America’s most famous ex-child star Jana Lane is starring in The Detective’s Wife, a murder mystery television show in 1985. Guest starring on the show is Christa Bianca, a rags-to-riches ingénue who has flooded the entertainment press. Life imitates television as cast members are murdered, and once again it’s up to Jana, along with sexy ex-detective Chris Bove, to save the day before the lights fade to black.
Molly: Welcome to Jana Lane Otley, America’s most famous ex-child star, current Academy Award winning actress, married mother of three, and the leading character in RAG DOLL, the fifth Jana Lane mystery.
Jana: I owe everything to the man behind the woman, Joe Cosentino.
Molly: Since our readers can’t see you, tell them what you look like.
Jana: At forty-two I’m ancient in actress years, but Joe describes me as gorgeous, petite, with long blonde hair, blue eyes, a button nose, and a loving heart.
Molly: Sounds like your life is an open book. Tell the readers about RAG DOLL, your latest mystery romance novel by Joe Cosentino, published by The Wild Rose Press.
Jana: As it’s 1985 and television murder mystery shows are all the craze, I receive an offer to star in a new one entitled The Detective’s Wife, co-starring the incredibly hunky Detective Bove (who I met in Washington, DC in SATIN DOLL) playing my husband in the series. Ingénue Christa Bianca is the guest star for the pilot episode. Christa and I become fast friends, and art imitates life as there is an attempt on Christa’s life. Christa’s past as a poor, small town girl who the other kids called, “Ragdoll,” and her warm southern manner made me concerned about Christa and those dear to her, especially when it became clear there was a murderer on the set.
Molly: Can you tell us about the suspects?
Jana: Let’s see, there is Bove’s ex, dominatrix Karen, who covets Christa’s role, and Herm the director who is infatuated with Karen. And Christa’s agent, and her uncle a put out to pasture character actor who is also guest-starring on the episode.
Molly: Who else is suspect?
Jana: Andrew, Christa’s controlling manager/husband. And two couples playing bit roles who have a personal conflict with Christa and Andrew. There’s also my son’s nanny and her boyfriend, the mysterious prop master with a secret. As in all the Jana Lane mysteries, everyone has a secret, which I uncover by the book’s end, including unmasking the murderer, in a nail-biting climax. This one was a bit difficult, because the clues just didn’t add up, until the final reel.
Molly: RAG DOLL is the fifth Jana Lane mystery. Tell us a bit about the first four.
Jana: In PAPER DOLL at thirty-eight I live with my family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. My flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in my future. I venture back to Hollywood, which helps me uncover a web of secrets about everyone I love. I also embark on a flirtation with the devilishly handsome son of my old producer. In PORCELAIN DOLL I make a comeback film and uncover who is being murdered on the set and why. My heart is set aflutter by my gorgeous co-star, America’s heartthrob. In SATIN DOLL my family and I head to Washington, DC, where I play a US senator in a new film, and become embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. I am also captivated with ex-football player, Detective Bove. In CHINA DOLL I head to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by my gorgeous co-star, and faced with murder on stage and off.
Molly: And though you are married, there is a great deal of sweet romance in the novels.
Jana: My husband Brian is the only man for me, but you can’t blame a girl for looking.
Molly: And your hysterically funny old-world agent has been at your side in each book.
Jana: Like heartburn. Dear Simon is somewhere between senior citizen and rigor mortis. Joe wants to play him in the TV series. Make him an offer, producers!
Molly: In RAG DOLL did Joe base Christa Bianca, the ingénue, on any young successful actress past or present? And how about Christa’s Uncle Nick, the aging character actor?
Jana: Christa is a beautiful, talented young woman who escapes her impoverished small town life and embarks on a successful film and television career. I’m sure there are many young actresses like her, past and present. The interesting thing about Nicholas Hartford is how his niece looked up to him when she was a child, and now he looks up to her—hoping to ride on her coattails back to the top. I think we’ve seen that happen in a number of show business families.
Molly: You are interviewed by a very funny, aging, gossipy female television interviewer in RAG DOLL. Is Harriet Hologram representative of Barbara Walters?
