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About Marcia Talley
Marcia Talley is the Agatha and Anthony award-winning author of eighteen Hannah Ives mysteries, including DONE GONE and TANGLED ROOTS.
She is editor/author of NAKED CAME THE PHOENIX, a star-studded, tongue-in-cheek collaborative serial novel about murder in a fashionable health spa. A second collaboration, I’D KILL FOR THAT, is set in an upscale gated community.
Her short stories appear in more than a dozen collections including "With Love, Marjorie Ann" and "Safety First," both Agatha award nominees, and the multi-award-winning “Too Many Cooks,” a humorous retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth from the viewpoint of the three witches, from MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER, edited by Anne Perry. Her story “Driven to Distraction” won the Agatha Award, was nominated for an Anthony, and selected for reprint in two major collections including The Deadly Bride and 21 of the World’s Best Crime and Mystery Stories. Another story, “Can You Hear Me Now,” appeared in Two of the Deadliest: New Tales of Lust, Greed and Murder from Outstanding Women of Mystery, edited by Elizabeth George.
Marcia is a past national President of Sisters in Crime, Inc., serves on the board of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America and is a member of the Authors’ Guild. Marcia and her husband, Barry, divide their time between Annapolis, Maryland and a quaint Loyalist cottage on Elbow Cay in the Bahamas.
READ MORE: "THE MYSTERIOUS MARCIA TALLEY" from UpStArt Magazine
Hannah Ives is a reluctant sleuth who lives on Prince George Street in Annapolis and solves mysteries wherever life leads her. In Daughter of Ashes, by Annapolis-based mystery writer Marcia Talley, Ives and husband, Paul, refurbish a cottage on the Eastern Shore, only to discover a mummified toddler in the chimney. That incident—coupled with a murder and near-murder—and Ives’ fortuitous work as a researcher of old, moldy, local land records, makes the mystery a page-turner, taking readers on a journey through Chesapeake Country, MD, with Big Chicken, the 1950s color line, and various cover-ups.
Talley has led Hannah Ives fans through 16 adventures, and counting. Her foray into mystery writing was a “shameless Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys rip-off” in eighth grade. Despite her English teacher’s admonition to “write what you know,” she didn’t let that stop her. She dove into Alfred Hitchcock films and kept writing crime fiction until full-time work and motherhood meant shelving the stories. Then a breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment alerted her to things she needed to finish, including mysteries to be written.
An Oberlin College alumna, Talley majored in education. At the time, women were encouraged to have something to fall back on. She taught elementary and middle school until her first pregnancy; women had to stop teaching when the baby bump became apparent, and the tent dresses worked only for so long. Talley had to go on maternity leave three months before labor. During that time, she typed catalog cards for the Bryn Mawr School library in Baltimore, the same work she’d done in college to help pay tuition. That launched her into a career as the cataloger at St. John’s College after her husband, Barry, accepted a teaching job at the US Naval Academy and the family moved to the Annapolis area in 1971. More education—a master of library science at the University of Maryland—and a knack for programming led to work integrating computer systems for the US government.
Stints at Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference helped Talley develop her chops in storytelling—mysteries in particular. She entered her first work, Sing It to Her Bones, in an annual conference contest and was surprised when she won. Agents phoned, unsolicited, to represent her, and she got a three-book deal with Bantam Dell publishing.
Readers of mysteries enjoy the goosebumps, the waves of hope elicited by the protagonists, the hair-raising climaxes, and the releases that follow. But for mystery writers, the motivations may be different.
Says Talley, “I don’t have to tell you that the real world is a messy, violent, frequently unjust place. Mysteries can be a respite. In my fictional world, I call the shots. Justice is served and the villain suitably punished. I love the puzzle aspect of the mystery, planting clues and dropping red herrings. As for me, personally, there have been a lot of people in my life who needed to die. In a mystery, I can bump them off with a stroke of my pen, and it’s cheaper than a therapist. I find many literary ‘book club’ novels deeply depressing, and as for romance, well, I’ve met a lot of people I’ve wanted to kill, but very few that I’d want to sleep with.”
