Guest Chick: M.A. Monnin (and a giveaway!)

Becky here, and it’s my pleasure to have Mary Monnin visit us today! She’s launching a new book and has generously offered one to a random commenter. She’s uber-cool, eh?


Sparkly things catch my eye. Do they catch yours, dear reader? I ask because today I’m looking at hobbies in mysteries. I collect vintage jewelry, and my heroine Stefanie Adams collects antique jewelry. I get to indulge my hobby on the page and make use of all the research I’ve done.

My collection started when my mother gave me a set that once belonged to my grandmother, a camphor glass necklace and matching ring with lovely filigree detail. They aren’t expensive pieces–more like a dime a dozen back in the 1920’s–it’s the allure of the past that appeals to me rather than the intrinsic value.

Realizing I’d caught the collecting bug that plagued both my parents, I asked my oldest aunt—my mother was the youngest of 7 sisters—if she had any vintage costume jewelry she’d be willing to sell me. I knew my budget wouldn’t stretch to valuable jewelry from any era. I was astounded when she sent me a box crammed full of costume jewelry from the 1920s through the 1970s.

I was even more astounded when I discovered I was fascinated by the pieces with gaudy rhinestones. Who would wear such outrageous jewelry? I would, dear reader. I would. They’re nothing like the understated elegance of the filigree pieces I’d started with, but they are fun.

Maybe that’s why the artifact at the center of Death on the Grand Canal is a gaudy sapphire and emerald peacock pendant. Renaissance pendants were extremely showy, and my fictional Borgia Peacock is no exception. I’ve included a rendition of it done by my friend, artist Sally Bell. Google the Renaissance fish pendant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see just how over-the-top those pendants could be.

But back to hobbies: I love to watch old movies and I always feel a little thrill when an actress is wearing a piece of jewelry that I’d like own myself.

Know what else I love? Giveaways! I have a paperback copy of Death on the Grand Canal to give away to one person from the U.S. or Canada who comments below. I’ll announce the winner in the comments tomorrow, May 18th, which is my book launch day!

What about you, dear reader? Do you feel a little thrill when the heroine in a book has the same hobby as you do? What are your favorite hobbies, both in books and in real life?

Having discovered a knack for investigation, Stefanie joins Thomas Burkhardt in Milan, Italy, on the black market trail of the fabulous sapphire and emerald Borgia Peacock, a Renaissance pendant missing since it was stolen from the Milan International Expo of 1906.

Undercover as a wealthy heiress, Stefanie has no doubt she’ll convince current owner Contessa Giuliana Bergamo to sell to her. But when she shows up at the Contessa’s crumbling Venetian palazzo to clinch the deal, it isn’t only the glittering gemstones that have Stefanie seeing blue. Others are there vying for the Peacock, including Europe’s most notorious jewel fence. In the cut-throat competition, one of the would-be buyers is murdered.

With their cover identities as well as their lives on the line, Stefanie and Thomas dig for the truth while trying to avoid discovery themselves. When Stefanie learns Thomas is keeping secrets of his own, she wonders if the Borgia Peacock affair is one opportunity she shouldn’t have embraced.

An Air Force veteran and avocational archaeologist, M. A. enjoys traveling and archaeology in addition to making cocktails. She and her husband live in Kansas City, Missouri with their two Siberian huskies. She can be reached on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or at her website …

35 thoughts on “Guest Chick: M.A. Monnin (and a giveaway!)

  1. Mary, the impressionist-painting style of your book cover is breathtaking. It is reminiscent of the gems in a jewelry box with its colors and shimmers. I love it. Myself…? I’m most fascinated with crystals that catch the sunlight, scattering and refracting rainbows all around–much like the rhinestones you refer to. Wishing you the best of luck with this beautiful book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Pamela for your well-wishes. I love it when my rhinestones scatter the rainbows all around too. In fact, whenever I’m in the car and am wearing the rainbow pin that’s in the center of the photo, sunlight coming in hits the rhinestones and scatters those refracting rainbows all over the car. I can’t help but grin the whole time.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks J.C.! I hope your new release is going well, too. I’m seeing Concert Hall Hit all over social media. Your hobby of listening to music is definitely reflected in your Darcy Gaughan mysteries.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Congrats, Mary– can’t wait for your launch day tomorrow! I had the good fortune to read this book pre-pub, everyone, and it is AMAZING. Intrigue, Venice, a touch of romance, and jewels–like Death in the Aegean (Agatha nominee for Best First), all the elements for a perfect escape–and I learned a lot! Re: sparkles (I have zero hobbies these days, outside of literary ones), I inherited my mom’s and grandma’s jewelry collections, along with my sister. Some lovely costume pieces, and a lot of clip earrings. They’re lovely, but a little hard to wear.


