Homicide in the House, by Colleen J. Shogan: A Killer Profits from a Capitol Hill Shutdown

HomicideWhen the government shuts down, D.C. becomes a ghost town. A perfect opportunity to get away with murder. Not on Kit’s watch.

Homicide in the House ($14.95, 258 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-333-4), by Colleen J. Shogan, is the second Washington Whodunit: a cozy mystery series set in Washington, D.C., and featuring amateur sleuth Kit Marshall.

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Stabbing in the Senate and Homicide in the House are both being distributed by Epicenter Press/Aftershocks Media. Wholesale customers, contact orders@epicenterpress.com.

“A solid choice for political junkies and readers of ­Maggie ­Sefton, Fred Hunter, and Mike Lawson.” Read more….
—Library Journal

“Shogan’s solid second Washington, D.C. (after 2015’s Stabbing in the Senate) finds congressional staffer Kit Marshall serving as legislative director to North Carolina freshman Representative Maeve Dixon, a middle-of-the-road Democrat. On the eve of a government shutdown over the budget, Jack Drysdale, the Speaker of the House’s top aide, tries to persuade Dixon to toe the party line, but he ends up in a very public confrontation with her instead. When Drysdale turns up dead in the Capitol rotunda the next day, Dixon becomes the prime suspect in his murder. With the threat of Dixon’s arrest imminent, Marshall begins to look for alternative suspects, who include Gareth Pressler, a senior aide for the Sergeant of Arms; Drysdale’s spouse, Jordon Macintyre; and anonymous blogger Hill Rat. Shogan does a good job depicting the creaky, squeaky wheels of government, and Marshall plays politics and sleuth with equal dexterity in this capital Capitol Hill mystery.”

—Publishers Weekly, April 18, 2016

4 Stars: “The gang is together again in this exceptional murder mystery as Kit, her friend Meg, boyfriend Doug and rescue dog Clarence collectively work to solve the crime. Each distinctive personality shines as they bring the case to a close. Be prepared for another adventure.”

—RT Magazine

“This whodunit is well plotted and intriguing. The characters are believable and real even if the action is far removed for me. The humor and wit really elevate this read. I recommend it to cozy lovers that enjoy political subterfuge and those that do not. If you are looking for a great, can’t put it down book, look no further than Homicide in the House.”  Read more….

—Andra W for The Open Book Society

“Author Colleen J. Shogan has penned yet another riveting mystery set into a national political framework and continues to prove herself to be a master of the genre. A deftly crafted read from first page to last, and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections.”  Read more….

—Able Greenspan, MBR Bookwatch: July 2016

Homicide in the House is a fast-paced fun read, with an original concept. Author Colleen J. Shogan’s education and work experience ensure that the details are factual, and fascinating to readers without inside-the-Beltway knowledge. There are plot twists every so often to keep the readers on their toes. The suspense at the end of the book—WOW! What a climax!…. Homicide in the House is amazing. I was hooked from the first sentence, and read it in only two days. I recommend Homicide in the House to all fans of cozy mysteries. I think it will particularly appeal to anyone who prefers fictional political shenanigans over the real ones in the news lately.”  Read more….

—Jane Reads

“A well-written mystery, with some political info mixed in to build the setting without bogging down the story. There is an excellent cast, some humor, some drama, and an edge of danger…. An excellent read for any mystery or chick-lit fan.”  Read more….

—Sarah E. Bradley for InD’Tale Magazine

“Colleen Shogan has done it again! 5 stars to Homicide in the House. I enjoy this series so much because of the wonderful characters and storyline. I love how the author describes Washington DC and the ins and outs of our government. I have not had the pleasure of visiting DC but really want to after reading this series. The author does a great job making her characters believable.”  Read more….

—Penny M. for Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

“I absolutely loved this whodunit that could have been ripped from the headlines!…. I like Kit, she is smart, thinks before she jumps, and she know Washington. She is much more confident in this story. Kit lives with her boyfriend and they have an adorable pepperoni loving dog named Clarence. He has a big funny part in this story…. Great characters, chilling twists and action filled moments almost had smoke coming out of my Kindle Fire. I read the story all in one sitting and was actually sorry it had to end.”  Read more….

—Escape with Dollycas

Homicide in the House is an exciting whodunit that made turning each page a thrill. Starting with a government shutdown, and dealing with murder, politics, personal agendas, and relationships, this second installment in the series is an action filled, suspenseful read, that will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way to the exciting reveal!” Read more….

—Lisa K’s Book Reviews

“Even though this doesn’t fit the traditional format of a cozy mystery in a small town, the community in the congress has all of the facets of one. Colorful characters, gossip mills, romance, intrigue and of course, murder…. I enjoyed Homicide in the House and can’t wait to read the first book in the series, Stabbing in the Senate.”  Read more….

—Teresa Trent, Cozy Mystery Writer

“Kit is a great cozy sleuth. The mystery is well-written and had enough twists and turns to keep me guessing. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys smart, fast-paced cozies (especially those with a non-traditional setting/theme). This is a series that I look forward to following.”  Read more….

—Brooke Blogs

“This book is fast-paced, well-written, fun to read, and has an unanticipated murderer. The plot was tightly woven with numerous twists and turns that leave the reader guessing. I highly recommend this book for cozy mystery readers as well as those who appreciate political intrigue.”  Read more….

