Missing Mystery Authors: Update #6

The “Missing Mystery Authors” series is back! Thank you readers, for wanting to know what happened to your favorite mystery authors who, for whatever reason, haven’t published in a while.

Some authors are easy to find, while others are not. Fortunately, many still maintain websites and are active on social media so I can contact them. Often life circumstances put her or his writing on hold. Some are making a comeback with a new series. Sadly, some have left us for the great beyond. Others have seemingly vanished.

It’s always a treat when one of these “missing” folks gets in touch and we strike up an online friendship. Bonus is discovering yet another wonderful author who keeps my TBR list alive and well.

Read on!

Dicey Deere wrote the Torrey Tunet mysteries, set in Ballynagh, Ireland. Titles include The Irish Cottage Murder, The Irish Manor House Murder, The Irish Cairn Murder, and The Irish Village Murder.

Dicey Deere was the nom de plume for Harriet La Barre, a former Cosmopolitan editor. Under her real name, she wrote the following mysteries: Stranger in Vienna, The Florentine Win, and Blackwood‘s Daughter.

Ms. LaBarre passed away in 2015 at the age of 99. Read her obit here.

Earl Emerson, author of the Thomas Black series, featuring a Seattle-based PI. Back in March, I asked for information on this author. A reader informed me that he published a Thomas Black title in November of 2017. Somehow I missed that.

Cate Price wrote the Deadly Notions series, featuring Daisy Buchanan. When one of my loyal blog readers wrote: “I just read her third ‘notions’ book and checked to see if there were any more. Couldn’t find anything after 2015,” I emailed the author. Here is her response:

Hi Maggie!

Thanks for getting in touch, and I’m so pleased that readers are still asking about me 🙂

I had a contract with Berkley Prime Crime for a series of three books, as a writer-for-hire, which means that I don’t own the rights to the series, the characters, or even the pen name “Cate Price”. The series was well-received, but Berkley did not offer for more books, because at the time they were radically downsizing their cozy mystery line. So, as much as I had many ideas for more stories, and loved writing the “Deadly Notions” series, my hands are tied and I can’t self publish.

Readers have also asked what I’m working on now, but part of the contract was that I could never identify myself (my real name) to “Cate Price”. So I’m afraid that will have to remain a mystery!

Please thank your readers for their interest. It really cheers me up to think that people are still enjoying the books.

Best Regards,


It sounds like she’s between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Corinne Holt Sawyer In my last Missing Authors Update, I mentioned Corinne Holt Sawyer, author of the Angela Benbow and Caledonia Wingate series. Angela and Caledonia are “women of a certain age” who live in a retirement community in Southern California and bring killers to justice on a regular basis.

Soon after that post, I began a correspondence with the author. She lives in Southern California and enjoys the same lifestyle she gives her fictional sleuths. She keeps abreast of technology, but, in her words, “I’m not up to blogging.”

When I asked Corinne about her plans for continuing her series, this is what she told me:

After Donald Fine, my publisher, died, my agent had a battle with Penguin (which took over Donald Fine’s lists)…. because Penguin only wanted to do the book in paperback, but our contract with Fine specified hardcover edition first, paperback no closer than 10 months later (or words to that effect).

Agent and Penguin argued back and forth for a year before Penguin gave up and said they would just give us back our manuscript.   After that, agent couldn’t sell the 9th in the series to another publisher. And that was the end of it.

My agent is now too, alas, deceased. I could probably self-publish the 9th in the series, if I were into that. But at age 94 I don’t want to cope with any of the rigors of self publishing.   

I found the following about Corinne Holt Sawyer on Fantastic Fiction:

Very impressive! But is it totally accurate? Not according to Corinne:

Thanks for the link.   I had never seen that writeup and so went right to it…. and yikes!                 

Though my name is spelled right in the headline, it’s misspelled throughout the column. Yes, I took my PhD from Birmingham, but it wasn’t “in the south” it was in England, where they’d moved their entire graduate division of their English Department 35 miles “off campus” to Stratford-on-Avon, where we lived and worked as a community of renaissance scholars (so to speak.). I’ve only  been in Birmingham, Alabama, once in my life…. and not to go to college there!        

I was never station manager of WNCT…  I was what they call “talent” with my own house-and-home program, and a magazine-of-the-air……  etc., etc.   For one year I was their continuity writer as well….. Boooooring job, I fear.

Where on earth do you suppose they got all that misinformation?   And why misspell my name throughout? How very strange…….

I immediately checked my own entry in Fantastic Fiction. It’s accurate but needs updating.

In The Peanut Butter Murders, Corinne’s sleuth Caledonia says “peanut butter” in lieu of swearing (talk about being creative!). When I told Corinne I enjoyed the story, she shared this little known tale:

Oh, here’s a P.S. about “Peanut Butter Murders” — and it makes self publishing look much better, since it wouldn’t have happened if I’d been self-publishing:

I intended that the book start with the little rhyme:

For obvious reasons — the framework story about the girl finding the body beside the railway tracks.

Some editor from Penguin, (she wasn’t MY editor, mind you) told Donald Fine (my publisher) that rhyme shouldn’t be included… it was too gruesome for my readers, who were obviously elderly and easily shocked.  (Oh, puh-leeze!  We used to sing that as we played hop-scotch when we were little kids!)  But,” she said, “I love the title, so keep the title and find another reason for using it.”  So I had to invent the “swear words” for Caledonia, who never used them in any book before or since…..   See?  It’s not so bad not to have a professional editor. They make a lot of mistakes, and they sometimes drive you crazy.

