Stabbing in the Senate, by Colleen J. Shogan: A Staffer Turns Sleuth to Clear her Name

stabbing_senateKit’s boss is dead. She’s the prime suspect, and just about the only one without a motive.

Stabbing in the Senate ($13.95, 236 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-331-0), by Colleen J. Shogan, is the first book in the Washington Whodunit cozy mystery series, set in Washington, D.C., and featuring amateur sleuth Kit Marshall.

Winner, Mystery Category, 2016 National Indie Excellence Awards

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Follow the Great Escapes Blog Tour–Jan. 4-17, 2016

“What do politics, Washington intrigue and an everyone-for-herself outlook on life have in common? They all come together in the suspenseful, thrilling debut novel by Colleen J. Shogan titled Stabbing in the Senate…. It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel…. Put [Shogan’s] book on your shelf or ereader, and her future on your radar.” Read more….

—LuAnn Braley, Back Porchervations

“From the discovery of the body, through pages and chapters of intrigue, to the action packed reveal and take down of the killer, I was totally engrossed in this stellar mystery.”  Read more….

—Lisa K’s Book Reviews

“A well-written debut novel. The author has been a part of the group of people she writes about, and her personal knowledge shows in her vivid descriptions of people and scenarios…. The story is filled with twists and turns. Just like the main character, the reader is never quite sure who to trust or who to believe. Kit and Meg, her best friend, are a very likable duo as they try to get to the bottom of things.”  Read more….

—Book Babble

“Whodunit At Its Best…. Author Colleen J. Shogan is a great writer, and Stabbing In The Senate held my interest…. It had me hooked right from the beginning.”  Read more….

—Sharon Salituro for Fresh Fiction

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the messy political process of creating new policies. Shogan describes the intricacies of policy-making in a way that is related so closely to the mystery, I never felt I was reading a political science lecture. I believe readers who enjoy amateur sleuth mysteries written in the style of Agatha Christie will enjoy this promising debut mystery. It will be fun to watch the Washington Whodunit series grow and develop as Kit Marshall becomes embroiled in more murder and mayhem in future books.”  Read more….

—Dorothy St. James, author of the White House Gardener Mysteries, for Washington Independent Review of Books

“[Stabbing in the Senate] features loads of inside scoop about the workings of Senate offices—complete with all the gossiping, back-stabbing, and procedural maneuvering—plus an appealing young sleuth, sprightly pacing, and an edge-of-your-seat showdown on the Hart-Dirksen underground train. Apart from joining Kit on one of her Hill happy hours, how much more fun could you want?”  Read more….

Literary Hill, a Compendium of Readers, Writers, Books & Events

“I have to say it is one of the best whodunit I have read this year. Colleen writes with clarity, wit and she knows her subject matter. She has done her research, turned her talent into one of the best new books to be on the 2016 market. STABBING in the SENATE, is a look at Washington D.C. that is sure to be a memorable, page-turning, bestseller. I give this one ten stars.”  Read more….

—Pamela James

“An excellent whodunit…. I was really impressed with this very smart story. The author is a former Senate staffer so she is writing what she knows, less the murder, I hope.”  Read more….

—Escape with Dolly Cas into a Good Book

“Full of political intrigue, high stakes decision makers, twists and turns and red herrings, Stabbing in the Senate is a wonderful new cozy. The characters are entertaining and the writing is spot on for a great whodunit. I am not really a fan of politics or D.C. in particular, but the way Colleen J. Shogan presented this story drew me in and kept me excited about it. I am sure fans of politics will love this new cozy series, but those like me that don’t will not be put off. The author somehow writes about the political word in a fresh and exciting style. Anyone that enjoys a well written classic whodunit will love this book. It bodes well for a continuation of this series and I for one hope it does continue.”  Read more….

