Mystery Scene


JOAN HESS (1949-2017)

From St. Martins Press:

Author Joan Hess has died. A pioneer in the mystery genre and a much loved fixture at mystery conventions for decades, she was the author of  forty-three books, over more than thirty years. Her works include the Claire Malloy mystery series and the Arly Hanks mystery series (set in the fictional town of Maggody, Arkansas), the later of which was made into a TV movie starring Kate Jackson. Most recently, Hess co-authored The Painted Queen (William Morrow, July 2017), completing the manuscript her friend Barbara Mertz, aka Elizabeth Peters, was working on when she died. Upon publication, The Painted Queen became an instant bestseller, and featured in the Inside the List column in the New York Times Book Review. (

Winner of the American Mystery Award, the Agatha Award, for which she has been nominated five times, and is a member of Sisters in Crime and a former president of the American Crime Writers League, Hess contributed to multiple anthologies and book series, including Crosswinds, Deadly Allies, Malice Domestic, and The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. A long-time resident of Fayetteville, Arkansas, she passed away in Austin, Texas, where her daughter and her grandchildren lived.