Velvet on a Tuesday Afternoon, by Clive Rosengren: a Femme Fatale with a Heart of Gold

velvetVelvet on a Tuesday Afternoon ($14.95, 224 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-625-0), is book three of Clive Rosengren’s mystery series set in Hollywood and featuring private investigator/part-time actor Eddie Collins. When an actress/exotic dancer from Eddie Collins’ past hires him to find her brother, he risks his life to both locate Frankie and keep her safe.

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Eddie is the real thing, thanks to Rosengren’s eighteen years as a Hollywood character actor. In October Coffeetown reprinted the first two mysteries in this series, Murder Unscripted ($14.95, 240 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-669-4), and Red Desert ($14.95, 184 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-667-0). Both books were finalists for the Shamus Award, sponsored by the Private Eye Writers of America.

“[In] Rosengren’s assured third Eddie Collins mystery [….] Eddie proves to be a pretty resourceful and impressive detective.” Read more….
—Publishers Weekly

5 Stars: “It was enjoyable and entertaining to discover and read Velvet On A Tuesday Afternoon by Clive Rosengren. The author immediately transports us to Los Angeles. But not the three Bs, Brentwood, Bel-Aire and Beverly Hills. No, this is the L.A. of Hollywood and downtown, and Skid Row. Homeless and impoverished. Eddie Collins is our hero, a sometime actor and full-time P.I. His ex-girlfriend asks Eddie to find her brother. How hard could that be? A lot harder than Eddie anticipates. The story is twisty and unpredictable, just what a mystery should be.” Read more….

—Steve Aberle, Great Mysteries and Thrillers Blog

For PI Eddie Collins, the moment Carla Rizzoli sashays into his office casts him deliciously into a scene from a classic noir. Only this femme fatale is a sweet ghost from his past, a time when he made his living exclusively as an actor. Then she was a full-time actress too, and they’d dated briefly before an old flame came back into her life. Now she’s known as Velvet La Rose and making a steady living as an exotic dancer at the Feline Follies. She needs Eddie’s services to find her missing brother Frankie Rizzoli, who sent her a cryptic message warning her to watch her back.

Eddie falls hard for Carla, who hasn’t given up on acting. In fact, she’s about to start work on a B-movie, Festival of Death. Now motivated by more than a paycheck, Eddie searches for Frankie, last seen hiding out among the homeless. Frankie was once a member of the military police, and an old photo identifies an old Army buddy, James Curran, who starts to cross paths with both Eddie and Carla with increasing frequency.

What is Frankie mixed up in and why doesn’t he want to be found? How does James Curran figure in? As Eddie questions the residents of Skid Row and works undercover as an extra in Festival of Death, he searches in vain for the links between Frankie and James and Carla. He needs answers soon, or Carla may slip through his fingers again, this time into oblivion.

Books 1 and 2, also available in audiobooks produced by Blackstone Audio, were hits with readers and critics:

Murder Unscripted: “I like this character Eddie Collins. He’s tough, funny and has the classic private eye’s world-weary wisdom. I hope to see much more of him.” —Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch series

“Blasting out of a time warp, straight from the 1940s. [Murder Unscripted] is set in modern Hollywood, but it’s old-time California noir, right down to its Bakelite heart [….] luscious.” —Booklist

“The plot purrs along fast and smooth [….] The ending of Murder Unscripted delivers the reader a sweet surprise.” —Mystery Scene

Red Desert: “My friend Clive Rosengren has created a guy I’d like to get to know: Eddie Collins. I wouldn’t mess with him, but you’d want his number in your wallet.” —Tom Hanks

Red Desert: “Besides the standard pleasures of a well-plotted mystery-thriller, the Eddie Collins novels excel in delivering a giggle-fest of Hollywood history and gossip.” —Mystery Scene

Says Rosengren: “Several years ago at Christmas, my brother, sister-in-law, and myself were visiting my nephew and his wife. While walking back to their home after dinner at a restaurant, my nephew’s wife uttered the phrase ‘velvet on a Tuesday afternoon.’ I can’t remember the context of their conversation, but I immediately seized on the wording and told her I was going to use it as a title. It rolled around in my head for several years, conjuring up exotic and romantic images, which eventually evolved into Carla Rizzoli, a love interest that comes back into Eddie Collins’ life. In the first two books, I’d kind of pictured Eddie as being gun shy when it comes to women, but when this former lover appears in his office asking for his help, he can’t resist. Of course, the fact that Carla works as an exotic dancer at a gentlemen’s club under the name of Velvet La Rose might have something to do with the thawing of his resistance.”

Clive Rosengren’s acting career spanned more than forty years, beginning with stage work and ending in Hollywood. Movie credits include Ed Wood, Soapdish, Cobb, and Bugsy. Among numerous television credits are Seinfeld, Home Improvement, and Cheers. He lives in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley. Click here to find him online.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

My cellphone went off, and law-abiding citizen that I am, I pulled over, put the car in park, and looked at the screen. It was Carla Rizzoli, my client.

“Hey, Carla. Thanks for getting back to me.”

“I’m glad you called. I’ve got some great news.”

“What’s that?”

“I got booked on that movie I told you about.”

“Well, all right. Congratulations.”

“Thanks. I start on Monday.”

“That’s terrific.”

“Any news on your end, Eddie?”

“A little, actually. Where are you?”

“At the Follies. I’m between sets.”

“Well, I’m in the neighborhood. Thought maybe I could swing by and bring you up to speed.”

“Absolutely. You know where it is, right?”

I told her I did and said I’d see her in a bit. Popping into a gentlemen’s club in the middle of the day wasn’t something I was accustomed to, but hey, business is business, right?

I nosed back into traffic and continued west on Century. At La Brea I turned right, did the same on Hardy, and then a left on Larch. The street held a mix of apartment complexes and single-family dwellings. Phil Scarborough’s address was on the left. I parked across the street. The house was small and painted egg-shell blue. A front yard was neatly trimmed, and a set of rose bushes ran along an open porch. A red Toyota RAV4 sat in the driveway.

I walked up to the threshold and noticed an elderly black man next door. He was on his knees, working on an array of yellow flowers surrounding a small tree in his front yard. When he saw me, he sat back on his haunches and wiped the sweat off his forehead.

I knocked on the aluminum screen door. Venetian blinds covered a window and the only sound I could hear was a plane approaching LAX from the east. I knocked again and turned to look at the Toyota RAV4, locking the license plate digits into my head. A third knock also resulted in nothing, so I turned to go and saw a small gap appear in the Venetian blinds. Someone was inside but wasn’t about to answer the door.

As I started heading back to my car, the gardener next door got to his feet and stepped to the edge of the driveway. “I ain’t seen the guy lately.”

“Phil Scarborough, right?” I said.

“That his name? You got me. Never really met him.”

“Is this his Toyota?”

“Don’t rightly know. I seen another fella show up a few days ago. Could be his.”

“Thanks,” I said. “Nice-looking yard you got there.”

“Whatchu lookin’ for him for? You police?”

“No, sir. Publishers Clearing House. He might have won some money.”

“Sheeet, man. You yankin’ my chain. Crawl back in your fuckin’ car and skedaddle outta here.” He shook his head and started walking down his driveway.

I got behind the wheel, picked up my camera and zoomed in on the Toyota RAV4. I took a couple of shots and then focused on the license plate and got all the digits. While I was at it, I aimed the camera at the window with the Venetian blinds. This time the gap was bigger and a person’s face was clearly visible.

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