—Carla Loves to Read Blog

Kit Marshall has bounced back from her first brush with the law, when she was suspected of murdering her senator boss. Now she is working for a freshman congresswoman, Maeve Dixon, a young Gulf War veteran representing North Carolina. It’s February, and Kit is feeling out of sorts. A government shutdown has just been announced, wreaking havoc on the Hill, and Dan, Dixon’s chief of staff and Kit’s supervisor, is an inexperienced lightweight flying blind. Then there’s Kit’s distracted live-in boyfriend, Doug, who doesn’t seem any closer to popping the question. Kit’s best friend Meg is up to her eyeballs with her new beau and oversight committee job, and Clarence the beagle mix will certainly not win Capitol Canine if Meg has to campaign for him all by herself.

Bad as things are now, they are about to get much worse. Early one morning Representative Dixon is caught standing over the corpse of Jack Drysdale, the Speaker of the House’s top staffer, a man she argued with in front of the press the day before. The murder weapon was the Speaker’s gavel. This item was entrusted to Dixon at the time, leading the police to believe they’ve found their killer. To save her job, Kit must clear her boss’s name, and quickly. Dixon’s career may be over if the police declare her a suspect or an anonymous blogger known as Hill Rat breaks the story. Solving this murder will test Kit’s courage and all her fledgling powers of deduction as she roams a spooky, sparsely populated Capitol Hill looking for clues and sounding out suspects.

Says Shogan, “Kit Marshall has crossed to the other side of the Capitol in Homicide in the House. Her personal and professional lives have gotten more complicated, and so has the mystery she’s tasked to solve. The eerily deserted buildings during the 2013 government shutdown provided me with a perfect setting for murder. Luckily, Kit is never alone. Trevor, Meg, Doug, and Clarence are back again to make sure our favorite congressional staffer turned amateur sleuth finds the killer before time runs out.”

Colleen J. Shogan is a senior executive at the Library of Congress. She is a former Senate staffer who started reading mysteries at the age of six. Previously the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service, Colleen also teaches government at Georgetown University. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Drysdale fixed me with a hard stare. The frustration on his face implied he didn’t appreciate a non-committal answer from a low-level congressional staffer. But after a few seconds, he relented. With a friendly grin, he asked, “Isn’t your dog in the Capitol Canine contest?”

He’d caught me off guard with such an abrupt change in mood and topic. I narrowed my eyes in distrust. “Yes. His name is Clarence.”

“I love dogs, and I’m sure you want Clarence to do well in the contest. You know, my dog won Capitol Canine a few years ago.”

“I didn’t know that. Congratulations.” Where was this headed?

“Capitol Canine is about who you know. And I know a ton of people who would be happy to vote for Clarence. Maybe we can become better friends if we join forces?” He followed up his offer with a sexy wink.

Had I just been propositioned to sell my boss’s vote for a Clarence victory in the Capitol Canine contest? A direct approach was often best. “Are you trying to trade support for the Speaker’s shutdown plan for votes in a dog popularity contest?”

“Don’t be so literal, Kit. We’re colleagues, and I’m simply trying to help you out.”

After a long moment of silence, I decided to throw him a bone—no pun intended. “Maybe I can give you an answer on the Speaker’s proposal in a week? I’ll have to check with my chief of staff about the conversations he’s having with the voters in the district.”

Apparently, Jack didn’t appreciate my version of a compromise. The sexy Bruce Wayne smile disappeared instantly, and his face contorted in anger. Raising his voice, he growled, “Check with your chief of staff? This is useless. I need to make sure the Speaker seals this deal.”

Jack stormed out of the office, and I followed him down the corridor until he entered the Speaker’s private suite. I was gutsy, but marching uninvited into the supreme leader office space was beyond my pay grade.

I didn’t want to return to the uncomfortable wooden bench in the hallway with the gatekeeper wondering why Drysdale had dismissed me. Instead, I took a seat next to the reporters in the outside waiting room. I had a clear view of the Speaker’s suite across the hallway so I’d see Maeve when she emerged from her meeting. I’d stuck to our plan. Had Maeve held firm? I’d find out soon enough.

Smartphones are great time wasters. I fiddled with various apps as I waited. The next level of “Angry Birds” was within my grasp when I heard footsteps and voices across the hallway. I got up and stood in the doorway to greet my boss.

From the look on her face, she was not pleased. She charged like a linebacker to the exit of the Speaker’s lair with Jack Drysdale on her heels.

“Stop, Congresswoman Dixon. You’re not listening to reason!” From behind, Drysdale placed his hand on Maeve’s left shoulder in an attempt to prevent her from leaving the suite.

Maeve had impressive reflexes. She turned her body toward him and grabbed his wrist with her right hand. “Don’t touch me! Is this how the Speaker’s staff treat members of the House?” Her voice was loud and filled with vitriol.

The gaggle of reporters who had been relaxing inside the anteroom trailed behind me. This was better than a boring pen and pad session. One of them murmured, “I think that’s Dixon from North Carolina.”

This was not a good development, but Maeve didn’t know that the press had a front row seat to her implosion.

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