Tag Archives: Donald Bain

Margaret Truman’s Undiplomatic Murder by Donald Bain

Undiplomatic MurderMargaret Truman’s Undiplomatic Murder by Donald Bain is the second book in the “Capital Crimes” series. Publisher: Forge, July 2014

Private investigator Robert Brixton has always hated Washington. Against his better judgment, he decides to stick around and take a job as an agent in a new State Department security agency headed by his former boss at the Washington P.D. After work one day he meets his youngest daughter, Janet, for a drink at an outdoor cafe. Shockingly, a young Arabic woman blows herself up, killing Janet and a dozen others. Seeking revenge for his daughter, Brixton follows the tracks of the bomber to a powerful senator’s son.

Brixton finds himself digging deep into what turns out to be a small but powerful cabal whose goal is to kill embassy workers from nations involved in the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Donald Bain thrills again with Undiplomatic Murder, the riveting next installment in the Margaret Truman’s beloved Capital Crimes series.

I’m getting back to this series and I like it. The action is pulsatingly fast and the drama kept my adrenaline at a premium as I advanced towards the conclusion in this terrific read that quickly became a page-turner. The author did a great job in providing plenty of twists and turns that ratcheted the suspense and intrigue up several notches. The dialogue was engaging and the nation’s capital added to the thrill in this explosively riveting novel. I look forward to the next on in the series.

A Day in the Life of Robert “Don’t call me Bobby” Brixton by Donald Bain

Undiplomatic MurderRobert Brixton, private investigator here, sitting in my small office suite in Washington, D.C. next to the one occupied by my friend, the attorney Mackensie Smith. When Mac resigned his post as law professor at George Washington University to return to private practice he convinced me to return to D.C. to handle his investigations, along with assignments from others. Mac Smith is one of the good guys in my life since I came back to our nation’s capital. There aren’t many. As President Harry Truman once famously said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” He knew what he was talking about.

I’ve been accused of being a perpetual malcontent. But that’s just the way I am. I was once a cop in D.C. That lasted four long years, enough time for me to get married, have two daughters, and get divorced. I split and headed for that allegedly genteel southern city, Savannah, Georgia, where I put in twenty on its police force and retired with a paltry pension and a bad knee. From there, I went back home to Brooklyn where people don’t say “ya’ll” when you’re the only other person in the room. I intended to stay, but an old friend lured me back to the District. A big mistake. While working for a private security agency connected with the State Department I lost my youngest daughter, was accused of murdering the son of a prominent politician, and found myself knee-deep in lying politicians and international arms dealers. I’ve been the target of a crazy paid assassin, nailed a conniving congressman from Tampa whose pretty young intern was found murdered, and used my Savannah connections to make a first lady and D.C.’s leading social hostess sweat bullets. Not your run-of-the-mill way to make a living, but it could be worse, like being a member of Congress and having to sit through the never-ending drone of speeches that say nothing.

Fortunately I have Flo Combes, “mah honey”—notice my southern accent?—who puts up with me when she isn’t chastising me for acting like a jerk. She understands me because she’s from New York, too. My receptionist as well as my lover and constant companion, Flo never hesitates to hold a mirror up to me, although I don’t always like what I see.

While I may never win any Miss Congeniality awards, I do have attributes that are invaluable in my job. I easily spot phonies, blowhards, hypocrites, and other D.C. denizens who rise from the swamp this city is built on. I know how to run down a perp and gather evidence against him without tipping off the suspect. I can size up witnesses and figure out how best to approach them. I know the rules and when to break them.

I also know that I carry to extremes my jaundiced views of people and the stupid things they do. Men who wear baseball caps backwards annoy me. Don’t they know that the visor is designed to shield their eyes, not the nape of their necks? People who are oblivious to their fellow pedestrians and walk down the street peering into their cell phones ought to be locked up, along with morons who text while driving. I don’t like jellybean drinks with little umbrellas or martinis made with anything but gin. I don’t go to the movies because I’m not interested in how many explosions and car chases the special effects guys can come up. I want real stories with real characters, like in Casablanca or Brief Encounter.

Okay, so I’m a pain-in-the-neck sort of guy. But Flo Combes loves me so there must be something salvageable here. And Mac Smith puts up with me because he knows that I’m a damn good private investigator who doesn’t fudge the truth, and who will put his hide on the line when the cause is worth it.

Since settling back in Washington I’ve come to appreciate its positive points. It’s a pretty city, with its cherry blossoms, monuments, wide boulevards and low buildings. Summers are tough (but Savannah was no Garden of Eden either), when the heat and humidity (and odors) of July and August settle over the city like a soggy blanket.

All in all, things could be worse. At this moment I’m nibbling on shrimp toast that Flo whipped up and brought to the office, and sipping a perfectly shaken martini. A client just paid me, the humidity outside has dropped a few points, and we have a reservation at a chi-chi watering hole where we’ll meet up with Mac and Annabel Smith. So life is peachy—just as long as some clown at the next table doesn’t have his baseball cap on backwards.

