THE AUTHOR: Kim Kash
THE EDITOR: Paul Covington and Barb Goffman
THE PUBLISHER: Capri House
SUMMARY: Euro-trash collides with American gangsta in Maryland’s gleefully cheesy beach resort. Reporter Jamie August befriends a spoiled heiress who is being pursued by Russian mobsters—and a chart-topping rap star. Meanwhile, a raging crime spree is keeping Jamie busy—and so is a hot new boyfriend and a strict jogging and frozen custard fitness plan. Action careens from OC to Dubai, from the wild shores of Assateague to a wild-west campground. Will Jamie survive to debut her fringed leopard-print bikini?
THE BACK STORY: In 2008, I wrote a travel guide to Ocean City for the Tourist Town series. While I was researching the book (read: eating crabcakes and playing mini-golf), it occurred to me that it would be really fun to read some mysteries set in Ocean City. When I searched, I found there were almost none. So I figured it was some kind of a sign—I started a rough draft of OCEAN CITY LOWDOWN, the first book in the series, shortly after the travel guide was published.
WHY THIS TITLE?: The term “cover-up” was a very deliberate choice. In the context of my story it has three shades of meaning. It’s a hiding away of something. It’s also a piece of clothing you throw over your bathing suit at the beach. And finally, it’s a reference to the practice of covering oneself for modesty, as women in the Middle East do for religious and cultural reasons. In OCEAN CITY COVER-UP our hometown heroine, Jamie August, is whisked away to Dubai. She stays for a few luxurious days in the penthouse home of an oil tycoon and his family. There Jamie has a crash course in Muslim fashion, and covering up outside of one’s home is something she learns about.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT: The Jamie August series has been very popular so far with people who are familiar with Ocean City, Maryland because I fill the stories with references to real places in the region. I have also heard from people who have never been, but now want to go to Ocean City to see the craziness for themselves! Now, with OCEAN CITY COVER-UP, I am also hearing from the expat community in the Middle East about how much they enjoyed my take on Dubai. My stories are very much fixed in real locations, and I enjoy writing about a down-to-earth, imperfect heroine in genuine places that I know and love.
“High-spirited, slyly humorous page-turner.” – Marcia Talley, Agatha and Anthony award-winning author of DAUGHTER OF ASHES
“Jamie is a smart, sexy and unforgettable heroine I’d love to be my guide to the real Ocean City, Maryland–no matter what the season.”- Sujata Massey, Agatha and Macavity Award winner of the Rei Shimura Series and THE SLEEPING DICTIONARY
“Kim Kash has crafted a solid mystery with plenty of twists, whip-smart dialogue, and a sprinkle of romance. OCEAN CITY COVER-
UP kept me awake into the wee hours, flipping pages and collecting clues with Jamie.” – LynDee Walker, Agatha Award-nominated author of DEVIL IN THE DEADLINE
AUTHOR PROFILE: Kim Kash is the author of two Jamie August mystery novels: OCEAN CITY LOWDOWN and OCEAN CITY COVER-UP, and the best-selling travel guide OCEAN CITY: A GUIDE TO MARYLAND’S SEASIDE RESORT. For the last six years, she has been dividing her time between Maryland and the Middle East. Which can be weird.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: I love writing a series set in the beach town of my home state. Especially since I am now living overseas, where life is very different, very much more constrained. I love my expat life, don’t get me wrong, and I’m learning a ton about life outside our culturally insulated United States. It’s all good. But sometimes I just want to walk down the OC boardwalk in trashy cut-offs and a t-shirt, and drink margaritas. Writing this series is a wonderful catharsis. It keeps me connected to, and in love with, my home state of Maryland.
My lungs were ready to burst by the time I hit Tenth Street, and I slowed to a walk. I stopped to hang onto a lamppost, bent forward at the waist, and tried to catch my breath.
It was just after eight a.m. on July 1. The start of week four of my Get-Your-Ass-In-Shape campaign. Every year at the beginning of the summer season, I hit the Ocean City boardwalk shops and picked out a new bikini. This year, I’d been really irritated that I couldn’t find anything that looked good on me. Everything made me look fat—or at least kind of doughy and soft.
Then I realized that the bathing suits hadn’t changed. I had changed. No longer could I scarf down Slurpees and chili cheese fries and stay skinny. The late-twenties pounds were showing up. I wanted the leopard skin bikini with the fringes—it was only twelve dollars!—but I just couldn’t work it the way I used to. I found myself looking at sensible one-pieces, and that’s when I found Jesus, right there in the fitting room at the Bikini Depot.
“Tammy, I swear by the Fourth of July I am gonna rock this bikini,” I said to my best friend, who was trying on minidresses.
“Do it!” Tammy said.
“So, how are you gonna make it happen?”
I was caught off guard thinking about the logistics of exercise. “Huh. I can’t afford the gym.”
