Deco Dames, Demon Rum and Death (Jazz Age Mystery Series)


Welcome to Defining Ways, Ellen Mansoor Collier.

  • Your book covers are a beautiful example of Art Deco. What made you interested in the 1920? Thank you! I couldn’t decide between illustrated Deco covers or covers with vintage photos/images so I did both—and it’s made my life very complicated, lol.  Between journalism jobs, I worked for two interior designers/ antique dealers and loved the sleek style of Art Deco: the fashions, furniture, cars, purses, accessories, architecture. As I learned more about the era, I realized how important it was socially for women, giving them liberation and opportunity. When women gained the right to vote, they felt free to work, go to college, drive, create. My grandmother earned a college degree and became a teacher, like my mother, who taught high school World History.
  • Are you from Galveston? I ask because my grandparents lived there for a year or two in the 1920s. How cool! How’d they end up in Galveston?  I grew up in Houston and Galveston was the go-to place for summer vacations, beach parties, honeymoons. In high school, a group of us ate at Gaido’s famed seafood restaurant on the Seawall (mentioned in DECO DAMES) before a formal dance—the drive then only took an hour, while today it can take at least two in traffic.
  • How many books are in your series? 5 total—DECO DAMES will be my last in the series, unless Amazon or Netflix come calling!
  • Is rum the base for your favorite drinks? What is your favorite 1920s drink?  I’m not a big drinker, but I’d like to sample a few! I do enjoy pina coladas—aren’t they made with rum? As a Texan, I’m partial to margaritas, particularly mango or raspberry.
  • How old are the male characters in your books and why?  My male protagonists, Sammy, Agent Burton, Nathan and the cub reporters, tend to be young, early to late 20s, the gangsters are in their 20s-30s, but the older reporters/ editors/gangsters are in their 50s.  I wanted to show the contrast of the young, naive, impulsive and inexperienced men between the older, jaded and not always wiser males (Mack, the senior journalist/some gang leaders).
  • How old are the female protagonists in your books and why? My female protagonists, Jazz and Amanda, tend to be young, early 20s, but Aunt Eva is roughly mid-30s and Jazz’s boss, Mrs. Harper is in her 50s. Jazz Cross, my heroine, and the younger women are at the stage where they’re rebelling against the status quo and trying to find their place in society.
  • Can you share some of the things that impacted you most in your research of the era?   Despite their new-found freedoms, many women remained stuck in the Victorian era (Aunt Eva), depending on men to give them support and status. Sadly, lots of men refused to accept the changing times and insisted women should become or remain homemakers and not find jobs outside of the home.
  • Best wishes for the greatest success with all your books.  Many thanks for featuring my Jazz Age series and all the great questions! Ellen
About the Book 
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Decodame Press (December 28, 2018)
When young Galveston Gazette society reporter Jazz Cross hears rumors of grave robbers at the Broadway Cemetery, she and photographer Nathan Blaine investigate, hoping to land a scoop. The newshawks witness meetings held by clandestine gangs and enlist the help of her beau, Prohibition Agent James Burton, who attempts to catch the elusive culprits red-handed.
Meanwhile, the supernatural craze takes Galveston by storm, and Jazz is assigned to profile the society set’s favorite fortune teller, Madame Farushka. Sightings of a ghost bride haunting the Hotel Galvez intrigue Jazz, who sets up a Ouija board reading and séance with the spiritualist. Did the bride-to-be drown herself—or was she murdered?
Luckily, Sammy Cook, her black-sheep half-brother, has escaped the Downtown Gang and now acts as the maître d’ for the Hollywood Dinner Club, owned by rival Beach Gang leaders. During a booze bust, the Downtown Gang’s mob boss, Johnny Jack Nounes, is caught and Jazz worries: will Sammy be forced to testify against his former boss? Worse, when a mystery man turns up dead, Sammy is framed for murder and Jazz must solve both murders and help clear Sammy’s name.
As the turf war between rival gangs rages on, Jazz relies on her wits and moxie to rescue her brother and her friends before the Downtown Gang exacts its revenge.
Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer/editor whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines, including: FAMILY CIRCLE, MODERN BRIDE, GLAMOUR, BIOGRAPHY, COSMO, PLAYGIRL, etc. Several of her short stories have appeared in WOMAN’S WORLD. She’s profiled a variety of people, from CEOs and celebrities (including Suze Orman), to charity founders (Nancy Brinker et al) and do-gooders. A flapper at heart, she’s the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items. (
Formerly she’s worked as a magazine editor, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism, where she enjoyed frou-frou cocktails and lots of lattes. When she’s not concocting stories, she enjoys traveling, shopping at flea markets, listening to instrumental jazz, reading cozy mysteries (of course) and taking walks with her husband Gary and hyper Chow mixes (Coco and Champagne).