Monday, April 9, 2018

Alice & the Assassin by R.J. Koreto | Blog Tour with Excerpt, Guest Post, and Giveaway

I'm excited to tell you about a new series, the Alice Roosevelt Mysteries. I just finished the first book, Alice & the Assassin, and it's great — Five Kitties! I really enjoy historical mysteries, especially when some of the characters are real people. 

I'm looking forward to reading Book #2, The Body in the Ballroom, which will be published in June.

The Blurb

In 1902 New York, Alice Roosevelt, the bright, passionate, and wildly unconventional daughter of newly sworn-in President Theodore Roosevelt, is placed under the supervision of Secret Service Agent Joseph St. Clair, ex-cowboy and veteran of the Rough Riders. St. Clair quickly learns that half his job is helping Alice roll cigarettes and escorting her to bookies, but matters grow even more difficult when Alice takes it upon herself to investigate a recent political killing — the assassination of former president William McKinley.

Concerned for her father's safety, Alice seeks explanations for the many unanswered questions about the avowed anarchist responsible for McKinley's death. In her quest, Alice drags St. Clair from grim Bowery bars to the elegant parlors of New York's ruling class, from the haunts of the Chinese secret societies to the magnificent new University Club, all while embarking on a tentative romance with a family friend, the son of a prominent local household.

And while Alice, forced to challenge those who would stop at nothing in their greed for money and power, considers her uncertain future, St. Clair must come to terms with his own past in Alice & the Assassin, the first in R. J. Koreto's riveting new historical mystery series.

Alice & the Assassin by R.J. Koreto
Series: An Alice Roosevelt Mystery, #1
Genre: Historical Mystery, Cozy Mystery
Publication Date: April 11th 2017
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Hardcover: 288 pages
ISBN-10: 1683311124
ISBN-13: 978-1683311126
e-Book File Size: 1431 KB
 Add to Goodreads

The Excerpt

I had a nice little runabout parked around the corner, and Alice certainly enjoyed it. It belonged to the Roosevelt family, but I was the only one who drove it. Still, the thing about driving a car is that you can’t easily get to your gun, and I didn’t like the look of the downtown crowds, so I removed it from its holster and placed it on the seat between us.

“Don’t touch it,” I said.

“I wasn’t going to,” said Alice.

“Yes, you were.”

I had learned something the first time I had met her. I was sent to meet Mr. Wilkie, the Secret Service director, in the White House, and we met on the top floor. He was there, shaking his head and cleaning his glasses with his handkerchief. “Mr. St. Clair, welcome to Washington. Your charge is on the roof smoking a cigarette. The staircase is right behind me. Best of luck.” He put his glasses back on, shook my hand, and left.

It had taken me about five minutes to pluck the badly rolled cigarette out of Alice’s mouth, flick it over the edge of the building, and then talk her down.

“Any chance we could come to some sort of a working relationship?” I had asked. She had looked me up and down.

“A small one,” she had said. “You were one of the Rough Riders, with my father on San Juan Hill, weren’t you?” I nodded. “Let’s see if you can show me how to properly roll a cigarette. Cowboys know these things, I’ve heard.”

“Maybe I can help — if you can learn when and where to smoke them,” I had responded.

So things had rolled along like that for a while, and then one day in New York, some man who looked a little odd wanted — rather forcefully — to make Alice’s acquaintance on Fifth Avenue, and it took me all of three seconds to tie him into a knot on the sidewalk while we waited for the police.

“That was very impressive, Mr. St. Clair,” she had said, and I don’t think her eyes could’ve gotten any bigger. “I believe that was the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen.” She looked at me differently from then on, and things went a little more smoothly after that. Not perfect, but better.

Anyway, that afternoon I pulled into traffic. It was one of those damp winter days, not too cold. Working men were heading home, and women were still making a few last purchases from peddlers before everyone packed up for the day.

“Can we stop at a little barbershop off of Houston?” she asked. I ran my hand over my chin. “Is that a hint I need a shave?” I’m used to doing it myself.

