An initiative of the American Library Association

Sisters in Crime: Not the Usual Suspects

By Shari Randall

I adore police procedurals and stories of private investigators – the professionals who take down criminals in real life. But in fiction, anyone can be a sleuth. Are you looking for a different kind of crime solver? Sisters in Crime has you covered. I’ve asked these crime writers to introduce us to their amateur sleuths. Enjoy meeting some of the most unusual detectives in mystery fiction.

A Dream of Death

by Connie Berry

American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton returns to the Hebridean island where her deceased husband was born, her heart set on a reconciliation with his sister, proprietor of the island's luxe country house hotel, famous for its connection with Bonnie Prince Charlie. Kate has hardly unpacked when a body turns up, murdered in a bizarre recreation of an infamous murder in island history. When her husband's best childhood friend is arrested, Kate teams up with a vacationing detective inspector from England to unmask a killer determined to rewrite island history--and the only clue lies in an antique marquetry casket.

Kate's knowledge of antiques equip her to trace a killer with motives stretching back more than two hundred years. – Connie Berry

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The Fortune Teller

by Gwendolyn Womack

Semele Cavnow appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, deciphering ancient texts―and when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as Semele delves further, she realizes the manuscript is more than it seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred. The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect Semele’s life. But what happened to the tarot deck?

Only one person can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Bossard. Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him? – Gwendolyn Womack

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Resurrection Bay

by Emma Viskic

Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside - watching, picking up telltale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb.

Caleb is a memorable protagonist who refuses to let his deafness limit his opportunities or his participation in the investigation. As he delves deeper into the investigation, Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself. – Emma Viskic

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Link to Author's Discussion Questions

Death at Pullman

by Frances McNamara

A model town at war with itself . . .

George Pullman created an ideal community for his railroad car workers, complete with every amenity they could want or need. But when hard economic times hit in 1894, lay-offs follow and the workers can no longer pay their rent or buy food at the company store. Starving and desperate, they turn against their once benevolent employer. Emily Cabot, an academic at the University of Chicago who works at Hull House, and her friend Dr. Stephen Chapman bring much needed food and medical supplies to the town, hoping they can keep them from resorting to violence. But when one young worker—suspected of being a spy—is murdered and a bomb plot comes to light, Emily must race to discover the truth behind a tangled web of family and company alliances.

Readers will find the Pullman strike is fraught with difficult issues that resonate with today's problems and so make for good discussion. – Frances McNamara

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Link to Author's Discussion Questions

Seven Suspects

by Renee James

Someone is stalking Bobbi Logan and he's getting closer and more violent every day. She should run and hide, but to get where she is in life, Bobbi has survived rape, gender transition, and countless acts of bigotry. Now, instead of playing the victim, the intrepid hairdresser begins stalking her stalker, knowing when she finds Mr. Wrong, her troubles will just be starting. Seven Suspects deals with three deep, contemporary topics: the difference between appearances and reality, the complexities of transgender life, and the moral issues involved in standing up for one's right to exist. – Renee James

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Link to Author's Discussion Questions.

Second Bloom

by Sally Handley

Unlikely sleuths Holly Donnelly, a 55-year old adjunct English professor, and her younger sister, 52-year old Ivy Donnelly, a recently widowed, retired nurse, are reluctantly drawn into the investigation of an elderly neighbor’s murder when Juan Alvarez, Holly’s trusted gardener, is accused of the crime. Holly fears police detective, Nick Manelli, assumes Juan is guilty and won’t conduct a proper investigation, while Ivy feels the ‘hunky” Manelli is not only a good cop, but also a possible romantic match for her sister. Can the clues the sisters unearth from neighborhood gossip about the victim’s family, a politically connected neighbor and a powerful real estate developer help save an innocent man, or will the gardening duo dig up more than they bargain for? – Sally Handley

Link to Author's Discussion Questions

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Wrongful Deaths

by Tom Combs

An invasion of the deadliest of all opioid drugs has turned Minneapolis and Emergency Doctor Drake Cody’s ER into a war zone while hospitalized patients are dying mysteriously. Is incompetence the cause, or is it murder? Cody must stop the explosion of overdose deaths and find the cause of the hospital's tragic deaths. Overdoses, malpractice, and murder--wrongful deaths all.

An authentic and topical story inspired by personal experience and more than two years of interviews with those on the front-lines of the opioid crisis, Wrongful Deaths reveals the reality of medical personnel's personal and forensic involvement and cooperation with law enforcement in the struggle against a grim epidemic that is touching us all. – Tom Combs

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Bar None: A Murder On The Rocks Mystery

by Cathi Stoler

Bar None: A Murder On The Rocks Mystery is set in New York City. The story features Jude Dillane, owner of The Corner Lounge on 10th Street and Avenue B. When Jude finds her friend and landlord Thomas "Sully" Sullivan's work pal, Ed Molina, dead in a pool of blood in Sully's apartment, she's sure it wasn't suicide as the police suspect. Going undercover at the Big City Food Coop, Jude discovers a case of major fraud. As she works through the list of suspects, she finds herself in the killer's sights and knows her murder might be on the menu, as well.

After experiencing an unfortunate childhood filled with heartache, Jude has worked hard to make something of herself. Taking on and solving a murder to help a friend reinforces the idea that people can overcome their past to make the most of their future. I think her story serves as an inspiration to those who aspire to change their lives. – Cathi Stoler

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Dead is Better

by Jo Perry

Charles Stone is pretty sure he's dead. He has bullet holes in his chest, and there's a ghostly dog that seems to be his new companion. Unable to interact with the world of the living other than watching and listening, he and the dog-whom he names Rose-have nothing to do and all the time in the world to do it. When Charles and Rose try to unravel the circumstances of Charles's death, they uncover a criminal who is raking in millions of dollars by cruelly exploiting, and sometimes killing, his victims. But what difference can a ghost make? And what does the dog have to do with all of this? This supernatural human/dog duo Charlie and Rose offer a fresh and unusual spin on the murder mystery genre.

Jo Perry

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Link to Author's Discussion Questions

Shari Randall is the Library Liaison for Sisters in Crime. The first in her Lobster Shack Mystery series, Curses, Boiled Again, has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel.


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