From The Booking Desk:

Don’t tell Catriona, but anytime she asks to be on BOLO Books, the answer will always be yes. This delightful author has been here several times already and you probably remember that Catriona was my extra special 50th Composite Sketch (which reminds me that the 100th Sketch is coming up very soon – and yes, it’s another extra special profile.)

Meanwhile, today is launch day for Catriona McPherson’s second Lexy Campbell novel. With Scot Free having just won the 2019 Lefty award for Best Humorous Mystery, the expectations are high and I am happy to say that Scot & Soda more than lives up to the promise of the series debut.

I had no idea my suggestion for a topic for this guest post would potentially get me into hot water, but I don’t regret it. As always, Catriona took the idea and ran with it, leaving us all laughing along the way. Laughing with her, not at her! I think I’d better just stop talking and let Catriona take over.

When Kris suggested “Personal style and style in Scot and Soda” as a blog topic, I was flattered. Then immediately paranoid. Was he trying to get me to talk about my personal style like Karen in Will and Grace saying “Oh, honey. What’s this? What’s going on here?”

WILL & GRACE — Season: 1 — Pictured: Megan Mullally as Karen Walker — (Photo by: Andrew Eccles/NBC)

Maybe I still haven’t recovered from one of the more notable moments in my (long) marriage, when we were driving home late at night from far away and I said “This journey would be less tedious if we were having a big argument about something.” We both thought hard to see if there was anything in the bank. There wasn’t. Then we had this conversation.

Neil: We could have a fake argument.

Me: What?

Neil: Make up a niggle and go for it.

Me: Okay.


Neil: I’ve got one.

Me: Shoot.

Neil: When are you going to start dressing like someone who owns a mirror?

Turns out we were wrong. The journey lasted a lot longer in the ensuing cold silence. In some ways, it isn’t over yet.

If I had to describe my personal style I’d say Doris Day hair colour, vintagey dresses occasionally crossing over into kitsch, and flat shoes because I cannot for the life of me walk in heels Also feminism. I take the same view of high heels and g-strings: you first, pal.

(photo by Molly Weston)

I love dresses. For one thing you don’t need to work out what to wear with them: you plop one on and you’re done. In the summer I wear a dress; in the spring and autumn (and in air-conditioning) I wear a dress, a black cardi and black leggings; in the winter I wear a dress, a black cardi, black tights and black boots. I’m wearing a dress now – to type a blog post at home on a Sunday – and I wore one yesterday – to go for a walk and work in a Starbucks. I do own a pair of jeans (just one) and I also own a t-shirt (I bought it in 2005 for a yoga class). But here’s my wardrobe:

In Scot & Soda (as in Scot Free) the character with the most individual personal style is probably Noleen, one of the co-owners of the Last Ditch Motel. She’s got perfect dewy skin – which is always a good start, bright white hair, and a penchant for blunt slogans on her sweatshirts. When Lexy first met her (checking in one night) the front of Nolly’s sweatshirt read “I don’t like morning people.” and the back read “Or mornings. Or people.”

Noleen’s wife, Kathi, who’s the other owner of the motel and runs the adjoining drycleaners, has only one guiding principle when it comes to fashion: price-per-wear. Now, I’ve talked myself into some extravagances using the price-per-wear metric, but I’ve never got it down into pennies like Kathi does.

Todd, Lexy’s bestie, doesn’t care about price-per-wear. He cares about looking gorgeous. He wears diamond earrings, a knuckleful of diamond and platinum on his wedding finger, and owns a wardrobe full of linen and cashmere in sweet-pea shades. When I went to see Isn’t It Romantic recently, I did wince at the ironic “fabulous gay best friend” the film pokes fun at. I thought of Todd and wondered if there had been eye-rolling when people read him for the first time. Too late now. Besides, he’s an anesthesiologist and an ace crime-cracker. Maybe I’m good.

Roger, Todd’s husband, is a paediatrician. He’s also gorgeous, minus the diamonds. When we first met him he was wearing such well-cut clothes Lexy thought he was a fancy lawyer. Usually he’s dressed in cashmere and linen in shades that complement whatever Todd’s wearing. I suspect Todd dresses him. One problem for Roger is that he has a lot of tattoos to keep covered, at work and in public pools, courtesy of his checkered past. (Todd is un-inked, being perfect already.) On the ward, in short-sleeved scrubs, Roger wears a stretchy bandage and gets the children to guess what’s underneath it.

I don’t think I’ve ever described the style of Della and Diego, the last of the major Last Ditch characters, except to say that, for the Halloween party that opens Scot & Soda, Diego (he’s three) comes as a teddy bear and his mum, Della, comes as the teddy’s owner, which means she’s wearing her jammies. Extremely practical.

And finally, Lexy. Her style is not mine. She doesn’t dye her hair. She hasn’t got space in her wardrobe for more than a funeral/court appearance suit, one cocktail dress (if she ever gets her dating life together) and an Oscar frock (because she’s from Dundee, and Cuento feels close enough to Hollywood that you never know). Also, she’s got no interest in foundation garments, whereas I relish going bra-and-knicker shopping whenever I’m in a big city (especially London). She also makes the mistake, when it’s stinking hot, of wearing shorts instead of a dress. I truly don’t want to go into details, but I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone in real Davis, CA, or fictional Cuento, CA, wears shorts when it’s over a hundred, instead of a floaty dress/utility kilt.

But, if that’s what her style isn’t, what is it? I’ve just realised, writing this, that although Lexy spends a lot of time judging and laughing – the yoga-pant ladies in the suburbs, golf attire, the Summer of Love survivals – I’ve kept pretty quiet about how she chooses to put herself out there.

Mind you, I always meant her love life to pick up in book three; so once she’s worn the cocktail dress and decided the Oscar frock’s not a sensible option, I’ll have to send her shopping.

Catriona McPherson is the multi-award-winning and best-selling author of historical detective novels, set in Scotland in the 1930s and featuring aristocratic sleuth Dandy Gilver. She also writes darker – that’s not difficult – contemporary standalones, including the Edgar finalist THE DAY SHE DIED. After eight years as an immigrant in northern California, she started the Last Ditch trilogy, written with love and no judgement (honest) about her new home.  SCOT & SODA  (“frightfully funny” – PW) is the middle book of the three.

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