    1. Ooooh, Lisa, I’d love to see those inherited pieces one day. Or to at least hear what they look like. I have a lot of the clip earrings, too. Ouch! I can see why they aren’t as popular anymore. Oh, and some of my earrings are the screw-type, which can hurt if they’re screwed too tight as well. The things women did for a little glamour!
      Thanks for the kind words for Death on the Grand Canal.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mary, I LOVE vintage jewelry and collect it myself! I’d love to see your terrific collection. And can’t wait to read the new book. I loved the first one. (Using “loved” here a lot, lol.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oooh, can’t wait to read this book! And what a delight it was meeting you at Malice. Best of luck on your launch!


  5. Hurrah on your latest book, Mary! My mom passed on a lot of vintage jewelry (although some are still in a safe deposit box). What I love most about those pieces is the feeling of being connected with her.

    (When I was growing up, though, my classmate had a vintage cameo necklace which I adored!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jennifer. I agree, that connection is the most important part. I try to imagine where my aunts wore each particular piece, and feel close to them when I wear them myself. Those old cameos are beautiful!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a few fun brooches I enjoy wearing. Thanks for hanging out today with the Chicks! Congrats on the new book and enjoy your launch tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congrats again on the release, Mary! No vintage jewelry in my life, but I just put an old ruby brooch in a manuscript. Fun research! In real life, I’m a crossword gal which I put in a series. I mean, write what you know, right…?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can’t wait to read your book. I love old jewelry. I have many pieces that are good jewelry from my other and her family including some cameos and other really nice good quality pieces (all in a safe deposit box). Then a friend gave me quite a few rhinestone necklaces and earrings and a couple of bracelets and brooches. So, I have picked up a few of those. Her aunt in Rhode Island would go to the Five and Dime every week and buy every set in every color they had that was new. So she would have the same set in clear, pink, blue, etc. I wish that I could have gotten more of these from her back then. She sold some to another friend and then she has passed, so I do not know what happened to the rest. I love reading books located in places that I have visited and loved, ones that are about collecting. things, cooking ones, and ones on old houses. I would love to win the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Madeline, those jewelry sets sound fantastic. I have one set of earrings and pink, and several pieces in blue. I think my aunt was partial to the blue ones. Your collection sounds lovely.


  9. I’m always thrilled when I see something I like pop up in a mystery series. That includes a location I’m familiar with.

    Congrats on the new book. Looking forward to it.

    (My copy is coming, so no need to enter me in the giveaway.)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have some of my grandmother’s costume jewelry (I love that usage, by the way–makes me want to wear it along with a pirate outfit!), but I can’t say I ever wear it. I’m not much of a jewelry kind of gal, but it is fun to take out and look at from time to time.

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, and congrats on the new book–it looks terrific!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Leslie! I have to admit that I look at my pieces more often than I wear them. I usually wear mine when I know I’m going to see another vintage jewelry fan. Every pirate outfit could benefit from a few additional dazzling jewels, I think.


  11. Huge congratulations on the new book – I am very excited to read it! That is a gorgeous cover. I do have a couple of cool old pieces of costume jewelry from my mom – some bracelets and brooches. As far as hobbies, I love to read (of course), bake, dance to salsa (very badly), and hike.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Daria! I love to wear my vintage bracelets. They never seem to be out of style. Reading, baking and hiking are all hobbies I share with you. I tried a salsa exercise dvd for a while — never could manage those moves, but I had fun.


  12. I also love vintage pieces, rhinestones rock! I am an avid knitter and haunt thrift shops and garage sales for jewelry and China, love to find these hobbies inbooks!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Congratulations on the new release! I do enjoy it when characters have a food related hobby since I enjoy cooking and baking. I love trying out new recipes for fun. I also enjoy traveling so I love when the character travels and I get to learn about new places.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cherie! I love books that have a lot of cooking, too. It always makes me want to get in the kitchen and try the recipes, or go to a restaurant that specializes in that kind of food.


  14. I put all the names in a hat (a straw fedora, of course) and drew one out.
    The winner is . . . . Daria!
    Congratulations Daria! Give me your contact info, and I’ll send a signed copy of Death on the Grand Canal to you as soon as I get my author copies.


  15. Congrats, the book sounds really fun! I like collecting vintage items too, though I have a few favorites . . . I love vintage typewriters, hats/gloves/hankies, and (some) vintage dishes. My MIL and I share this love which is fun.

    The strange thing is that I’m a bit of a minimalist so it’s a tricky balance.

    Have you considered having your author photo redone with a piece or two of your vintage jewelry? It would be a fun addition! 🙂 Good luck with your launch.


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