Posted by authorcamilson
About the Book:
Title: The Last Dinner Party
Author: Carly M. Duncan
When Jeanie D’Alisa is found murdered in her bedroom after hosting a dinner party in her home, detectives Anna Cole and Kristy Hicks are called to investigate the crime. Known within her community for her generous, yet unpredictable nature, Jeanie’s secrets unfold as family, friends and neighbors become suspects. Anna and Kristy discover stamped passport pages revealing travels unknown and a curious relationship between Jeanie and the charming salesman who frequents the apartment building. Meryl, Jeanie’s devoted and needy friend, further complicates the investigation when she phones Jeanie’s sister who is studying abroad and lies to her about the cause of death. Through a muddied pool of misdirection and betrayal, will Anna and Kristy be able to assemble the clues in order to bring Jeanie’s killer to justice? The path to solving the mystery becomes tangled with faces of loved ones who are revealed to be foes in this story about the lengths people will go to in order to save themselves.
For More Information
She opened her eyes only once she heard the apartment’s front door close. She couldn’t even bring herself to turn over in the bed despite her discomfort, for she didn’t want a single mattress coil’s shift to alert him to the fact that she was awake. She waited a moment, lying in her bed, pausing in case he had forgotten anything, but the sound of footsteps faded into the distance.
Meryl Brunetti had been awake for twenty minutes, but she wasn’t prepared to begin the day. Not until he was gone. She didn’t want to see him, she didn’t want to talk, and she certainly wasn’t prepared to deal with anything they’d discussed the night before. She needed more time, and she needed to figure out how she felt.
Instead of waking up at seven o’clock to make him breakfast as usual, to start his day on a pleasant note, and see him out the door, she slept. Or, rather, she pretended to sleep. She’d been unable to sleep the night before. Her mind twirled with anger, despair, and uncertainty.
When she heard the sound of the shower signally the beginning of his day this morning, she felt drowsiness weigh on her eyelids, as though his impending exit might cause her relief. She felt her mind quiet, and forced herself to keep her eyes shut. She wouldn’t rise and she wouldn’t make a sound. She couldn’t bear to see his face. Not after last night. She’d have to pretend later that she’d accidentally slept in.
Maybe she could blame oversleeping on the alcohol. She’d need some excuse, given the average schedule she kept, which rivaled military rising hours. She might be able to blame a hangover for her tardiness depending how closely anyone was counting her cocktails last night. As a rule, she vowed always to have a drink in hand at any social gathering both as an accessory (she could never figure out a comfortable, natural place for her hands), and an ordinary pause in conversation (she often took a sip when she couldn’t think of the next thing she wanted to say.) As a result, she appeared to always have a glass in hand, but she rarely drank with the same fury as some of her louder, and more entertaining friends.
After he left their home, when she heard the click of the lock in place behind him, she emerged from the bed and walked with purpose to the coffee maker. She brewed the first pot of coffee for the day. There would be at least one and perhaps two that followed, depending on her afternoon.
The morning light that flooded into the apartment seemed excessive this particular morning. On any other morning, Meryl would relish in the beautiful daylight that overtook her home, but today she had the beginning of a headache, perhaps from lack of sleep, and she pulled the living room curtains closed.
She wanted to spend a rare day in her pajamas without responsibility, but she couldn’t afford such a day. She never could. Every day, there were endless duties to address. There was the grocery shopping, preparing for her next book club meeting, picking up or dropping off the dry cleaning, meeting with other mothers on various committees, baking for fundraisers, and sometimes making multiple trips to the high school to drop off a meal or some piece of sports equipment that her son had forgotten.
Meryl loved to be busy. The constant buzz of her life made her feel like more than the housewife she was, but she sometimes secretly dreamed of a day off from cooking dinner, and wished she didn’t have to have the answers to every question her family members posed. They trusted her to know all, and she usually did, but the exhausting task of running more lives than her own was far too much for her to think about today. She wished she could sleep away her thoughts and responsibilities.
