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Shirley McClintock Books In Order

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Publication Order of Shirley McClintock Books

Dead in the Scrub (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Unexpected Corpse (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
Deservedly Dead (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death and the Delinquent (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death Served Up Cold (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Ceremonial Death (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
Here's to the Newly Dead (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon

The name ‘Shirley McClintock’ refers to a series of mystery/suspense novels written by B.J. OIiphant. The books tell the story of a rancher that solves murders.

+The Story

Shirley McClintock takes center stage in this B.J. Oliphant series as a woman who cannot stay out of trouble. When she is introduced in ‘Dead in the Scrub’, Shirley is the proud owner of a ranch she inherited from her family.

That is where she lives with her friend DQ. Shirley’s life takes an interesting turn when she goes out hunting and stumbles upon human remains. Shirley cannot help but put her mind to the task of solving the murder.

In doing so, she gets to know the victim’s family, becomes a foster mother of sorts and elicits all manner of trouble from the wrong people. That first attempt at sleuthing is not Shirley’s last.

Each new book in the Shirley McClintock series finds the rancher stumbling upon a new murder. In fact, that particular aspect of these books has been ridiculed. While Shirley does solve murders, you wouldn’t call her a part-time sleuth.

She does not take it upon herself to solve crimes in her spare time. Rather, when a dead body drops across her path, Shirley McClintock feels inclined to resolve it, especially when she becomes implicated in crimes she did not commit and must clear her name before the police act on their suspicions.

However, some readers have suggested that it is a little ridiculous to think that Shirley keeps finding murder wherever she goes. And it isn’t just at her ranch or when she visits her family but even when she ventures out to new places for vacation.

Even when the protagonist puts her ranching days behind her and opens an inn, murder keeps following her unsolicited. The coincidental nature of it all tends to rub some audiences the wrong way, many of whom find Shirley’s unfortunate luck a little hard to believe.

But those criticisms are typically swept aside by the clever nature of the mysteries that the author eventually delivers, not to mention the strength of the protagonist and the determination with which she goes after the bad guys.

Despite being in her mid-60s, Shirley McClintock is one woman who will not be cowed. It takes her targets a little longer to realize that she isn’t the helpless and aging woman they see but a retired CIA analyst with a sharp mind, a quick tongue and more cunning than she knows what to do with.

The fact that Shirley is an older woman has led to some people categorizing the Shirley McClintock series as a cozy mystery. However, while the books do skirt that genre, they do not embrace it.

Shirley stands out as a heroine because she isn’t a doormat. That is often the criticism people level at the female protagonists of mystery and suspense novels. They tend to get roped into murders and mysteries because they are weak-willed and chockfull of weakness, often too quick to let other sweep them into trouble.

Shirley is a strong decisive woman. Rather than trying to make her relatable as is often the case with her peers, B.J. Oliphant endeavors to make Shirley independent and distinct. She isn’t always likable but there is plenty of reason to root for her.

+The Author

Some audiences might be left scratching their heads after reading the Shirley McClintock books because the series is so well-received as a piece of fiction and yet its author seems almost invisible.

In truth, B.J. Oliphant doesn’t exist. Rather, Oliphant is a pen name for Sheri Stewart Tepper, an author who was born in 1929 and died in 2016. Tepper garnered a reputation for writing distinct science fiction and horror, though she eventually dipped her toes into the mystery genre.

Besides Oliphant, Tepper has also written under pen names like E.E. Horlak, and A.J. Orde. Tepper was a single mother of two and struggling to meet her financial needs via numerous odd jobs.

Her career did not explode until the 1980s during which she produced many science fiction novels. The latter quarter of her career was mired in controversy, at least on the literary front.

Tepper has always had strong and largely liberal views about the world. During the first portion of her career, back when she primarily wrote science fiction, those views were not so obvious.

However, as the years passed and as Tepper’s reputation cemented, her views started pervading her work. What started out as a few smatterings of personal opinions eventually overtook the author’s work, becoming the primary focus of some of her stories.

That particular change in tracks alienated many of her fans. Some readers simply disagreed with her stance on certain issues. Others hated her penchant for bringing real-life political matters into what should have been escapist literature.

This issue is present even in the Shirley McClintock series. The complaints that the series attracts typically emanate from Sheri S. Tepper or rather B.J. Oliphant’s decision to intersperse her mysteries with rants about abortion, environmental pollution and the like.

However, the McClintock books have been better received than Tepper’s earlier and later works because the quality of the author’s stories seems to outweigh the impact of her rants.

+Dead in the Scrub

Shirley McClintock is a ranch owner with a murder issue on her hands. Her problems emerge when she stumbles upon human remains. Before she can begin to wrap her head around the find, a second murder occurs.

Shirley knows that the second murder weapon –an arrow—was used to kill a dear. So she decides to investigate. Everyone seems all too ready to assume that the two crimes are unrelated but Shirley isn’t so certain.

She needs to find proof. As Shirley begins to prod and probe, she learns that her investigation could put the person she loves in danger.

+The Unexpected Corpse

When Uncle January and his wife are killed while vacationing in England, their remains –ashes—are eventually returned home to her family in Colorado by Claris, the daughter of Billie, January’s third wife.

A mystery manifests when Claris arrives with not two white boxes of ashes but three. Cousin Shirley McClintock is called upon to put things straight.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Shirley McClintock

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