Robert Brixton made his debut in Monument to Murder in the Margaret Truman Capital Crimes series, joining recurring characters Mac and Annabel Smith. Brixton has gone on to appear in Experiment in Murder, Undiplomatic Murder (published in July 2014 by Forge) and Internship in Murder (July 2015).

Meet the author
Donald Bain worked closely with Margaret Truman on all her Washington-based mystery/thriller novels, and has continued the series after her death. He’s the author/ghostwriter of more than 115 books, including 43 in the bestselling “Murder, She Wrote” series, on which he collaborates with his wife Renée Paley-Bain. His caper novel, Lights Out! was published in May.

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A Day in the Life of Carlton Smythe by Donald Bain

Lights OutI did a bad thing.

My name is Carlton Smythe. At the age of 53 I fell in love with a woman who wasn’t my wife, and engaged in a criminal act as the result. I suppose you could say that it was more a matter of lust than love, but let’s not parse words. The woman who turned my otherwise mundane, boring life upside down was Gina Ellanado.

God, she was beautiful. I met her in a Buenos Aires bar when I was on a business trip. We had drinks (that she drank beer added to her appeal), and enjoyed dinner together. Does “smitten” adequately describe my reaction to her? Certainly not. I was immediately head-over-heels in love with Gina, and two subsequent trips to Argentina found us tangled in sheets and pledging our undying devotion to each other.

The only obstacle to my living happily ever after was my spouse, Cynthia, back in Toronto. Let’s get something straight right now. I never hated Cynthia. I got her in a family way when we were in college, and her father, Walter Wiggins, a titan of Canadian industry, informed me that his “little girl” was going to be my wife, no arguments accepted. (Cynthia eventually had a miscarriage and was unable to bear children). I have to admit that marrying into the Wiggins wealth wasn’t a bad deal for a pale, skinny, electrical engineer with few prospects. Unfortunately, when Mr. Wiggins died he left behind not only Cynthia but also Cynthia’s mother, Gladys, a gorgon who defined self-righteousness, and who cast a suspicious eye on my frequent trips to Argentina. I didn’t hate Gladys Wiggins either, although her overbearing nature could be suffocating at times.

So there I was, married to a wealthy woman, and madly in love with Gina, my voluptuous—and willing—Argentinean bombshell.

What to do?

What would you do?

I had been employed as an engineer at a large Toronto power company but had been “downsized,” a convenient metaphor for being fired. While there I befriended a distinctly unsavory French Canadian engineer. Paul Saison was a drunk, an inveterate gambler, and possessed questionable personal hygiene habits. However, he did have his uses. It occurred to me that if I could choreograph a massive power outage up and down the East Coast I could sell the exact date and time of the blackout to other people, and raise enough money to support Gina and me in luxury. The only problem was my “customers” would be bad guys—and I didn’t know any. Ironically Cynthia provided the solution.

Dominick Martone was reputed to head up the Ontario branch of the Mafia. I’d met him through my wife’s work with a Canadian opera company. One night I got up the courage to approach him with my “business deal.” To my surprise he bit, and that launched me on the road to crime, and to dealing with dangerous characters with the blood of others on their hands. Whenever I considered backing out, I thought of my lovely Gina, womanly, sensuous, soft and round in all the right places, and professing her everlasting love for me. So I forged ahead, and needless to say, things didn’t work out exactly the way I had planned.

I won’t go into the details, except to say I made a few mistakes. But what did I know about being a criminal? Cut me some slack when judging me. I was an electrical engineer, unemployed, married to a woman I didn’t love—not that Cynthia isn’t a lovely lady, (we won’t talk about her mother)—and seduced by the fleshly delights of Gina Ellanado.

Okay, so now I’m slipping into justifying my actions, something I’ve pledged to myself not to do. As I admitted when I started this mea culpa, I did a bad thing. Admitting guilt is the first step towards redemption, according to people who know about such things. But while I wallow in self-pity at times, I also have my moments when I smile at the memory of my adventure with the lovely Gina Ellanado. Would I do it again? Maybe not. Probably not.

But then again you never know what you’ll in the future. Do you?

Carlton Smythe is the good-natured main character in Lights Out!, the stand-alone novel by Donald Bain (Severn House—May 2014). This mild-mannered pushover, blinded by his lust for a Latin siren, becomes a criminal mastermind of sorts, a role for which he’s decidedly ill-suited.

Meet the author
Donald Bain is the author or ghostwriter of more than 115 books, including 43 in the “Murder, She Wrote” series, and more than 25 in collaboration with Margaret Truman in her Capital Crimes series. He has continued that series following Ms. Truman’s death.

Channeling Seth Hazlitt by Donald Bain

Prescription for MurderI’ve been a doctor in Cabot Cove, Maine, for too many years to admit to. It sometimes seems that I’ve delivered half the babies in town, and have helped countless family members deal with the loss of a loved one. My name is Seth Hazlitt, but most people in town call me “Doc.” They also affectionately refer to me a “chicken soup” doctor, and I proudly accept that moniker. While I keep up with advances in medicine, sometimes a bowl of chicken soup and some TLC is all an ailing patient needs.