Jana: I believe there are many television reporters and interviewers who wield their power over celebrities. I see it as a love/hate relationship, where both interviewer and star need each other to promote their work and their careers. It’s a shame the process needs to be so hurtful. I believe that is stoked by many viewers’ interest in celebrities’ health crises, divorces, bad reviews, and other misfortunes. The Jana Lane AIDS Foundation in this novel is a bit like the Elizabeth Taylor’s AIDS Foundation, which I discuss with Harriet Hologram.
Molly: And in this novel you are again confronted by a character who uses his religious beliefs to attack the rights of your gay friends and co-workers. As usual, you valiantly stand up for them.
Jana: I’m a Christian who tries to love her neighbor as herself, not judge others, and I try to help the downtrodden and outcasts. Freedom of religion means the freedom to worship as you choose, not try to take away the civil rights or self-worth of others.
Molly: How you do remember all those skills you learned as a child star to solve the crimes?
Jana: Joe keeps good notes.
Molly: Is it fun living in 1985 in RAG DOLL?
Jana: I love the hairstyles, clothing, makeup, music, movies, television shows, and dances. You should see Bove in his parachute pants, colored T-shirt, and white jacket.
Molly: I like how you play fair in your mysteries, meaning the clues are there, and so are the plot twists and turns, and white knuckle shocking ending.
Jana: All of Joe’s mysteries are like that. In the Nicky and Noah comedy mysteries published by Lethe Press, each novel is loaded with wacky humor and romance in a fast-paced whodunit. In DRAMA QUEEN (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Mystery, Best Crime, Best Humorous, Best Contemporary novel of 2015) theatre college professors are dropping like stage curtains. With the inept local detectives, it is up to Directing professor, Nicky Abbondanza to use his theatre skills (including playing other people) to solve the murders, while he directs a murder mystery onstage. Complicating matters is Nicky’s intense crush on Assistant Professor of Acting, handsome Noah Oliver, the prime suspect in the murder. In DRAMA MUSCLE (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In DRAMA CRUISE (releasing December 1) Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship.
Molly: Who is the ideal reader of the Jana Lane mysteries?
Jana: A lover of mystery, romance, and Hollywood. Someone who craves being swept away by a story and becoming part of the novel. My reader loves clues, suspects, and plotlines that zigzag with numerous surprises leading to a shocking yet totally justified conclusion. Finally, my reader relishes in beautiful, lush locations and captivating characters as she/he enters the portal of my book.
Molly: How can your readers contact you?
Jana: Through Joe, of course. We tell each other everything.
Jana and Bove did the scene again with a thin piece of gauze over the camera lens aimed at Jana.
Ah, the plight of a middle-aged actress.
Jana felt even better about that take. Their relationship worked, and the energy bounced back and forth between them almost effortlessly. Again Jana wondered what it would be like sharing her days with Bove and kissing Bove in bed before sleep each night.
Herm’s call for action brought Jana back to the scene. Bove’s close-up was even better than the first two takes. It was as if they had been married for years with an easygoing yet emotional rapport.
“Good job, partner.”
Bove smiled at Jana. “Right back at you.”
As she started to rise from the bed, Jana spotted Christa in the distance with a look of horror on her face.
The young woman screamed as a lighting screen headed straight for her. Stu Silverman, standing next to Christa, noticed and pushed Christa out of the way in
the nick of time. The screen crashed to the floor inches away from Christa’s feet. Standing on the other side of her, Andrew Bianca took his wife in his arms, and she
wept on his shoulder.
Bove whispered to Jana, “Here we go again.”
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino won Divine Magazine’s awards for best mystery novel, best humorous novel, and best contemporary novel of 2015. He is the author of the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, and the upcoming Drama Cruise and Drama Luau (Lethe Press); the Cozzi Cove beach series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, and the upcoming Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out (NineStar Press); and the romance novellas: In My Heart anthology (An Infatuation & A Shooting Star), A Home for the Holidays, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). As an actor, he has appeared in principal roles in film, television, and theatre opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently head of the department/professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married.