Sacramento Talk Radio personality Shauna J. Bogart loves her drive-time gig. From cranky to controversial to just plain crazy, her guests and callers keep her on her toes-and never fail to keep things interesting-for three hours every weekday. But her show takes a turn for the truly bizarre when a listener phones in a tip about the death of fellow jock Dr. Hipster...
The cops say the bullet wound that killed Dr. Hipster was self-inflicted, but Shauna's not buying it. The man was a friend and a mentor who had everything to live for. Which begs the question: who wanted the good Dr. H. off the air permanently? Could it have been an ambitious colleague angling for better airtime? Or someone the outspoken radio host rubbed the wrong way on his show? With the help of her loyal listeners, Shauna J. begins to uncover some dirty little secrets about Sacramento's big shots. But she'd better be careful-because being on the same wavelength as a killer could make her next broadcast her last...
"Funny, feisty Shauna J., whose debut won the 2002 St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic contest for Best First Traditional Mystery, is certainly a keeper." -Kirkus Reviews
"Superior...will leave readers eager for the sequel." -Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Like the heroine of Murder off Mike, Joyce Krieg is a veteran broadcaster, both on the air and behind the scenes. Her many awards and honors include being named "Professional of the Year" by the Sacramento Public Relations Association and being inducted into the Valley Broadcast Legends for working in local radio for more than twenty years. She lives in Pacific Grove, California.
Read an Excerpt
MURDER OFF MIKE
By Joyce Krieg
THOMAS DUNNE BOOKSCopyright © 2003 Joyce Krieg All right reserved. ISBN: 0-312-31026-9
Chapter One"HI, YOU'RE ON THE AIR WITH SHAUNA J. BOGART."
On Line One, Lenny from Rio Linda wants to talk about the black helicopters landing at Beale Air Force Base.
Liz from Carmichael holds on Line Two. She's planning to share her theory connecting Roswell with the JFK assassination.
One of the regulars, Ferretman Bob, hovers on Line Three. Today he wants to challenge the candidates for governor to take a stand on the legalization of ownership of guess which member of the weasel family.
Tiffany on a cell phone is waiting on Line Four. She thinks she has the lucky numbers to win a thousand bucks in the Gold Rush Giveaway.
On Line Five, Rudy from West Sacramento says something "most peculiar" is happening in an apartment building across the street from the State Capitol.
Welcome to talk radio.
My name isn't really-thank God-Shauna J. Bogart. But that's what they used when all this got on TV and in the papers. In less than a month, I'll celebrate the last birthday in which I can legitimately put a three at the start of my age. A couple of long-term live-in relationships under my belt, one quickie marriage, no kids. I happen to think I'm better looking than my publicity pictures would lead you to believe, without all that makeup and mousse the stylist at the photo studio gooped on me. When I got my firstjob in radio twenty years ago, I was the token female. Today, I'm still the only employee pulling down a permanent, full-time air shift who uses the rest room with the Tampax machine.
We've got the requisite right-wing blowhard on the air in the morning. Middays you'll hear a shrink for a couple of hours, then a regular doc, an investment guy, even a cooking feature at noon. Early evenings, Sacramento Talk Radio lines up a sports show, then Dr. Hipster from eight to eleven. More about him in a minute.
My show is the afternoon news and talk block. I consider myself the station's voice of reason and moderation. Most listeners think otherwise. "Feisty," "outrageous," and "in your face" are the descriptions I like. I don't even mind the "b" word. "Shrill" and "strident" I can do without.
The next segment in the show was supposed to be the Gold Rush Giveaway, according to the program log, which meant I should put Tiffany on Line Four on the air and get the contest out of the way, but Rudy from West Sacramento piqued my curiosity. Tiffany could hang on and rack up a few more minutes on her cell phone. She could always pay for the extra airtime with the one thousand smackers she was about to win.
I punched up Line Five. "Rudy from West Sacramento, you're on the air. What's this most peculiar thing happening down by the Capitol?"
"This is Miz Bogart, yes?" Hesitation and a heavy accent. Not German, not French, but definitely European. Hungarian? Polish?
"I am from that, Miz Bogart."
"Just plain Shauna J. is fine. Welcome aboard."
My producer made a motion with both hands as if snapping an imaginary stick. Break. As in, time to break for the 4:20 commercial segment. I scowled, waved the kid away, and returned my attention to the caller. Josh Friedman was only an intern from Sacramento State University, pathetically eager to please. I could see his chin start to tremble from behind the glass that separates my talk studio from his call screener booth.
