Miranda and the D-Day Caper

Shelly Frome

Book Cover

GENRE

CRIME DETECTIVE MYSTERY SUSPENSE/THRILLER POLITICAL

    Core Theme

    UTILIZING ONE'S TRUE TALENTS FOR THE GREATER GOOD.

    TIME PERIOD

    Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    HARPER, THE GREEN ROOM, BRICK, KISS KISS BANG BANG, THE MALTESE FALCON, VERTIGO, BLACKHAT

    CHARACTER LIST

    MIRANDA: 35. LEAD. DETERMINED AND SMART DO-GOODER.

    SKIP: 40. MIRANDA'S COUSIN AND THE CATALYST FOR THE INVESTIGATION INTO THE POSSIBLE CONSPIRACY.

    VIN: 35. A COOL, COLLECTED BAD GUY WHO DOES THE DIRTY WORK FOR THE CONSPIRATORS.

    HARRY: 45. A MENTOR AND INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST. ALSO, MIRANDA'S PARTNER.

    RUSS MATTHEWS: 50S-60S. CONSERVATIVE, CONSPIRACY-SPEWING RADIO HOST WITH A DANGEROUS AGENDA.

    LUCIAN CLAY: 40S-60S. BEHIND-THE-SCENES OPERATOR FOR THE RIGHT WING. PUPPET MASTER.

    Logline

    A small town duo takes on a dire political conspiracy. In effect, this is a modern day mystery with WWII tactics, old-time heroes and values, and the efforts of two amateur cousin sleuths from the Heartland.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Western Carolina including Asheville, New York

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: BQB Publisng

    Year Published: 2020

    Starting Description

    Small-town realtor Miranda Davis confronts her whimsical cousin Skip’s unexpected arrival from New York. It turns out he is on the run after deciphering the machinations of a right-wing conspiracy. Miranda’s efforts to intervene places them both on a collision course with the powers that be.

    Ending Description

    The crux of the mystery centers on thwarting a backwoods psychopath's mission to create havoc detonating concealed plastic explosives at a diversity festival in Asheville. Can Miranda and Skip uncover this plot before the U.S. Senate's vote on Homeland Security at the very same time?

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    Information not completed

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Other

    Plot - Premise

    Quest,Overcoming Monster/Villain

    Main Character Details

    Name: Miranda

    Age: 35

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Decisive,Empathetic,Engaging,Selfless,Outspoken

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Skip

    Age: 40

    Gender: Male

    Role: Sidekick

    Key Traits: Desperate,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Underdog,Funny

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Vin Dupre

    Age: 35

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Charming,Criminal,Masculine,Narcisstic,Secretive,Adventurous

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Harry

    Age: 45

    Gender: Male

    Role: mentor

    Key Traits: Decisive,Educated,Confident,Sophisticated

    Development Pitch

    Given my background as an actor, director and storyteller and the overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon, Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly, this tale lends itself to what could be called a Ron Howard approach. The main two characters, Miranda and Skip straight out of Americana, should be easy to relate to; Vin, the backwoods psychopath should also be relatable, perhaps the spitting image of Matthew McConaughey in his early Linklater roles. In other words, in the current political climate with the outlandish use of conspiracy theories and plotting by the far right, it should be fairly easy to cast and adapt with little or no concerns about subplots and hidden meanings. It's all there for a fun, fast and provocative ride. .

    Genre

    SUSPENSE, ACTION, DRAMA

    Brief

    Miranda's writer cousin, Skip, rolls into town looking for her help. A reporter, he seems to have uncovered a right-wing conspiracy plot that could shake up Asheville. The pair investigate a bombing plot that is set to happen at a local diversity festival following a slew of church fires. They are successful in stopping the attack, but not at finding the source.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: GOOD

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The book profile's short summary, character profiles and logline are spot on in reflecting the narrative. The development pitch talks about the quality of the writing more so than the content and thus could benefit from either changing or adding more about the content such as themes and plot details. The repetition of information such as the protagonists and antagonist in the development pitch can be removed to conserve room for new information.

    Draw of Story

    Miranda and Skips unusual reunion was intriguing in its open secrecy. Cousins with a long history, reunited as if they are playing spies only to have to later use the investigative skills like real spies to uncover a conspiracy plot is good foreshadowing and presents an interesting dynamic for cousins.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The gum-shoe dialogue can be zippy and fun, but it tends to create cyclical banter than can delay the pacing of the plot development. It is a bit unclear how politics plays a role in initiative of backwoods psychopath, Vin. Making sure the scenes add to character or plot development and making the suspicious acts more clearly linked to a bigger picture may help increase tension in a easy to follow manner.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The hook is that two cousins have to uncover a conspiracy plot that threatens one of them and the national security of the others hometown. They have to lay low in order to keep Skip safe, but they also have to move fast enough to stop the bombing from happening. It is often a struggle to balance personal safety with professional survival and community peace.

