Richard, T. Dawn (Dawn Richard)

views updated

Richard, T. Dawn (Dawn Richard)


Married; husband's name Glenn (a retired Air Force pilot and commercial aircraft pilot); children: four. Education: University of Texas at San Antonio, M.A.; attended the Defense Language Institute.


Home—WA. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, novelist, educator, and curriculum developer. U.S. Air Force, instructor and curriculum developer. Served as a missionary in Brazil. Military service: Served as a medic and Russian linguist in the U.S. Army.



Death for Dessert, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2003.

Digging Up Otis, Martin Brown Publishers, 2005.

A Wrinkle in Crime, Five Star (Detroit, MI), 2007.


Writer and novelist T. Dawn Richard is a former military linguist and medic who spent six years in the U.S. Army. A graduate of the Russian language program at the government's prestigious Defense Language Institute, Richard spent time in the military working in Russian linguistics. While stationed in Bremerhaven, Germany, she worked as a medic. After marrying an Air Force pilot, she became a trainer and instructional developer for the Air Force. Now a full-time writer and novelist, she lives in Washington state.

Richard is the author of the "May List" series of novels, which center on main protagonist May Bell List, an intellectually sharp and physically active amateur sleuth who, in her sixties, does not let either age or stereotype slow her down. In the first book of the series, Death for Dessert, May has just seen the end of her thirty-five-year marriage due to her doctor-husband's infidelity and interest in a much younger woman.

In the aftermath, May ends up a resident of Waning Years Estates, a supportive, active senior living facility for older adults. It's not her preferred environment. Many of her fellow residents are cranky, feeble, or nearly senile. Bob tends to show up at events wearing nothing but boots. One of the more exciting events is Free Bread Day, during which the wrinkled residents scramble to stake their claim on the free loaves. Mrs. Gateway is an old hand at baking cookies, which she serves to the birds. Grady is sweetly amorous while Fanny, despite a walker, remains determined and active.

Also resident in the facility is Mrs. Berkowitz, a testy computer buff who seems to know much more about May and the other residents than she should. The other residents warn her away, but when May buys herself a computer, she gets some lessons from the surly Mrs. Berkowitz. When she leaves, however, she accidentally takes home one of the woman's computer disks. On the disk, May discovers information on the other residents and determines that Mrs. Berkowitz is a blackmailer, preying on the other elderly residents. Incensed, May goes to confront the woman, but instead she finds Mrs. Berkowitz dead. Soon, May and the others are involved in a plot to cover up the woman's death as they seek to solve the murder before involving the police. In the process, secrets old and new turn up to plague May and her fellow elderly sleuths. "Like prune juice, a little zaniness goes a long way in Richard's debut, a kind of geriatric Janet Evanovich," remarked a Kirkus Reviews critic. Rex Klett, writing in Library Journal, called the book a "highly recommended first mystery."

In Digging Up Otis, May has left Waning Years Estates and settled back in with her physician husband, Ted, and life together has never been better. An unexpected call from some of her old Waning Years friends informs here that there's been another murder, which prompts May to head back to her old residence to do some crime solving. May learns that resident Otis disappeared one night and has never been found. When May arrives, everyone comes out to have dinner at poolside, but the festivities are interrupted when a body, presumably Otis, floats up to the surface of the pool. With a body at hand, now all they have to do is find the killer. The elderly sleuths' excitement is dampened when they realize that the dead man isn't Otis after all. Someone, it seems, is trying to run a scam, and whether it's Otis's wife, his girlfriend, or Otis himself, no one is sure. May and her friends become involved in a furtive plan to exhume the false Otis's body to get fingerprints for identification. When Ted arrives, even more outrageous things begin happening. Armchair Interviews Web site reviewer Dawn Dowdle called the novel "a fun read that you won't want to put down until May and her friends have solved the murder."

A Wrinkle in Crime, the third "May List" mystery, begins with May sadly reading the obituary of her friend Gertie Peach. May is suspicious of Gertie's death since the woman was in excellent health and had just recently competed in a marathon race. Though the police believe she died of natural causes, May thinks her demise was the result of murder, and she sets out to prove her suspicions correct. In her investigation, she encounters Gertie's sisters, Inez and Bertha, who don't seem particularly grieved about their sibling's death. May discovers that Gertie had planned to shut down their grooming business. Further snooping and sleuthing heightens the danger even further, as May becomes the target of a killer who wants her dead before she can discover well-kept secrets. "With a delightful cast of zany characters … and an unusual and well-hidden motive, this book is just plain fun to read," commented Sue Reider, on the Mystery Scene Magazine Web site.



Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2003, review of Death for Dessert, p. 1049.

Library Journal, September 1, 2003, Rex Klett, review of Death for Dessert, p. 213.

Publishers Weekly, September 29, 2003, review of Death for Dessert, p. 47.


Armchair Interviews, (December 5, 2007), Dawn Dowdle, review of Digging Up Otis.

Midwest Book Review, (December 5, 2007), Harriet Klausner, review of Death for Dessert; review of Digging Up Otis; Harriet Klausner, review of A Wrinkle in Crime.

Mystery Reader, (December 5, 2007), Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of Death for Dessert; Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of Digging Up Otis.

Mystery Scene Magazine, (December 5, 2007), Sue Reider, review of A Wrinkle in Crime.

Sleuth Editing Web site, (December 5, 2007), biography of T. Dawn Richard.

Spinetingler Magazine, (April 26, 2006), Dawn Dowdle, review of Death for Dessert; Dawn Dowdle, review of Digging Up Otis.