"Two men in brown uniforms come into this man's apartment. They looked like police, but not."
Who does this guy think he is with the phony Iron Curtain accent? Boris Badenov? "Go on," I said.
"I heard loud voices."
"What does this have to do with this 'most peculiar' thing you say you witnessed?"
"I saw the man who lives in the apartment lying on the floor. He was not moving and his head, it was bleeding."
"Whoa. When did all this happen?"
I'm five minutes late going into the commercial break. No way can I blow off the sponsors, the political spots stacked up like planes circling O'Hare. Not to mention Tiffany, the contest winner on Line Four.
"Rudy, I've got to take a break, but I definitely want to hear the rest of your story. You stay on the line, okay?"
I slid a tape cartridge into the playback machine and punched the PLAY button. The gravelly voice of Dr. Hipster, plugging tonight's show. I pictured him recording the promotional announcement while sitting behind the control board in the production room, scraggly gray ponytail hanging down his back, scrawny fingers of one hand clutched around the mike, those of the other hand around a joint.
"Killer show tonight ... biggest thing since this so-called election for governor ... gonna blow this town sky-high ... don't touch that dial ... The Hipster's tipsters have the score, the skinny, and the straight dope ..."
I listened with one ear to Dr. Hipster's revved-up patter while I prepped Tiffany for her moment of fame. The Doc's taped announcement flamed to a climax. "Trippin' with the Hipster ... we've got your prescription ... tonight, eight to eleven."
Next, the Gold Rush Giveaway, Tiffany spewing squeals of delight over the air for thirty seconds or so, then back to Rudy from West Sacramento on Line Five.
The heavily accented caller didn't even wait for me to finish giving the time and temperature. "Dr. Hipster, he is a good man with a good show. I will miss him, yes."
"Dr. Hipster, his apartment is by the State Capitol, is it not?"
"Rudy, if you're suggesting what I think, that is so not funny."
"I knew you would not be from understanding."
My finger was poised over the button that controlled a tape cartridge with the sound effect of a World War II torpedo. "Why are you calling a talk show with your story? Why don't you call the police?"
Silence. Rudy from West Sacramento was dead air.
I hit the "caller torpedo" tape. The show was so far off schedule, it was already time for the four-thirty news and traffic break. I punched up another tape cartridge with my theme jingle.
"You're listening to the Shauna J. Bogart Show, the only talk program in the capital city not suffering from an overdose of testosterone. We'll be right back after this."
Another commercial in the endless volley of attacks and counterattacks in the election for governor. I called Josh on the intercom connecting the talk studio with the screener booth. "Get Dr. Hipster on the line."
The usual headlines: Earthquake in Japan, car bombing in the Middle East, one gubernatorial candidate accusing the other of something heinous. The usual weather: hot and hotter. The usual traffic update from Captain Mikey in the chopper: tie-ups on 80 and 50, a jackknifed big rig on I-5.
"You're back with Shauna J. Bogart. We'll get on to your calls in a minute, but first, let's clear up that last call from Rudy from West Sacramento." I hit the blinking studio hotline, where Josh had lined up Dr. Hipster to go on the air.
"Hello, you've reached the Hipster Hotline. You know the score. Leave a message at the tone and I'll get back to ya." I shot another evil eye at my call screener. Why did the kid let me put an answering machine on the air? Do I have to teach these interns everything? I'm not that picky, really. I'd given Josh practically no restrictions. Just don't let anyone on the show who's boring. And no ladies named after months or flowers.
I adjusted the mike and took a deep breath. "Dr. Hipster must be out working on that big scoop about the election." I slammed a public service announcement from Smokey Bear into the tape deck, just to buy time.
Another summons to Josh on the intercom. "Phone the cop shop and have them check out Dr. Hipster's apartment. Just to be sure."
Josh picked up the phone and began tapping numbers.
I poked the intercom button. "One more thing. Send out a news car."
Josh flashed his first smile of the afternoon.
"I already did."
I may whine a lot, but the truth is, the Shauna J. Bogart Show is the best radio gig I've ever had. The reason this was the best job a gal could ever wish for strutted down the hall to the newsroom, all five feet six inches and seventy years of him. Conservative business suit sandwiched between a cowboy hat and a pair of hand-tooled Tony Lamas. He carried a fishing pole in his good right hand. His not-so-good left hand consisted of a silver hook, courtesy of a land mine in Korea. He clutched an unlit Camel-no filter-in the hook. I loved him to pieces, and not just because he rescued me from ever again having to play Twelve Hits in a Row on Your No Repeat Workday.