—Caro, Open Book Society

“There are a lot of twists and turns in this book. You never know who to trust at any given time. Will Kit and her friends find the killer or killers before they strike again? What does a company called Carter Power play in his murder? Could all of this be about the oldest motive in the book, Money? Or is it something else know one will see coming? I hope there will be many more books in this series. I am not a person who enjoys political novels but this was a pleasant surprise. The mystery, adventure, suspense, and intrigue are not to be missed.”  Read more….

—Penny M., Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

“Book 1 in the Washington Whodunnit series, Stabbing in the Senate is a fast-paced blend of murder mystery and political intrigue. D.C. staffer Kit Marshall’s life is turned upside-down when she finds her employer, Senator Langsford, impaled in his office. Kit is deemed the prime suspect (in part because she foolishly pulled the weapon out of his chest and got her fingerprints on it). The well-to-do family of Kit’s boyfriend is horrified by her notoriety, but even more disturbing is the possibility of why Senator Langsford was killed—he just recently had begun to vote his conscience, an act of rebellion that outraged the hardliners of his party. Kit and her strong-willed friend Meg search for the real killer, but the real killer just might be hunting them as well! Stabbing in the Senate is a page-turner that will keep the reader’s rapt attention to the very end.”

—Wisconsin Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review

“Amid perpetual rounds of gossip, back-scratching, blame games and cocktails, Colleen Shogan offers an inside look into DC politics. A Senator is murdered, and members of his staff are simultaneously suspicious, calculating and polite as they scramble for new jobs. Staff must also decide whether to collude on a revisionist history for the maverick’s opinions. Everyone is power hungry, but protocol demands that ambitions be kept hidden. Protagonist Kit Marshall is a breath of fresh air in a city of opportunists, and Stabbing in the Senate is a smart, snappy whodunit that kept me guessing until the end.”

—Susan Froetschel, award-winning author of Allure of Deceit

“An interesting snapshot into the world of Senate staffers from a Capitol Hill insider. Political intrigue, mystery, and a rescue beagle named Clarence. What more could you ask for?”

—Tracy Weber Award-winning author of the Downward Dog Mystery Series

“In this smart, fast-paced mystery, Colleen Shogan gives a fascinating look at Washington, D.C., politics through a Senate staffer’s eyes. She kept me turning pages until the surprising reveal at the very end.”

—Mary Marks, author of the Martha Rose quilting mysteries

“A taut mystery, set in the halls of the Senate, a backdrop Shogan knows well. It kept me guessing until the end!”

—Carlene O’Neil, author of Cypress Cove Mystery series

“Shogan captures the hilarity and pitfalls of life as a Capitol Hill staffer—all the while keeping the reader guessing in this whodunit. Stabbing in the Senate is filled with memorable characters and finds you rooting for Kit Marshall, an honest, smart and funny young woman, navigating a complicated city fueled by politics.”

—Purva Rawal, health care consultant and former Senate staffer

“The first book in the Washington Whodunit series, Colleen has put great deal of attention to the development of every character. Her first time writing in the every loved genre of mystery hasn’t failed her—in fact, far from it! Her fans are looking forward to reading the second book!”  Read more….

—Serious Reading Book Reviews

“A perfect whodunit from a Capitol Hill insider. Kit Marshall is a feisty protagonist I’m hoping to hear more from in the future.”

—Cathi Stoler, author of The Hard Way

“Shogan does a good job of describing the work of a staffer – unsurprising, since she herself was one in a former life. Also believable is Kit Marshall’s confusion in being thrust into the role of suspect…. Stabbing in the Senate is a quick read, perfect for those commutes on the Red Line.”  Read more….

—The Hill is Home Blog

“I enjoyed this cozy mystery. I’ve visited Washington DC and have always been fascinated by the inner workings of the city. I felt the author did a really nice job of describing the settings and developing characters. I was intrigued with the story and wrapped up in all the possible suspects that I wasn’t sure who the guilty party was until very late in the story. I liked Kit. She was a character who was easy to relate to and she made for a good amateur sleuth.”  Read more….

