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Barbara D’Amato Books In Order

Publication Order of Gerritt De Graaf Books

The Hands of Healing Murder (1980) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Eyes on Utopia Murders (1981) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Cat Marsala Books

Hardball (1989) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hard Tack (1991) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hard Luck (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hard Women (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hard Case (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hard Christmas (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hard Bargain (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hard Evidence (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hard Road (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Figueroa and Bennis Books

Killer.app (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Good Cop, Bad Cop (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Help Me Please (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Authorized Personnel Only (2000) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Death of a Thousand Cuts (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

On My Honor (1989) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
White Male Infant (2002) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Foolproof (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Other Eyes (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

The Doctor, the Murder, the Mystery (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Barbara D’Amato is an American writer, crime researcher, and playwright, who also writes as Malacai Black. Her most known work is the Cat Marsala series that debuted with the 1989 published title “Hardball”. The Cat Marsala series features Cat Marsala, a freelance investigative reporter based in Chicago. Her other works include the Gerritt De Graaf series, the Figueroa and Bennis series, and several freestanding novels. D’Amato has had a very successful career as an author though she worked in several different occupation before she turned professional. She has worked for attorneys researching criminal cases, as stage manager, tiger handler, carpenter making stages for magical illusions shows, assistant surgical orderly, and trainer with the Chicago PD. Of all the jobs that she had done, she asserts that writing is one of the best she ever held, as she gets to ask police questions that otherwise she could not ask. Over the years, she has won several awards including a Mary Higgins Clark Award at the Editors and Mystery Writers of America Party for Authorized Personnel of the Figueroa and Bennis series. She has held the presidency of the Mystery Writers of America between 1999 and 2000, and the Sisters in Crime International Presidency. Her work was the inspiration for the Unsolved Mystery segment on the Dr. John Branion case. In collaboration with her husband, she wrote “The Magic of Young Houdini” and “RSVP Broadway”, which were musical comedies that were performed in London and Chicago. Born in Michigan, she currently lives in Chicago and writes for Mystery magazine and the Sisters in Crime newsletter.

Agatha Christie has been an inspiration for Barbara D’Amato, and she read most of her works as a child. She also read mysteries and suspense from the likes of Jack Dickson Carr and Ellery Queen, and a little bit of Joseph Wambaugh when she was older. She so loved mysteries that she wrote “The Eyes on Utopia Murders” and the “Hands of Healing Murder”. Her Carla Mysteries often involve puzzles that initially were hard to solve but fair in nature. She would later get into police procedurals with the Figueroa and Bennis series that was moderately successful. Besides her riveting and graphic murder mysteries, she has also dabbled in children’s works such as “The Magic of Young Houdini”, a musical. Despite such extremes in genre that she writes in, she has managed to prevent the genres from bleeding into each other. She first got into musicals when her husband asked her to help write the scripts for his musicals. The urgency of musicals as compared to writing novels is what made her become proficient at frequent switching of pace and theme, which have allowed her to switch genres with ease.

The Cat Marsala, which is D’Amata’s most popular series of novels, was inspired by her work researching the Donna Branion murder case. She was working on the case trying to free Dr. Branion who she believed was innocent of a murder he had been convicted of. Interviewing judges, and police officers and studying crime scene photos and autopsy reports, she conceived the idea of an investigative reporter, Cat Marsala. Cat is an investigative reporter in Chicago that is as hard-boiled and witty private investigator barely making ends meet. Given that the lead character is a journalist, she deals with a range of human activities and themes that she is currently involved in including Christmas tree farming, yachting, and the lottery. The series is thus very diverse even if the lead character and some of the core characters recur in most of the novels. The first novel is about illegal drugs and whether they ought to be legalized, the second is about yachting, and the sixth is all about farming of Christmas trees. However, every novel involves a murder mystery, which often puts the life of Cat the lead character and those of their loved ones in peril. What makes the novels so intriguing apart from the danger and murder is the excellent research of the subject matter that the author does. The novels combine entertainment and education such that the novels narratives not only provide fascination but also information as integral aspects of the story.

“Hardball” is an excellent mystery that introduces Cat Marsala, a tunnel-visioned and driven investigative reporter whose interviewee is killed when a bomb goes off. The victim had been in the forefront of the campaign to decriminalize drugs in the state of Illinois. Louise Sugarman was a strange leader of such a movement, given that she is a senior soft-spoken citizen that nobody would expect would have anything to do with drugs. The explosion had been in front of a group of 20 and given the size of the device, the police believe only a person inside the hall had to be responsible. Enlisting the support of McCoo an old detective friend, Cat sets out to trim down the suspects list, even as she digs deeper into the objective of the drug decriminalization campaign. The list of suspects includes some of the unlikeliest of suspects including two professors that were on the same side of the debate as the victim, a schoolteacher that violently opposed the campaign, a Federal DEA Agent, and a police officer that was the lead of the drug enforcement team. Both pro and anti-decriminalization campaign has people that had strong positions. Maybe someone had become too dedicated to the cause, or maybe Uncle Ben the victim’s uncle who had links to the mob has been involved after all.

“Hard Tack: A Cat Marsala Mystery” is an excellent mystery that sees Cat Marsala the Chicago based investigative reporter make a return. She is now deep inside the world of the famous and rich on board the “Easy Girl”, a million dollar yacht where a murder just took place. While she enjoys the glamor of life on a yacht, she cannot swim to save her life and is afraid of the water. The 62-foot yacht belongs to Will Honeywell, a gentleman that made his money in the furniture business. He is on the boat with his family composed of wife, son, and tens of important guests. What begins as a journey of stimulating conversation, gourmet food, and smooth sailing soon turns stormy as two men find out that a society woman they had been courting had been two timing them. A tranquilizer has to be used to pacify one of the men though the gale force winds battering the yacht are not so easily calmed. Things get worse when morning reveals a man brutally murdered and Cat now has to find the killer.

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