Top of the hour, time for the six-minute hourly network newscast. This is usually the only chance I have to use the john. But today, I wanted to hover in the newsroom to monitor the police scanners.
I caught up with the boss next to a wall-size Rand McNally map of the world. T. R. O'Brien's cowboy hat barely touched the equator. He tipped his hat with the hook, winked, and put a finger to his lips. "Don't tell." With his redneck twang, it came out more like "Don' tay-ell." Talking with the boss always made me feel like I was having a conversation with the kid in those old Shake 'n Bake commercials. "An ah hay-elped."
I made the requisite gushy noises over T. R.'s new fishing pole. "All ready for Alaska?"
"Thought I could sneak out the back door and head out to Folsom Lake an' try 'er out without nobody seein' me."
T. R. O'Brien hardly ever took a day off. But he did allow himself a week at the National Association of Broadcasters convention every fall, and a long weekend in May for a fishing orgy in Alaska. One of those deals where they fly you in to some island lodge with just the guys, your bait, and your beer.
"Did you happen to catch that caller about a half hour ago?"
"The fellah with the accent who says he saw a body in the apartment building down by the Capitol? Yep. Thought you handled it right fine, if that's what you're frettin' about. But for God's sake, do something about that new intern of yours."
"Do you think there's anything to it?"
O'Brien was about to reply when the police scanner squawked to life. "Fourteenth and N. 187."
Fourteenth and N Streets. Dr. Hipster's apartment building.
California Penal Code 187. Murder.
My ears caught the last commercial in the network newscast. Learn Spanish in thirty days or get your dinero back. Sixty seconds to show time. T. R. followed me into the air studio as I donned headphones and placed my theme music into the cart deck. "You sent out a news car, of course," O'Brien said.
I held up my hand to prevent him from saying anything more as I opened the mike. But the boss had to get in the last word. "One thing I respect about Dr. Hipster, he brings in the ratings. I just don't understand why you two have never gotten together."
"Get real!" I shouldn't have snapped. Especially at the man whose good hand signs my not unsubstantial paycheck every two weeks. Plus, he had a point.
Dr. Hipster had been bopping around the airwaves since the sixties. He was that peculiar breed of aging hippie/renegade/survivalist who seemed to thrive in northern California. Pro-gun. Anti-government and anti-big business. Believed in stockpiling food, growing your own dope, and birthing your own babies. Actually believed there were black helicopters landing at Beale Air Force Base.
I liked Dr. Hipster because he was the first person to give this gal a break in a tough, male-dominated industry. He had the honor of sticking me with Shauna J. Bogart as an air name when he offered me my first full-time DJ gig. But I forgave him. I knew the truth: Dr. Hipster was ninety percent shtick. Inside lived a soft-hearted, sentimental sweetheart.
Every few years, our paths would cross at a radio station, a rock concert, or an industry convention. We liked the same foods (deep-dish pizza, Szechuan Chinese), the same movies (Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks), and we shared the same attitude toward authority (amused contempt). He was my mentor. He was the big brother I never had. Dr. Hipster had been many things to me. But one thing he wasn't and had never been: my lover.
Ferretman Bob finally got his turn on the air. "... these lovable animals aren't fish or game, so why does the Department of Fish and Game claim jurisdiction ..." I closed the mike and let him harangue while I fiddled with the two-way and tried to raise Gloria Louise Montalvo.
"Glory Lou? It's Shauna J. What's your ten twenty?"
Field reporters love it when you talk cop lingo to them.
"Fifteenth and L. I'll be there any minute, sugar." Glory Lou's southern accent was so sweet and pure you'd swear you were listening to a member of the homecoming court at Ole Miss.
"Copy. I'm going to monitor the two-way on my headphones. As soon as you get to the scene, I'm putting you on the air. Over?"
I've been inside a slew of radio stations around the country. Mostly dumps, but a lot of mahogany-and-marble corporate palaces as well. But no matter how fancy the trappings, they're all rabbit warrens. Lots of tiny rooms and narrow corridors. And the air-conditioning never works. Here it was not even Memorial Day, and already well into the nineties.
I'd stashed T. R. O'Brien, still clutching his fishing pole and unlit Camel, in the corner. The promotion director popped in to remind me to keep plugging the Gold Rush Giveaway. The sportscaster got wind that something interesting was developing and dropped in to check things out. A couple of guys from the sales department crept in. At least, T. R. didn't have any live bait with him.