I’ve so enjoyed my correspondence with this delightful author, and loved her behind-the-scenes tidbits. Bonus: she likes my books!

Here’s Corinne Holt Sawyer’s bibliography on Stop! You’re Killing Me. Wouldn’t it be cool if she published #9?

In Memoriam

My friend Rosie researched her own Missing Authors and sent me the following:

Willam G. Tapply and Philip R. Craig William G. Tapply, who died in 2009, wrote some great mysteries about Stoney Calhoun, a Maine fishing guide. He also wrote mysteries featuring attorney Brady Coyne.

I liked a mystery series he co-wrote with Philip R. Craig. These “Brady Coyne and J.W. Jackson” mysteries used Martha’s Vineyard as the setting. Brady Coyne was still a Boston attorney, but his buddy J.W. Jackson (ex-cop) lived on Martha’s Vineyard, and that’s where the mysteries happen! Craig died in 2007 and has three posthumous mysteries released. Craig wrote many J.W. Jackson mysteries that were not collaborations. Those featured his J.W. Jackson character, so when Craig and Tapply cowrote, those mysteries were fun because the reader saw two separate familiar characters. Each author wrote other books/series, too.

Dorothy Gilman died in 2012. I loved her Mrs. Pollifax series. Of course she wrote other books, too. I’m looking at the summary of the Clairvoyant Countess now. See her bibliography on Stop! You’re Killing Me.

Elizabeth Peters’ (Barbara Mertz) Amelia Peabody series really got me hooked. She died in 2013. Her final book The Painted Queen was finished by her friend Joan Hess and released in 2017, and then Joan Hess died in November of 2017. Stop! You’re Killing Me lists the extensive bibliographies of both Elizabeth Peters  and Joan Hess.

◊ ◊ ◊

Posts from my “Missing Authors” series, in chronological order:

Missing Rochelle Krich

Discovering a Lost Author: John J. Lamb

Whatever Happened to Gabrielle Kraft?

Whatever Happened to (Name an Author)?

In Memory of My Favorite Mystery Authors (And Maybe Yours)

Those Missing Authors: An Update

Missing Author Found!

Missing Authors: Update 2

“Missing Authors: Update 3”

“Missing Authors: Update 4”

“Missing Authors: Update 5”

Do you have a favorite mystery author who hasn’t written in some time and isn’t included in one of the above posts? Yes? Include the name(s) in the comments section and I’ll see what I can find out. It may take me some time but I will get back to you, either personally or in an upcoming blog post.



Missing Mystery Authors: Update #6 — 15 Comments

  1. Your information on Sue Henry is incorrect. That obit is not for Sue Henry the mystery writer and that is definitely not a picture of her. Sue lived in Alaska and had 2 sons.

  2. Do you have any further information about Jill Churchill. I liked her grace & favour series but haven’t seen anything for about 5 years.

    • Audrey, I just did another search and came up with nothing. I visited a couple of forums and found that many people want to know what happened to Jill. It’s frustrating when a favorite author just vanishes! Thanks for asking.

  3. Do you have any information Mary Daheim?
    I just stumbled on your missing author posts, and they are terrific. Answered some questions I had.

    • Kenette, Mary Daheim is publishing A Case of Bier on Feb 12, 2019. It’s from her Bed and Breakfast series. She published Alpha Alpine last December, from her Alpine series.

      The Alpine series has long been one of my favorites. I hope she continues it.

  4. Corinne came alive just in your recapture of your exchanges with her. Thank you for sharing–I now want to read her books. She sounds like a delightful person, and as modern and contemporary at age 94 as anyone I speak to now. I would love to hear more from her–and yes, that she’d somehow keep publishing.

    PS: I found this post via DL so please do keep sharing there when you do these updates! Might be fun with some recent authors who have fallen off the map a bit–Sara Jane Henry comes to mind?

    • Jenny, thanks for commenting. I’ve so enjoyed my correspondence with Corinne and she told me how much she liked the post—especially her own quotes! Yes, I’ll keep posting on DL. That’s a great forum.

      I emailed Sara Henry and will let you know when she responds.

      I was sorry to miss you when you visited Richmond last year. I know you had a small turnout but they thoroughly enjoyed what you had to say.

    • Patricia, I found this link to her blog post from 2013: http://earlenefowler.blogspot.com/2013/06/just-sayin-howdy-and-asking-for-your.html.

      And this from Facebook on July 14, 2017: “Been a while since I’ve posted. Have spent the last few months doing a lot of reading, weeding of possessions, playing with my dog, Ivy, and helping various friends and family go through life stages (divorces, deaths, health problems). Just living life like all y’all are doing! No writing right now. That just doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now. But I’m happy, healthy and Allen and Ivy are getting along great. She’s a real cuddlebug, which I love in the winter, but is harder during this long, hot summer. I wouldn’t change a thing about her, though. Allen and I agree she is the perfect dog for us. Hope you all have a glorious and cool summer! I’m already longing for fall…”

      Thanks for asking.

  5. Two authors that have been MIA for some time now: Jody Jaffe, who wrote three mysteries that I know of, and Lonnie Cruse, who wrote 2 series with a couple entries in each.