Books by Barbara Seranella

Barbara Seranella is the nationally best-selling author of crime novels featuring Munch Mancini, a woman mechanic with a past. Seranella was born in Santa Monica, California and grew up in Pacific Palisades. After a restless childhood that included run

DEADMAN’S SWITCH by Barbara Seranella
Released: April 19, 2007

"As the going gets tough, Charlotte gets less and less quirky—making her initial appeal fade faster than an express train at rush hour."
Seranella takes an upscale break from mechanic-turned-detective Munch Mancini (An Unacceptable Death, 2005, etc.) with this tale of an obsessive-compulsive who specializes in crisis management. Read full book review >
AN UNACCEPTABLE DEATH by Barbara Seranella
Released: Jan. 9, 2006

"Even her muddled plot can't spoil Seranella's searching account of a woman coping with the ultimate loss."
The death of her fiancé sends Munch Mancini (Unwilling Accomplice, 2004, etc.) into an emotional tailspin but cannot disrupt her moral compass. Read full book review >
Released: May 11, 2004

"Many intriguing byways pass by as Seranella coasts along in neutral."
Munch Mancini (Unpaid Dues, 2003, etc.) finds out that blood isn't always thicker than water when she tries to help her adopted daughter Asia reunite with her cousins. Read full book review >
UNPAID DUES by Barbara Seranella
Released: May 20, 2003

"Like a well-tuned engine, Seranella's fifth glides perfectly right up to its elegant finish."
When they run the fingerprints of the corpse found in a drainage ditch at the Riviera Country Club, LAPD detectives Mace St. John and Tony Cassiletti get back the name of Jane Ferrar, an ex-doper with an arrest record for prostitution, petty theft, and DUI. But when her rap sheet comes back with a picture of his good friend, mechanic Miranda "Munch" Mancini (No Man Standing, 2002, etc.), paper-clipped to it, St. John goes ballistic until he finds out that Munch—who's alive and well, still working at Lou's garage, dating sexy detective Rico Chacon, and lavishing love on her eight-year-old daughter Asia—once used Jane's name to finesse her way out of that drunk-driving charge. What Munch doesn't tell St. John is that on that momentous day ten years ago, she and New York Jane, along with Asia's father, "Sleaze John" Garillo, and two other stoners named Deb and Thor, did a lot more than drive under the influence. Now Munch is afraid she'll be dragged into an ancient murder investigation, seriously impairing her capacity to care for Asia and for Deb's son Boogie, now grown up and living with Munch while his mother freaks out in Amsterdam. And if Jane's murder isn't solved, Munch's corpse may be next. Caught in the middle, Munch struggles once again to outrun her past, balancing her longing for serenity against her need to let the truth be told. Read full book review >
NO MAN STANDING by Barbara Seranella
Released: May 22, 2002

"Seranella's fifth may be her best yet: fast-paced and brainy but with plenty of heart."
Munch Mancini (Unfinished Business, 2001, etc.) is about to realize the dream of a lifetime as she and her daughter Asia prepare to move into the home she's bought with money she's actually earned—as opposed to hustled or stolen—at a legitimate job as a mechanic in a Texaco station in LA. Only two things stand in her way: (1) Noreen Ramsey, a realtor whose lease on reality expired last month and who takes revenge for Munch's brief fling with her ex-husband Alex by posting the ex-biker's rap sheet, complete with busts for possession, all over town; and (2) Ellen Summers, a friend from Munch's old life, who's released from prison to find her mother brutally murdered by someone who thought she knew something that breaking all her fingers could coax her into telling. With nowhere else to go, Ellen lands on Munch's soon-to-be-vacated doorstep with the clothes on her back, an extensive wardrobe of wigs, and a bag of cash certified by Suki Monash—whose taste for heroin cost her a steady job at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing—as high-grade counterfeit. But the bills' iffy pedigree doesn't discourage every grifter in town, including Billy Vega and Lawrence (Animal) Whitley, Ellen's old pals from the Spearmint Rhino strip club. Tempers flare and corpses pile up as Ellen and her excess baggage test Munch's loyalty to the limit. Read full book review >
UNFINISHED BUSINESS by Barbara Seranella
Released: May 22, 2001

