll. She has an inner Italian mama in her that makes
her want to feed everyone.
Lorel has an MBA, but it seems like she mostly does PR work.
What is her Boston job?
Lorel’s just turned 30, but she’s flown up the ladder to vice
president at her Boston-based social media company. In Book Three, I’ve given
her a stunning office with floor to ceiling windows overlooking Boston Harbor.
Aunt Gully is asked by Stellene Lupo, the owner of a premier
modeling agency, to cater her famous July 4th party
at her nearby estate. The Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack hasn’t ever catered
before. What were the factors they considered when deciding whether or not to
accept the job?
Mostly they considered the insane amount of money that Stellene
would pay to get famous Lazy Mermaid lobster rolls for her party. But also
everyone is dying to get behind the doors of one of the biggest, most secluded
mansions in town to be part of this gala party for celebrities and other one
Stellene’s estate is called Harmony Harbor, but is there a cove
or harbor in Mystic Bay that lends the estate its name?
Yes, Harmony Harbor (the estate) is on
Harmony Harbor (the harbor). Sorry if it’s confusing! I dream of having a map
in my books (are you listening, St. Martin’s?).
Why does Allie characterize Lorel as looking like “the cool
blond heroine of a Hitchcock movie?”
Allie’s like me, she’s a fan of classic
Hollywood movies. When I picture Lorel, I see an actress like Kim Novak or
Grace Kelly, whose cool exterior masks a passionate interior life. As a side
note, I’ve had male readers tell me that Lorel is “hot.”
Have tourists ever stolen Aunt
Gully’s mermaidabilia that decorates the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack?
Not yet. Great idea, EB!
Are a lobster’s claws sharp enough to cut off a human finger?
It depends on the size of the claw, but you
should never, in the words of Hector the cook, get casual around a lobster.
There are times when you break past for present tense. Why?
I’m still figuring things out as a writer.
When I’m having Allie go through a stressful or exciting experience, I want to
get as much into her head as I can, so the reader can share that experience.
Is the stage a place where Allie can escape?
Absolutely. Since her injury, she’s struggled
with her sense of self. She’s spent most of her life working toward a dance
career. Here she is, just about to take on dream roles, when she’s injured. If
she’s not a dancer, who is she? Luckily for Allie, she’s discovered a love of
After finding a body entangled in a lobster trap, Allie
experiences trauma. What happens to her?
She comes very close to going into shock. I
don’t want to give too much away, but though she’s affected greatly, Allie’s
good in an emergency. When she’s faced with difficult situations, she’s able to
kick into another gear to keep functioning.
Allie eats ice cream with her friend Bronwyn, who is in police
training, in the morning and with another friend Verity, who owns a vintage
clothing shop, at night on the same day. Does Allie have an ice cream problem?
This one hits close to home. One person’s
problem is another person’s party.
I didn’t know that ballerinas coated their pointes with rosin. I
also didn’t know it was sticky. I thought rosin was a powder. Does the stage
get sticky and can that be dangerous?
I learned so much from my research with
Boston Ballet. Some dance companies travel with their own floors, which are
made of a nonslip material called marley. But sometimes on tour, dancers will
work in a theater with a slippery floor – sometimes the custodians will wax a
wooden floor so it’s nice and shiny – which is a disaster for ballet dancers.
So they’ll step into a box of crushed rosin (same thing that violinists use on
their bows) to make their shoes slightly sticky. There’s a whole art and
science to dancers treating their footwear to work on different stages. But
you’re right – too much rosin can be a problem, also.
Detective Rosato commands a Harbor Patrol boat to go after stolen
evidence. When Allie leaps into the boat, does she reinjure her ankle? Will she
have more time away from dance?
Can’t give away any spoilers, but there is a
Allie makes a promise to stop interfering in police stuff. She
lying, isn’t she?
Allie is an honorable woman, so she means
what she says – at that moment in time. But there is a Book Three….
Will Aunt Gully get a new van?
I thought she would, but then things took an
interesting turn. (sorry about the pun!)
Thank you again for the interview, EB. I love
being a Writer Who Kills!
To celebrate Against the Claw, I’m doing a
giveaway. Just say hello and let me know if you like lobster, and I’ll send a
copy of ATC to one commenter. U.S. only, please!