Sunday, July 13. 1:46 A.M. Near Lookout Mountain and Laurel Canyon. An unidentified woman in her twenties, wearing a nightgown, was the victim of a hit-and-run accident that left her unconscious and seriously injured. There were no witnesses. So reads the report on the accident off Mulholland Drive in Molly Blume's Crime Sheet column for a weekly Los Angeles tabloid. Just another small L.A. tragedy, soon forgotten. But the image of the young woman in her nightgown stumbling along a dark, winding road is one Molly, a freelance true-crime writer, cannot shake. In fact, it draws her to a bedside in intensive care, where the victim whispers to her three names: Robbie, Max, and Nina. It's not a smoking gun, but is sufficient to reinforce Molly's gut instinct that there are sinister circumstances behind the assault on Lenore Saunders. With fearless conviction, Molly asks questions that nobody-including Lenore's mom, her ex-husband, her shrink, or even Molly's L.A.P.D. buddy, Detective Connors-wants to answer.
With Los Angeles true-crime writer Molly Blume (yes, she gets teased about that a lot), Agatha Award winner Krich (Shadows of Sin and four other Jessie Drake mysteries) introduces a smart new heroine in a new suspense series. Molly finds her stories everywhere and has learned to respect that tingle that tells her she's onto something. When a newspaper snippet about a young woman nearly killed by a hit-and-run driver snags her attention, Molly plunges headfirst into the story. It's a bit like falling into the rabbit hole, for the more she learns about the victim, the less she understands. The young woman may have been a tragic figure who killed her infant son while suffering a postpartum psychosis, or a very clever manipulator who planned the murder even before the child was born. She may have committed suicide in the hospital, or she may have been murdered. Molly's onion-peeling investigation will appeal to those who read mysteries for the pleasure of solving an intricate puzzle. Equally appealing, enough to make us wish for more, is the affectionate portrait of a large, boisterous Jewish family. Everyone needs a wise grandmother like Molly's. A sideline love story is a bit of a throwaway, but the fascinating look inside the culture and rituals of Orthodox Judaism more than makes up for it. Krich nicely captures the sense of community that religious faith can create, and she skillfully paints the special beauty of the desert landscape outside L.A. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (Oct. 1) Forecast: With blurbs from Sue Grafton and Harlan Coben, plus a five-city author tour and appearances at Jewish book fairs, Krich's new publisher is making a fair bid to win her the kind of audiences commanded by Faye Kellerman and Susan Isaacs. With a little extra magic, based more on prose quality than publicity and promotion, this new series could do it for her down the road. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 30, 2003
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Excerpt from Blues in the Night by Rochelle Majer Krich
It was the nightgown that hooked me:
Sunday, July 13. 1:46 a.m. Near Lookout Mountain and Laurel Canyon. An unidentified woman in her mid- to late-twenties, wearing a nightgown, was the victim of a hit-and-run accident that left her unconscious and seriously injured. There were no witnesses.
That ' s how my copy would read in next Tuesday ' s edition of the Crime Sheet. We ' re not talking Chandler or Hammett ' just the facts, ma ' am. There would be no speculation about the nightgown mentioned in the police report, or about the woman wearing it.
Had she been in distress I wondered. Desperate, maybe, her hair flying behind her like a banner as she dashed across the serpentine road, oblivious of the oncoming car Had she been running for help, or away from something or someone Had she been looking behind her in that final moment before the car slammed into her, several tons of metal crushing muscle and delicate bone, or paralyzed by the headlights, feral eyes gleaming menace in the dark, moonless night
My editor, who constantly carps about lack of space, would probably cut the nightgown. People don ' t care what she was wearing, Molly, he ' d argue. For me, the nightgown was key. And in my opinion, it ' s details like this that give the Crime Sheet its quirky flavor.
I ' m a freelance reporter and I collect data from the Los Angeles Police Department for a section in the local independent throwaways that people read to find out what crimes are taking place in their neighborhoods and fig- ure out how nervous they should be. I also write books about true crime under the pseudonym Morgan Blake. I ' ve always been inquisitive ( ' Excellent grades marred by interrupting class with too many questions ' ), and ever since I can remember, I ' ve been drawn to crime stories, true and fictional. So with an English degree from UCLA and extension courses in journalism, I set about channeling my curiosity into a career.
As to my love of crime fiction, I inherited that from my maternal grandmother, Bubbie G (the G is for Genendel, a name Bubbie has forbidden any of us to mention although I think it ' s cute). Bubbie, who immigrated to Los Angeles from Europe with my late grandfather in 1951, taught herself English and cut her teeth on Erle Stanley Gardner. Soon she was devouring four or five mysteries a week ' cozies, hardboiled, Agatha Christie to Elmore Leonard ' and whenever she babysat us kids, she ' d read to us from Dr. Seuss and a few chapters from the latest mystery she ' d picked up from the book sale table at the library. Of course, she skipped some of the choice words, something I didn ' t discover until I became addicted myself.