Elaine Viets has written 33 mysteries in four series: the bestselling Dead-End Job series with South Florida PI Helen Hawthorne, the cozy Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mysteries, and the dark Francesca Vierling mysteries. With the Angela Richman Death Investigator series, Elaine returns to her hardboiled roots and uses her experience as a stroke survivor and her studies at the Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Course. Elaine was a director at large for the Mystery Writers of America. She's a frequent contributor to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and anthologies edited by Charlaine Harris and Lawrence Block. Elaine won the Anthony, Agatha and Lefty Awards.
Early one morning, Times-Picayune crime reporter Nola Céspedes goes for her regular run in Audubon Park. More than the heat of the dawning New Orleans day, she's trying to outrun her growing unease with the man she's seeing, who is pushing her to get more serious. Instead, Nola finds herself at the scene of a crime when she discovers a dead body. Worse, Nola recognizes the victim: Judith Taffner, her former journalism professor at Tulane.
Not convinced Dr. Taffner's murder was the random work of a psychopath, and not one to put much trust in the good ol' boys of the NOPD, Nola takes it upon herself to investigate. She discovers that Dr. Taffner was working on two explosive stories, both of which would shock even this notoriously corrupt city. And when an apparently related murder occurs in the middle of New Orleans' packed Jazz Fest, Nola realizes it's only a matter of time before she becomes a ruthless killer's next target.
Rich with details of New Orleans and featuring an original, tough heroine as fascinating as the city itself, Nearer Home is the perfect follow-up to Joy Castro's Hell or High Water, confirming her status as a talented new crime writer to watch.
"Exquisite New Orleans background . . . a flawed but plucky heroine, and skillfully paced suspense make this a stay up way past your bedtime read."—Booklist (starred)
Returning from a visit to her son's family in California, retired attorney Martha Patterson steps out of the plane at LaGuardia into a New York City heat wave. OK. She'll get home to her air-cooled apartment, have a leisurely bath, rest up from two weeks with wonderful but energy-demanding grandchildren, and get back to gentle retirement, punctuated by the occasional commission to prepare a brief or other legal document for friends in the law.
The first sign of trouble is Boris, the doorman at her apartment house. Boris has shed the uniform coat that seemed almost a part of him and is in his shirtsleeves. The entrance door has been propped open, to very little avail. Boris makes it official. He is sorry to say it, but the air conditioning is out of order.
Tired, hot, anxious for respite, why does Martha agree to take a place on the board? There are only two ways she can only explain it to herself. Either she feels it's her duty as a long-time tenant--or she's a damn fool. The board meeting the next day seems to confirm the latter; she finds herself in the midst of turmoil, and tempers rise with the temperature. But could a fight over putting in a new kitchen or selling an apartment really lead to murder? The tenants' concerns seem unconnected to the death of a former archaeologist.
The dangerous task of finding the killer and fending off another murder falls on seventy year old Martha, who combines exceeding common sense with sharp intellect.
Sprague makes her characters live for us, taking us into the world of middle-class midtown Manhattan professionals, showing them as the sometimes flawed, mostly decent humans they are, and giving them one of the city's crimes to roil their lives and engage ours. Whether her readers live in the City or in an Iowa village, there is no mystery writer who shares her crimes and their solutions more effectively. Turn on your air conditioning and enjoy Gretchen Sprague's Murder in a Heat Wave!