The Dorothy Martin Series
Most of the older books are now out of print, though I have copies of a couple of them available for sale, and all can be found online. They are also being reissued as e-books—hooray!
1. The Body in the Transept
My first book, my first-born child! Dorothy Martin, an American expat living in England and feeling very sorry for herself on her first Christmas Eve as a widow, stumbles over a body as she is leaving the cathedral after the midnight service.
2. Trouble in the Town Hall
Dorothy uncovers chicanery in high places while trying to organize repairs to her four-hundred-year-old house. I learned a lot about English bureaucracy researching this one.
3. Holy Terror in the Hebrides
On trip to the Isle of Iona, Dorothy finds tempest and tragedy instead of the serenity she had been led to expect. Incidentally, she also receives a proposal of marriage. Perhaps my favorite of my books, because Iona may be my favorite spot on earth.
4. Malice in Miniature
Dorothy discovers the world of dollhouses and rabid collectors and narrowly escapes murder herself. I got to indulge my own love of miniatures in this book.
5. The Victim in Victoria Station
A young man in a train falls into conversation with Dorothy—and is dead by the time the train rolls into London. This is set in Bloomsbury, a London neighborhood I know well and love.
6. Killing Cassidy
Dorothy receives a small bequest from a man she knew back in Indiana, on the condition that she come back home to collect it. When she and Alan get there, they discover that the man thought he was going to be murdered. This story was born when I got a great plot idea from a friend, but one that would work only in the USA.
7. To Perish in Penzance
Dorothy and Alan revisit the scene of an unsolved crime from Alan's policing days, only to become embroiled in a fresh one. The research for this book of course required a visit to Cornwall—tough job, but somebody's got to do it.
8. Sins Out of School
Dorothy is asked to pinch-hit as a substitute teacher in the local elementary school and gets involved in a very nasty religious sect. I tried, in this book, to explore some of the important differences between religions based on love and those rooted in hate and fear.
9. Winter of Discontent
The curator of Sherebury's town museum is found dead, and when it turns out he was an old flame of Dorothy's best friend, she investigates. In this one I got to talk about some of the problems of aging, problems with which I'm becoming intimately acquainted.
10. A Dark and Stormy Night
When Dorothy and Alan are invited for a country house weekend they expect nothing more explosive than the Guy Fawkes fireworks. Even Dorothy could not have anticipated an epic storm and the discovery of a skeleton among the roots of a fallen oak tree. I wrote this for a friend who loves the traditional country-house murder, and decided to go with the cliché title for fun.
11. The Evil That Men Do
Dorothy and Alan are on holiday in the idyllic English village of Broadway, in the Cotswolds, when they stumble across the body of a man who appears to have fallen into an abandoned quarry. But when they learn that the man was probably pushed over the edge and the police haven't found either a motive or suspects, Dorothy can't help but get involved in what becomes a dangerous situation.
12. The Corpse of St. James's
Dorothy and Alan visit Buckingham Palace to watch a dear friend, Jonathan Quinn, receive the very prestigious George Cross for bravery from the Queen. After the ceremony, while walking in St. James's Park, they discover the body of a young girl with no means of identification. When Quinn, who was invalided out of the Metropolitan Police in a terrible accident, tells Dorothy next day that he knows who the girl is, and has concealed that fact from the police, things become very complicated.
13. Murder at the Castle
Dorothy and Alan are invited to join their close friends Nigel and Inga Evans at a music festival in Wales, where Nigel will be performing in a medieval castle with world-renowned conductor Sir John Warner. However, musical glory turns to tragedy when an accident takes the life of a chorus member and a star operatic soloist falls to her death at the castle. Dorothy and Alan become involved in an investigation as tumultuous, passionate and complicated as any opera.
14. Shadows of Death
Dorothy Martin, with minimal enthusiasm, accompanies husband Alan Nesbitt on a visit to the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland. She's surprised to find that the Stone Age excavations and structures captivate her imagination. They're both even more surprised when the principal benefactor for the largest dig is found dead on the site. Are ancient curses at work here, or modern greed?
15. Day of Vengeance
Alan Nesbitt is asked to sit on a committee to choose a new bishop for Sherebury. It's a complex procedure, involving acrimonious church politics, and is further complicated when first one of the candidates is found dead, then another. Who is murdering the clergy of England?
