Mystery Authors You May Have Missed
Ellen Hart


Ellen Hart was born in Minneapolis in 1949 where she had a happy childhood “centered around food and music.” Although raised a Lutheran, as a young adult she became influenced by Herbert W. Armstrong’s fundamentalist Worldwide Church of God and enrolled in Ambassador College in Pasadena where she received her BA in Theology. Disillusioned by the corruption of the church leadership and her own feminist awakenings, she left the church and returned to Minnesota, where she worked as a kitchen manager for twelve years in a University of Minnesota sorority house. Her first book was published in 1989 and she currently has over twenty titles in print. In 2000, Hart co-founded the Minnesota Crime Wave with fellow mystery writers Carl Brookins and William Kent Krueger. In costume, they promote their novels and hold workshops. Hart currently teaches writing at the University of Minnesota and at the Loft Literary Center. She lives in Minneapolis with her partner of 23 years. They have two children and two grandsons.

What she writes: Hart writes two “traditional” (or “cozy”) mystery series. Both are set in Minnesota and feature strong female protagonists that reflect Hart’s own background and interests. Jane Lawless is a lesbian restaurateur in Minneapolis. Her irrepressible and melodramatic sidekick Cordelia is one of Hart’s most engaging and entertaining characters. While the novels in this series often include gay themes, the fast pacing, witty dialogue, and multi-layered stories attract a wide readership. Hart’s culinary mystery series features Sophie Greenway, hotelier and restaurant critic in St. Paul, who teams up with her husband to solve cases that are food or food-industry related. Like Hart, her character Sophie has a background in theology. Both series have limited violence, complex plots, and an emphasis on character development.


List of works
Jane Lawless Series
  Hallowed Murder (1989) Hunting the Witch (1999)
  Vital Lies (1991) Merchant of Venus (2001)
  Stage Fright (1992) Immaculate Midnight (2002)
  A Killing Cure (1993) An Intimate Ghost (2004)
  A Small Sacrifice (1994) The Iron Girl (2005)
  Robber's Wine (1996) Night Vision (2006)
  Faint Praise (1997) The Mortal Groove (2007)
  Wicked Games (1998)  
Sophie Greenway Series
  This Little Piggy Went to Market (1994) Slice and Dice (2000)
  For Every Evil (1995) Dial M for Meatloaf (2001)
  The Oldest Sin (1996) Death on a Silver Platter (2003)
  Murder in the Air (1997) No Reservations Required (2005)
Ellen Hart and the Minnesota Crime Wave compiled The Silence of the Loons (2005), a collection of fiction by Minnesota’s premier mystery writers, to which she also contributed a short story.


Ellen Hart has won five Lambda Literary Awards (Immaculate Midnight (2002), Merchant of Venus (2001), Hunting the Witch (1999), Robber’s Wine (1996) and A Small Sacrifice (1994)) and is a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award (The Iron Girl (2006), Faint Praise (1996), and A Small Sacrifice (1995)). In 2006, she received a Golden Literary Crown Award for The Iron Girl.

What the critics say
Hart concocts deliciously satisfying and canny plots featuring food, mayhem and murder. Whatever your beverage choice, raise a glass in celebration!" - Lev Raphael, award-winning author of the Nick Hoffman mystery series
Hart has created a wealth of traditional mysteries with modern sensibilities and a distinctly literary edge. In a very real sense, she has become our gay Agatha Christie." - Sandra Scoppettone, award-winning author of the Lauren Laurano mystery series
Hart delivers vivid, off-the-beaten-track characters and enough clues and layers of intrigue to keep the pages turning." - Publishers Weekly (August 15, 2005)


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