Cabot Cove is a good place to live. Although it’s grown over the years it still retains that small town feel. That’s because it’s populated by wonderful people, including one of my very dearest friends, Jessica Fletcher.

Jessica, as millions of people know, is a mystery novelist who also has the unfortunate habit of personally becomin’ involved in real-life murders. I’ve heard it said that Cabot Cove must have the highest murder rate in the country. Well, it’s true that Jessica seems to trip over dead bodies wherever she goes. Folks call her “today’s Miss Marple.” That’s an apt description.

Some people think I’m a bit of a curmudgeon. Mebbe so. Jessica and I have had our differences over the years. I’ve had the misfortune of becoming involved in some of her forays into the messy business of murder. She rarely takes my advice to curb her penchant for pokin’ her lovely, aquiline nose into homicide. She may nod and agree but her actions show otherwise. In a few cases I have consented to play Dr. Watson to her Sherlock Holmes, providing advice as she ferrets out the murderers. But recently our roles were reversed. This is how it happened.

Several years ago I traveled to Cuba with a group of physicians to be introduced to that Communist island’s surprisingly sophisticated health care system. While there I became acquainted with a fine physician, Dr. Alvaro Vasquez, whose research into discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s disease showed great potential. He and his family eventually defected from Cuba and settled in Tampa, Florida, where, with financial backing, he continued his medical investigations. Comes to pass, he invites me to spend a week with him in Tampa just when Jessica winds up her tour there promotin’ her latest book. Madame Fletcher decides to extend her stay so we can enjoy some leisurely time together in sunny Florida.

Our visit started off positively. Al hosted a party at his lovely waterfront home and Jessica and I got to mingle with those near and dear to him. Naturally (and I’m not blaming it on Jessica being there), things went awry at that social occasion. Tragedy struck literally and figuratively. A massive lightning bolt hit the deck and Al collapsed and died. (Tampa is, unfortunately, the lightning capital of the nation). You can imagine the chaos it caused for everyone, both those personally close to Al, and to his professional colleagues. It was tough on me, too. I lost a fellow I considered a good friend.

Although it appeared to everyone that Al was a victim of Mother Nature, it eventually emerged that it wasn’t lightning that killed him after all. Alvaro Vasquez had been murdered, and Jessica and I found ourselves knee-deep in trying to identify his killer. As we dug into Al Vasquez’s life, we discovered that there was a dark side to him. The men who financed his research were not what they appeared to be, and there were family members who didn’t have the same reverence for him as I did. Our questions seemed to provoke certain people and we soon learned that unless we found the answers we could end up sufferin’ a fate similar to that of Dr. Vasquez.

Solving murders isn’t part of my curriculum vitae, but I threw myself into this case and attempted to get to the bottom of Al’s death. Jessica was right there by my side, which I certainly appreciated. She has a way of gettin’ to the nitty-gritty of events and the people behind them, and her insight was invaluable. Nevertheless we found ourselves in danger. We became not only the targets of those who’d been behind Al Vasquez’s murder, we ended up embroiled in the politics of Castro’s Cuba and its anger at seeing one of its leading medical researchers sell what promised to be a major breakthrough to its enemy, the United States of America. We wondered whether we’d ever see our beloved Cabot Cove again.

As has happened numerous times in the past, Jessica’s friend, Donald Bain, who has chronicled her many adventures and misadventures in his books in the “Murder, She Wrote” series, did the same with our hair-raising experience. His book, Prescription for Murder captures what we went through as I abandoned my usual white clinical smock and put on my Sherlock deer-stalker cap, with the inimitable Jessica willingly functioning as my trusty sidekick and conscience, my Dr. Watson.

Thanks to Penguin, I have one (1) copy of PRESCRIPTION FOR MURDER to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. Contest ends April 6; US entries only per publisher’s request.

You can read more about Seth in Prescription for Murder, the 39th book in the “Murder She Wrote” mystery series. The first book in the series is Gin & Daggers.

Meet the Author
Donald Bain is the author/ghostwriter of over 115 books, including the best-selling “Murder, She Wrote” series of 39 mysteries, and the latest edition in Margaret Truman’s Capital Crimes series, Experiment in Murder. His 1960’s airline romp, Coffee, Tea or Me? sold more 5-million copies worldwide, and was reissued by Penguin as a “comedy classic.” His autobiography, Murder HE Wrote: A Successful Writer’s Life, was published in 2006 (Purdue University Press). Don is a member of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, the National Academy of Television Arts & Science, and the Authors Guild. His wife, Renee Paley-Bain, collaborates with him on the “Murder, She Wrote” books.

Please visit him at www.donaldbain.com and “Like” his “Murder, She Wrote Author” page on Facebook.