Before I had the chance to shoo everyone out, Glory Lou called in a report from the news car. "Sacramento police are investigating a death at an apartment building across the street from the State Capitol. Authorities have not issued a statement, but homicide investigators and the coroner are gathering on the ninth floor."
Dr. Hipster lived in number 904.
"We will keep you updated as soon as more developments are available. Reporting live from downtown Sacramento, this is Gloria Louise Montalvo for Sacramento Talk Radio. Back to you, Shauna J."
Through the headset, Glory Lou continued to fill me in. "You wouldn't believe all the cops around this place. Not just Sac PeeDee, but CHP too. Channel 3 just pulled up. How'd they find out so fast?"
Listened in on our two-way, of course.
More callers, more traffic reports, more local news updates. Glory Lou hailed me on the two-way during a commercial break. "They're bringing out a body bag. Lordy, ten years in this business and that's one of the things you just never get used to seeing."
O'Brien turned to me. "Just say the word. I'll get someone else to take the show for the rest of the afternoon."
Every muscle in my body ached to run.
Excerpted from MURDER OFF MIKE by Joyce Krieg
Copyright © 2003 by Joyce Krieg
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Just so-so. I thought the murderer was very predictable, but not so much the reason for the murder. Intriguing enough to keep you reading, but not completely satisfying.Shauna J. Bogart, a local "dj" for a talk station, investigates the death of her friend and mentor, Dr. Hipster. Now people are following her around, weirdness occurs, and a possible political scandal are on the horizon. But what do they have in common?
Shauna J. Bogart, Sacramento talk show host, is devastated when her fellow talk show host Dr. Hipster is murdered. When the police rule it a suicide, she starts to investigate. This debut grabbed me from the start with the real characters and the fast paced twisty plot.
The liberal, shortsighted, flippant words of Joyce Krieg came through clearly in her first mystery. It spoiled the book for me. She showed the typical bias of the media these days. I won't read another of her books.
Joyce Krieg achieves mainly two things in her first novel: 1. She manages to put us into the world of talk radio, without the cliches created by movies, a topic she certainly knows about. 2. She crafts a decent murder mystery, with a complete conspiracy, political backwroung, historic perspective, jazz, clever characters, and even if a bit predictable at moments, it held me completely glued to my copy in the last 100 pages. One of the best mysteries I've read in the year. Really recommended.
I thought the characters were well written. I really enjoyed the descriptions of Old Sacramento. It made me want to visit there again. I liked learning about radio, especially the 'skip'. I remembered how back in Chicago in the 60's we could get radio stations from other places on Sunday evenings or late at night. I liked the references to Dick Biondi and Larry Lujack as legendary DJ's. I listened to both of them back in Chicago in the 60's and 70's. I'll read more of her books.
Joyce Krieg hits a home run first time in the ballpark! The principle characters in Murder Off Mike are as enjoybale as the nut-ball callers to Shauna J.'s talk radio show.The story line has just enough politics (the story is set in Sacramento, CA), just enough inside info on the radio industry and a believable plot with a couple of good twists and turns. I'm looking forward to seeeing what kind of mischief the cast is up to next time around.
In Sacramento, California, Shauna J. Bogart hosts one of the top rated radio talk shows in the area. She receives a call from Rudy, who claims brown suits killed a man at the address where Shauna¿s mentor and fellow radio emcee Dr. Hipster lives. Not long afterward, the police substantiate that Dr. Hipster committed suicide, something that Shauna refuses to accept as no one lived life fuller than her friend. Adding to her disbelief is an apparent note of unrequited love addressed to her, but she knows otherwise, as they were buddies. Unable to accept police Lieutenant Gunderson¿s unofficial position, Shauna begins her own inquiries. She starts by seeking a missing logger tape that contains a warning code from the Hipster to her. Her investigation leads to a strange pact that place her in danger from a source that she would never have anticipated anything but hugs and kisses from. Readers will quickly comprehend why MURDER OFF MIKE won the St. Martin¿s first novel contest, as the delightful amateur sleuth tale is fast-paced and insightful into talk radio. The story line provides the audience an intriguing look at talk radio including the warning that the media¿s dwindling independents are rapidly being replaced by national syndication. The characters especially Shauna and her call in loonies are a delight to follow. All of this resides inside a strong investigative who-done-it and why. Perhaps the only complaint is this reviewer wants Hipster¿s collection. Harriet Klausner