HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Did you see the 60 Minutes story on the Maryland Cup? And the crazy devoted talented brilliant riders who gallop four miles over fencers and water hazards and who knows what else at breakneck (oops) speeds on gorgeous horses?
Yeah, the fabulous Sasscer Hill does stuff like that, and I cannot wait to talk to her about it at Malice.
She’s got a brand new mystery set in horse racing world, FLAMINGO ROAD, just brand new from St. Martin’s. And, dear Reds, Sasscer is about to see that the course of a book tour is almost as hazardous as a cross country steeplechase. In fact, it may be exactly the same thing.
THE UPTOWN BOOK SIGNING
By Sasscer Hill
It’s a cold March afternoon and pouring as my plane skids to a halt on LaGuardia’s runway. I have arrived for the first book signing for Flamingo Road, three weeks prior to its April 18 pub date.
I rush to the baggage area, relieved to see my bag circling toward me. It has the outfit for my event at the posh ladies’ club in Manhattan where I have miraculously landed this gig. I manhandle the bag off the carousel, grab the handle, extend it, and begin marching. Except, the bag is immobile on the floor, and I am holding an unattached handle in my hand.
Have I just said the F word? Was it loud enough to be heard? If you’ve ever suffered an experience like this, did a four-letter word escape your lips?
This won’t do, I admonish myself, remembering the perfect, hand-written letter I received from the club announcing cell phones may not be used inside, and absolutely no photos may be taken, ever. It advised that I must not reveal the name of the club when mentioning the event on social media. A whole new meaning for “private” club.
I arrive at my sister’s apartment a little wet and looking like I’ve just gone ten rounds with my suitcase. The next day, as we arrive at the club, it’s still raining. I remove my rubber boots and slip on my suede Sacha London three-inch pumps. Fortified with fashion and makeup, I meet the ladies. I have never seen so many Gucci shoes and Chanel Suits outside the September issue of Vogue.
The ladies are charming, educated, and talk of their latest travels and the jewelry they bought in South America the previous month. We are having English tea and beautifully arranged pastries. I tell the head lady that I would kill for a Diet Coke and she rustles one up. Soon I’m at the podium to speak.
I go inside myself, focusing like I used to do when I’d ride in a steeplechase race. I meet my fences––which today are bullet points on a sheet of paper––and I don’t falter. Women are leaning forward, listening to every word, no one is whispering, there is perfect silence, and I know I’m winning. At the book signing, I sell out.
Have any of you experienced a recalcitrant suitcase, or wealth intimidation? How do you find your inner strength?
HANK: Heck with inner strength. I want to hear about a club that is so private you can't even talk about it.
But WHY does something always go wrong in situations like that? At the worst possible time? How does it know?
At least we can't get last-second runs in our stockings anymore!
Sasscer, you are fabulous!
Author Sasscer Hill was involved in horse racing as an amateur jockey and racehorse breeder for most of her life. She sets her novels against a background of big money, gambling, and horse racing, and her mystery and suspense thrillers have received multiple award nominations.
Sasscer provided the Kirkus Review, which, she says, provides the most accurate synopsis of Flamingo Road that’s been written.
“The dark and dirty underbelly of horse racing is exposed when a Baltimore cop goes to visit relatives in Florida. Internal Affairs has been very interested in Fia McKee ever since she shot and killed the man who was choking Shyra Darnell, a hot walker at Pimlico who's so afraid of someone that she refuses to answer any questions.
When Fia's beloved father, a racehorse trainer, was murdered five years earlier, Fia joined the police and has never given up on his case, which has now turned very cold. Put on leave, she answers a call for help from her brother, Patrick, whose wife has walked out and left him with a horse-crazy teen. Someone's been slaughtering people's horses for meat, and when Cody, her niece Jilly's gelding, becomes a victim, Fia gets mad and plots to get even.
The night of the gelding's death, she meets a man named Zanin who runs the Protect the Animals League and is trying to stop the carnage. Zanin is sure the guilty party is a Cuban-American who lives in the dangerous and lawless area known as the C-Nine Basin, but no one's been able to prove that he's involved. Meantime,
Fia learns that her problems back home may go away if she agrees to go undercover for the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau at Florida's Gulfstream Park, where horses that shouldn't be winning are suddenly showing amazing talent. Fia eases into a job as an exercise rider for an honest trainer while trying to discover what new, so far undetectable, drug is turning ordinary horses into superstars. Hill boasts knowledge of horses and the very real problems in horse racing that fill this sound mystery with thrills and hair-raising action from first to last.”—Kirkus