Today, I am pleased to give my readers a glimpse into the life of Adina Donati, the main character and narrator in the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Mystery Series, which includes Think Murder, Dying for Data, Killer Reputation, and Fit for Murder.
Welcome, Adina. So glad you could make time in your busy schedule to answer a few questions for my readers. Perhaps you could start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your decision to move to Washington, D.C. after college.
I’m originally from a small town outside Worcester, Mass. After attending UMass, I couldn’t see myself moving back home and living with my parents. I wanted to be able to do what I want, when I want I – without an overprotective mother looking over my shoulder.
I studied linguistics and the romance languages in college and had really hoped to find a job that would put my language skills to use. With its international flavor, D.C. seemed like a good place to start. I moved here a month after I graduated from college. Spent the first few weeks sleeping on the floor at a friend’s place until I found a job and an apartment I could afford.
Been there, I totally understand.
What can you tell us about your job?
I work as an administrative assistant at the illustrious Drake Institute, or the DIPPeR as we insiders call it. It’s a think tank that focuses on policy trends. Not what I dreamed of doing when I went to college, but the job market is tough. I had to compromise or move back home.
Truth be told, it’s not all that bad. My boss, Matt, heads up research into energy policy, and he’s an amazing person. Great to work for. And, of course, I’m surrounded by lots of really intelligent professionals.
Rumor has it that life in D.C. has been quite an adventure for you.
I love D.C. It’s a cool city for the most part, especially for young people. There are lots of interesting people, museums, and cultural events. Not to mention the pubs and restaurants. Plenty to do, if you have the time to do it. But like any large city, it has a flip side – crime and poverty. Of course, where politics are involved, the potential for intrigue and corruption is added to the mix.
It’s been hard at times, for sure. My friend Hilary’s murder hit close to home. And it was scary when the police couldn’t find her killer. Did I consider moving back home? Not really. I mean what are the odds something like that would happen – pretty low, and even lower chances that I’d ever find myself involved in another murder investigation. (Then again, maybe lightning does strike more than once in the same place.)
What do you do to unwind when you’re not working or helping solve murders?
I love dogs. Until I lived somewhere that allows dogs, I got my “warm puppy fix” by volunteering at a local dog rescue center a couple times a week. The only drawback is that I get really attached to the dogs. I am always happy to see a four-legged friend find his forever home, but it can be really hard to say goodbye. Parting with Brandy almost broke my heart. I really loved that puppy.
What’s with dogs on the covers? Why a different dog each time?
Over time, a variety of loveable dogs of different breeds captured my heart and sometimes even played a role in identifying the culprits in the intriguing murder investigations I stumbled into. So, when I decided recount my adventures, it seemed only fitting to give them star billing. And, have I mentioned I love dogs?
And your social life? Is there a special someone you’d like to tell us about?
I’d have to describe it as a work in progress…
Cassidy, for now, let’s not make my entire life an open book. Or books.
Before you go, here’s an excerpt from Think Murder:
Hilary had pretty much wound down by the time we reached McSweeney’s. A popular spot among men and women in their 20s and 30s, the pub was standing room only and the scent of Guinness hung in the air. Most of the guys were scoping the scene seeking out potential hookups – but that was nothing new. Petite and pretty, with strawberry blond hair and sparkly blue eyes, Hilary was a magnet for male attention.
We made our way to the bar and each ordered a glass of white wine. I even managed to grab a small dish of chicken wings for us to share. We did our best to eat, drink, and talk, while standing, constantly jostled by the crowd. Just as one guy was on the verge of striking up a conversation with us, we snagged a small table in the back corner.
More often than not I enjoyed watching the flirtations or even flirted a bit myself, but today my attention was on our conversation. Hilary’s mood had changed since our arrival. Seated at our relatively secluded table, she fidgeted in her chair. After we had both ordered a second glass of wine, Hilary took a few rapid sips, then confided, “Something’s going on with Duncan, he’s been acting strange.” She hesitated, then stammered, “Do you think he’s cheating on me?”
So how was I supposed to answer that question? I hated to lie, still neither Duncan nor I had ever mentioned to her that we had been an item a couple years back – a brief relationship that ended when his interest lagged. To add insult to injury, he had found a replacement for me before breaking it off. Duncan is hot; he knows it and he uses it to his advantage. Faithful is not his middle name.
A bit of a coward, I replied, “I don’t know. Has his behavior changed? Any special reason you think he might be seeing someone else?”
“Just a feeling I have, like there’s something he’s not telling me. He’s been almost secretive since his last visit home.” Hilary’s eyes welled up with tears. “I think maybe I should wash my face, freshen up before we leave.”
While I waited for her to return from the restroom, I finished that second glass of wine and did my best to drive any thoughts of Duncan and his cheating past out of my mind. My favorite strategy for accomplishing that was to check out the guys standing at the bar. Most of them were in their early 20s, with the standard Washington yuppie uniform – business-like suits or at least respectable jackets and ties. The only guy that stood out was wearing a Redskins cap and no jacket. I guess he didn’t know the local dress code. No one there struck my fancy, so I didn’t have to pretend I was going to work up the courage to approach anyone.
Bored and wondering what was taking her so long, I decided to check up on Hilary. I wanted to make sure she wasn’t hiding in there, crying her eyes out. It meant we’d probably lose the table, but I was about ready to head home, and a trip to the restroom before leaving wasn’t a bad idea.
The restrooms at McSweeney’s are way in the back, down a long narrow hallway a few feet past the entrance to the kitchen. The location was a bit out of the way, but someone had the foresight to put four stalls in the women’s room. There was rarely a need to stand in line, at least not this time of day. At night, when there is live music and the place is packed, well that’s another story.
When I pushed the door open, the sink area was empty and the stall doors were all ajar. Strange. So where was Hilary? As I pondered that question, something on floor of the last stall caught my eye. I walked over to take a closer look and saw Hilary slumped over on the floor.
“Hilary, are you OK? What’s wrong?” She didn’t answer. I moved closer, going partway into the stall. She was leaning leftward, her long hair falling into a large puddle of blood. I screamed, quite loudly to judge from the size of the crowd that came running in response. I leaned over and tried to check her right wrist for a pulse. There was none. Shaking uncontrollably, I lost my balance and landed on my butt outside the stall.
If you want to read the rest, click here.