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The Sirens of Suspense






Linda Joffe Hull is the author of THE BIG BANG and the Mrs. Frugalicious mystery series. She is a graduate of UCLA and lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and children. A longtime member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Linda currently serves on the national board of Mystery Writers of America as a director-at-large. 

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Recently, a friend made the astute observation that no one ever suspects mystery writers (with a few legitimate exceptions) of being actual murderers. Put a little sex in your book however, and everyone from your elementary school teacher to your manicurist will smile knowingly when your name comes up, wink, and, despite any and all overwhelming evidence to the contrary, say they always suspected you were a shameless nymphomaniac with unresolved daddy issues.

Seeing as I describe my debut novel, THE BIG BANG, which came out in 2012, as a suburban satire/pregnancy whodunit, I’ve definitely weathered my share of knowing looks. I’ve also watched my husband garner high fives despite the reality of life with a writer wife. Fact: my main character may run around in upscale lingerie, but her creator primarily wears sweats in the often futile hope of making it to the gym at some point during the day.

My new book, ETERNALLY 21, the first in the Mrs. Frugalicious mystery series, contains neither graphic violence nor sex, so I figured I was in the clear, transference wise.


Not exactly.

ETERNALLY 21 is the story of Maddie Michaels, whose husband, TV’s Mr. Frank Finance, has lost all of their money in a Ponzi scheme. In order to save her family from the financial grim reaper, Maddie starts a bargain hunter’s blog under the alias Mrs. Frugalicious and immediately attracts a growing frugarmy of budget advice seekers. While Maddie is researching frugasm-worthy deals on holiday shopping for teens, Eternally 21 store manager Laila DeSimone mistakenly accuses her of shoplifting. When the universally disliked Laila drops dead soon after, Maddie quickly becomes the main suspect. She must combine her coupon clipping and bargain shopping prowess with amateur sleuthing to clear her name before the world finds out she’s not only Mrs. Frugalicious, but wanted for murder.

Maddie’s secret career as Mrs. Frugalicious not only nearly lands her in prison, but landed me, her author, on an AM radio station a few weeks back. It wasn’t until we went live that I realized I was being interviewed not as Linda Joffe Hull, creator of the Mrs. Frugalicious mystery series, but for my money saving expertise!

On a financial advice show, no less.

Don’t get me wrong--I’ve done my fair share of research on bargain shopping. The fact is, I’ve been in awe of couponers ever since my first episode of Extreme Couponing, when I watched in open-mouthed amazement at the stockpile rooms filled with toothpaste, body wash and Ramen noodles that cost savvy shoppers less than nothing. Anyone who can pile $400 dollars worth of groceries into their cart and leave the store having spent $9.47, not only has to have the sharpest of math skills, but the makings of a crack amateur sleuth.

Which is why I, a writer, created the fictional Maddie Michaels, bargain shopper and crime solver.

Still, there I was, with my high SAT verbal (but painfully deficient math) scores, live on the radio as a couponing expert faced with the question I’ve been asked so often of late:

What are your top money saving tips?

I’m not fiscally clever enough to be an extreme couponer, but luckily, I have picked up a few invaluable tricks for us regular folk to save a few bucks:

Clip those Sunday coupons for items you are going to buy anyway. Not only is it found money, you’ll be recognized as a couponer at the register and rewarded with additional and better discounts by Catalinas—those coupons that are automatically generated when you check out.

Always check online for specials before you go to a mall or retailer where you’re planning to shop. You’ll be surprised at the discounts waiting to be printed out.

Download the shopping App for your favorite grocery stores and you’ll save on additional unadvertised specials.

Follow these tips on a regular basis and you could save up to $100 a month. Add that up over a year’s time and it translates into (wait, gotta check my calculator) $1200.

That’s a vacation taken with free money, or in my case, way more than enough to go out and buy all that marked-down lingerie everyone already assumes an author who sprinkles her books with sex and bargaining tips must certainly be wearing while she writes.



COMMENT OR BARGAINING TIP TO SHARE? Tell us or ask Linda question by commenting below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win a copy of ETERNALLY 21!


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