The Hilda Johansson Series
1. Death in Lacquer Red
Young Hilda Johansson, housemaid to the fabulously wealthy Studebaker family in 1900, finds a body in the shrubbery and is nearly killed tracking down the murderer. These books are all built around real historical events; this one involves the Boxer Rebellion in China.
2. Red, White, and Blue Murder
It's 1901, and President McKinley has been shot. As the country breathlessly awaits news bulletins about his condition, Hilda is greatly disturbed by the growing evidence that the assassin has ties to South Bend. I was interested, doing research for this book, to find that McKinley did indeed have ties to South Bend; his grandparents are in fact buried here.
3. Green Grow the Victims
Hilda is growing ever closer to her friend Patrick Cavanaugh, but when his uncle disappears under suspicion of murder, friendships and family ties are severely strained. The "real" tie-in for this book has to do with both Irish politics in South Bend and the serious mistreatment of immigrants.
4. Silence is Golden
Hilda's family have now all emigrated to South Bend, including her younger siblings, so she is especially concerned when very bad things begin to happen to children in the area. The germ of this story lies in the newspaper accounts of the neglect, disease, poverty, and crime to which children of the time fell victim.
5. Crimson Snow
Hilda's brother Erik wants Hilda to investigate the murder of his beloved teacher. In so doing she discovers a side of South Bend life that isn't at all pretty. I used a real murder for the basis of this story, the first time in my career I've done that.
6. Indigo Christmas
Hilda's best friend Norah, now married and pregnant, is distraught when her husband is arrested for arson, theft, and murder. Hilda's own recent marriage puts very real barriers in the way of her investigation. In this one I dealt with the issue of prejudice against immigrants—perhaps not so different from our own day? (More information)
7. Murder in Burnt Orange
Hilda is pregnant with her first child, but miserable in the scorching Indiana summer heat. Her family encourages her to look into some current local crimes, but no one thinks she'll actually solve them—especially when the crime wave turns to murder, and touches her nearest and dearest.
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