Wall, Kathryn R. 1945–
Wall, Kathryn R. 1945–
Born June 14, 1945; married; husband's name Norman; children: two stepsons. Education: Attended Indiana State College, 1963-64; Lorain County Community College, associate's degree (applied business), 1982.
Home—Hilton Head, SC. E-mail—[email protected]
Novelist. Formerly worked as an accountant; coowner, with husband, of manufacturing tooling distributorship, 1990-94.
Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Island Writers Network (founding member).
"BAY TANNER" SERIES
In for a Penny, iUniverse.com, 2001, CoastalVillages Press (Beaufort, SC), 2002.
And Not a Penny More, Coastal Villages Press (Beaufort, SC), 2002.
Perdition House, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Judas Island, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Resurrection Road, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Bishop's Reach, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.
Sanctuary Hill, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2007.
Kathryn R. Wall has written several mystery novels featuring Lydia Baynard "Bay" Tanner, a former financial consultant who lives in Hilton Head, South Carolina, as does Wall herself. The "Bay Tanner" mysteries are set in the coastal region of South Carolina where plush beach resorts and old plantations are commonplace. This blending of the old and new South is also found in Wall's plots, which combine elements of the traditional and the modern.
The initial "Bay Tanner" mystery, In for a Penny, was self-published by Wall through iUniverse.com. Sales of the novel in South Carolina soon caught the attention of regional publisher Coastal Villages Press, which released a new edition of the book, as well as her second mystery, And Not a Penny More. New York-based St. Martin's Press has since picked up the popular series.
In for a Penny finds Tanner grieving after the murder of her husband Rob in a car bombing. After a year of mourning and living as a recluse, she is called upon to help an old family friend who has gotten herself involved with a shady real estate scheme and now stands to lose all her money in the fraudulent deal. As Tanner looks into the matter, with the help of her retired judge father, Talbot Simpson, she meets a handsome man with whom she becomes infatuated; unfortunately, he may be a land swindler and murderer. "The chemistry between them seems real," as Joyce Dixon noted in Southern Scribe, "but how much is he involved in the threats on her life?"
In And Not a Penny More, Tanner is contacted by Jordan Herrington, an old classmate. Herrington has a strange story to tell. His mother was found murdered in a hotel room while on a cruise to South America. As Tanner looks into the incident, she finds that other women have also been killed on similar cruises. Her investigation becomes an international effort when she books a cruise herself and her father contacts an old friend in Interpol for assistance. Tanner and the Interpol agent work together to find the serial killer. "What follows is an intense race in a hurricane through the islands," Dixon explained in Southern Scribe.
A distant relative visits Tanner in Perdition House. Fifth cousin Mercer Mary Prescott phones after being arrested for vagrancy and asks for Tanner's assistance in getting out of jail. After springing Mercer, the trouble really begins as strange characters show up in town looking for Mercer. Tanner discovers that Mercer had earlier trouble with the federal authorities for trespassing in a nuclear plant. When Tanner's housekeeper is attacked, she decides to look into the situation herself, unearthing a secret from her family's past in the process. A critic for Publishers Weekly noted that "Wall nicely blends the manners and mores of the aristocratic Southern tradition with more modern sensibilities, creating in Bay Tanner a woman who's equally at home in the tea room or out jogging." "This terrific tense thriller takes readers on quite a ride," according to Harriet Klausner in Books ‘n’ Bytes, while a Kirkus Reviews found Perdition House to be "a taut, tasty chiller."
A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that with 2004's Judas Island, Wall proves the "series featuring widowed accountant Bay Tanner gets better with each book." In this installment, Tanner returns from a trip to find that her father is being blackmailed and shortly afterwards, a close friend of hers is murdered. The reviewer concluded: "Wall manages to keep several seemingly unconnected story lines in play." Other critics also reviewed the book with praise; Sue O'Brien, writing for Booklist, remarked upon the story's "vividly described setting and … likable, believable heroine."
Resurrection Road is also "an excellent addition to the series," noted Rex E. Klett in Library Journal. In Wall's 2005 addition to the series, Tanner's love life seems to be going well; her boyfriend has just proposed to her. But then someone from her past appears, and Tanner's happiness is threatened as both she and her boyfriend become suspects in a young man's disappearance. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly observed: "Wall manages to imbue the vestiges of the old South with only a tinge of regret and yet still milks the romantic ambience effectively."
In Bishop's Reach, Bay Tanner finds herself with a number of clients who are not as up front with her as they might be. The culmination of a two-year search for a long lost relative of a friend of the family turns out to be devastating, as it harkens back to a series of tragedies including murder. This leads to Bay's silent partner to take a more active interest in the agency, and unsettles her in the process. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked: "Oozing Southern charm, this whodunit flows like hot molasses to a deliciously clever conclusion."
Sanctuary Hill starts when Bay makes a disturbing discovery: the corpse of a newborn. Although her brother-in-law the cop wants her to stay out of the case, Bay cannot help but take a look into the charm that the child had around its neck, convinced it will help determine her identity. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote: "Wall once again delivers credible characters, a gripping plot and pitch-perfect local color."
Speaking to Dixon, Wall described what it has been like for her to go from self-published author to a contract with a major national publishing house: "All in all, I'd have to say it's been a positive experience. While each level I've been a part of—self-publishing, small press, and major New York publisher—has its pluses and minuses, each has taught me a great deal about this strange business, and each step was necessary to get me to the place I'm in right now. I wouldn't trade any of it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2004, Sue O'Brien, review of Judas Island, p. 1602; May 15, 2006, Sue O'Brien, review of Bishop's Reach, p. 27.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2003, review of Perdition House, p. 577; March 15, 2005, review of Resurrection Road, p. 322; April 1, 2006, review of Bishop's Reach, p. 328.
Library Journal, June 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Judas Island, p. 107; May 1, 2005, Rex E. Klett, review of Resurrection Road, p. 66.
Publishers Weekly, May 5, 2003, review of Perdition House, p. 202; May 10, 2004, review of Judas Island, p. 41; August 16, 2005, review of Resurrection Road, p. 47; March 27, 2006, review of Bishop's Reach, p. 61; March 26, 2007, review of Sanctuary Road, p. 69.
Books 'n' Bytes, http://www.booksbytes.com/ (October 13, 2003), Harriet Klausner, review of Perdition House.
Kathryn R. Wall's Home Page,http://www.kathrynwall.com (May 15, 2004).
Southern Scribe,http://www.southernscribe.com/ (October 13, 2003), Joyce Dixon, "Lowcountry Mysteries: An Interview with Kathryn R. Wall," and reviews of In for a Penny, And Not a Penny More, and Perdition House.