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Jane Lawless Books In Order

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Publication Order of Jane Lawless Books

Hallowed Murder (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Vital Lies (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Stage Fright (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
Killing Cure (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Small Sacrifice (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Faint Praise (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
Robber's Wine (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Wicked Games (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hunting the Witch (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Merchant of Venus (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Immaculate Midnight (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
An Intimate Ghost (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Iron Girl (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Night Vision (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Mortal Groove (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sweet Poison (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Mirror and the Mask (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Cruel Ever After (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Lost Women of Lost Lake (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Rest for the Wicked (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Taken by the Wind (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Old Deep and Dark (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Grave Soul (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Fever in the Dark (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Whisper of Bones (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
Twisted at the Root (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
In a Midnight Wood (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Jane Lawless is the central character or protagonist in a series of books bearing the same name, and penned by the award winning author, Ellen Hart. Started in 1989, with the very first book, Hallowed Murder’, the series has grown in size and popularity to encompass 23 books as of 2015; the very latest book called, The Grave Soul’

This series of mystery books falls smack within the Cozy Mystery genre. The heroine, Jane Lawless, is easy to like; she is a Minneapolis restaurateur with a quirky, flamboyant best friend, the Cordelia Thorn, who is a theatre director; she plays the role of alumnus advisor to her old sorority kappa-Alpha-Sigma, and…she’s gay.

Yes, Jane Lawless happens to be lesbian. Thus, this is not your typical Cozy Mystery. Written in the 80s, when being gay was still very much the big deal-often a matter of survival-it can get a little heavy sometimes, losing that feeling of coziness. Thus, apart from being a Cozy Mystery, we can classify the Jane Lawless mysteries under Lesbian Mystery-a sud-genre that has been gaining considerable amounts of steam in recent times.

That said, it remains a great series as far as mysteries go, and one that is sure to bring delight to fans of the three featured genres: Mystery, Cozzies, and Lesbian Mystery

The very first book, Hallowed Murder’, introduces us to Jane and Cordelia, her irrepressible sidekick’. Jane has a blossoming career as a Minneapolis Restaurateur and also acts as an advisor to her old sorority. Things take a mysterious turn when one of the sorority girls, Allison Lord, turns up dead.

The Police are quick to rule her death a suicide, hence her sorority sisters at the University of Minnesota think it is a murder. And so does Jane; so she searches for clues in a bid to get to the bottom of things. What she always find is bone chilling, and the stuff of good endings.

The girl Alison Lord is revealed to have been lesbian, and in a relationship with a co-ed at her school. This is partly the reason for the hasty dismissal of the case by the Police. We are talking about the 80s after all, when the struggle was real for some, and hiding in the closet was very much a survival skill. And this is a situation our heroine finds herself in: while she feels comfortable in her own skin, her orientation is kept closely to her chest, and away from other sorority members. So apart from the obvious question “Who killed Allison Lord?” you as the reader find yourself wondering if Jane will keep on hiding, or if she will make a stand. At the very least, you wonder if she has a choice in it all.

The second book, Vital Lies’ apparently takes place about a year after the first. An old friend, Leigh, invites our heroine Jane to Victorian Inn of her to enjoy the winter celebration solstice. Like any best friend would, she talks her theatre director BFF Cordelia Thorn into going with, and pretty soon we have our familiar duo up and running, after all, one of the reasons why Jane was invited in the 1st place, was to do an investigation on the murder from years before.

Things immediately start off on a bad foot, as our heroines face broken a glass within the parking place, dead animals turning up in bedrooms, a bomb scare, and some very unhappy guests at the inn.

Then somebody gets murdered.

And just as the snow descends, obscuring the view, Jane, in a race against time, must look for a motive, and meticulously pick through the clues, to fish out the murderer before they strike again.

The gay card is not played here as much as in the first instalment, owing particularly to the fact that Jane is comfortable with herself. The characters grow throughout the book, giving it depth and substance. And also, there is enough subplot ploughed into the book to keep the reader guessing all the way to the finish.

The mastery with which the Cozy mystery genre is merged with Lesbian mystery, bears testimony to the author’s skill. Six Lambda Literary Awards, three Minnesota Book Awards, three Golden Crown Literary Society Awards, as well as countless nominations, for the Jane Lawless mysteries seem to suggest the same sentiments about the writer’s skill and her likeable amateur detective Jane.

She has been fondly, but poignantly called “The lesbian answer to Agatha Christie”. In her own words, she says “I guess you could call my style, maximal suspense and minimal gore”. Just the way any true Cozy should be written. So if you are looking for any overtly detailed scenes on sex, blood and gore, or some mean streets, you had better make a detour. She is openly gay; and in the year 2005 was inducted into the Saints and Sinners Hall of Fame for her literary achievements in Lesbian fiction. In the year 2010, the coveted Trailblazer Award from the Golden Crown Literary Society followed.

The best thing about Jane Lawless is her level of believability and also that of the supporting cast, who more often than not, turn out to be gay. The fact that it is such an old and long-running series also adds to the element of belonging that arises when you grow reading a story.

The tales are cleverly woven, and wrapped around intriguing subplots that keep a reader guessing and clutching till the very end. While it is true that the Jane Lawless mysteries deal with LGBT rights and issues, it is not so overt as to detract from the story as a whole. Many readers have described the characters as great persons who just happen to be gay.

If a reader can put prejudices aside, they are sure to enjoy every trip into the wonderful world of Jane Lawless & her smart mouthed quirky best friend known as Cordelia Thorn as they all set about piecing the clues that will solve the mystery.

All in all, a great series from a great author.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Jane Lawless

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