K.C. Carlisle

Created by Carolyn Hart

One of the masters of modern day cozies, having scooped up countless awards and dedicated fans along the way, the 1983 novel Death By Surprise marked a slight ldetour for Carolyn Hart.

The book followed the tribulations of scruffy, hard-working attorney K.C. CARLISLE who has a law office on the wrong side of the tracks, in La Luz, a snooty Northern California coastal town.

Not like her cousin, Kenneth, a high-powered corporate lawyer who also plies his trade in La Luz, although his law offices (and connections) are on the very right side of town. But when Kenneth is charged with murdering Francine Boutelle, a reporter who had threatened to expose all kinds of Carlisle family secrets, K.C. leaps into action, acting more like a detective than an attorney, determined to ferret out the truth.

While it may not sway fans of Mickey Spillane or James Ellroy (or even Sue Grafton or Ross Macdonald), it's a little harder and terser than Hart usually gets. She admits in a new introduction to the book that as a teenager she was a fan of such hard-boiled writers as Erle Stanley Gardner, Donald Hamilton, and states that this is "as near to the genre as I ever come."

Which actually isn't all that much, sadly, although Hart's legions of fans should lap it up. There's nothing here likely to get them too upset, and they may get a kick out of Hart's genteel, if misguided, approximations of Chandler


  • Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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