The Go-Go’s made music on their own terms and gave voice to a generation caught between the bra-burning irreverence of the seventies and the me-first decadence of the eighties. Anthems like “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” and “Vacation” are an indelible part of our collective soundtrack, but more than that, they speak to the power and possibility of youth. Inspired by punk but not yoked to it, the Go-Go’s broke important musical ground by combining cheeky lyrics, clever hooks, and catchy melodies, perfectly capturing what it feels like to be young and female in the process.
But beyond the Go-Go’s effervescent sound and cheerful pop stylings, a darkness underlies many of their lyrics and melodies, hinting at the heartache and frustration inherent in growing up. In other words, plenty to inspire murder and mayhem.
Net proceeds from Murder-a-Go-Go’s benefit Planned Parenthood, a crucial provider of women’s affordable reproductive healthcare.
With a foreword by Go-Go’s co-founder Jane Wiedlin and original stories by 25 kick-ass authors, editor Holly West has put together an all-star crime fiction anthology inspired by one of the most iconic bands of the eighties and beyond.
Praise for MURDER-A-GO-GO’S:
“I always suspected that twinkle in the Go-Gos’ eyes was a coded invitation to a darker world. In the hands of these 25 stellar crime fiction writers, ‘We Got the Beat’ and ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’ become evil little gems. A totally rad read.” —Alan Hunter, Original MTV VJ, SiriusXM Host
“Shock and awe, that sums up my reaction to Murder-A-Go-Go’s. Shock to live in times when ‘The Whole World Lost Its Head’ and awe at the response of these gifted writers. Buckle up for a ride that will leave ‘Skidmarks on Your Heart.’” —Sara Paretsky, bestselling author of the V.I. Warshawski crime series
“Who knew those happy songs by one of all-time favorite bands, the Go-Go’s could inspire such dark, noir, spine-tingling stories?!! It’s a collection of tales of distinctly female rage—the murderous kind and otherwise—to keep you up at night!” —Alison Arngrim, TV’s Nellie Oleson and author of Confessions of a Prairie Bitch
“This is the music-driven anthology you didn’t know you needed, but after you read it, you’ll realize your bookshelf was lacking without it. This is a killer line-up of writers, and they don’t play a single false note. Murder-A-Go-Go’s has got the beat.” —Rob Hart, author of The Warehouse
“Like the songs these writers used for muses, each story contains the energy of a pop group and the rawness of a punk band, with some of the darkness and vulnerability that underscores the Go-Go’s themselves thrown in for good measure.” —Steph Post, author of Miraculum
“The Go-Go’s spun some of the brightest, catchiest all-girl pop back in the day. But they always carried more weight than your average pop band: the burden of trailblazing and pioneering; the bad kids in the back of the class breaking all the rules and looking damn cool doing it. This collection commandingly captures that sweet subversion.” —Joe Clifford, author of The One That Got Away
|Publisher:||Down & Out Books II, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.77(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Our Lips Are Sealed
When the credits for the movie the girls weren't supposed to be watching started to roll, Colbie went to check that her mother was asleep, stamping down on the hand of her sister, Alexa, on the way out. Alexa sat up and sniffled into her fist but kept silent with effort. On the floor, Jane and Patricia picked white flecks of popcorn out of the kernels left at the bottom of the bowl. Nori slipped into the bathroom with her pajamas balled up in her fist.
Jane watched her go. "I usually sleep naked."
"Bullshit," Patricia said. Jane was older, by almost a full year, already thirteen. But Patricia was taller. If she needed to, she would hold Jane down and force her to say she was a liar.
Colbie returned to the doorway with a six-pack of soda cradled in her arms. "My mom's either dead or she took one of her pills. Where's Nori?"
"Peeing," Jane said. She picked at the chipped blue nail polish on her big toe, leaving a patch of paint on the pink carpet of Colbie's room. "Why didn't you invite boys over? I went to a boy-girl sleepover when I was at my old school —"
Patricia snorted. "For church? That doesn't count."
"Let's do something else," Colbie said.