    Fanbase Potential

    Depending on the time period, this could potentially appeal to a medium fanbase of mysteries. The detective pulp fiction quality could either enhance the audience numbers or dissuade some groups due to its unique stylistic dialogue.

    Awards Potential

    This is unlikely to have awards potential as the core of the antagonist is simplified to a psychopath rather than an exploration of societal themes that would gain nomination notice. The characters internal development does not have an emotional range that would garner notice either.

    Envisioned Budget

    LOW BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    HARPER, THE GREEN ROOM, BRICK, KISS KISS BANG BANG, THE MALTESE FALCON, VERTIGO, BLACKHAT

    What’s New About the Story

    The dialogue is very distinct and the character dynamic between the protagonists as cousins with a noticeable age gap is unusual, so making the dialogue purposeful and giving the characters more depth will help make them shine as both memorable and functional.

    Lead Characters

    Miranda is hopeful, skilled and loyal. Skip is cunning, resourceful and sentimental.

    Uniqueness of Story

    The premise is distinct, but the two stakes aren't all the way intertwined. Getting to the exposition faster in scenes could help quicken the pacing of the plot and provide room for a stronger connection between dangers.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Streaming, Film - Indie

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.

    Tips for Improvement

    Utilizing the fast paced dialogue for both plot and character development would help make the scene pacing more smooth. For example the dialogue can be quick although the actual progression of the investigation is not because they are mainly telling about what they found rather than actively seeking it. Giving Miranda and Skip internal conflict would also help them transform and thus be less static.

    Brief

    A small town duo of amateur sleuths in the South must uncover and thwart a dire political conspiracy brought to them by their flaky cousin, going up against dangerous characters and right-wing extremists with ties all the way to the White House.

    What We Liked

    Miranda and the D-Day Caper is an intriguing story with fun characters. It becomes a compelling yarn when the goals of the antagonists are slowly revealed and the plot ramps up. With the backdrop of the beautiful scenery of North Carolina, as well as the colloquialisms of the region, the setting is almost a character unto itself. Its message doesn't hit one over the head, but is there nonetheless and is certainly timely. The book is cinematic with its constant forward-moving action, and scenery that lends itself to the big screen. The scenes can be played for humor with their quirky characters and language, or it can be told as a straight story. The structure for a film is there, and the plot would fit nicely in the constraints of a movie.

    Key points: Quirky characters; A clear plot; Setting; Relevance; Interesting dialogue

    Synopsis

    Miranda, 35, walks through her local farmer’s market in North Carolina, on her way to meet her cousin, Skip,40, who’s down from NYC. He seems jittery, and tells her how he read in the paper that she solved some mystery. During his gig as a talk DJ, he says he’s uncovered something involving a right wing conspiracy. He’s getting threatening phone calls, someone shoots his window out, and the tires on his car end up flat. Someone stole his cat out of the hotel he’s staying in. She consults her boyfriend Harry who suggests that Skip go home and try and get his radio gig back. Miranda disagrees with his idea. She goes to Skip’s motel to ask about the cat and finds out it was taken by agents of a conservative radio host named Russ Matthews, whom Skip had mocked on the air which was contrary to his job description.

    She finds Skip in his hotel room, coming to after having been hit over the head the night before. She takes him to the ER. At the hospital, he gets a second that warns him to stick to the east coast and drive south, lay low, and he may get the cat back. Miranda tells him she’ll stash his car and he can hide out with her. Miranda checks out a house for sale, via her real career as a realtor. Miranda has dreams about her childhood in Indiana as a tomboy and how cousin Skip cheered her up as they played war games. Miranda gets a reluctant Harry to help her out by doing research on Skip’s problems. He checks out Russ Matthew’s broadcasts and dogma, the coded phrases they use, and any right wing conspiracies.

    Miranda eats at a cafe and has an encounter with a shady country boy named Vin, who will be performing at the local tavern. He argues with a relative who works on the adjacent train track. Miranda happens to book acts for that tavern and never heard of him. He tells her some stories about his family’s history which goes back to the Civil War. Miranda sets Skip up at the house she’s going to sell. He meets Annie, a mentally challenged woman across the street and asks for her help watching the place. Vin pulls up in his green truck and Annie tries to scare him off - but he’s threatening her as Skip watches from a hiding place. Miranda gets there, and assumes it was Vin, looking for Skip’s car in the garage. Vin gets on the phone with Matthews, tells him he’s sick of this assignment and that Skip probably isn’t around anymore. Vin goes back to his place and tries to give Skip’s surly cat some milk. Miranda finds Annie at a pond trying to feed ducks. Annie is feeling out of sorts and has a bruise on her arm from her encounter with Vin. Being associated with the town “witches,” she takes out her spellbook and Miranda helps her cast a spell to make her feel right again. Miranda wonders if law enforcement will be of any help to get Vin on their radar. Skip gets a call from his friend Chris, who tells him to meet him outside the Biltmore Mansion. Skip asks him what they’re involved with, and Chris tells him he’s going to sign his contract that the radio company wanted him to sign back in New York. Chris says you don’t want to be on their bad side. It was life or death.

