Jean Harrington's Designed for Death

My guest today is Jean Harrington. In her former life, Jean wrote advertising copy, and for 17 years taught English lit and writing at Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts. Then she and husband Big John moved to Naples, Florida, and she's been writing ever since. In 2007 and 2009, her two historical romances were published. And the first in her Murders by Design Mystery Series, Designed for Deathwas released in January in e-book and audio format. At year’s end it will also be released in print format. Currently working on the third in her mystery series, Jean is up to her knees in dead bodies and loving every minute of it.   

Anne - Welcome, Jean. It’s a pleasure to chat with you today. Tell us something about yourself that you would normally only share with close friends.

Jean - Well, please don’t spread this around, but I’ve always wanted to be a lounge singer. Preferably draped on top of a piano, mc in hand, wearing a strapless red gown with a thigh-high slit. “Why was I born? Why am I living . . .” Ha, I can hear it now, what fun!

Anne – I’m very envious, mainly because I can’t carry a tune in a paper bag. Cliché, I know, but oh, so true! Tell us about your book.

Jean - Would love to. Designed for Death is the first in my Murders by Design Mystery Series. It was released in January by Carina Press, the digital arm of Harlequin as both an e-book and an audio. And I just recently learned it will also be released in print format. So I’m thrilled. 

Here’s the sassy blurb the publisher wrote:

Interior designer Deva Dunne’s latest project comes to a screeching halt when blood on the carpet leads her to the body of her client, an exotic dancer with a mysterious past. But the murdered woman is not the only resident of the posh beachfront condominium with secrets, and investigating officer Lieutenant Victor Rossi considers them all suspects.

Though wary of working in the killer’s midst, Deva continues decorating the unit for the new owner. When she stumbles upon clues that might help crack the case, she can’t resist doing a little digging of her own, despite Rossi’s orders to quit meddling. Now, she’s juggling the investigation, her career and sexy neighbor Simon Yaeger, who seems interested in more than her etchings.

Deva can’t help but be flattered by all the male attention—that is, until she realizes the killer has designs on her, too…

Anne – Would you share an excerpt with us?

Jean – I would be delighted! This was a tough one—sort of like choosing cookies in the supermarket. But I zeroed in on a page from chapter one. Here goes:

Steel hands clamped onto my shoulders. A scream wedged in my throat, and I shoved, trying to pull free. 

A man. Oh, God. The killer.

I thrashed, but his fingers bit deeper into my arms. I kicked and flailed, and he gave me a jerk.

“For God’s sake, lady, what’s wrong?”

He pushed me from his chest, holding me at arm’s length. “What’s the matter?” Then he shook me. The jolt caught me mid-scream, and I looked into his eyes. They were full of questions. He really wanted to know. My terror eased, and the scream died away.

“Treasure’s gone,” I wailed. “Oh God, Treasure.”

My knees wobbled, and my legs turned to mush. I sagged in his arms. Without a word, he gently lowered me to the stone walkway that ran the length of the third floor landing.
“Treasure,” I moaned, leaning against the wrought iron railing, the ghastly bathtub scene floating before my eyes more real than the stranger crouched in front of me.

“You’ve been robbed?” He thrust his chin out, indicating the open door of unit 301. “In there?” 

“Not robbed. Murdered.”
“What?” His startled glance swung back to me. “What do you mean, murdered?

I pointed at Treasure’s door. “There’s a dead woman in there.” A sob tore from my throat. 

“A dead woman?” After peering at Treasure’s open door for a moment, he stood, walked through it and disappeared inside, leaving me sprawled against the railing.

A floor below, the ear-shattering squeal of Dick Parker’s electric saw sliced the air. With all that noise, no wonder he hadn’t had rushed up to find out why I had been yelling my head off.

Maybe I should leap to my feet and keep on running, but I couldn’t summon the energy to move. Besides, there wasn’t time. The man I’d rammed into returned looking as if he had been struck with a plank. 

“We need to call the police,” he said. 

He closed the door to Treasure’s condo and opened the one next to it. His place? He bent down, pulling me up by both hands. Cold sweat coated his palms as he half led, half carried, me inside.
“Leave the door open,” I said.

He arched an eyebrow but did as I asked. After depositing me in an oversized, brown leather chair, he dialed 911.

“I want to report a murder,” he said.

Anne – Thank you! What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself from writing?

Jean - I have a sense of humor! I can’t believe it. I have a sense of humor! And it’s escaped onto the pages of Designed for Death. The reason I was surprised when I saw it there is that I’m married to a witty Irishman, and he is the acknowledged humorist and raconteur of the family. In fact, I’ve swiped some of his best lines and popped them into the book. He loves seeing them there.

Anne - What cause, etc., consumes your time when you’re away from the keyboard?

Jean - I asked my husband which of my various activities would make the best reading for you guys. He said, “Your fund-raising for destitute rabbits, of course.” Then he told me a couple of rabbit jokes. But I’m learning—I didn’t mention, not even once, that he’d told them all before. Actually, I am very active in a local women’s group that is both social and philanthropic. I am past president and active in the Southwest chapter of RWA. And I do a great deal of critiquing for both published and emerging writers. 

Anne – Where can readers find you online?

Jean – At my website, on Facebook, or Twitter. They can also email me at 

Anne - Thank you so much for dropping by to chat today, Jean. I wish you every success with the Designed Mystery Series. Happy writing!

Comments are always welcome and appreciated. Become a follower to ensure you receive every author interview, announcement and/or blog post on the Muriel Reeves Mysteries. Until next time, happy reading! J

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Radine Trees Nehring said...

I was smiling all the way through the excerpt--and feeling mighty guilty--until I got to the end and found it was okay to smile. Great interview, obviously a fun story! Thanks.

Jean Harrington said...

Hi Radine, Thanks for reading the interview. You have an unusual name. I love it. May I use it in a book sometime? Jean

Staci said...

Fun interview and great excerpt. It definitely made me want to read more!

Kelly Hashway said...

Great interview and excerpt. I have a mystery lover in my family so I'll be sure to pass this title along.

Madison Johns said...

Great interview. I really need to work on my interview skills because Jean what a great interview. I'm one of those people that never knew I could writer humor either. Good luck!

Jean Harrington said...

Thanks to all for commenting. The interview questions were terrific, and that helps!

Anne K. Albert said...

Thanks for dropping by, Jean. As for the interesting interview questions, the truth is I'm always on the lookout for new and different ones on other author sites. When I find one I like, I steal, um I mean, BORROW, it. All's fair in love and writing! ;-)

marja said...

What a fun interview. Thank you for brightening my day. :)