Protagonist Ives, whom Talley describes as “a bit like a superannuated Nancy Drew,” has some things in common with her creator. She, too, is a breast-cancer survivor who loves to sail and is married to a professor at the Naval Academy. “She’s funnier than I am, though,” says Talley, “and braver. Younger and prettier, too, although just as curious and fiercely independent.”
Talley writes first drafts in long hand, during which Ives offers wry comments on what’s going on around her. She edits her first drafts while typing them into the computer, then prints out the novel triple spaced and goes somewhere quiet for more editing, eventually sharing her revisions with her writing groups. The process takes about a year. She’s been with an Annapolis mystery critique group since 1996, which first met at “the late, much lamented Mystery Tales Bookshop in West Annapolis” and now at Barnes & Noble, and also belongs to one in Hope Town, Bahamas, where she and her husband sail during the winter.
In the wake of her novels, Talley has left a trail of bodies, in Eastport and Ginger Cove, on the stage at Mahan Hall, on the DC Metro, one floating face down in the South River, and elsewhere. She aims for accuracy: “If someone tosses a bloody knife into a dumpster behind McGarvey’s Saloon, there’ll be a dumpster there.” One fan wrote to Talley that she took a tour of Annapolis, visiting all the local sites that Ives did. “Maybe I should produce an annotated tourist map?” she muses.
If only there were time. Once Talley finishes a book, she looks to TV and newspapers for potential future story hooks. Finding one, she asks, “How can I get Hannah believably involved in this?” Then she dives into research. For recently submitted work, she gets back suggested changes from editors, then copyeditors take a crack, followed by her own set of proofs. After publication, Talley supports the work with readings. She pays little attention to debates about formats—print or electronic. What’s most important is fair compensation and that people want to read what she writes. “We write the best novel we can, deliver it to our publishers, sit back, and go with the flow.” -- Leigh Glenn, UpstART Magazine, Fall 2018.
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When Hannah loses out on the cottage of her dreams because of an unscrupulous real estate agent, she and her husband, Paul, buy a fixer-upper instead. But contractors restoring the chimney soon make a tragic discovery: the mummified body of an infant.
Hannah, already researching the history of her home in the county archives, is searching for clues to the dead infant’s identity when more shocking events occur. Suddenly, her access to the courthouse is denied and the records she has been examining are slated for destruction. Someone with money, influence, or both is trying to make sure incriminating information stays buried. Can Hannah solve the crimes before the evidence and over one hundred years of county history go up in smoke?
“Readers who haven’t met Hannah should do so promptly.” ―Booklist
INTRODUCTION, by Dana Cameron
THE DAME AND THADDEUS BIRDWHISTLE, by Karen Cantwell
SECRETS TO THE GRAVE, by K.M. Rockwood
THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT THE ESCAPE ROOM, by Leone Ciporin
THE DOGOODER, by Adam Meyer
THE PROBLEM WITH OPENENDED INVITATIONS, by Cathy Wiley
MUGGINS, by Josh Pachter
THE KILLING WINDS, by Mary Stojak
MAKE NEW FRIENDS, BUT KEEP THE OLD, by Jane Limprecht
GOOD MORNING, GREEN LEAF CLASS, by Sarah Cotter
THE GREAT BEDBUG INCIDENT AND THE INVITATION OF DOOM, by Eleanor Cawood Jones
GUNS AND YOGA, by Maureen Klovers
RFP/RIP, by Britt Alan
AUMAKUA, by Maddi Davidson
THE COLOR OF ENVY, by Joanna Campbell Slan
TRUE COLORS, by Robin Templeton
ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES, by Art Taylor
SUNNYSIDE, by Stacy Woodson
Boy, was she wrong.
When she’s unexpectedly laid off, for reasons that are probably ageist and almost certainly have to do with her health history, Hannah finds herself at loose ends, cast adrift in a world in which she seems to serve no purpose.
Invited by her sister-in-law, Connie, to take a break from life and visit her at the Ives farm in Pearson’s Corner, Hannah heads out on what she expects will be a peaceful, relaxing vacation — a few days with nothing to do but read novels and sleep.
