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Mystery, comedy and a yellow Humvee 

How much of a resemblance is there between fictional detective Charlotte "Charlie" Swift and real-life local author Laura DiSilverio?

"Charlie gets to say some of the things I'd like to say and never would," DiSilverio says.

But whereas Charlie got out of the Air Force "because she didn't want to work as part of a team," DiSilverio retired (after being promoted to full colonel) because she wanted to write. The result, she says, is much the same.

"Occasionally you can afford to go to a conference or something ... but most of it is going to have to be sitting your butt in the chair all by yourself."

After five years and at least 100 rejection letters, DiSilverio is a published author (both under her own name and as Lila Dare), and her character Charlie hit bookstore shelves Oct. 12 in Swift Justice, a lighthearted mystery set in Monument. Charlie's sardonic voice opens the tale, chronicling what happens when the same Monday morning brings her a baffling new case and a royal pain of a sidekick. With her former partner's Hummer-driving, designer-clothes-wearing, potpourri-sprinkling estranged wife Gigi in tow, Charlie must solve a murder, find a kidnapped baby, and keep her fragile sanity intact.

Her able management of lighter and darker plot elements has won positive reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. But the 48-year-old DiSilverio hopes that it's the relationship between the all-business detective and the happy-go-lucky society matron that will inspire fidelity to her planned series.

"I think of [them] as the female Odd Couple, the mismatched buddy-cop[s]," she says, adding, "I hope what brings people back is the relationship and the growth in the characters and seeing where they go."

Wherever they go, the Swift series will stay rooted in Colorado Springs. Local readers will probably get a particular kick from recognizing Front Range landmarks amid Gigi and Charlie's capers.

"If you do real places ... things resonate with people; you don't have to spend a lot of time drawing them out," DiSilverio explains. "On the other hand, you make somebody go the wrong way down a one-way street and you hear about it."

In addition to critiquing Charlie's driving habits, readers can scrutinize the pages of Swift Justice for inside jokes about Springs restaurants, references to llama farms and the Barr Trail, and an especially entertaining whipped-cream shootout in the aisles of a north side Wal-Mart.

"I love Colorado Springs," DiSilverio says. "I think it's a big enough city to provide a lot of opportunity for all sorts of murders and missing cases without having to trample the same ground a lot. I might do something with the right-wing religious thing. I might do something with the homeless thing that's been in the news. I mean, there's just all sorts of different ways to play it."

DiSilverio already has books two and three in the works, and readers can look forward to more Colorado-flavored settings and characters. Book two, tentatively titled Swift Edge, revolves around skater intrigue and missing Olympians at the Broadmoor Ice Skating Club. Her third book involves a ski trip to Aspen, where DiSilverio and her character again diverge.

"She's a skier; I'm not a skier," DiSilverio says. But after all, she adds, "One of the reasons I write fiction is because you can make it up."

claire@csindy.com

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