—Brooke Blogs

Life is good for Kit Marshall. She’s a staffer in D.C. for a popular senator, and she lives with an adoring beagle and a brainy boyfriend with a trust fund. Then, one morning, Kit arrives at the office early and finds her boss, Senator Langsford, impaled by a stainless steel replica of an Army attack helicopter. Panicked, she pulls the weapon out of his chest and instantly becomes the prime suspect in his murder.

Circumstances back Kit’s claim of innocence, but her photograph has gone viral, and the heat won’t be off until the killer is found. Well-loved though the senator was, suspects abound. Langsford had begun to vote with his conscience, which meant he was often at odds with his party. Not only had the senator decided to quash the ambitions of a major military contractor, but his likely successor is a congressman he trounced in the last election. Then there’s the suspiciously dry-eyed Widow Langsford.

Kit’s tabloid infamy horrifies her boyfriend’s upper-crust family, and it could destroy her career. However, she and her free-spirited friend Meg have a more pressing reason to play sleuth. The police are clueless in more ways than one, and Kit worries that the next task on the killer’s agenda will be to end her life.

Says Shogan, “One morning before work, I took a walk in my Washington, D.C. suburban neighborhood and came up with the plot for Stabbing in the Senate. It’s a classic whodunit set in the halls of Congress with colorful politicos as the main characters, sleuths and suspects alike. I plan to keep the tradition of Margaret Truman alive by telling entertaining stories of intrigue and mystery situated in our nation’s capital.”

Colleen J. Shogan is the deputy director of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) at the Library of Congress. She is a former Senate staffer who started reading mysteries at the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American government at George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. Stabbing in the Senate is her first novel.

Colleen is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received her BA from Boston College and her doctorate from Yale. A member of Sisters in Crime, she lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband Rob Raffety and their rescue mutt, Conan. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

I had followed the police officer out of the bathroom and was headed toward the office when a swarm descended on me. Flashes of light blazed across the dimly lit hallway, and someone shoved a microphone close to my mouth. Frowning, I blinked to avoid the bright flickers. When my eyes adjusted, I found myself in the middle of an old-fashioned Washington, D.C., press assault. Questions flew in staccato rapid fire:

“What’s your name?”

“Why did you murder Senator Langsford?”

“Are you having an affair with the senator?”

“How many years have you worked for him?”

“What weapon did you use?”

How did the press learn so quickly a salacious story was brewing? I might have been delusional, because I thought I caught a glimpse of Matt Drudge in the crowd that assaulted me.

My police escort whisked me away quickly, but not before the damage had been done. Maybe if I could clear up what happened with the police, no one would run with the story. That hope was delusional, too.

Back in the safety of the office, Vivian, the senator’s wife—now his widow—had arrived. Her gray hair was perfectly styled and she was dressed in an impeccably tailored suit, matching handbag in tow. Vivian was a hard woman to understand. Always polite with the senator’s staff, she had given us no obvious reason to dislike her, but we still did. She wasn’t overtly interested in legislation or policy, but was invested, literally and figuratively, in her husband’s political career. For more than twenty years she had been the wife of a senator. Independently wealthy, she had funded Langsford’s initial run for elected office and had kept the money flowing ever since.

The rumor around the office was she wanted Langsford to finish his current term in office, retire, and then accept a lucrative job with a lobbying firm on K Street. Vivian had played her part well during the many years of public service. Now, she wanted a big payout.

Langsford had given no indication he was willing to grant Vivian her wish. All senators possessed a healthy ego, and Langsford was no exception. The prospect of growing the family fortune did not motivate him. In fact, he relished his new role as a political maverick. He also liked the attention it attracted. Sources within the office reported that if he thought he could win reelection, then he would run for office again, whether Vivian liked it or not.

I took a long look at Vivian. Never rumpled, she always looked as if she’d just stepped off the cover of Vogue. Now was no exception. It took a moment to register what was bothering me. Her face showed expected signs of strain; her brow was appropriately furrowed. Sniffling, she used a monogrammed “V” handkerchief to dab at her eyes and nose.

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