Wearing a wig and her heart on her sleeve, Hannah arrives in Pearson’s Corner…and almost immediately makes a gruesome discovery that will shock the small Chesapeake Bay town to its core. On an abandoned farm near Connie’s house is a body — a body that belongs to a girl who disappeared without a trace eight years earlier following her high school homecoming dance.
Feeling drawn to the case because of the similarity in age between the victim and her own daughter, Hannah is driven by a need to discover the truth of what happened to the murdered girl. As she begins to delve deep and peel back the layers of what at first seems to be the perfect small town, Hannah can feel her own spirit and body surging back to life.
But investigating a murder goes hand-in-hand with the threat of danger. Someone in Pearson’s Corner has something to hide, and they’re not keen on Hannah digging out the truth.
As she begins to uncover dangerous secrets, Hannah becomes the target of a dangerous killer seeking to preserve long-buried secrets. Too stubborn to give up, she soon finds herself face-to-face with a deadly foe…
“A shining new talent … Hannah Ives tackles life’s ups and downs with humor, intelligence and courage.” Deborah Crombie, Macavity Award-winning author of Dreaming of the Bones
“Marcia Talley’s terrific debut novel has wit, warmth, and a spunky new heroine who must not be missed.” Sujata Massey, Agatha-winning author of The Salaryman’s Wife
“Hannah Ives is a welcome addition to the mystery landscape — smart, brave, wonderfully human, the kind of woman you want for your new best friend. Sing It to Her Bones is an impressive, polished debut from a writer to watch.” Laura Lippman, Edgar Award-winning author of Butchers Hill
“Scenes of Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay area add an authentic tang of sunlit salt air to this suspenseful debut novel. Hannah Ives is an appealing, believable heroine.” Margaret Maron, author of Home Fires Burning
Marcia Talley was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and spent much of her childhood moving from place to place as the daughter of a career Marine officer. Sing It to Her Bones is not only the first of thirteen in the Hannah Ives series, but her writing debut, for which she won the Malice Domestic Grant for unpublished writers in 1998. She met her husband, a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, at Oberlin College, and shares with him a love of sailing. They divide their time between Annapolis, Maryland, and Dickie’s Cay in the Abacos, Bahamas.
Praise for Marcia Talley
‘A writer to watch.’ - Laura Lippman, Edgar Award-winning author of To the Power of Three ‘Hannah Ives tackles life’s ups and downs with humor, intelligence and courage’ – Deborah Crombie, author of In a Dark Horse ‘Hannah Ives is an appealing, believable heroine and Marcia Talley perfectly catches her ambivalence.’ – Margaret Maron ‘[Characters] so real they must exist somewhere beyond the page.’ – Anne Perry ‘A writer and a character we want to see again — and soon.’ – Washington Times ‘Hannah Ives is a welcome addition to the mystery landscape.’ – Laura Lippman Marcia Talley is the Agatha and Anthony award-winning author of A Quiet Death and nine previous mystery novels featuring survivor and sleuth, Hannah Ives. Her short stories appear in more than a dozen collections including anthologies edited by New York Times best-selling authors Lawrence Block, Elizabeth George, Laura Lippman, and Anne Perry. They have been selected for inclusion in The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg.
Praise for Marcia Talley
“A shining new talent… Marcia Talley’s Hannah Ives tackles life’s ups and downs with humor, intelligence, and courage.” Deborah Crombie Marcia Talley is the Agatha and Anthony award-winning author of A Quiet Death and nine previous mystery novels featuring survivor and sleuth, Hannah Ives. Her short stories appear in more than a dozen collections including anthologies edited by New York Times best-selling authors Lawrence Block, Elizabeth George, Laura Lippman, and Anne Perry. They have been selected for inclusion in The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg.
Hannah Ives is worried when her friends and long-time neighbours, Peter and Trish Young, are a surprising no-show at her Italian night. The couple seem to have vanished without a trace. Have they made a quick getaway and 'done gone'?