"Not a lock-in, bitch," Jane said. "A sleepover. With boys."
Patricia rolled her eyes at Colbie. Everything seemed to have already happened to Jane, but out of sight, at her old school, in her old town. She sometimes wanted to ask Jane why she didn't just go back if everything was so great there. She was sure Jane would say she couldn't because she was a kid. Which, for once, would be the truth. They were all stuck where they were, being who they were. Patricia turned to Colbie. "What should we do?"
Nori opened the bathroom door an inch. "You guys?"
"Did you get your period finally?" Jane said. She had the deck of cards Colbie stole from her older brother's room earlier and was setting out a game of solitaire. Jane wanted to sneak down the hall later and see if Colbie's brother was back yet. He was fifteen, and that was just about right, although it would be better if he could drive.
Alexa scooted across the floor, drawn toward the stacks of cards. She was only eight and had been allowed to stay up with them — as opposed to being shoved into Colbie's closet and tormented in the dark — if she promised not to speak. She hunched over the cards like a rabbit.
Jane snapped the last card into place and glanced up. "Sorry, kid. It's an alone game."
Nori came out of the bathroom with her head down. She wore a long, shiny red nightgown, the neck too wide for her narrow shoulders. It slipped down on one side. "Hot stuff —" Jane started to say.
"What the hell is that on your face?" Colbie said.
Nori drew her chin up. Her head had grown a silver wire halo. The metal circled her face across her mouth and hooked to a black band that ran under her ears and around the back of her head. "I don't want to talk about it," she said, her words garbled and juicy with spit.
She looked like a horse trying to chew its bit, Colbie decided. Patricia felt sorry for her and wondered if Nori couldn't have, just this once, gone to bed without it. Jane thought: Freak.
Nori, when she had studied herself in Colbie's bathroom mirror, thought of Saturn's rings. When she took it off in the morning, she would have a dent in her long, black hair and marks on her cheeks. She took a wet breath. "It's just headgear."
"Headgear," Jane said. "Head. Gear." She twisted her mouth and looked around knowingly.
Jane would not let them forget she was older. Early birthday, she said. Held back, Patricia said. That year was like an arm held out. She took the same classes at school, walked home with them after, liked the same boys, and shared her bounty of lip gloss. But she had a way of turning everything anyone said into something sexy.
Not sexy, Nori wanted to clarify. Sex-y. Not enticing and romantic like the movies Nori liked, where the man and woman came toward each other and the screen blurred or misted, or the camera turned delicately away. Not like that at all.
More like sex was a pudgy animal with slick skin that the rest of them didn't want to talk about and hadn't ever seen, not even in books. Like Jane could reach into her pocket and plunk one of the rare beasts down on the table when the rest of them weren't even talking about animals. She wielded a familiarity with the subject that made the rest of them blink.
Colbie tended to play along, except when Alexa, who was a blabber-baby, was around. Patricia would squint hard at Jane, wanting to say You don't know anything — but didn't, because she didn't know enough herself, to know what Jane did or didn't know.
When Jane got going, Nori always grew pink, trying not to cry, and Colbie had to assure her it probably wasn't like that really. Probably.
Now Patricia rolled her eyes. "I know what we could do." Nori looked at her gratefully. "We could call people."
"Mom says you're not supposed to use it —" Alexa clamped her hands over her own mouth. Slap, slap.
Colbie jumped off the bed and leaned down, pointing a finger at the tip of her sister's nose. "Too late, punk. You get one more chance or I swear I'll lock you in. And if you tell Mom, oh, I don't even want to tell you what's going to happen."
Alexa put a thumb in her mouth, quickly remembered where she was, and popped it out. Alexa was often left with Colbie while their mom worked. Colbie had the hardest pinch in the world because she worked on her grip for softball. She was the pitcher. "I won't tell," Alexa whispered.
"One more chance to keep your big fat Trapper Keeper closed." Colbie leaned over her sister until she nodded and hung her head, her long brown hair curtaining over her face. Colbie glared at her and then out at her friends. She hadn't wanted to call people and use all the minutes on her new phone, but now they would have to. "Who should we call first?"