    They get into the back of Chris’s limo, where he has the contract and pen all laid out. Another player named Lucian Clay is mentioned. They drive to their secret meeting with the radio people. Skip doesn’t sign, and instead jumps out of the limo and runs. He sneaks around until he can see where the meeting was supposed to take place. Chris’s limo pulls up, Russ Matthews comes out of a building, and Chris is run down by a guy on a Harley. Skip is shocked. He meets Miranda, who says she called the hospital and Chris will live but will be out of commission for a while. Vin meets his cousin Zeb, the guy on the Harley, who complains about this job they’ve been hired to do and that his bike got damaged. Vin isn’t sure what exactly is going on, but had fun burning churches in the south - which he was paid to do previously. He also looks forward to Uncle Lucian tapping him for his full potential in their nefarious cause.

    Miranda checks in with Harry and fills him in on what’s been happening to Skip. She tells Harry to see if he can make any connections between events that hint of a high level right wing extremist event. Miranda has a drink with Chase, a musician who would know if anything strange was in the works in the area. He tells her that Lucian Clay has the President’s ear. At the local diner, Miranda asks old waitress Trish about her encounter with Lucian at a rally a few months ago that Chase tipped her off about. Trish gets defensive, and two locals run Miranda out of the diner for sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. She visits a local cop named Ed and fills him in on everything. The upside for him is that he’ll get out of his current slump if he can help solve the mystery. Ed agrees to help. While waiting for a shipment of explosives, Vin gets chastised by Matthews for not catching Skip. A New Yorker in a white van with a confederate flag on the side meets up with Vin and gives him explosives with an iPhone attached, then shows him how to use it. Vin hikes up a trail and sees some railroad tracks and asks a gas station attendant about when the train comes through. He gets some supplies from a hardware store and climbs back up to the train tracks where he rigs the explosives. The blast derails the train and Vin goes to get some breakfast. Miranda gets a call from Ed, letting her know where Vin’s truck is parked, so she and Skip go there looking for Skip’s cat. They find the cat in a shed and rescue it. Skip sees the white van and recognizes it as one that followed him around in New York. Vin gets summoned by Lucian to his hotel suite and warned that there’s a lot more to come and to stop acting like a fool and doing unsanctioned things like blowing up train tracks. There’s a big Homeland Security vote coming up in Congress that they hope to skew their way with the bomb attack.

    Miranda asks Harry to check into Lucian and the church fires in the south then reads all she can about Lucian and the right wing agenda. She visits her mechanic - who’s also a minister - for advice on why it didn’t work out with her ex. Skip plays with the cat. The New Yorker with the van brings Vin a costume, more explosives and a laptop and gives him instructions on what to do next. The costume is that of an Arab, and the pictures on the computer are areas where foreigners live in Asheville. Miranda finds out that there’s going to be a Rainbow Diversity Festival in Asheville soon - the likely target of whatever is being planned. Vin goes and checks out the area in Asheville where he’s going to detonate the bomb, and, in conjunction with some event in NYC, change history.

    Miranda has her last talk with Ed to convince him to go to Asheville and be the plain clothes hero cop. Her and Skip will help as lookouts. They arrive to see a kaleidoscope of colorful outfits and different ethnicities with music and dancing. Ed stations himself on top of some boulders near TV cameras. Miranda catches sight of Vin, in his Arab outfit, sitting in a lawn chair. She doesn’t recognize him and keeps moving through the crowd toward Skip. Skip spots Vin’s cowboy boots underneath the outfit and attacks him, ripping off his costume. Ed comes and handcuffs him. Zeb, on his Harley, speeds toward them but is unable to get to them and is taken out by a car. Miranda is left holding the bomb detonator and they give it to the bomb squad, who find the explosives in the sides of Vin’s lawn chair. Ed gets accommodations and a promotion. Miranda tries to help Harry connect all the dots for a big conspiracy story but they have a hard time doing it. In NYC, they find an empty van with explosive residue by the little chapel that survived 9/11. Congress strikes down a bill that would call for tighter security on immigrants. Skip and his cat leave town but he sends Miranda a birthday gift.

    About The Author

    Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at UConn, a former professional actor, and a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, Murder Run, Moon Games and The Secluded Village Murders. Among his works of non-fiction is The Actors Studio: A History. Miranda and the D-Day Caper is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.