Amanda Pepper Series

The Amanda titles are available in every eBook format, including Kobo (which is available at Independent Bookstores) and all other formats via Untreed Reads. They are also available on audio via Audible.com, and will be published in paper via Untreed Reads in the not-distant future.

 

Caught Dead in Philadelphia

Caught Dead in Philadelphia - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

The debut of Philly Prep English teacher and accidental sleuth, Amanda Pepper (and of C.K. Mackenzie, homicide detective), won the World Mystery Convention's "Anthony" for best first mystery. When the body of a colleague is found dead in Amanda's living room, she has to clear herself of suspicion—and make sure she isn't the next victim as well. And all she's got as a clue to the real killer's identity is a locket shaped like Winnie-the-Pooh.

"Stylish, wittily observant, and highly enjoyable." (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

 

Philly Stakes

Philly Stakes - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

Amanda attempts to instill the spirit of Christmas by having her students prepare and serve a meal for the homeless, but her plan backfires. A wealthy and politically ambitious parent, Alexander "Sandy" Clausen, turns the event into a lavish, catered publicity and personal photo-op. Worse, his party ends in fire and death, and his daughter, Amanda's student, is one of three people who insist they alone started the fire.

"Entertaining... Amanda never loses her sense of humor, and her upbeat narration gives the story its breezy verve." (San Francisco Chronicle)

 

I'd Rather Be in Philadelphia

I'd Rather Be in Philadelphia - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

Someone has donated a book about domestic violence to the school fund-raiser, and has annotated it in the margins. Amanda reads the frightening words "I know he will kill me. He says so. I believe him. He will kill me soon," and hopes this cry for help comes in time for her to prevent a murder. In the process, she learns hard lessons about the consequences of this form of brutality.

"Literate, amusing, and surprising, while at the same time spinning a crack whodunit puzzle." (Chicago Sun-Times)

 

With Friends Like These

With Friends Like These… - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

When her father is sidelined with an injury, Amanda reluctantly accompanies her mother to the fiftieth birthday of an old acquaintance who is using the occasion to make peace with a host of former friends. His attempt is more than futile—it's fatal. He dies, poisoned, at his own party. And worse, Amanda's mother's gift—the home baked tarts the dead man loved— turn out to be the murder weapon.

"A pleasurable whodunit with real motives, enough clues to allow a skillful reader of mysteries to make some intelligent guesses, and a plethora of suspects." (Chicago Tribune)

 

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

Amanda's friend Sasha has a photography assignment in Atlantic City, and she invites her broke schoolteacher friend to come along for a free mini-vacation. But the two quickly discover there's more to lose than money at the shore when Sasha finds a stranger bludgeoned to death in her bed. When a witness identifies Sasha as having been at the scene, she Goes Directly To Jail and does not pass "Go." Under the boardwalk and between the slot machines, and sometimes with the help of a motley crew of gamblers, Amanda works to unearth the truth and free her friend.

"Roberts combines appealing characters, a good puzzle and some serious messages into an entertaining whole." (Publishers Weekly)

 

In the Dead of Summer

In the Dead of Summer - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

Something's very wrong about the English classroom's chemistry during a special summer school program. The class is reading Romeo and Juliet, but the population of Philly Prep seems as star-crossed as Shakespeare's lovers. A Vietnamese girl disappears. There's a drive-by shooting outside the school. An Afro-American computer teacher receives hate messages on her answering machine. Amanda's tenacious search for the missing girl takes her to Chinatown, to neighborhoods filled with new immigrants and old prejudices and ultimately to dark truths much too close to home.

"This outing is full of pleasures... Roberts gives Amanda an appealingly dry wit." (Publishers Weekly)

 

In the Dead of Summer

The Mummers' Curse - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

It's New Year's Day, which means it's time for Philadelphia's flesh-and-blood "historical monument"—the Mummers—to strut their stuff. Amanda's happily watching the parade along with her young niece and Mackenzie—until a reveler in fancy dress is shot dead in front of thousands of viewers—without anyone seeing the gunman. To make matters worse, when a suspect is finally found, he insists he was with Amanda during the crucial time, and to make matters still worse, the murder weapon ultimately is discovered—inside Amanda's pocketbook.

"Yet another funny Philly puzzler... Roberts effectively balances the subject of pride, Philadelphia's local color and Amanda's mounting problems." (Publishers Weekly)

 

The Bluest Blood

The Bluest Blood - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

The ultra-elegant fund-raiser in a fabled Main Line mansion benefits Philly Prep's Library, and gives Amanda a chance to play Cinderella for a night. The first clue that all might not go well is the host's figure hanging in effigy outside the estate, put there by the "Moral Ecologists" who have a long list of classic books that "pollutes the mind." When murder follows, Amanda becomes enmeshed in old secrets and young lives.

"Roberts's unusually firm mystery-mongering and pointed use of clues... make Amanda's eighth case her finest hour yet." (Kirkus)

 

Adam and Evil

Adam and Evil - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

When a high school senior shows signs of mental illness, Amanda attempts to get him help, but she's rebuffed by his parents. When the same boy then becomes the prime suspect in a murder at the Philadelphia Main Library, and runs away, Amanda who knows he's confused and in need of help—whether or not he committed the crime—has no choice but to run after. And to run into the possibility of becoming the next victim herself.