“So go running. That’s free.”
“That sounds hideous.”
Tammy shrugged and pulled her dressing room curtain closed.
“Shit. Okay, you’re right. I’ll do it.”
From that day on, I went jogging every day on Ocean City’s wide boardwalk. As June progressed, my runs got longer and my belly really did get flatter. Now, one month later, I was feeling pretty good about the way I looked, but that didn’t mean I liked the damn running part. I stopped for a thirty-second break, hitting the stopwatch button on my plastic running watch.
“I hate my hormones,” I said out loud just as three fifty-something women strolled past.
One of them turned and said, “You think you hate ’em now, honey? Just wait.” They laughed and kept walking.
I was too out of breath to come up with a response. I waited for my heart rate to come down, then did a few hamstring stretches, checking out my nicely toned legs with satisfaction.
I straightened and looked down the boards, undoing and redoing the ponytail holder on my straight, dark hair, blowing my bangs
out of my eyes. I spotted what I was looking for off in the distance. I hit the stopwatch button on my plastic sports watch again, squared my shoulders, and jogged on.
Finally I reached my destination: Kohr Brothers. I got in line and did another set of stretches as I waited. Despite the early hour, the line was six deep for the original, often imitated but never duplicated Kohr Brothers frozen custard. I told myself this was a healthier alternative to ice cream, that I could budget the 130 calories in that small, beautiful cone. But the truth was, if I didn’t know there was a Kohr Brothers cone waiting for me at the end of every run, I wouldn’t run. I just wouldn’t do it. I would buy the granny one-piece, and maybe throw in some elastic-waist jeans, too.
The three teenage boys ahead of me in line finished with their order and their lame attempt to chat up the Russian summer workers behind the counter, and then I stepped up to the booth.
“Vanilla. Plain. Small. Hurry!”
“Your run was good?” one of the girls asked, smiling and tucking her cute bobbed hair behind one ear. She asked me this every morning.
“Awesome,” I said. “Couldn’t be better. Today I ran all the way from the other end of the boardwalk.”
“That is maybe forty blocks, yes?” asked the other, more sultry girl. “That is far. How you do?”
“Brute force,” I said, pulling exact change out of the little pocket in my running shorts. The cute one handed me a cone piled high with snowy vanilla soft-serve and collected the money. The sultry one twirled a long blond strand of hair.
“Knocked twenty seconds off my time today,” I said, then took the first glorious bite of frozen custard. I wiped a sticky drip on my chin.
“That’s great,” the cute one said. “Twenty seconds off the exact same run from yesterday? You are doing well.”
“You have stopwatch on that?” the sultry one asked.
I showed her my black and safety-yellow rubber watch. “Yeah. Got it at Daffodils, eighteen bucks. Says it’s a Timex, but probably a knockoff. Whatever. Really helps me track my progress.”
“I have this function also,” she said, extending her slender wrist and showing me a watch that looked to be completely covered in diamonds. It had small, round dials arranged within a larger analog clock face. “This dial here is stopwatch,” she said, delicately pointing to one of them.
“That’s a fitness watch?” I said, guffawing.
“Of course. Piaget Miss Protocole XL.”
The cute one whipped her head around and stared at her friend.
“Replica,” she amended. “Of course.”
“Piaget. Sounds like a car,” I said. “Anyway, it’s amazing.”
“One of those sure would improve my look when I’m out for my morning run.”
“Yes. But I do not understand,” the sultry one said. “Why you not go on diet? Would be easier than this run, run, run every day, no?”
“Are you kidding? I am on a diet. Otherwise I would order the waffle cone with cookie crumbles and double jimmies. I am totally cutting back.”
“When I want lose weight, I don’t eat. Easy.”
“I can’t not eat. I’d die. Well, I mean of course anyone would die if they didn’t eat. What I mean is, I would kill myself.”
“No, is easy,” she said, one hand on a beautifully curvy hip. “Stop eat. Only smoke.”
Well, she had me there. I quit smoking nearly a year before, and I knew that was a big contributor to this season’s bikini crisis. Still, with only one or two minor lapses, I had kicked the habit and
I wasn’t about to go back. Couldn’t afford it, for one thing.
“Easy for you to say.” I rolled my eyes. “What are you, twenty?”
“Just wait,” I said, realizing with horror that I was mimicking those women who’d mocked me earlier. “Twenty-seven is a bitch.”
LOCAL OUTLETS: The News Center in West Ocean City has copies (or can get them), as does Browseabout Books in Rehoboth, and Bethany Beach Books. Daedalus Books in Columbia, MD stocks it, and any bookstore can order it for you, as it is distributed via Ingram.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, of course! If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow it for free.
PRICE: $16.99 for the paperback; $2.99 for the ebook (or, again, free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)
CONTACT THE AUTHOR:
Web page: http://www.kimkash.com
Twitter handle: @kash_kim