Femme Fatale as Private Investigator with SG Wong
Welcome to an alternative Los Angeles.
The femme fatale is an archetype in literature, especially in crime novels. Think of Cora in The Postman Always Rings Twice or Phyllis in Double Indemnity. (Both those novels were written by James M. Cain. He seems to have had a thing for femme fatales.) These are women who are seductive and usually beautiful who lure men into compromising or dangerous situations.
SG (Sandra) Wong has taken this classic noir mystery trope and turned it on its head, which I just love. Lola Starke is the femme fatale in Sandra's historical crime novels, and she's also the private investigator.
Sandra reads to us from book 2 in the series (there are 3 books so far), called In for a Pound which finds Lola Starke and her friend Ria on the scene when a murder takes place.
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This week's mystery author
SG (Sandra) Wong writes fiction across genres, has garnered some crime fiction awards nominations, speaks on writing and publishing topics, and volunteers for important community causes such as Sisters in Crime, which she serves as National President.
Her Lola Starke novels and Crescent City short stories are set in a 1930s-era, fictionalized “Chinese Los Angeles,” with ghosts and magic, in an alternate history in which China established a city-state colony at the start of the Gold Rush.
Sandra's next book is coming in 2022 from HarperCollins Canada and is a stand-alone suspense novel.
To learn more about SG Wong and all her books visit SGWong.com
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Excerpt from In for a Pound
“Why, hello stranger.” Ria looked up at Lola, gave a lazy smile. She patted the shoulder of the man in whose lap she sat. “This is my new friend Charlie. Charlie, meet my best friend, Lola Starke.” She switched to a stage whisper. “I bet she’s here to take me home.”
“I’m here to take you home,” Lola said, deadpan.
Charlie smiled and nodded. He had a dimple in his right cheek and a jaw shadowed with dark stubble. “A pleasure to meet you, Miss Starke.” His gaze measured her from head to toe—and back again.
There might have been an awkward pause then, but the trumpet player chose that moment to blow for all he was worth. Lola turned to face the stage. The club patrons were out of their seats, clapping, jumping, and shouting encouragement. Ria bumped Lola’s right hip as she straightened up. Lola threw her a sidelong glance. Ria winked.
The trumpet player reached his apogee, his body a taut arc, his eyes squeezed shut. The cheering grew. Tables were bumped. Glassware tumbled with clinks and crashes. The crystal chandeliers rattled and Lola felt pressure building in her eardrums.
Just as she started to cover her ears, the trumpeter’s high note cut out and the rest of the band slammed to a halt. The calls of the crowd became a wave of sound and energy, cresting as the band members collapsed into their chairs, and breaking into laughter as the bandleader swept a spotted kerchief across his forehead and fell onto his seat at the edge of the stage.
Lola turned to Ria. They grinned at each other like fools.
Ria whirled around to face Charlie, kissed him soundly on the lips, and pushed away, laughing. She grabbed Lola’s hand and led the way around smashed glass, tipsy people, giggling cigarette girls, and potted palms. Lola glanced back to see Charlie wave languidly at her, dimples deepening and eyes glinting.