"Munch (Unwanted Company, 2000, etc.) talks tough and hangs tougher in this tightly wound tale of cat and mouse."
Life is good for Munch Mancini. She's clean and sober. She's got a steady paycheck and a steady guy. And her gig at Belair Texaco lets her do the two things she loves most: take apart internal combustion engines and get home in time to pick up her daughter, Asia, from school. So why would she want to mess things up by trying to find out who raped and tortured ex-model Robin Davies, sending the poor woman into total seclusion except for a daily visit from Meals on Wheels? Maybe it's because Robin was so kind to Asia and her second-grade classmates when she choreographed their school play. Maybe it's because Robin's rapist may have committed another, deadlier crime: the electrocution of Diane Bergman, socialite widow and founder of the Bergman Cancer Center, who had befriended Munch when things weren't so rosy. Maybe it's because the chief investigator on the Bergman murder, Mace St. John, makes Munch's engine throb in a way her straight-arrow boyfriend Garret Dimond just doesn't. Or maybe it's because in the bad old days, Munch herself was more than once the victim of a guy who just wouldn't take no for an answer. Whatever the reason, Munch is putting it all on the line to stop a sadist who knows where she lives, knows where she works, and has her whole world—including Asia—in the center of his scope. Read full book review >
NO OFFENSE INTENDED by Barbara Seranella
Released: Jan. 1, 1999

It sounds simple enough: Just pick up Sleaze John Garillo's baby Asia from the neighbor who's been watching her while Sleaze has been, uh, busy, and deliver her together with her baby gear to Sleaze's sister Lisa Slokum. But nothing is simple when you're a recovering alcohol-and-drug abuser on probation, like Venice car mechanic Munch Mancini, and nothing is simple when it involves Sleaze, who can't even make it through the day he turns up at Happy Jack's Auto Repair without getting himself shot on the freeway. Munch, on her way to check in with her probation officer in Santa Monica, just happens to drive past Sleaze's wrecked truck and pulls over, marking the first of two times she'll flee a crime scene. (She also ducks out of an autopsy she's sneaked into.) Caught between a drug-running sharpshooter who's firing ammunition stolen from a National Guard Armory and the FBI control freaks investigating the robbery, Munch ends up pairing off in a wary cat-and-mouse game not with saintly Lt. Mace St. John (No Human Involved, 1997), but with Homicide detective Jigsaw Blackstone, who's already in bed with the FBI, courtesy of the sexiest chess game since The Thomas Crown Affair. Things would look bleak for starchy Munch—if, that is, there were any serious doubt about who's behind the crime spree. Munch is still a great heroine, but this follow-up lacks the energy and originality that gave her debut such edgy promise. Read full book review >
NO HUMAN INVOLVED by Barbara Seranella
Released: Aug. 14, 1997

As far as the Venice PD is concerned, the murder of lowlife dealer ``Flower George'' Mancini is a clear case of AVA, NHI- -``asshole versus asshole, no human involved.'' So it's no big deal when Mancini's daughter Munch, the chief suspect in his killing, gives Sgt. Mace St. John the slip and disappears into the San Fernando Valley. But when the gun that shot Mancini is linked to a grisly series of dismemberments, Mace wishes he'd paid closer attention to Munch's moves while he had the chance. Even though he squeezes some personal details of her horrible life (her father got her hooked and repeatedly sold her for drugs) out of her attractive probation officer, he has no way of tracing her to Happy Jack's Auto Repair, where she's working as a lippy mechanic and assiduously building the new paper trail that'll bury her old identity for good. While Mace is wrestling with his own father's problems—a series of strokes have left Digger St. John sadly addled—another break in the case links the killings to a deadly, penicillin-resistant strain of gonorrhea, and puts Mace on Munch's trail once again. But does he really want to catch this gamine druggie when she's finding Jesus, going to NA meetings, and working wonders on the cars at Happy Jack's? Munch's scenes pulse with such startling immediacy—she's definitely worth another round, even if kindly, sensitive Mace never returns—that first-timer Seranella makes you forget how familiar her story is. Read full book review >