As of today, Private Investigator Franki Amato is back on the case! This time she’s investigating the murder of a gorgeous young cosmetics CEO at a haunted plantation home outside of New Orleans (she’s also investigating her banker beau Bradley’s sexy new secretary, but that’s another story).
I got the idea for PROSECCO PINK last summer while I was writing LIMONCELLO YELLOW, the first book in the Franki Amato Mysteries. I wanted to go to NOLA to do some research, and my husband and I had friends visiting from Rome, so we decided to split their trip between our home in Austin and The Big Easy. Because Italians are fascinated by the Old South, we took them to a sugar cane plantation: Oak Alley, a.k.a. “the Grande Dame of the Great River Road.”
If you’ve never been to Oak Alley, it’s magnificent! Twenty-eight Doric columns surround the three-story Greek Revival house, and twenty-eight 300-year-old oak trees line the walkway to the grand entrance. The downside is that the plantation is located on the Mississippi River, so it’s as hot and humid as Hades. In fact, as I lounged on the veranda sipping my mint julep (two parts bourbon and one part mint simple syrup), I decided that it wasn’t the corsets that made Southern Belles faint—it was the booze and the sweltering summer heat.
Anyway, maybe it was the mint julep, but when we went inside the plantation for the tour, all I could think of was murder. Oak Alley is supposedly haunted, for one thing, and the old oil paintings of previous inhabitants hanging in the main hallway are eerie, to say the least. But the room that spooked me the most—even more than the parlor with the vases that looked like funerary urns above the black marble mantel—was the famous “lavender room” on the second floor.
I know what you’re thinking: “The ‘lavender room’? That sounds beautiful!” Well, yes, but the ghost of one of the plantation’s former owners has been spotted sitting on the lavender room bed. And when I looked at the bed (again, it was probably the liquor at work), I envisioned a dead body laying there—Sleeping Beauty-style. Then the tour guide said that Oak Alley had been the setting for that creepy Bette Davis movie Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte as well as Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles and Beyonce’s “Déjà Vu” video, and that’s when I knew I’d found the setting for my next mystery. Only, I made a few modifications and changed the name to Oleander Place (you know, to protect the innocent).
So, I hope you enjoy PROSECCO PINK! If you know of a location that would make a good setting for a humorous mystery (with a dash of romance), please leave a comment. I’ll randomly select two commenters to win copies (print or ebook) of PROSECCO PINK!