Wall, Kathryn R. 1945-

views updated

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. Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected].


Novelist. Formerly worked as an accountant; co-owner, with husband, of manufacturing tooling distributorship, 1990-94.


Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Island Writers Network (founding member).


In for a Penny,iUniverse.com, 2001, Coastal Villages 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.


Kathryn R. Wall has written several mystery novels featuring Lydia Baynard "Bay" Tanner, a former financial consultant who now 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?"

Tanner is contacted by old classmate Jordan Herrington in And Not a Penny More. 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.

Bay is visited by a distant relative 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."

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."



Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2003, review of Perdition House, p. 577.

Publishers Weekly, May 5, 2003, review of Perdition House, p. 202.


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.*