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Similarities abound between the characters. For instance, all three are, in various ways, symbols of feminist independence. Vejay avoids a serious relationship, and Jill, despite a steady boyfriend, manages to maintain a sense of separation.

Dunlap, Susan 1943–

Kiernan owns a kitchenless duplex, an Irish wolfhound , a big sport utility vehicle, and a little sports car, and employs a former football player as a housekeeper. For all three, career changes put them in a position to become investigators, though neither Jill's promotion nor Kiernan's shift of focus are nearly as extreme as the break Vejay makes with her own past.

The Mysteries of the Immune System

Sue Trowbridge, on the Interbridge Web site, called Dunlap "a true pioneer in the field of crime novels with female protagonists. Vejay, a former public relations executive, leaves a high-powered job and her husband to become a meter reader for Pacific Gas and Electric in the Russian River Resort north of San Francisco.

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Her job allows her plenty of access to people's homes and other places off-limits to most amateur sleuths. Her work as a detective begins in An Equal Opportunity Death, when she is accused of murdering a bartender she once dated.


To clear herself, Vejay goes into action, bringing to bear the resources at her disposal as a meter reader. Kathleen Maio of Wilson Library Bulletin, who called it "not a memorable mystery," concluded that the book "promises better things to come. The Bohemian Connection takes place during a festival at the Russian River Resort, when Vejay learns that the body of a coworker's niece has been found in a sewer.

As the mystery unfolds, she finds a connection between the murder and a drug-and-prostitution ring associated with the festival itself. The story culminates with the dredging of a cesspool, which yields some surprises. A Publishers Weekly contributor observed that Vejay is "not well served in this obvious and unfocused plot," and a Kirkus Reviews writer quoted a comment from the heroine in an appraisal of the book's plot: "It was already more than I wanted to know.

The slugs in The Last Annual Slugfest are not bullets or punches from a boxer, but the kind of slugs one finds in the garden—only, in the Russian River Resort, they are an escargot-like delicacy. The celebration of the Slugfest, an annual slug-tasting festival, is disrupted when one of the judges, Edwina Henderson, is poisoned. As Vejay goes to work on the mystery, she discovers a conflict between Edwina and her niece over the niece's relationship with a mystery man in the past. She also learns of a controversy involving an Indian tribe's claim to the resort's property, a claim that Edwina had intended to publicize.

The plot thickens when Vejay discovers that the treaty on which the claim was based is a forgery. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel "overplotted, over-populated, overwrought, and dull," but a reviewer in Publishers Weekly praised the tale's resolution as "a surprise [that] caps off an entertaining story. Dunlap was featured in a mystery writers' cookbook called Cooking with Malice Domestic, published in Commenting that "my view of cooking is that its main use is as a cover for poisons," Dunlap presented the recipe for Slug Pizza.

Dunlap's character Jill Smith, formerly a beat cop, has recently been promoted to homicide detective when her own series begins. As with Vejay Haskell, her surroundings are vital to her stories—in this case, the "radical chic" environment of Berkeley, California. Trowbridge called Dunlap "the Bard of Berkeley," saying that the city provides her with endless inspiration for her Jill Smith mysteries. Site of student unrest in the s, Berkeley has become a refuge for wealthy liberals and eccentrics, not to mention quite a few offbeat down-and-outers, homeless people, and a number of hippie leftovers from an earlier era.

Surrounding Jill is a police department filled with an assortment of temperaments and ethnicities, including beat officer Connie Pereira, aspiring physical therapist Murakawa, and jealous Sergeant Grayson. To get a feel for the way a police department works, Dunlap told Trowbridge in the Interbridge interview, she participated in a ten-week class on police work, which included a "ride along" program with Berkeley officers. She also called officers with questions that arose as she was writing.

Typical of the Berkeley settings for the "Jill Smith" mysteries is that of Karma. Attending a ceremony featuring a self-styled Buddhist holy man, Jill is shocked when the guru suddenly falls dead before an audience—with a knife in his chest. In As a Favor, the murder victim is more conventional, though her role as a worker in the local welfare department could be indicative of Berkeley's liberal and left-wing politics. In any case, victim Anne Spaulding was a coworker of Jill's ex-husband Nat, who asks Jill to look into the case.