She pulled her pink-covered phone from her backpack and they all gathered around on her bed. Patricia patted the velvety pink bedspread. When they stayed in Colbie's room, Patricia pretended they were all rich ladies having tea in an all-pink hotel ballroom or kid-witches who lived in a house made of cotton candy. Colbie's bedroom looked like a picture from a teen magazine because her dad, who lived hundreds of miles away in another state, sent her lots of gifts. Anything she or Alexa wanted, they got. Patricia lived two doors down, but her room was small and still had the basketball decals left over from the kid who'd lived there before they moved in. Patricia was tall but that didn't mean she liked sports. Colbie liked sports, and Colbie had pink carpeting. Patricia looked down at where Alexa sat cross-legged on the pink floor. There was nothing pink left in the world they didn't have.
Colbie dialed the local Pizza Plaza and had two large-with-onions-and-garlic pies delivered to their math teacher, whose breath was so bad that Nori, who wasn't good at math, wouldn't raise her hand to ask a question, so that he wouldn't lean over her desk to help her.
"Does he chew on his own shit every morning?" Patricia asked.
Jane laughed. "I bet he eats someone else's shit."
Colbie laughed uneasily, glancing in Alexa's direction. How much could they get away with before Alexa ran to tell their mom? She couldn't be sure. And also, did people actually — Was that a thing?
They called the local paper to place an ad to sell their principal's car. Jane used her most adult voice to leave the message. "Low miles. Must sell. Best offer accepted."
When she hung up, Patricia said, "You know they won't print that unless we pay for it."
"Whatever," Jane said. "I should have said 'Blow job free with purchase.'"
Nori swallowed hard and looked at the clock. At her house, her little brother was just being put to bed, and her parents would sometimes let her sit up and watch the news. The news made her mother shake her head and say, "Nori, you must grow up and make the world a better place. You and all your friends." Nori wanted to make movies like the boygirl ones she liked. But she thought maybe she'd be a journalist instead, someone who took a handheld video camera into war zones and documented the terrible things that could be fixed. Her mother would be so happy. Nori didn't see how Jane was ever going to make the world a better place. Mostly, she just made it gross. Thanks to Jane, whenever Nori saw her parents touch, her stomach hurt a little, knowing now what must happen behind their bedroom door.
Nori yearned for her own bed, with the teddy bear sheets. Her real pajamas were yellow with rabbits. She'd swiped the nightgown that kept slipping down her chest from the back of her mom's closet, but she wished for the bunnies. They were soft, broken in, and still too big for her.
Jane handed the phone to Patricia. "Your turn."
"Call LeeAnn Becker," Colbie said.
Patricia and Nori glanced at one another. LeeAnn had once been Colbie's friend, but now they didn't speak. Colbie wore the hurt of LeeAnn ditching her like a badge on her chest, a war wound. "I don't know her number," Patricia said.
"I do, dumbass," Colbie said, and grabbed the phone. She still had the notebooks she and LeeAnn had passed back and forth all through elementary school. LeeAnn had always signed off as her Best Friend Forever, but that wasn't what happened when they'd started junior high last month.
Nori didn't like to see Colbie's face when LeeAnn walked by in the hall and wouldn't look at them. "She's at that dumb cheerleading camp, isn't she?" she offered.
They tried the number, but no one answered.
"I know," Colbie said. "Call Caleb McCormick." Colbie, Jane, and Nori laughed.
Alexa giggled nervously, looking from one girl to the other.
"Shut up," Patricia said, her breath choked. She let the phone drop to the bedspread.
Alexa bounced up and down. "Caleb and Patricia, sitting in a tree —" She closed her mouth tightly and cowered, waiting for her sister to come pull her hair.
Colbie smiled. "I'm going to give you that one for free. K-I-S-S —"
"Shut the hell up, I said." Patricia sat up on her heels, perched, ready.