"Through plenty of action, realistic dialogue, and humor, Roberts delivers another great story." (Library Journal)

 

Helen Hath No Fury

Helen Hath No Fury - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

The day after Amanda's book club heatedly discusses a fictional woman's suicide, one of the members, Helen Coulter, falls to her death from the roofgarden of her house. Helen's death is declared a suicide, but because of what she'd said during the book discussion, the rest of the group, including Amanda, have trouble accepting this verdict. In order to interest the police in investigating her death, the women pool their individual memories and definitions of who Helen was. But as Helen's own story begins to take shape, the picture becomes still murkier and more dangerous for all concerned.

"Like a favorite blanket on a cold winter's day, this novel is warm and comfortable: a familiar story peopled by fresh and eminently likable characters." (Booklist)

 

Claire and Present Danger

Claire and Present Danger - Read an excerpt - Buy it!

In the City of Brotherly Love, nobody knows a thing about Emmie Cade, a young widow who “appeared from nowhere,” and in the blink of an eye was engaged to Leo Fairchild, a middle-aged bachelor with a fortune. However, as her marriage date approaches, Emmie's mother-in-law to be, the ailing, autocratic Claire Fairchild, receives anonymous letters. They suggest, none too subtly, that there's a great deal to learn about the mysterious young woman, none of it good, and much of it involving the violent deaths of the men in her life. Enter Amanda Pepper who, after completing her day of teaching English at Philly Prep, now moonlights as a P.I. along with C.K. Mackenzie, former homicide detective, current graduate student at Penn. The two of them are hired by Mrs. Fairchild to find out who the charming but evasive Emmie Cade really is. Amanda is determined to prove herself an able investigator by ferreting out Emmie Cade's secrets, but almost immediately, instead of looking at events of the past, she's forced to deal with the here and now—including murder.

"More substance to the mystery, more crackle to the dialogue: a notch up for the series." (Kirkus)

 

Till the End of Tom

Till The End of Tom - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

Amanda Pepper is understandably stunned to discover a member of one of Philadelphia's finest old families dying at the foot of Philly Prep's marble staircase. It is anybody's guess what led to Tomas Severin's apparent fall and, indeed, why he was in the building in the first place. More questions arise when Amanda enters her otherwise empty classroom and finds a take-out cup of herbal tea laced with the party drug her students call roofies. Why would a middle-aged Philadelphian have a date-rape drug in his tea? Why does he have Amanda's name scribbled in his pocket notebook? Hired by a member of the Severin family household, Amanda and her fiancé, C.K. Mackenzie, realize that many people felt their lives would improve if Tom's life ended.

"As usual, the book mixes light and dark, humor and drama... fans of the series will be pleased." (Booklist)

 

A Hole in Juan

A Hole in Juan - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

But with Halloween and the annual Mischief Night party only days away, the hope is that nothing more than old-fashioned vandalism and pranks will take place at Philly Prep. No such luck. Trouble erupts long before the witching hour, as the school is plagued by a series of mishaps ranging from the trivial to the potentially deadly–and most of which seem to center on a group of popular seniors. When the dapper new science instructor, Juan Reyes, receives a threatening message recalling that a teacher was once flayed to death by his students, Amanda and C.K. Mackenzie must try to find out what, or who, is behind the ominous events.

"Filled with entertainment and intrigue... the conclusion is a stunner." (Romantic Times)

 

All's Well That EndsAll's Well That Ends - Read the first chapter - Buy it!

Amanda's friend Sasha's stepmother has just committed suicide—although, according to Sasha, Phoebe Ennis would never have killed herself, especially not while having a drink and wearing a red silk blouse and red sandals with four-inch heels. Amanda isn't persuaded, but reluctantly agrees to help investigate the woman's demise, though the evidence for foul play is slim. True, the middle-aged compulsive collector of knickknacks wasn't universally loved. Phoebe's own son hated her and she bored her friends to death with hints of her "royal" lineage. And with four marriages behind her, she was already preparing to announce her renewed availability on the Net. But when another woman is found dead in Phoebe's house, it becomes clear that something is indeed murderously amiss, and much closer to home than Amanda or anyone else could have imagined.

"Fans of Roberts' popular series may find this one tough going, but only because it's not easy to bid farewell to an old friend. On the other hand, the series ends on a high note, proving again that the sorrow of parting can be sweet." (Booklist)

 

Emma Howe Series

Time and Trouble - Read the first chapter

Welcome to Marin County, California, where Emma Howe, a middle-aged, seasoned and prickly private investigator has trouble keeping employees. She's less than overjoyed when her newest hire is Billie August, a single mother, former drama and music major with no saleable skills. But Billie located the child her estranged husband had kidnapped and therefore hopes she has an aptitude for investigations. She's willing to be poorly paid and bullied around in order to learn a trade. Despite Emma's misgivings, Billie's hired and her first case involves a missing teenager, said by her parents to have joined a cult. But nothing is quite as it seems.

 

Whatever Doesn't Kill You - Read the first chapter

A few months after she was hired, P.I. trainee Billie August is still trying to win the respect of her difficult employer, Emma Howe, but the prospect of success seem dim with an assignment to help the defense of a mentally troubled young man, accused of murdering his best friend. All the evidence points toward him, and he himself is too confused and handicapped to say whether or not he did indeed murder her. Meanwhile, Emma's search for an adoptee's birth mother blind-sides her when every "fact" she's been given turns out to be a lie and she suspects she's discovered a long-ago crime. Their combined searches for the truth take them over much of the map of Marin County—from a llama ranch to the county jail to a sea-mammal refuge to a bayside mansion.

 

Short Stories

Read Gillian's Barry Award-nominated short story, "The Old Wife's Tale," which appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine's March/April 2007 issue.

 

© Gillian Roberts.