Five Star/Gale, Cengage, 2014, 304 pp., $25.95
ISBN: 978-1-4328-2990-2
Harlequin Worldwide Mystery, 2016, 332 pp., $7.99
ISBN: 978-0-373-27997-6


Five Star Hardcover

Staking out a country graveyard against vandals on an August night, ex-spy Phoenix Smith and Acting Sheriff Annalynn Carr Keyser receive an urgent call from a neighboring county. They respond and position themselves to guard the road behind an abandoned farmhouse where four bank robbers were spotted. The women engage in a fatal shootout with a fleeing father and son. Two other gang members escape.  Achilles, Phoenix’s K-9 dropout, can’t sniff out their trail, but he smells a trap set to kill pursuers.

With the FBI on the way, the women think the case has ended for them. They return to Vandiver County, Missouri, to check a farmer’s report of a light in another graveyard. The traumatic shootout and a fresh grave bring to the surface Annalynn’s grief for her late husband. Phoenix misses her dangerous double life in Vienna. Now she struggles with unfamiliar problems in her hometown: her ex-husband’s interference with her romance and with Annalynn’s nascent political career, the subtle abuse of an elderly neighbor, and threats to a student production of Oklahoma!

Harlequin mass market paperback cover

Harlequin mass market paperback cover

 The shootout’s aftermath soon overshadows such problems. The FBI fails to find the fugitives or the gold coins stolen from an Ohio bank. Agents suspect Phoenix found and concealed the gold. More alarming, so do the elusive robbers. Phoenix adapts her tradecraft to protect herself and others and to trace old and new threads leading to the gang and the gold.

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Excerpts from Reviews

“. . . this character-driven series will intrigue fans of female PIs such as Sharon McCone, Kinsey Millhone, or Joanna Brady.”—Library Journal, Viccy Kemp, October 1, 2014

“Mulford confronts her troupe of reluctant crime solvers with plenty of action and a few surprises.”—Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2014 (

“This very satisfying book traces the exploits of a 50-something single woman creating a new life for herself in small-town America; a CIA agent’s second act.”—Gumshoe Review, Verna Suit, November 2014 (

“Readers will be looking forward to [the] next installment on Phoenix, Annalynn, Connie, and, of course, Achilles.”—Gumshoe Review, Mel Jacob, November 2014  (

“The plot has enough twists, turns, and blind alleys to keep readers turning pages, but the greatest strength of Carolyn Mulford’s writing is her gift for creating likable characters with the kinds of flaws that make us all human. … Highly recommended for readers who love character-driven stories with realistic small town settings.”—Living on the Page: Personal Journal of Author Sandra Parshall, December 2014 (