Archive for March, 2007

Champagne Across the Bow

Wednesday was book launch party day at RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT for DEADLY ADVICE. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like this hometown crowd is more interested in cake than champagne. So once a year I order a sheet cake from the local grocery store and they decorate it to fit the book. I got lucky this time–the scanning machine was broken and the cake decorator went to town, adding big orange swag curtains overlaid with an admonition from Dr. Aster: Try Roberta Isleib’s DEADLY ADVICE!

Anyway, the book is on the shelves now–time to hunker down with the next one and leave the rest up to readers. I’m awfully pleased with the feedback I’ve gotten so far. Here are just a few snippets–hope you enjoy the book too!


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“Deadly Advice” deftly balances lighter moments – like Rebecca’s adventures in online dating – with more serious undertones that build to a frightening climax.
Joe Meyers, The Connecticut Post

Isleib has done a remarkable job of describing a truly sympathetic figure in the person of Rebecca Butterman, and provides the reader with plenty of suspense in the process.
John Broussard, I Love a Mystery Newsletter

Dr. Rebecca Butterman is a delightful new sleuth, a character wonderfully fleshed out by the author, herself a clinical psychologist. Deadly Advice has great secondary characters, including Rebecca’s “Sunday friends” and the quirky residents of her condo neighborhood. Detective Meigs is a departure from the stupid, stubborn or too-hunky-to-be-believed cops that populate many mysteries featuring female amateur sleuths.
Diana Vickery, The Cozy Library

Deadly Advice Launch cake
DEADLY ADVICE launch cake.

Rebecca Butterman, a supporting character from Isleib’s Cassie Burdette golfing mysteries, shines on her own. The mystery is carefully plotted and there are plenty of suspects and motives to keep readers guessing. Fans of the Cassie Burdette series will be pleased to hear how well things are going for Cassie when she makes a cameo. Roberta Isleib’s series is off to a strong start. An enjoyable heroine and an interesting plot will keep readers engaged while they forget about some of their own problems and see what advice Dr. Aster will dish up today.
Jennifer Monahan Winberry, The Mystery Reader

I enjoy Isleib’s golf mysteries, but I love Dr. Rebecca Butterman. The characters are rich and complex, the plot is current and the twists will keep you turning the pages.
Andrea Sisco, Armchair Interviews

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Behind the Story

Dear Readers,

My publisher, Berkley Prime Crime, asked me to write their “Dear Reader” column this month. Here’s what I said:

Developing the heroine for a new mystery series is always an adventure! Like me, Dr. Rebecca Butterman (DEADLY ADVICE) is a clinical psychologist, in order to take advantage of my training and experience. But how could I help her stand out from today’s hordes of mystery characters?

I had become an advice column junkie well before attending graduate school. Even as a teenager, I studied Ann Landers and Dear Abby for nuggets of common sense and wisdom, imagining how I would counsel their troubled masses. And each month I rushed to the newsstand to buy the Ladies Home Journal, which contained my favorite feature: “Can this marriage be saved?” There was something very satisfying about watching these experts gently dissect their readers’ problems and then wrap them back up into tidy packages.

Why not make Rebecca Butterman an advice columnist as well as a psychologist? She would understand that while people’s problems are complex, they crave uncomplicated answers. By day, Dr. Butterman would work with her therapy patients, slowly unraveling their histories in order to understand their issues. But by night, she would don the cloak of her superhero, advice columnist Dr. Aster, and offer simple solutions to unhappy readers.

Aside from my sleuth’s background, the opening scene of DEADLY ADVICE is also rooted in my graduate school days. During my final year, I lived in an anonymous apartment complex with only a nodding acquaintance of the other residents. Each morning, my taciturn next-door neighbor left for work at 7:30, returning by six. Some nights she’d cook one hamburger on the grill outside her door. Medium well, I’d think, considering the time it sat on the coals. How sad, I’d think. Is that me? I’d wonder next.

One evening, I came home from the library and noticed a small U-Haul parked in front of her apartment. An older couple was loading the contents of her place into the van. Over coffee the next morning, I skimmed the newspaper as usual, and noticed a small article near the bottom of an interior page. Based on this paragraph, I realized that my neighbor had shot herself several days earlier. Her body had lain in the apartment next to mine for over forty-eight hours before someone found her.

I felt shocked and sad. Isn’t this every single woman’s worst nightmare – dead two days and no one even notices you’re gone? This incident has always stayed with me.

Years later, that’s where DEADLY ADVICE begins. When Dr. Rebecca Butterman returns home to find her neighbor an apparent suicide, she’s wracked with guilt. As a psychologist and advice columnist, she’s an expert! She should have been able to help the young woman. But the neighbor’s mother suspects foul play, and soon persuades Rebecca to investigate the possibility of murder.

I’ve loved writing about this new character – she’s wise and vulnerable all at once. I hope you’ll enjoy her adventures too.