Mystery Authors You May Have Missed
Rhys Bowen (pseudonym of Janet
Quin-Harkin) was born in Bath, England to a Welsh/English family. A prolific writer from a young age, Bowen published her first short story at age sixteen. After graduating from London University, she took a job with the BBC’s drama department. During this time, she began writing her own television and radio plays. In addition to plays, Bowen has written children’s books, young adult novels, historical sagas, short stories, and the mystery novels that have garnered much critical acclaim. Rhys Bowen has received a multitude of nominations for major mystery awards, including the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and has won seven awards.
Bowen currently lives in California with her husband, an Englishman she met while working at Australian Broadcasting in Sydney, Australia. When not writing, she enjoys traveling, hiking, playing Celtic harp, and entertaining her grandchildren. Along with six other female mystery writers, Rhys Bowen contributes to a blog, The Lady Killers.
What she writes: Rhys Bowen began writing mysteries after her 100th young adult novel. She relates, “My hundredth book was approaching. I had put my kids through college and we had paid off the house. And, quite frankly, I felt that I had written enough for young people. I decided it was now time to write what I liked to read — and that was mysteries, with a strong sense of place. So I took a gamble, a new name and started back at square one as a mystery writer. I haven't regretted it for a second."
The Evan Evans series was inspired by Bowen’s childhood memories of her family in Wales. In this series, young Constable Evans takes a post in the North Wales village of Llanfair. Featuring the hallmarks of the British cozy, the Evan Evans series finds its success in its description of rural village life, gentle humor, and down-home characters.
Bowen’s second ongoing series, the Molly Murphy mysteries, are set in the early 20th century New York City and feature a young and feisty Irish immigrant sleuth. The series begins with Molly’s escape from a would-be rapist and her subsequent journey to America. Molly’s sleuthing starts in earnest when she must clear her own name after being accused of an Ellis Island murder. By the second book in the series, Molly has pushed beyond the appropriate feminine behavior of the time, and takes a job as an apprentice private investigator. The dark setting of New York’s lower and immigrant classes is a far cry from the quaint Welsh village of Bowen’s earlier series, but the Molly Murphy series still relies on compelling characters, light romance, and a well-drawn historical setting.
The newest series by Rhys Bowen features Lady Georgiana, a minor British royal who is 34th in line for the throne. Chauffeured onto the scene with the first book, Her Royal Spyness, Lady Georgiana is the Bridget Jones of her day. Single and destitute (as far as royals go), Georgie must fend for herself in the cultured world that is pre-war 1930s London. This first novel finds the heroine financially cut off from her family by her brother and sister-in-law. Fending for herself for the first time in her life is quite a challenge for Georgie as she finds work as a department store clerk and a housemaid. When she finds a corpse in her London home, Georgie sets out to find the murderer—even if it kills her. A bit chick-lit, a bit madcap satire, this new mystery series is much lighter and funnier than Bowen’s previous two series.
Fans of M.C. Beaton’s Hamish MacBeth series or Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series are sure to find much to enjoy in any of these three award-winning series.
|List of works
|Evan Evans Series|
|Evans Above (1997)||Evans to Betsy (2002)|
|Evan Help Us (1998)||Evan Only Knows (2003)|
|Evanly Choirs (1999)||Evan's Gate (2004)|
|Evan and Elle (2000)||Evan Blessed (2005) — Large type|
|Evan Can Wait (2001) — Large type||Evanly Bodies (2006) — Large type|
|Molly Murphy Series|
|Murphy's Law (2001)||In Like Flynn (2005)|
|Death of Riley (2002)||Oh Danny Boy (2006)|
|For the Love of Mike (2003)||In Dublin's Fair City (2007)|
|Lady Georgiana Series|
|Her Royal Spyness (2007)|
Awards and nominations
Barry Award nomination for Best Novel, 1999, for Evan Help Us
Agatha and Anthony Award nominee, 2001, for the short story "The Seal of the Confessional," in Unholy Orders
Agatha Award for Best Novel, Reviewer’s Choice for Best Historical Novel, Herodotus Award for Best First Historical Novel, and a Mary Higgins Clark Award finalist, 2002, all for Murphy’s Law
Agatha Award and Reviewer’s Choice Award nominee, 2003, for Death of Riley
Anthony Award winner for Best Historical Novel, Bruce Alexander Memorial Award winner for Best Historical Novel, Macavity Award nominee for Best Novel, 2004, all for For the Love of Mike
Agatha Award nominee for Best Short Story, Anthony Award winner for Best Short Story, 2004, for “Doppelganger” in Blood On Their Hands
Edgar Award nominee for Best Novel, 2005, for Evan's Gate
Anthony Award nominee for Best Short Story, 2005, for “Voodoo” in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
Macavity Award nominee for Best Historical Mystery, 2006, for In Like Flynn
|What the critics say|
|Regarding the Evan Evans series -
"Bowen delivers an enchanting portrait of Wales with genuine, flawed characters, a modicum of humor and plenty of red herrings to keep the detective constable and the reader guessing."
- Publishers Weekly
|Regarding the Molly Murphy series -
"A strong focus, great characters, and authentic period descriptions place this on the A-list."
- Library Journal
"Bowen captures the passion and struggles of the Irish people at the turn of the 20th century." - Publishers Weekly
|Regarding the Lady Georgiana series -
"Populated with lots of neatly delineated characters, including Mrs. Simpson and a sexy Irish lord attempting to help Georgie lose her burdensome virginity, this is a smashing romp."
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