Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ellen Mansoor Collier's Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville Blog Tour with a Spotlight, Giveaway and Guest Post


I am so excited to have Ellen Mansoor Collierhere at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight, Giveaway and Guest Post.

Thanks Ellen and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for allowing me to join your Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Ellen!


by Ellen Mansoor Collier,

Author of the Jazz Age Mystery Series

“Eat, drink and be merry” dictated the mood during the Shake, Rattle and Pour era of the Roaring Twenties — never mind Prohibition. To the rebellious “Lost Generation” of the Jazz Age, the 18th Amendment passed in 1919 (aka the Volstead Act) made liquor that much more appealing, not to mention attainable.

Thanks to opportunistic bootleggers, moonshiners, and Al Capone-clones, gin mills and bars flowed with bathtub booze and home-brewed hooch. Originally created by the ancient Egyptians, cocktails not only helped to make bootleg liquor more palatable for public consumption, but stretched out a meager supply. Outrageous names added to the cocktail craze: Between the Sheets, Side Car, Fox Trot, Zanzibar, Clover Club, Palm Beach, for starters.

Contraband cocktails served as the main ice-breakers, and often the raison d’etre, of spirited soirees during the not-so-dry decade. Savvy hostesses knew that mixed drinks helped loosen up the mixed company and, with a little help from her rum-running friends, her bar was always well-stocked for making whoopee. As Cole Porter would say, “Anything goes!”

Prohibition may have padlocked the doors of the saloons and bars, yet it paved the way for a more egalitarian watering hole. Only the right card and password granted you entreé, behind unmarked doors and peepholes, into the speakeasy’s secret sect. Daring sheiks and shebas could imbibe giggle-water until they were blotto — or until the next police raid.

Speakeasies sprouted like mushrooms — dark, damp and underground. By 1925, bon vivants could make the rounds at 100,000 blind pigs in New York City alone.

Besides bars and boudoirs, cocktails played a starring role in theatres and in Hollywood. Real-life flapper and film siren Joan Crawford drank, danced and smooched with abandon in Our Dancing Daughters (1928) and its sequel, Our Modern Maidens. Scandalous! And what's a Noel Coward comedy, say, Private Lives or Blithe Spirit, without its ever-present props: the cocktail tray and “very dry martinis”?

Don't forget everyone's favorite aunt — Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame. How could she throw an all-night soiree during the so-called Dry Decade without her bootlegger’s help?

Thirsty but resourceful quaffers most likely fashioned early shakers out of Mason jars, shell casings, or whatever container was at hand. Consider this frat joke published in Cornell’s Widow during the 1920s: “Do you fellows wash your own clothes at the house?” “Heck, no.” “Well, what's that washing machine for?” “That's no washing machine. That's our cocktail shaker.”

With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, speakeasies came out of the closet, only to be reborn as chi-chi cafes and must-see and be seen nightclubs. Undaunted by the Depression, New York’s cafe society flitted from the Stork Club to El Morocco to 21. In 1935, the original Old Mister Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide was published, just in time to capitalize on this intoxicating industry.

During the 1930s, a new era of movie-making began, showcasing cocktail shakers as the au courant accessory of sophisticated Hollywood stars. These Art Deco artifacts may have their roots in Prohibition, but their popularity has spanned the decades, symbolizing carefree elegance and elan. During this Golden Age of glamour, Clark Gable and Myrna Loy were the King and Queen of Hollywood. Life was swell and swank while everyone drank, at least in the movies — and how! Depression? Who’s depressed?

Like the matineé idols and stars of the day, cocktails, and the requisite shakers, were considered de rigueur for the Smart Set. No hard liquor for these oh-so-chic creatures of yesteryear. Recall Nick and Nora Charles exchanging witty reparteé in The Thin Man movies as they sipped dry martinis—what else? Witness Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire twirling to swing bands under a mirrored ball in a glittering 1930s ballroom. Talk about putting on the Ritz!

Today cocktail shakers are no longer hidden behind closed doors, but are back in their rightful place at the bar. Elegant as an Erté etching, or just funky and fun, these colorful collectibles are meant to be displayed and handled—not just stored away like dusty museum pieces.

And on a cool night when you’re sipping a Dubonnet and the moon is a silver smile in the sky, you can pretend it’s 1925 all over again: Suddenly you're snuggling with that special someone in the rumble seat of a new Packard, singing at the top of your lungs: “In the meantime, in between time: Ain't we got fun?”

©Ellen Mansoor Collier  

Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville
(Jazz Age Mystery Series)
(Volume 4)

Cozy Mystery
Publisher: DECODAME PRESS (August 5, 2015)
Paperback: 250 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0989417082


In 1920s Galveston, society reporter Jazz Cross is in for a surprise when she attends a traveling vaudeville show with her beau, Prohibition Agent James Burton, and discovers that an old flame acts in the production. That night, they find a stabbing victim behind the Oasis — her half-brother Sammy’s speakeasy — who’s identified as an actor in the troupe. When the victim disappears and later turns up dead, Jazz must help prove that Sammy wasn’t the killer.

Meanwhile, a ring of jewel thieves is turning up all over town, robbing rich tourists of their precious gems. After a second vaudeville actor is found dead, Jazz discovers that the events behind the scenes are much more interesting than the outdated acts onstage.

To make matters worse, Sammy’s old nemesis demands that he settles a score and forces him into yet another illegal scheme. Can Jazz help solve the murders and prove her brother’s innocence — so he can escape the Downtown Gang for good?

A historical Jazz Age mystery inspired by real-life Galveston gangs and local landmarks.

About The Author

Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in a variety of national magazines. Several of her short stories have appeared in Woman’s World. During college summers, she worked as a reporter for a Houston community newspaper and as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries.

A flapper at heart, she’s worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism and served on UTmost, the college magazine and as president of WICI (Women in Communications).

FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, BATHING BEAUTIES, BOOZE AND BULLETS, released in May 2013. She lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible.

“When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. Finally I had to stop researching and start writing, trying to imagine a flapper’s life in Galveston during Prohibition.”

Author Links:

Website: http://www.flapperfinds.com/

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6452242.Ellen_Mansoor_Collier

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/artdecodame/flappers/

Purchase Links:



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1 comment:

Ellen C. said...

Thanks for hosting us VAMPS today--stay jazzy! E

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