Welcome author M. Ravenel and The Arrangement for this week’s Tell Tale Tuesday.
I never thought in a million years that I would write any sort of mystery story. Ironically, my problem-solving skills are lacking, to say the least. So, who knew this day would come when I would end up publishing my very first detective mystery story like this? I’ve never read a mystery story prior to writing this book, and the most crime fiction I was ever exposed to was Law & Order: SVU. But like all things with my writing (or anything creative, for that matter), I like to challenge myself. This book was definitely a challenge, but not as hard as I thought it would be.
The Arrangement is a story about a young woman name Rita “Tootsie” Carter, a snarky, spunky, rough-and-tumble gal from the Bronx, New York City. The Arrangement takes place in New York City 1975, a crazy time, for sure. So you can imagine that this was also a great setting for a crime fiction story like this.
Tootsie’s story originated as a series of short stories about her as a nine year-old girl in 1956. Each of the stories involved her pretending she was famous detective like her idol, Dick Tracy, and solving little mysteries around her neighborhood. She also had a penchant for Tootsie Rolls, which garnered her nickname. I wrote the first short story for an anthology contest (which ended up getting chosen and published). I wrote more stories for subsequent contests and writing prompts. These stories were written in a way that kids today as well as kids from the 40s and 50s could enjoy and relate to.
With all of these Tootsie short stories I had written, a question was posed to me as to what Tootsie would be like if she were older. It took some thinking, but thankfully, I was able to turn to my parents, who remembered New York City in the 70s most vividly. In writing The Arrangement, I learned a lot of new things about life back then. The most interesting was that it was in 1974 that women were finally allowed to have their own credit card!
Tootsie is someone who likes to go against society’s norm—much like me. Being a woman in a man’s world, the odds were stacked against her. And being African-American, those odds were stacked even higher. A lot of the themes in The Arrangement centers on Tootsie navigating (and surviving) this tumultuous world. She was a former cop turned private detective, which was a bit of a rare thing for women. She’s single, independent, and can hold her own in most situations. There are some women’s liberation themes sprinkled throughout the story, as she faces her own challenges. But she doesn’t let that stop her from doing her job and stopping the bad guys.
The Arrangement is the first book in a planned series that will hold a similar charm as the kid-Tootsie short stories, but with a bit of a darker, more mature edge. I would classify this book as ‘hard-boiled detective mystery,’ but some readers may consider it ‘soft-boiled.’ There is plenty of dark humor, snark, and action.
I hope readers around the world will fall in love with Tootsie and her friends, just as I have.
“A gritty, hard-boiled mystery featuring a tough, snarky, female private eye from 1970s New York City.”
Another case has fallen onto the desk of Tootsie Carter; a female detective armed with a snubnosed Colt .38, unmatchable wit, and a pocketful of Tootsie Rolls.
New York City, 1975
A missing wife. The seedy underbelly of the boxing world. Lace your gloves and ring the bell, PI Tootsie Carter is on the case.
When a desperate man stumbles into her office, pleading for help locating his wife, Tootsie launches into the investigation.
Following the clues, she uncovers a boxing racketeer with a deadly agenda.
Can Tootsie deliver the one-two punch that brings the woman home safe? Or will more bodies fall to the mats?
Eyeing the knife, I inhaled. Then I grabbed his wrist with my free hand, holding him firmly, while I yanked my other hand out of his tight grip. I spun, keeping the knife in sight, and gave his wrist a sharp twist.
The knife dropped, and the kid howled. He keeled over and held his disabled hand. He looked back at me with fire in his eyes. “Bitch!” He gritted his teeth then straightened again.
I stabbed my leg into his gut with a bone-crushing side kick, my tough boot folding him back over like a book and knocking the wind out of him. His eyes bugged out, and he staggered backward. I whipped out my gun and aimed it at him. “Still wanna tangle?”
His face turned snow white, and his one good hand shot up in surrender. “H-Hey, baby… easy… easy with that!” he said between gasps.
I scowled. “Don’t call me baby. Now get outta here, sucker, before I pump you full of lead. And don’t let me catch you or your friends’ ugly mugs around here again, dig?”
He swallowed once then took a nervous step back.
“Scram!” I clicked off the safety.
The kid turned tail and ran, tripping over his two friends. He stumbled but quickly recovered and bolted down the sidewalk. His friends struggled to their feet and hurried after him. Soon, the three disappeared around the corner.
Sighing, I reset the safety and put away my gun.
Mitts raised his eyebrows. “Whoa. Who are you? Bruce Lee? Those were some bad moves. Where’d you learn that?”
I gave him a coy grin. “I was one of the few students who actually paid attention in self-defense class at the academy.”
“Anyway, I’m more partial to Jim Kelly.”
“Oh yeah. He’s a bad mother too.”
“And he’s fine.”
Mitts laughed. “Don’t tell Roy that.”
“Roy can stick it up his nose.”
“That’s not very ladylike.”
I snorted. “I’m not a lady today.”
Ravenel is the author of the Plainclothes Tootsie mystery series featuring a tough, snarky private eye from 1970s New York City.
When not writing, reading, or working out, Ravenel enjoys watching Golden Age hard-boiled and noir detective films.
Ravenel may sometimes be spotted wearing a signature trench coat and fedora while penning the next Plainclothes Tootsie story on a typewriter-inspired keyboard.