Ellen Larson’s first story appeared in Yankee Magazine in 1971. She has sold stories to AHMM (Barry Award finalist) and Big Pulp and is the author of the NJ Mysteries, The Hatch and Brood of Time and Unfold the Evil, featuring a sleuthing reporter. Her current book is In Retrospect, a dystopian mystery (Carefully crafted whodunit -PW starred). Larson lived for seventeen years in Egypt, where she developed a love of different cultures. She is editor of the Poisoned Pencil, the YA mystery imprint. These days she lives in an off-grid cabin in upstate New York, enjoying the solitude. Visit her at http://www.inretrospectbook.com
Ode to My Profound Lack of Snark
How I wish I could snark. How fun it must be, I imagine, to gain the limelight by being brilliantly witty and dazzling my readers with my clever quips and quintessential cuts. To have readers leave my readings thinking “Gerald, park outside the Panera so I can use their internet on my iPod; I have to buy her book Right Now. It must be wonderful.”
But alas, I’ve written a deadly serious book; a whopping great post apocalyptic anti-war book (In Retrospect, Dec 2013 Five Star), with a protagonist who is depressed, drugged, and defeated. In fact I’ve written a dystopian murder mystery, which, for those of you unclear as to what dystopia is all about, means I’ve created a whole wide world where life universally sucks. If this book ever appears even by accident on a Florida beach, it will by sheer negative magnetism drive the beach readers away in droves.
Though now that I think of it, Merit, my protagonist, is full of snark. You know, the type of character who would joke with the hangman. Actually it is all she has, having been stripped of her elite position as a Forensic Retrospector, which allowed her to use her time-traveling abilities to solve crimes and influence people. But that was long ago, before the war (you remember the war) that devastated her futuristic city state. Before she was imprisoned, “rehabilitated” via a combination of torture and threats to her family, and ultimately forced to work for her victorious enemies who demand that she solve a politically sensitive murder case. (Is that the sound of bare feet running on hot sand I hear?) But me? I’m not much for snark. Except about myself, of course.
Former elite operative Merit Rafi suffered during her imprisonment at the end of a devastating war, but the ultimate torment is being forced to investigate a murder she would gladly have committed herself. The year is 3324. In the region once known as Turkey, the Rasakans have attacked the technologically superior Oku. The war is a stalemate until the Oku commander, General Zane, abruptly surrenders. Merit, a staunch member of the Oku resistance, fights on, but she and her comrades are soon captured. An uneasy peace ensues, but the Rasakans work secretly to gain control of the prized Oku time-travel technology. When Zane is murdered, the Rasakans exert their control over Merit, the last person on Earth capable of Forensic Retrospection. Merit, though reinstated to her old job by the despised Rasakans, knows she is only a puppet. If she refuses to travel back in time to identify Zane’s killer, her family and colleagues will pay the price. But giving in to Rasakan coercion means giving them unimaginable power. She has only three days to make this morally wrenching choice; three days to change history. As the preliminary investigation progresses, Merit uncovers evidence of a wider plot. How did the Rasakans defeat the technologically superior Oku? Why did the Oku surrender prematurely? How did the Rasakans discover her true identity? Merit realizes she will only find the answers by learning who killed the traitor, General Zane. In Retrospect is a good old-fashioned whodunit set in a compelling post-apocalyptic future.
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