"Easy, girl," Jane said. She wanted to ask if Colbie's brother had a cell phone. They could call him wherever he was and see which friends he had with him. Maybe they'd come back and hang out. Jane looked around at the other girls. Colbie was flexing her hand, open, close, open, close, an exercise for her pitching hand. Colbie didn't yet shave her legs. None of the girls did but her. Their legs, sticking out from their shorts and pajama bottoms and Nori's slutty nightgown, were covered in fine dark hair that reminded Jane of a sleek little animal she'd seen in the pet store. Patricia, who was taller than everyone else in their grade and most of the high school boys, too, wore the same pair of dingy jeans almost every day. She studied too much and read books about geeky crap like science and weather. Nori, with that ridiculous thing on her head. No, the boys would not be coming over to hang out with them. Jane studied the purple tips of her fingers. "Let's call Paul Szirnek."
Patricia scooted the phone toward her. "You."
Jane took the phone and started dialing.
Patricia looked at Colbie and shifted to sit with her back against the cool pink wall. Jane knew Paul Szirnek's phone number, for one. And, second, she had no problem dialing it. Even though Paul Szirnek was the cutest boy in their grade and had a girlfriend in the grade above them — which had never been done in the history of seventh grade, as far as Patricia knew. He might as well be dating a teacher. Michelle Landry's father owned the company that built all their houses and half of the town. Michelle Landry, whose hair and teeth were perfect. Michelle Landry, whose boobs had already come in. "What about Michelle Landry?" Patricia said, her voice nearly a whisper.
"Wouldn't she be at cheerleading camp, too?" Jane said.
Jane let the phone ring. She wasn't sure what she would say if he picked up, but it was too late to put the phone down and plan it out. The others were watching her, Nori biting her pinkie nail.
Back at her old school, Jane had had only one good friend, a girl the other girls there hadn't liked. She was okay, Jane still thought. She told good stories and had let Jane have the better deal when they used to trade stickers. Her family had a pool, and they spent every warm afternoon in the water, even though Jane knew her friend must pee in it because she never got out. Jane wondered, now that she had moved away, whether that girl had anyone at all to talk to. Here, though, she had three best friends. Well, two best friends plus Nori, who was like a pet. And Alexa, who was more like a stray. No one had a pool, but when she said something, she could tell they were listening. All four of them.
She let the phone purr three times and was about to call it off when someone picked up. "Hello?" It was a male voice, an adult's.
Jane swallowed hard. "C-Could I speak to Paul, please?"
"You've got the wrong number."
"Oh." She glanced around at the other girls.
Colbie, leaning her elbows on her knees, mouthed, "What?"
"Who's this, then?" Jane said.
"Wrong number," Colbie said. She slid off the bed and grabbed a brush off her dresser. Her hair was short, but she still brushed it in long strokes. Her dad's girlfriend had taken her to get it all cut off just before school started. She had also taken her shopping for her first bra. Her mother had gone crazy when they'd come back from Dad's. Colbie paused in her brushing, catching herself before she started crying, and checked out her friends in the mirror.
Patricia had slumped lower against the wall, reading one of Colbie's magazines. Nori lay stretched out on the bed behind Jane and picked at a loose thread on the bedspread.
Jane stuck her tongue out at Alexa.
In Jane's ear, the man on the phone said, "This is who you called instead of Paul, kid. What do you want?"
"Kid, huh? Well, that's really flattering," Jane said.
Patricia sat up. Jane had switched on her classified-ad buying voice.
Colbie brought her brush over to the bed and sat on the edge.
"Oh, yeah? Why is that?" The guy sounded annoyed, like Jane had interrupted his dinner. It was late. She tried to picture him on the other side of the line sitting in a big recliner with his feet propped up, a plate of microwaved awfulness resting on his belly. The phone would have greasy fingerprints on it when he put it down.
"Well," Jane said. "Because I sure don't feel like a kid anymore. You know just how to make a woman feel good about herself."
Nori curled up into a ball and wrapped her arms around her knees. She looked like a pill bug after you poked it with a stick, Patricia thought.
