I recently read and reviewed an obscure one-shot mystery from the 1950s in which the amateur detective was also newly hired as a real estate seller. In fact the murder occurred during a open house she was holding. The book was Held Open for Death, by Evelyn Payne (Arcadia House, 1958), in case you were wondering, and if you’d like to read the review, here is where you may.

   What I wondered out loud when I wrote the review was how many other real estate agents can you think of who’ve been called upon to solve mysteries over the years, either as a series character or as a one-shot deal?

   I also asked the question on DorothyL, and while some of answers were obvious ones, the people who hang out there know their stuff. Several of the responses were of authors and characters I’d never have come up with on my own, no matter how long you’d left me to do so, nor how many reference books I had access to.

   The first reply was from Debbie Bogenschutz:

   Tierney McClellan (pseudonym for Barbara Taylor McCafferty) wrote a real estate series in the 1990s:

   Two-Story Frame
   Closing Statement
   A Killing in Real Estate
   Heir Condition

   Charlaine Harris had a series featuring a librarian Aurora Teagarden whose mother (a regular character) was a real estate agent. The Julius House and Three Bedrooms, One Corpse had more real estate aspects, as I remember.

   The realtor-detective in the McClellan books was Schuyler Ridgeway, described online, where I immediately went to look her up, as “feisty” and “spunky.”

   From the plot outlines of the Teagarden books, of which there are seven, Three Bedrooms, One Corpse appears to be the one most closely related to the real estate business: “Basking in an inheritance that makes her financially independent, Roe’s looking for a new occupation. Her days as a librarian are over. Real estate might be fun, she thinks. And who better to teach her the tricks of the trade than her Lauren Bacall look-alike mother, Aida Brattle Teagarden Queensland, who happens to own one of the major real estate firms in town?”

   Go here for plot summaries of all of Aurora�s adventures in solving murders.

   The next email was from John McFetridge:

Hi Steve,

   I saw your post on DorothyL. I can’t think of any real estate agent sleuths, but my first novel was published in 2006 and the main character is a real estate agent named Roxanne Keyes. She witnesses a murder, doesn’t tell the cops she recognized the killer and tries to blackmail him. Still, I don’t see her as the bad guy.

   The book’s called Dirty Sweet. You can get more info here: www.johnmcfetridge.ca

           Good luck,

   The book doesn’t exactly fit the “cozy” profile I had in mind for the category, but I certainly agree that it fits the category. Thanks, John, and good luck with the book.

   John’s reply:

    Thanks for your interest. Dirty Sweet is available as a hardcover from Amazon now. My Canadian publisher has just sold the trade paperback rights to a US publisher, but the deal hasn’t been announced yet.

   I had fun doing the real estate research for my book. I got to use phrases like “shadow vacancies” and “off-market deals.”


   From Diana Vickery, an email brief and to the point:

    Ben Abbott in Justin Scott’s mysteries.

   Ben Abbott is described online as a small town Connecticut real estate agent and private investigator. There are four in the series, including McMansion, which came out only last month. The three earlier ones are:


   I know of these books, and I haven’t read any of them. What with the private eye aspect of the character and the small town Connecticut setting, I don’t know why. I will make it a point to definitely do something about that. (And more about Justin Scott in an upcoming post, if all goes well.)

    PS. Check out Diana’s Cozy Library website. It is what it says and more. The reviews, most if not all of them written by Diana, are both informed and informative.

   Posted on DorothyL was this response from Bente Gallagher:

    Maggie Sefton has a book called, I think, Dying to Sell. Nina Wright writes the Whiskey Mattimoe series — Whiskey on the Rocks, etc. — and Tierney McClellan/Barbara Taylor McCafferty writes about Schuyler Ridgeway, a realtor in Louisville, KY.

   The first line of Maggie Sefton’s Dying to Sell reads this way: “In Fort Collins, Colorado Shamrock Realty realtor Kate Doyle detests having to sell the home of friends, attorney Mark and Amanda Schuster, who have filed for divorce.”

   When Mark is murdered, Amanda is suspected. While Maggie Sefton has written three “Knitting Mysteries,” this is the only “Real Estate Mystery” listed on her website.    Beth Groundwater mentioned the same book.

   A description of Nina Wright’s books: “The humorous Whiskey Mattimoe mystery series is set in the scenic Lake Michigan resort town of Magnet Springs. Suddenly widowed at age 33, realtor Whiskey Mattimoe finds herself saddled with her late husband’s diva dog, Abra the Afghan hound, who has the unfortunate and felonious habit of stealing purses. That’s bad for business but not as bad as having clients die on site. A string of deaths at properties that she manages forces Whiskey to solve murders in order to stay solvent.” At present (or soon), there are (will be) three books in the series, with one more on the way:

Whiskey on the Rocks
Whiskey Straight Up
Whiskey and Tonic
(June 2007)
Whiskey and Water (in progress)

   Check out the author’s website for more information.

   Today on DorothyL, the following message was posted by Caroline Craig:

   Someone asked about real estate agents and I don’t recall anyone mentioning Belle Palmer, Lou Allin’s Canadian sleuth/real estate agent. I love Belle and her friends and can’t let them miss the list. 🙂

   Absolutely. From the author’s website, there are four books in the Belle Palmer series:

Northern Winters Are Murder
Black Flies Are Murder
Bush Poodles Are Murder
Murder, Eh?

   The “middle-aged” Belle is a realtor who lives in northern Ontario, which helps to explain the titles. Based on online descriptions, it is difficult to say how much of the real estate business is involved in each one of the books, but a realtor is what she is.

   And as of today, this is where the checklist stands. Thanks to all who’ve contributed, and if you can come up with any that I’ve missed, then by all means, let me know.

UPDATE: Later the same day. I am not sure how or why things like this happen, but they do. My monthly shipment of Worldwide Mysteries arrived from Harlequin today, and one of the three was … Maggie Sefton’s Dying to Sell. Maybe that means I am destined to read it, and I think I shall. By the way, you can only get the Worldwide books by subscription and through the mail now, is that so? You can’t buy them in stores? This paperback edition isn’t even listed on Amazon.com.