About the Author
Carly M. Duncan is a television producer and writer. Working in television, she has prolifically created visual narratives for more than a decade for networks including TLC, Discovery Health, MTV, NatGeo, Travel Channel, FYI and more.
Her writing career officially began when one of her short stories, First Place, was published when she was a high school student in California. Her first two novels, Marcie and Behind You, are mysteries that touch on family bonds and the events that can strengthen or destroy them.
Her third novel, The Last Dinner Party, introduces a pair of female detectives who will return in future stories. In addition, she is a mentor and editor to other writers as well as an avid reader. Her favorite authors include Agatha Christie and Stephen King.
Carly lives in New York with her husband and two daughters.
For More Information
- Visit Carly M. Duncan’s website.
- Connect with Carly on Facebook and Twitter.
- Find out more about Carly at Goodreads.
Carly, Tell us about you
I’m a television producer and writer. I’ve always loved to read, to escape into stories. About five years ago I came to grips with my obsession with mysteries and began to write my own.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My schedule inspires me to get out of bed each day! Ha! As a mother with a full time job and my writing hobby on the side, my day is carefully planned and highly strategic. I make the most of each moment and I’ve learned to fill each day with purpose.
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
I would choose a woman who juggles multiple jobs and passions. Perhaps someone like Madonna or Gwen Stefani. I think Elizabeth Gilbert is very inspirational and realistic. If I could choose to hang out with someone who wasn’t alive, it’d be Agatha Christie. I would love to know how she came up with so many wonderful stories, characters and mystery scenarios.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
The idea for The Last Dinner Party came from a round of story telling between family members. I learned of a past murder in the family many, many years ago and so many individuals had varied perceptions of what had happened, which I found very interesting. It made me start thinking about how different perspectives alter the perception of events, and I wanted to play with that.
Tell us your writing process
I really take my time to do an insane number of drafts. I start with the broad strokes and start to get more detailed in each revision. I find that once I’m clear on where I want to reach at each point of the story, I can fill in the detail with greater ease.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I never had an epiphany moment. I hardly believe I’m a full-fledged writer now. I just always loved to read, and I was always writing stories from my daily life. Finally, I realized I could channel what were essentially my writing workouts into telling a story that would mean something to me. That’s how my first novel, Marcie, came to be. Marcie is based on the story of my grandmother’s drowning and it allowed me to tune into family. Once I had one book under my belt, I felt more confident to continue telling the kind of stories I loved most – mysteries.
Tell us about your main character:
The main character in The Last Dinner Party is Jeanie D’Alisa. She’s found dead in her apartment by her neighbor and friend, and the reader learns about the woman she was through her friends’ accounts of her life leading up to her untimely death. Jeanie is controlling and selfish, but ultimately beloved in an odd way. People are naturally drawn to her because she exudes a sort of sophisticated greatness. She is flawed and complex.
What are you working on next?
The Last Dinner Party introduces a pair of detectives, Anna & Kristy, who I would like to continue onto other stories. I have a few ideas for their next cases that I’m currently outlining to explore in more detail.
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I think at this point in my life my most extraordinary talent is maintaining my sanity through normal marriage, parenthood, work and side hustle challenges. Ha! Does that count?
Who are your favorite authors?
I love Agatha Christie. She hardly ever fails, and there’s so much content to absorb. Patricia Highsmith is a master of suspense. No one does it like she can. Gillian Flynn is my favorite author for all of her twistiness. Wally Lamb is an incredible storyteller on an epic level. And Paulo Coelho is my favorite author for more spiritual and inspirational tales.
What do you like to do with your free time?
I try to dedicate my free time to dance parties with my children and trying to get strong enough to practice inversion yoga.
Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
I have a chit lit novel in progress, but it’s been in progress for years and years, so I make no promises there. I also have two ideas for future Anna & Kristy mysteries. Lastly, I’m working on an outline for another mystery based on an incident that happens at a wedding when two couples reunite after having met at another event six months earlier.
Any final thoughts?
I hope you enjoy The Last Dinner Party as much as I loved the journey in making it. I collect photos of the book in your hands and homes, so please sent my way! I’d love to see them.
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