"Sure," the guy said. "You're welcome, lady. Sorry there's no Paul here."
"Wait," Jane said. "What's your name?"
She hadn't used the right voice. Patricia was smirking at her, dragging a finger across her throat. In the quiet on the other side of the line, Jane heard the guy's hesitation, pictured him considering his dinner getting cold. Come on, mister, she thought. You won't be sorry.
"That's a nice name. Mine is Jane."
Colbie hit Jane on the leg with the back of her hairbrush. "Don't use your real name, you idiot."
"What was that?" Jim asked.
Jane flicked Colbie on the leg. "My daughter. She's being a pain in the ass." She glared at Colbie, then resettled herself, cross-legged, on the bed. "She has some friends over tonight, so I'm just chilling out."
"Yeah?" Jim said.
"I'm glad I dialed the wrong number, Jim. I don't even like that Paul I was trying to get."
"Oh, yeah?" Jim cleared his throat. "He a douchebag or something?"
"Jim, you nailed it. He is a douchebag."
Patricia slid to the bed as though she'd been shot and covered her face with her hands.
"You banging that cat Paul?" Jim said.
Jane's breath caught in her throat. Her mother talked to her girlfriends this way, and sometimes forgot who she was talking to and said to Jane, "I was so interesting until I finally screwed him — and then, poof, gone. You know?" And Jane kind of did know, because she'd been watching her mother date scummy guys for so long, listening to her mother on the phone with her sister in California. Listening to her when she went into her standard line. "This time," she always said, "I swear, this time is the last time."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Murder-A-Go-Go's"
Copyright © 2019 Holly West.
Excerpted by permission of Down & Out Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword Jane Wiedlin,
Introduction Holly West,
Our Lips Are Sealed Lori Rader-Day,
You Thought Susanna Calkins,
Vacation S.W. Lauden,
Good for Gone Jen Conley,
This Town Greg Herren,
Tonite R.D. Sullivan,
It's Everything but Party Time Lisa Alber,
Blades Steve Weddle,
Fading Fast Sarah M. Chen,
Kissing Asphalt Dharma Kelleher,
Mercenary Bryon Quertermous,
We Don't Get Along Diane Vallere,
We Got the Beat Thomas Pluck,
Forget That Day Wendall Thomas,
Head Over Heels Craig Faustus Buck,
Beatnik Beach Patricia Abbott,
Johnny Are You Queer? Travis Richardson,
The Way You Dance Renee Asher Pickup,
The Whole World Lost Its Head Josh Stallings,
Lust to Love Jessica Laine,
Girl of 100 Lists Stephen Buehler,
You Can't Walk in Your Sleep (If You Can't Sleep) Nadine Nettmann,
Skidmarks on My Heart Eric Beetner,
How Much More Lisa Brackmann,
Unforgiven Hilary Davidson,
About the Contributors,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
“Murder-a-Go-Go” is a group of diverse, quick-to-read stories inspired by the music of the iconic eighties rock band “The Go Go’s.” Top mystery authors took inspiration from classic songs by the Go Go’s and wrote enthralling and shadowy stories with unusual twists. “Good for Gone” by Jen Conley starts with a wife standing over her husband with a gleaming butcher knife. Readers may never listen to “Vacation” in the same way again after S.W. Lauden opens with messy handwriting and a specialist. Diane Vallere wants to be sure that even though “We Don’t Get Along,” that it does not hurt; “You’re not hurt, right?” Lori Rader-Day in “Our Lips Are Sealed” reminds readers that teen girls at sleepover are not at all well behaved. Wendall Thomas might “Forget That Day” when “I went to grab my purse. There was a gun in it.” This collection has a story for every reader and every music lover. An anthology allows a fan to read and finish a compelling story all in one sitting. The problem is that after reading “just one quick story,” it is tempting to just “read one more,” and soon the entire book is finished. I received a review copy of “Murder-a-Go-Go,” and every story was interesting and unique. The collection is entertaining and gripping, and the combination of mystery and music is impeccable. Thank you Down and Out Books, authors, NetGalley, and Evie.