Ultimately Jill discovers an intricate welfare scam behind the murder, but not before she has a series of encounters with some of Berkeley's least—and some of its most—wealthy denizens.

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A Kirkus Reviews critic called As a Favor a "not-very-interesting story. Palmer commented on Dunlap's "lively dialogue, fast pacing, smart characters, and breezy description" of Berkeley. Not Exactly a Brahmin finds Jill investigating the murder of wealthy philanthropist Ralph Palmerston, a perplexing case because he was admired by virtually everyone who knew him. A Publishers Weekly critic called it "a suspenseful, fast-paced mystery," and a Booklist reviewer referred to it as "an intriguing tale" in spite of somewhat "sketchy" details on police procedure.

A handicapped activist turns up drowned in Too Close to the Edge, a mystery involving a local gang that steals high-priced designer running shoes. At the book's climax, Jill and the killer battle it out in a helicopter above San Francisco Bay. A Booklist reviewer called this last scene "hair-raising," and a contributor to Kirkus Reviews noted that the book, despite a slow start, is "Dunlap's most accomplished work yet.

As the city tries to eject the squatters, two Grateful Dead fans are murdered and a developer is assaulted. But for homicide detective Jill Smith, the conflict at the Village is only a nuisance until the violence gets personal. While staking out a coffee shop, Jill sees Liz Goldenstern, a handicapped activist who has long been a thorn in the side of local business.

Each year the Bohemian Club - a clique of powerful conservatives whose ranks include Nixon, Reagan, and Kissinger - gathers for a confidential meeting in the backwoods town of Henderson, California. Though their activities are shrouded in secrecy, Henderson meter-reader Vejay Haskell is about to get an all-too-close inside look. Private detective and former medical examiner Kiernan O'Shaughnessy has been betrayed, framed for a death she is investigating.

Susan Dunlap

The true cause of death, a deadly and highly contagious case of Lassa fever, could have dire consequences for the public if it is unleashed. But the trail of clues she is following from her base in San Diego to the Nevada desert is agonizingly complex. Although the citizens of Berkeley are famously tolerant, that progressive attitude disappears at the property line between the homes of Dr. Hasbrouck Diamond and Leila Sandoval.

In the Berkeley hills , there are no worse neighbors than Diamond and Sandoval. What began as a tiff about garbage cans and street parking has exploded into full-blown war, drawing in the city, the press, and now—to the irritation of detective Jill Smith—the police department. Beautiful, blond Liza Silvestri has put her bad-girl ways behind her and is living the California dream in a Malibu beach house with her adoring venture-capitalist husband, Jay - until gunfire erupts one evening at their L. Liza doesn't dare call the police - she's got a secret in her past - and it turns out Jay has secrets of his own.

Berkeley cop Jill Smith is back in another adventure that could only occur in this brazen, eccentric town. Gym owner and former Olympic diver Bryn Wiley is in a turf war with sixties radical Sam Johnson, who owns a competing gym. When Bryn is shot, Sam is a prime suspect.

Throughout her investigation into the naked truth, Jill is sidetracked by a band of nude citizens protesting the citys new anti-nudity ordinance. Showing results by author "Susan Dunlap". Filter By. Reset All. English Since then, Dunlap has published more than two dozen novels and several short stories. Dunlap heped found Sisters in Crime. She lives near San Francisco. A call from an ex-husband is never welcome. A town as diverse as Berkeley, California, is never without controversy After six months of perfect weather, the people of Berkeley, California, have forgotten how to drive during a thunderstorm Each year the Bohemian Club - a clique of powerful conservatives whose ranks include Nixon, Reagan, and Kissinger - gathers for a confidential meeting in the backwoods town of Henderson, California Until the helicopter crash, Jill Smith never knew fear.

A homicide detective in the leftist enclave of Berkeley, California, she has faced down her share of thugs, thieves, and killers Private detective and former medical examiner Kiernan O'Shaughnessy has been betrayed, framed for a death she is investigating