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Frances McNamara Books In Order

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Publication Order of Emily Cabot Mysteries Books

Death at the Fair (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death at Hull House (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death at Pullman (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death at Woods Hole (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death at Chinatown (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death at the Paris Exposition (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death at the Selig Studios (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death on the Homefront (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death in a Time of Spanish Flu (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Malice Domestic 11(2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Frances McNamara is a writer of historical mystery novels. A daughter of Boston, Frances has a passion for sailing.


Frances McNamara has loved mysteries for as long as she can remember. The author’s love for the genre was sparked when she came across the Nancy Drew series; though, it wasn’t long before she found Agatha Christie and progressed to more sophisticated forms of mystery, finding solace in authors like Dorothy Sayers and Ngaio Marsh.

One shouldn’t be too shocked that Frances took to the mystery genre so early in life. After all, her father was an FBI agent. And even when he left the bureau, her father wasn’t too keen on giving up on law enforcement, eventually receiving the appointment of Police Commissioner of Boston.

It isn’t clear whether or not Frances McNamara always intended to take the route of publishing. However, one could argue that Frances was thinking about her future as an author when she decided to pursue a degree in English from Mount Holyoke College.

And she didn’t stop there, eventually setting her sights on the Simmons College Library Science Program. She even pursued a Masters in English degree before turning her attention to learning the Chinese Language at Wellesley.

During her studies, Frances used her free time to work at the Wellesley College Library. Interestingly enough, Frances soon found her time and life consumed by her library work, eventually moving to the Massachusetts State Library and, from there, traversing the numerous libraries scattered across New England.

Because of her computer skills, the author primarily worked to help the libraries visited to engage with automated systems. It was during her library work that Frances met a group of amateur actors with whom she worked to deliver mystery productions most of which were designed to help local libraries raise financial resources.

Part of Frances’ contribution involved writing mystery plots and delivering peripheral materials to complement the mystery productions. Frances’ writing instincts were further tickled when her library work took her to Chicago.

There she met and interacted with various mystery writing groups. She found that many of them were more than accommodating to her desires to share her writings. It wasn’t long before Frances McNamara was contemplating the prospect of actually writing mystery novels.

It helped that she had the nerve to expose her work to a number of conference critiques, this granting her encouragement from professional editors.

All Frances McNamara fans will tell you that her most popular creation is Emily Cabot, a character that finally came to life once Frances settled into her new position at the University of Chicago Library.

Frances found her job conducive for her work not only because it availed access to a litany of historical research materials but also because of the 1890s architecture on campus. Frances found that it wasn’t so difficult to imagine and describe Chicago as it might have been at the turn of the Century.

Frances typically writes historical fiction. Her books blend real people with fictional characters. The author loves to emphasize the cultural norms of the times and periods she is writing about, especially those aspects that differ so drastically from the present day.

The author has produced quite the rich collection of novels about Emily Cabot and her family as they traverse the difficulties of their era, from the First World War to the Flu Epidemic and prohibition.

Frances McNamara is not so completely consumed by her work as an author and librarian that she allows life to pass her by. Frances loves to sail on the Charles River in Boston. In fact, she loves to sail in general, and she pursues the hobby whenever the opportunity arises.

+Death at the Fair

When Emily Cabot comes to the University of Chicago, she is determined to prove herself. As one of the first women graduate students at the university, she definitely has a few hurdles to overcome, especially in the new field of sociology.

When Doctor Stephen Chapman, her colleague, is accused of murder, Emily thinks she has what it takes to clear his name. She doesn’t count on the litany of obstacles that come bounding her way, from dirty politicians to gamblers and even thieves.

It isn’t long before Emily is forced to seek the assistance of Ida B. Wells, a black activist that might have answers about the dead man’s past.

This Frances McNamara historical mystery uses Chicago as its setting. The author also makes use of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition as the backdrop of a murder that tests Emily Cabot’s mettle.

This book’s strongest aspect is the description of Chicago in the past. Frances makes effective use of the African American community, not only exploring their history but giving them a purpose in the story.

Frances doesn’t shy away from showing the difficulties women faced in the past; she definitely doesn’t shy away from showing the struggles Emily encounters as a female student. Not that any of those difficulties stop Emily, who continues to persevere in the face of misogyny and discrimination.

However, Frances does not allow her message about the prejudices of the time to drown out the murder mystery.

+Death at Hull House

When Emily Cabot begins working at Hull House, she doesn’t have to wait long before the problems of the immigrant community, both political and social, draw her in. Emily’s work is complicated by the murder of a sweatshop owner.

Because the man died in the Hull House Parlor, Emily cannot help but grow suspicious towards her colleagues. Emily wants to find the killer but she must also worry about the smallpox epidemic that is threatening the existence of the settlement.

Even though this book is a sequel, it stands on its own and can be read separately from its predecessor. The book continues to chronicle the struggles of Emily Cabot, an outspoken woman that lost her position at the University of Chicago and must now forge a life for herself in the harsh world.

Frances does a better job of fleshing out Emily’s character in this book. She also does an amazing job of describing the deplorable conditions of the people surrounding Emily. Even though Emily’s strong and outspoken personality got her kicked out of the University of Chicago, she is forced to put everything on the line once again to find a killer that might be hiding out amongst her colleagues.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Frances McNamara

One Response to “Frances McNamara”

  1. Cristen Vincent: 3 years ago

    Having lived in the Chicago area all my life, I am loving the Emily Cabot mysteries as your vividly described images are fleshed out by my familiarity with the area. Emily is such a full character, Dr Chapman, too. Bravo! Thanks!


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