As she struggles to make sense of the Youngs' disappearance, Hannah gets a call from Trish. But when she meets up with her heavily disguised friend, their reunion takes a devastating twist. Keen to help Trish, Hannah's investigations lead her to a series of dark discoveries and secrets involving powerful political figures. With stakes getting higher and her own life on the line, can Hannah survive her journey into Trish's past long enough to find out who wants to silence her, and why?
Hannah Ives’s sister, Georgina, has some astonishing news. A DNA test has revealed she is part Native American, and Hannah’s test has similar results. The link seems to come from their late mother. But how?
As Hannah dives into constructing her family tree, she uncovers a heart-breaking love story and a mysterious death, while DNA matching turns up two second cousins, Mai and Nicholas. Hannah and her niece, Julie, are eager to embrace their new relatives and learn about their surprising ancestry, but Georgina’s husband, Scott, isn’t so keen. Are there more shocking revelations to come? And can Hannah untangle her family roots to uncover the truth behind a devastating tragedy?
It’s a well-known fact that some members of the cancer-survivor support group Hannah Ives works with take marijuana. Recreational use of the drug may be illegal, but a few, like Maryland State Senator Claire Thompson, are prescribed it on medical grounds. Now Claire has co-sponsored a Cannabis Legalization Bill—and wants Hannah to be part of a fact-finding task force that testifies before the Maryland State Senate.
Before long, Hannah is in Denver, Colorado, the Mile High City, staying at a B&B with a group of pot pilgrims and medical refugees—some of whom, like her, are on a mission for information. But when one of the group is found dead, and a closer inspection of the body reveals they may not be who they seem, Hannah is plunged into a dangerous cocktail of drugs and death.
From the Agatha and Anthony Award-winning author, this is an involving mystery starring a “heroine who must not be missed” (Sujata Massey, author of The Salaryman’s Wife).
“Witty, well-constructed…Talley takes the reader on a timely and illuminating trip into the often befuddling world of marijuana legislation.”—Publishers Weekly
“Hannah Ives tackles life’s up and downs with humor, intelligence, and courage.”—Deborah Crombie, Macavity Award-winning author
“In this American version of a manor-house mystery, Hannah has to figure out who among the guests—a young academic couple, a naval cadet, senior citizens on their way to a wedding—is hiding what…[an] amusingly colorful setting.”—Kirkus Reviews
When Hannah Ivy visits her friend Nadine Smith Gray at the Calvert Colony retirement community, she didn’t expect to be introduced to such a wide range of characters. Nor did she expect to become a volunteer in the memory care unit. Even more surprising is her discovery of the dead body of one of the residents. As it’s clearly not a victim of old age, Hannah helps the local detective sift through a disturbingly large cast of suspects. Seems old grudges never retire, but Hannah is determined to put a murderer on ice forever.
“This is the thirteenth Hannah Ives mystery, and the series feels as fresh as the day it was born.” —Booklist
Hannah, her sisters, and fourteen-year-old niece Julie set sail from Baltimore on a bonding cruise, and have a dramatic first night when Pia Fanucci, a bubbly bartender magician’s assistant whom Hannah befriends, narrowly escapes injury during an illusion. But while Pia may make light of the incident, it’s no laughing matter when Julie suddenly disappears. Has she gone overboard, or is she injured somewhere on the enormous ship?
To make matters worse, Hannah meets David Warren, a grieving father whose twenty-two-year-old daughter vanished without trace from an earlier cruise. With claims of a proper investigation proving to be an illusion, Hannah teams up with David and Pia to stop a seafaring predator from striking again.
“Talley’s 12th Hannah Ives mystery delivers steady wit, intrigue, and shocks.” —Publishers Weekly
Lights, camera, murder . . . It doesn’t take much arm-twisting to persuade Hannah Ives to join the twelve-strong cast of Patriot House, 1774, a reality show recreating eighteenth-century colonial life during the turbulent days leading up to the American Revolution. But when a member of the production crew is found murdered, it’s up to Hannah to change the course of history before hers is ended on live TV.
“Likable Hannah is a sympathetic character who holds the cast of Patriot House and this premise-driven tale together.” —Booklist