Francis, Dorothy 1926–

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Francis, Dorothy 1926–

(Sue Alden, Dorothy B. Francis, Dorothy Brenner Francis, Ellen Goforth, Pat Louis)


Born November 30, 1926, in Lawrence, KS; daughter of Clayton (a district judge) and Cecile Brenner; married Richard M. Francis (a professional musician), August 30, 1950; children: Lynn Ann Francis Tank, Patricia Louise Francis Pocius. Education: University of Kansas, Mus.B., 1948. Politics: Republican. Religion: Methodist.


Home—Marshalltown, IA; (winters) P.O. Box 371, Big Pine Key, FL 33043. Office—1505 Brentwood Ter., Marshalltown, IA 50158. E-mail—[email protected].


Band and vocal instructor in Orange, CA, 1948-50, Pleasant Hill, MO, 1950-51, Cache, OK, 1951-52, and Gilman, IA, 1961-62; former teacher of piano and trumpet and director of a Methodist junior high school choir; Institute of Children's Literature, Redding Ridge, CT, correspondence teacher. Member of board of community chamber orchestra, Marshalltown, IA, 1967.


Society of Children's Book Writers, P.E.O. Sisterhood, Short Mystery Fiction Society, Marshalltown Tuesday Music Club (past president), Mu Phi Epsilon.


Derringer Award, 1999; nomination for Silver Spur Award, Western Writers of America, for The Flint Hills Foal; awards for best children's book, Florida State Historical Society, for Captain Morgana Mason and The Tomorrow Star.


Adventure at Riverton Zoo, Abingdon (Nashville, TN), 1966.

Mystery of the Forgotten Map, Follett (New York, NY), 1968.

Laugh at the Evil Eye, Messner (New York, NY), 1970.

Another Kind of Beauty, Criterion (Torrance, CA), 1970.

Hawaiian Interlude, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1970.

Studio Affair, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1972.

Nurse on Assignment, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1972.

A Blue Ribbon for Marni, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1973.

Nurse under Fire, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1973.

Nurse in the Caribbean, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1973.

Murder in Hawaii, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1973.

Nurse of the Keys, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1974.

Golden Girl, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1974.

Nurse of Spirit Lake, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1975.

Keys to Love, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1975.

The Flint Hills Foal, Abingdon (Nashville, TN), 1976.

Nurse at Playland Park, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1976.

The Legacy of Merton Manor, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1976.

Murder in the Balance, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1976.

(Under pseudonym Sue Alden) The Magnificent Challenge, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1976.

(Under pseudonym Sue Alden) Nurse at St. John, Avalon (Hewlett, NY), 1977.

Two against the Arctic, Pyramid (St. Benwood, WV), 1977.

Piggy Bank Minds and Other Object Lessons for Children, Abingdon (Nashville, TN), 1977.

Run of the Sea Witch, Abingdon (Nashville, TN), 1978.

The Boy with the Blue Ears and Forty-nine Other Object Lessons for Children, Abingdon (Nashville, TN), 1979.

Shoplifting: The Crime Everybody Pays For, Elsevier/Nelson Books (New York, NY), 1979, Lodestar (New York, NY), 1980, 3rd edition, 1982.

(Under pseudonym Ellen Goforth) Path of Desire, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1980.

New Boy in Town, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1981.

Special Girl, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1981.

(Under pseudonym Pat Louis) Treasure of the Heart, Harlequin (Tarrytown, NY), 1982.

A New Dawn, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1982.

Say Please, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1982.

Secret Place, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1982.

Captain Morgana Mason (children's book), Lodestar (New York, NY), 1982.

A Blink of the Mind, Dell (New York, NY), 1982.

The Ghost of Graydon Place, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1982.

Just Friends, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1983.

Vandalism: The Crime of Immaturity, Lodestar (New York, NY), 1983.

Promises and Turtle Shells, Abingdon (Nashville, TN), 1984.

Kiss Me Kit, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1984.

The Magic Circle, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1984.

The Warning, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1984.

Bid for Romance, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1985.

Follow Your Heart, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1986.

The Tomorrow Star (children's book), Weekly Reader Books, 1986.

Write On, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1986.

Stop Thief, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1986.

Computer Crime, Lodestar (New York, NY), 1987.

The Right Kind of Girl, Lodestar (New York, NY), 1987.

