Ten Women of Mystery Authors To Read This Week!


I don’t know if last year was particularly rich for books by women crime writers, but I was impressed with several. A few of the writers have published other series or standalones and are striking out with a new series. Others are completely new on the scene. I don’t have room for complete reviews of each of them, but I will give you an idea of what I enjoyed about their work:

Claire Booth, Another Man’s Ground (Minotaur). I met Claire last year when we were on a panel together at an event right after her first novel, The Branson Beauty, came out. Since Booth comes from a journalism background, I was not surprised by her attention to detail. But she also draws great characters and accomplishes fine plotting. I’m not the only one who was impressed. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly wrote, “…promises to be a most engaging regional police series.”

Jennifer Kincheloe, The Woman in the Camphor Trunk (Seventh Street Books). Full confession: Jennifer and I are both published by Seventh Street Books. But even if we weren’t, I’d love this series. Its main character, Anna Blanc, is engaging and fearless, a perfect heroine for a historical series set in the suffragette era. The first in the series, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, was a finalist for several awards including the Lefty and Macavity Awards for Historical Mystery and won the Colorado Gold Award for Mystery. The second in the series has been nominated for a Lefty Award for Best Historical Novel.

Gwen Florio, Reservations (Midnight Ink). Florio writes a compelling series featuring journalist Lola Wicks. This thriller, the first I’ve read in the series, is set on a Navaho reservation suffering from outside forces that threaten to ruin it. The first chapter will grab you. Good, solid writing on a serious subject makes me want to read more by this author.

Marla Cooper, Dying on the Vine (Minotaur). It’s hard to find humorous mysteries that aren’t “cute.” Cooper’s Destination Wedding Series is perfect for both cozy readers and those who like a little more meat…and a lot of humor. The first in the series, Terror in Taffeta, was a finalist for an Agatha Award and a Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel, and the second has been nominated for a Lefty for Best Humorous Novel.

Carole Lawrence, Edinburgh Twilight (Thomas & Mercer). Well-drawn characters, an interesting plot, and a historical setting come alive in this novel of suspense. Lawrence has written other novels, but this is the first I’ve read by her and I hope she writes more historical suspense. She has a great knack for it.

Patricia Smiley, Outside the Wire (Midnight Ink). This book is the second in Smiley’s new Pacific Homicide series. It’s a classic police procedural featuring LA homicide detective Davie Richards. If you like a traditional police procedural with a solid plot and good writing, you’ll love this book. I look forward to going back and reading the first in the series.

Nuala Ellwood, My Sister’s Bones (Harper Collins). This complex psychological suspense novel is so beautifully written that I was surprised to find it was a debut. The protagonist, Kate, is a decorated war reporter suffering from PTSD. She is torn between thinking her trauma is leading her to misread a situation and being compelled to act in a situation that she finds shattering because of her past. The tension never lets down. I look forward to seeing more from her.

Lisa Alber, Path Into Darkness (Midnight Ink). With her lyrical prose, Alber has already made a name for herself with her first two books, but this was the first I had read. I can do no better than to commend to you the words of author Deborah Crombie who writes: “Rich in atmosphere and foreboding, the story propels the reader to a conclusion that is heartbreaking, human, and hopeful.” I think Alber has a great career ahead of her.

L.S. Hawker, End of the Road (Witness Impulse). In this timely, innovative book, Hawker has done her homework for writing about our tech world. Her writing is crisp and her plotting flawless. Although I had not read her before, I will do so again, starting with her first book, The Drowning Game, which was a finalist for Best First Novel at the International Thriller Writers awards.

Anna Lee Huber, This Side of Murder (Kensington). Huber won a Daphne award for her previous romantic suspense series, but this book is the first novel in the new Verity Kent mystery series. The novel is rich in historical detail but also a great deal of suspense. It has a bit of romance and a lot of twists and turns. I loved it and can’t wait for the next one.

I wish I had room for more, but this should keep you busy for a while!

Terry Shames is the author of A Reckoning in the Back Country and six previous Samuel Craddock mysteries. She is the coeditor of Fire in the Hills, a book of stories, poems, and photographs about the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire. She grew up in Texas and continues to be fascinated by the convoluted loyalties and betrayals of the small town where her grandfather was the mayor. Terry is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.