“Don’t be an idiot,” she said, with a grin. “That’s where my bookie has set up shop. I’ve had a very good week.”


Excerpt from Alice & the Assassin by R.J. Koreto. Copyright © 2018 by R.J. Koreto. Reproduced with permission from R.J. Koreto. All rights reserved.

Author Guest Post

Boyfriends and Girlfriends

"You need some romance," said my publisher, when we were going over the manuscript of my first book, Death on the Sapphire. The kinds of books I write, he explained, were read by those who expected a love affair or two in their mysteries.

Fair enough. But that still leaves a lot of leeway, and I find you can insert romance with a certain level of subtlety. Indeed, my mysteries take place at the turn-of-the-century, where subtlety was the hallmark of a romance. There were aspects of love hinted at, but never said outright.

First of all, there were no "boyfriends" or "girlfriends" back then. Those terms didn't come about until the 1920s. There were courtships, which were conducted by men. Activities were chaperoned, to protect both the actual safety and the reputations of the ladies. It was a different world! But this didn't mean that women had no power to conduct their own romances. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Bennet contrives to visit to Mr. Bingley, but to make sure it looks like she isn't chasing him, the story is that she's actually visiting Miss Bingley. (If Mr. Bingley is there, all the better!)

Alice Roosevelt is the real-life daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, and I imagine her as a 17-year-old sleuth in Alice & the Assassin. She shows she can be devious about her "crush." (Yes, the term in the romantic sense goes back to the 19th century.)  She attends a formal dinner party, and her bodyguard, ex-Rough Rider Joseph St. Clair, is planning to spend the evening in the servants hall, cadging a free dinner from the cook and flirting with the maids. But Alice rents him an evening suit, saying her "investigations" require his presence by her side all evening. It takes a while for the handsome ex-cowboy to figure out that investigations aside, Alice has emotional reasons for wanting him near. The differences in their social situation means a romance is impossible, but the heart wants what it wants.

Alice is later tripped up by her own cleverness, when she consults with a dowager about a family whom she suspects of a criminal conspiracy. The dowager misunderstands, and thinks Alice has fallen in love with the son of the family and is trying to discreetly find our more about him. The dowager tells Alice that young man doesn't have the spirit to handle her. "That cowboy bodyguard of yours would probably be a better match for you," she says, laughing. Alice turns red, but St. Clair has to walk a fine line, neither laughing at the mean-spirited joke, which would hurt Alice, or taking it seriously, when it can never be.

Of course, turn-of-the-century romances also may mean servants. If you saw Downton Abbey, you saw how many servants the wealthy have. In fact, at that period, only agriculture employed more people than domestic service. I write another series about Lady Frances Ffolkes, a young progressive-minded suffragette at the turn of the century. After a party, she sneaks around the corner for some secret kisses with her new beau. When she gets home, her maid Mallow quickly figures out what her mistress was up to. Lady Frances knows Mallow knows. And both have a tacit understanding not to mention it. 

Romance in times past may be more difficult, but it's also more mysterious — and more fun to write about.

The Author

About R.J. Koreto

R.J. Koreto has been fascinated by turn-of-the-century New York ever since listening to his grandfather's stories as a boy.

In his day job, he works as a business and financial journalist. Over the years, he’s been a magazine writer and editor, website manager, PR consultant, book author, and seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine. He’s a graduate of Vassar College, and like Alice Roosevelt, he was born and raised in New York.

He is the author of the Lady Frances Ffolkes and Alice Roosevelt mysteries. He has been published in both Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He also published a book on practice management for financial professionals.

With his wife and daughters, he divides his time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Catch Up With R.J. Koreto On his Website, Goodreads Page, Twitter @RJKoreto, & on Facebook @ ladyfrancesffolkes!

Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for R.J. Koreto. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift card. The giveaway begins on April 1, 2018 and runs through May 1, 2018. Void where prohibited.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

to enter at the Rafflecopter website.

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours


If you enjoyed this post, please let us know. We ♥ comments!

[Click "Commenting Problems" link at top of page, if there is no Comment box.]