Vonnie and Monique, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1987.

Suicide, Lodestar (New York, NY), 1989.

Drift Bottles, Ballyhoo Books, 1990.

Metal Detecting for Treasure, Ballyhoo Books, 1992.

Toy Deer of the Florida Keys, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2000.

Bigfoot in New York City, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2000.

Survival at Big Shark Key, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2000.

Dolphins, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2001.

Sharks, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2001.

Sea Turtles, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2001.

The American Alligator, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2001.

Borderland Horse, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2001.

Our Transportation Systems, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2002.

Murder in Hawaii, Thorndike Press (Waterville, ME), 2002.

Clara Barton: Founder of the American Red Cross, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2002.

Conch Shell Murder, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2003.

Courage on the Oregon Trail, Perfection Learning (Logan, IA), 2003.

Pier Pressure: A Keely Moreno Mystery, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2005.

Cold-Case Killer: A Keely Moreno Mystery, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2007.


The Case of the Vanishing Cat, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2001.

Cody Smith and the Holiday Mysteries, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2001.

The Jayhawk Horse Mystery, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2001.

The Bad Luck Bike Ride across Iowa, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2001.

The Case of the Missing Emeralds, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2001.

The Case of the Disappearing Kidnapper, Perfection Learning Corp. (Logan, IA), 2001.


Contributor of articles, short stories and light verse to many publications including New York Times, Ford Times, Western & Eastern Treasures, American Legion, Writer, and Writer's Digest. Several of Francis's books have been translated into foreign languages.


Dorothy Francis was born November 30, 1926, in Lawrence, Kansas, and grew up in neighboring Olathe. Her first love was music, which she studied at the University of Kansas, graduating in 1948. She traveled around, working as a music teacher, then eventually married and settled down in Iowa. She began to write, concentrating primarily on song lyrics and stories for children that she sold to magazines, but in 1966, she sold her first book. Since that time she has written numerous books, for children, young adults, and true adult readers. Her children's books focus mainly on adventure stories, while her books for young adults range from first time romances to crime mysteries. In order to differentiate between the various genres, and to set apart her books for younger readers from those with a more adult audience, she has written under a number of pennames as well as her own.

Conch Shell Murder is Francis's first mystery novel intended for an adult readership. The book features a newly minted private detective, Katie Hasworth, who works in Key West, Florida. A former junior high school teacher, Katie quit in search of a less dangerous profession when one of her students went postal, killing a classmate and himself. Katie escaped with injuries, and a drive to change careers. When the prominent owner of a local marina is found dead in her office, Katie's newcomer status in town weighs heavily on her mind, but she knows that such a high profile case can make or break her reputation. Barbara Bibel, reviewing for Booklist, compared Francis's effort to the typical hard core detective novels set in the sunny setting, stating that "this one gives cozy fans a chance to enjoy Margaritaville, too." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked: "Local lore, history, food, and fauna and flora add interest without overburdening a smoothly written and suspenseful tale."

Pier Pressure: A Keely Moreno Mystery features a different heroine: Keely Moreno, another woman looking to start a new life in Key West. Keely has run from her abusive husband, and just wants to work in peace as a foot reflexologist. However, when she arrives at her client's house to find her dead, Keely finds herself suspected of murder. Determined to clear her name, she sets out to discover who the real killer is, all the while attempting to dodge her ex-husband. Booklist reviewer Barbara Bibel dubbed the book "the cozy traditional with just a bit of South Florida edge."

Keely returns in Cold-Case Killer: A Keely Moreno Mystery, in which her housekeeper requests her help in clearing her son of murder charges. Randy was accused of killing his girlfriend, and even served twenty years in prison, but DNA evidence set him free. Now, however, he's unable to find work due to his record, and his only recourse is to find the really killer. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews wrote that "Keely … blows hot and cold between independent woman and wimp-in-distress. The loving portrayal of the Florida Keys is more rewarding."



Booklist, March 15, 2003, Barbara Bibel, review of Conch Shell Murder, p. 1279; January 1, 2005, Barbara Bibel, review of Pier Pressure: A Keely Moreno Mystery, p. 826.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2007, review of Cold-Case Killer: A Keely Moreno Mystery, p. 101.

Publishers Weekly, March 24, 2003, review of Conch Shell Murder, p. 61.

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Francis, Dorothy 1926–

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