Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

Bente Gallagher | Turning What If….Into A Novel

July 2, 2010


Those two words are a writer’s best tool, and have been the impetus for many a great book.

What if… the world was flat (and was carried through space on the backs of four elephants standing on the shell of a giant turtle)?

What if… the South had won the Civil War?

What if… Sherlock Holmes didn’t really die that day at Reichenbach Falls?

What if… magic’s real and there are witches and wizards living among us, but we’re just too stupid to realize it?

What if… I walked into this empty house and found a dead body?

That last question was the ‘what if’ that started me on the journey of writing the first book in the Savannah Martin Southern Real Estate series. Savannah is a newly licensed Realtor in Nashville, and the idea for her story came about when I was a newly licensed Realtor in Nashville, walking into empty houses a lot.

There was another ‘what if’ involved, too: What if this guy who called me out of the blue and asked me to meet him here, is really a dangerous murderer? What if I never walk out of here again?

I put those two ‘what if’s together, along with the comment someone made, that real estate is a cutthroat business and maybe I wasn’t suited for it, and came up with a story involving a gentleborn Southern Belle trying to make her way in a competitive business–and in life. I added an old, empty house, a dead body–with its throat cut–a group of what I thought were interesting suspects, and a guy who may or may not be a murderer, but who’s certainly both dangerous and hot enough to turn the heroine’s head.

The result is A Cutthroat Business, the first Savannah Martin mystery. Library Journal says that “the hilarious dialogue and sexual tension should appeal to readers of chick-lit mysteries and romantic suspense,” while the Nashville Scene calls the book “a frothy girl drink of houses, hunks, and whodunit narrated in a breezy first person voice.” That should give you a pretty good idea of what you’re looking at. If I add that the love interest–tall, dark and dangerous bad-boy Rafe Collier–bears a striking resemblance to Derek Morgan on the TV show Criminal Minds, maybe that’s incentive enough to make you want to try the book. You can download a PDF of the first three chapters on my website, if you’d like a sneak peek before you run out and buy.

In addition to being a (former now) realtor and having written A Cutthroat Business and two (so far) sequels, Bente Gallagher is also the author of the Do-It-Yourself home renovation mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime, written under the pseudonym Jennie Bentley. You can learn more about Bente, Jennie, and all their doings and undoings on their website, or

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