Books by Jan Grape

Jan has over 25 short stories published and numerous non-fiction articles and interviews. Jan has been a regular columnist for MYSTERY SCENE magazine for over fourteen years, she wrote, edited and published "Reflections In A Private Eye," the newsletter f

Released: Dec. 1, 2005

"Grape keeps things moving briskly—so briskly she rushes over Byron's disappearance, the killer's psychology and Zoe's detective work, though she does find time for a series of interchapters honoring Austin police officers killed in the line of duty back to 1913."
A sophomore Texas procedural soaked in blood and earnestness. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 2002

"For all their often affecting emotional burdens, Grape's people are just too nice to conceal their involvement in murder for long, and it's a pure relief when each of them confesses."
Nine stories more notable for warmth than wit. Grape's guileless criminals are ill able to conceal their guilt—fortunately, since her detectives show little ability to detect. "The Man in the Red Flannel Suit" asks why a little girl whose mother was killed by a hit-and-run driver is afraid of Santa Claus. Fledging mystery writer Robbie Dunlap helps her husband Damon, sheriff of Adobe County, crack homicides by observing the behavior of her writer's group in "Arsenic and Old Ideas," and by the testimony of a friend who's checked into a death-ridden nursing home in the clueless "Ruby Nell's Ordeal." The remaining stories concern female partners C.J. Gunn and Jenny Gordon of the G&G Detective Agency. Whether they're dealing with a choice between two unlikely suspects in "Whatever Has to Be Done," a slain Romeo in "A One-Day Job," a killing of mother and baby in "Kiss or Kill," or a missing stripper in "Scarlett Fever," the prose is stolid—Grape (Austin City Blue, 2001) is no stylist—the detection routine ("Most of my work involves checking backgrounds on people," Jenny observes accurately), and the results unsurprising. A pair of kittens carry the heavy lifting in "Kittens Take Detection 101," and the most complex of these tales, the Anthony-winning "A Front Row Seat," is resolved by Jenny's unaccountable flashback to a parallel situation from her childhood. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

"A fast-moving, if never exactly convincing, debut for Grape and her bedeviled heroine."
Eight months after her cop husband Byron is sent to the hospital by a shooter named Jesse Garcia, Zoe Barrow, responding to an officer-assist call, pulls her own trigger, only later realizing that she's just killed Garcia herself. The case would be closed—if only Lt. Andrew Nichols at Internal Affairs didn't act as if Zoe had been gunning for Garcia, if only the news of his assailant's death could awaken Byron from his coma, if only life didn't keep going on. Sidelined to desk duty, Zoe soon finds herself working two new cases. Officially, she's assigned to the murder of hooker/informant Tami Louise Smuts, whose throat was cut the night she tipped Zoe to a secret meeting between client Steve Crooks and some unidentified fellow-conspirators when Harry Albright, the homicide dick working the case, asks for her help. Unofficially, she's pulled into helping protect wealthy businessman Avery Peppard, divorced from Byron's Aunt Susan, when he claims his much younger second wife, Mary Margaret, has inveigled her boyfriend into killing him—a boyfriend who sounds, Avery fearfully suggests, as if he's an Austin cop himself. Sure enough, Avery's soon accosted by a man with a knife, then shot in the chest before Mary Margaret turns up with her throat slit—an unmistakable link to the dead prostitute. Can Zoe figure out the connection between the two cases before she becomes a victim herself, or is forced once more to assume the role of killer? Read full book review >