16. The Gentle Art of Murder
One summer's evening, Dorothy Martin and her husband, retired police detective Alan Nesbitt, are guests at Sherebury University art department's drinks party. But the evening turns sour when, on a tour of the sculpture department, the lift breaks down—revealing a corpse at the bottom of the lift shaft...
17. Blood Will Tell
Accompanying her retired police detective husband to a conference in Cambridge, Dorothy Martin, while exploring the campus, stumbles into a laboratory and finds a pool of blood on the floor. But when Alan checks it out, nothing is there! Was she mistaken? Or has a crime been committed? Unable to resist a puzzle, Dorothy determines to find out.
18. Smile and Be a Villain
When Dorothy Martin and her husband, retired police detective Alan Nesbitt, decide to visit the beautiful island of Alderney in the English Channel, they hope for a pleasant, peaceful holiday. It's not to be. Taking a walk on their very first day, they discover a body, apparently the victim of an unfortunate accident, on a precipitous hill path. The dead man, they learn, is an American named Abercrombie who had made himself both loved and hated during his few weeks on the island. Although there is no concrete evidence of foul play, both Dorothy and Alan are uneasy about the death and decide to delve further. (Author's note)
19. The Missing Masterpiece
Dorothy Martin goes to France, worried because her French is rudimentary at best. It isn't only the language barrier, however, that embroils her in one mystery after another. At the tourist Mecca of Mont-Saint-Michel, she meets several people with various reasons for visiting the Mont, all of them probably lies. It seems possible, though, that the thread running through the stories has to do with a monk, Peter Abelard, dead since the twelfth century. It takes the ability to "think outside the box" for Dorothy and Alan to untangle this one.
20. Crisis at the Cathedral
Dorothy Martin and her husband meet, in Sherebury, a wealthy Muslim family traveling in England and visiting the Cathedral, and are charmed by their courtesy, their perfect English, the delightful children, and the parents' ardent commitment to peace. After attending a concert at the Cathedral, the parents are nowhere to be found, though the children are still asleep at the Rose and Crown inn.
Possible scenarios include kidnapping, terrorism, even murder—nothing good. Tensions escalate when the boy Rahim, age eleven, also disappears. Recent terrorist activity in England has raised anxieties about Muslims, and Dorothy and Alan feel compelled to join their efforts to those of the police and MI5 to find and help their new friends.
21. A Dagger Before Me
Dorothy Martin's husband Alan decides to treat ex-pat Dorothy to a "tour" of some of England's more interesting peculiarities: the titles like "Black Rod" that Americans often find incomprehensible and hilarious; the rituals like "swan upping," the elaborate parade to honor the Lord Mayor of London, a non-elected, unpaid dignitary with no official duties or authority.
When they are invited to another ceremony, a christening involving (for no good reason that Dorothy can discern) a historic dagger, their role as god-parents is threatened by the disappearance of the dagger. Then it is apparently found in someone's back, and all Dorothy and Alan's detective skills are required to prevent a series of tragedies.
22. Death in the Garden City
When Dorothy Martin and her ex-policeman husband Alan are asked by some good friends to look into a series of petty crimes that are perplexing the local Mounties in the picturesque Canadian city of Victoria, they immediately jump on a plane to British Columbia and settle themselves into the heart of the local community. Drinking champagne with the local businessman and would-be politician as well as cups of tea with the local recluse, they infiltrate all ranks of Victoria society. But when a young woman goes missing and a body is discovered, it would appear that the petty crimes have turned deadly.
With their ability to get to the root of a crime and dig out the culprit, it’s not long before Dorothy and Alan realize they have embarked on a trip that will become far more dangerous than they ever envisaged...
23. Death Comes to Durham
An old friend of Alan's invites him and Dorothy to visit him in Durham, where he has retired from the police force of Exeter. They become embroiled in a complicated murder that involves the friend's great-aunt, her gradually worsening dementia, and several students of Durham University—and an encounter that sends Dorothy to the hospital!
24. The Bath Conspiracy
It's Dorothy's birthday, and Alan decided to blow the budget and treat her to a week in Bath, famed for Roman history, Jane Austen, amazing architecture, and nearby Stonehenge. When they are suspected of the theft of a number of souvenirs, including a chunk of Stonehenge, the pair go into action to find the real thief and defend themselves.
Winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel (1995)
“Fans of the English cozy will put the kettle on, snuggle under a lap rug, and sigh contentedly...” - Kirkus Reviews