About the Book
Book: The Last Gasp
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling
Release date: July 6, 2021
At the pinnacle of his Hollywood career, Garrison Prince’s reign ends tonight.
As plain old Gary Prinz, he can pursue his Bible education, buy a bungalow in Pasadena, acquire a few chickens, and marry the girl of his dreams. He just never imagined trading the silver screen for a pulpit would wreak such havoc.
A cigarillo girl, Lucinda Ashton spends her days with her boyfriend, Gary, and her evenings selling candy and “gaspers” to the Hollywood elite at the Taj Mahal Theater.
However, when gunshots ring out just as intermission begins, Lucinda finds herself smack-dab in the middle of a brouhaha that leaves three dead, and no one has a clue why.
All the police know is that the evidence points to Lucinda as the killer and Gary as the intended target.
Four new friends, one young orphan, and a potluck of clues that don’t seem to fit anywhere leave the police baffled, Lucinda in fear for her freedom, and Gary ready to trade in his acting shoes for gumshoes if it’ll save his “Cinda.”
The first book in the Ever After Mysteries combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries, The Last Gasp. This Cinderella retelling blends a murder with enough crime and story clues to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Click HERE to get your copy!
About the Author
Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.
More from Chautona
What Beautiful, Unexpected Parallel Did I Find Writing this Mystery?
I bought it at Pic-n-Save when I was eleven—an 8.5×11 paperback book of traditional fairy tales. I learned another side of the age-old stories that you don’t see from Disney. Rapunzel? Yeah. That was the story about the queen who was craving rampion (a salad vegetable) so much that she promised to give up her child for it. Rampion—Rapunzel. It’s a thing.
It’s also where I learned Cinderella’s name as “Aschenputtel.” Look, those Brothers Grimm were… well, they were German and that should explain everything. “Puttel” just sings of German, doesn’t it? That tale was also a bit gruesome. The one sister cut off her big toe to make the shoe fit because her mother said, “You won’t have to walk anywhere if you’re a queen. Who needs it!” So the idiotic girl did. Same for the other sister and her heel. Seriously, didn’t she learn from her older sister?
Oh, and it’s the one where mother and stepsisters get their eyes picked out by birds. It reminded me of Proverbs 30:17. “The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.”
Talk about bringing Scripture to life for kids there. *Gulp*
True confession, our kids used to sing that verse to the tune of “All Hail the Pow’r of Jesus’ Name.” You should have heard the lusty voices of our children in our Grand Marquis station wagon (may the wonderful beast rest in peace) singing, “The ravens shall pick out his eyes and eeee-agles eeee-eeaat the saaaammmme!”
Cinderella—I mean, Aschenputtel—really wasn’t my favorite story, though. I liked other stories from other books. Like the Ten Brothers—a Chinese folk tale. You know. Fairy tale.
Know which fairy tale I liked even less than Cinderella?
The Little Mermaid. Seriously, I didn’t like the original (Sorry Mr. Andersen… I just didn’t), and I can’t stand Disney’s. But when we first began planning the Ever After Mysteries, I knew which one I wanted to do. The Little Mermaid had everything going for it. Houdini and a water tank. Can’t you just see it? It would have been great. But a friend asked who was writing about the “cigarillo girl” (as I mention in THIS post), and well… the rest is history. Or at least, it’s set back in history.
But there’s one truth I discovered as I wrote this mystery.
Mystery… that’s a good word for this truth, actually. Cinderella is a beautiful picture of Jesus as our prince. We can be His bride and put on the shoe He has fashioned only to fit us, or we can try to snatch it up and make it suit our wills and hold our overgrown egos (work with me here). He takes us out of our ragged, dirty lives and brings us home… to Him. To His Father.
Is there anything more beautiful? I don’t think so.
In The Last Gasp, Gary knows Cinda long before she knows him—truly knows him. He loves her just as she is. Is it a perfect retelling of the beauty of Christ’s love for his church? Not hardly. It wasn’t intended to demonstrate that relationship at all. But there are tiny nuances that do. And that’s pretty cool.
As a child, I was never really enamored with princesses and fairy tales the way that other girls were. Romance just isn’t my cup of tea. Unless, of course, the subject is Belle: secluded castle, grand library with a sliding book ladder…but I digress. With the exception of wearing a rather glitzy Cinderella dress for my first piano recital in second grade (a harbinger, perhaps, since I quit a few years later), I have been staunchly in the pioneer, historical-fiction camp. I do, however, love mysteries, and that is what caught my eye with Celebrate Lit’s new series, “Ever After Mysteries.” Intrigued by the amalgamation of fairy tale adaption, historical fiction, and mystery, I had to check it out.
Chautona Havig kicks off the Ever After Mysteries with The Last Gasp, a 1920s adaptation of Cinderella. I know little about this time period, particularly in regard to theater and film, which made it fun to read about. The main character, Lucinda “Cinda” Ashton, works as a cigarillo girl, selling candy and cigarettes at the Taj Mahal Theater, until a night of chaos and murder points to her as the prime suspect. Her boyfriend, Gary Prinz, a charming little orphan boy named Herbie, and a cast of others band together to figure out who is behind the curtain of this crime spree.
Humor adds just enough lightheartedness to bring a smile to readers without detracting from the mystery, and the literary nods that Havig includes amuse those who look for them. I noticed, for instance, an homage to Snoopy early on in the narrative. The names used in The Last Gasp are, of course, very apropos, and several other parallels between the famous story that most know and cherish pop up throughout the narrative. Because of the combination of romantic and alarming elements, The Last Gasp does seem like an admirable merging of the Disney and Brothers Grimm versions! For anyone with concerns, however, this adaptation is clean and does not contain graphic details beyond a few brief mentions of blood.
There were times when the story execution reminded me of the movie Clue due to the wit and comical nature of some of the scenes, but there is also a deep undercurrent of faith and love. My favorite scene is when Gary witnesses to a wondering Mrs. Cohen, explaining “As for my reward, I have it already—salvation. I know it isn’t the done thing to talk about in society, but you asked. Some men are eager to share how to receive the Lord’s gift. I wish to teach those who already have it how to live in a way that reflects their gratitude for it.” To me, this speaks to the ultimate message of The Last Gasp: jealousy never cultivates contentment, and no matter how much or how little anyone has here on earth, the greatest possession of all is a relationship not with Prince Charming, but with King Jesus.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥
Rebecca Tews, August 2
For Him and My Family, August 2
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 3
Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, August 3 (Author Interview)
Lots of Helpers, August 4
Inklings and notions, August 4
deb’s Book Review, August 5
CarpeDiem, August 5
Locks, Hooks and Books, August 6
Connect in Fiction, August 6
Texas Book-aholic, August 7
Blogging With Carol, August 7
She Lives To Read, August 8
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 8
Connie’s History Classroom, August 9
Simple Harvest Reads, August 9 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 10
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, August 10
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 11
The Meanderings of a Bookworm , August 11
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 12
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 12
Splashes of Joy, August 13
Mary Hake, August 13
For the Love of Literature, August 14
Back Porch Reads, August 14
Through the Fire Blogs, August 15
Mamma loves books, August 15
To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of copy of the book and a $50 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.