Elizabeth Gunn, June 1927 to August 2022. For more facts and figures see her Wikipedia article.
Before she started to write, Elizabeth Gunn made her living as an innkeeper in Montana, while indulging hobbies as a runner, rider, private pilot, skier, skydiver, live-aboard sailor, and SCUBA diver. “I like adventure,” she said, “but I was always sure I’d settle down some day and write books.”
Turned out she was right. From 1997 to 2020, she wrote eighteen mystery novels, a fair-sized row of short stories, critiques, and a novella. Quite a career for a woman who had her first novel accepted for publication when she was 69.
TRIPLE PLAY was the first of the Minnesota mysteries. The series progressed through the numbers with NOONTIME FOLLIES being the tenth and last Jake Hines book. The setting was Minnesota, where the author grew up. The pace of change, and the beautiful countryside being gobbled up by fast-growing cities, form a recurring motif throughout the series.
COOL IN TUCSON started a second series after she moved to Arizona. From the green land of ten thousand lakes to the dry heat of a polyglot desert city is quite a jump. The Tucson stories reflected the gritty ambience, eighty miles from the Mexican border and in summer “too hot to spit,” as one of her characters remarks. SARAH’S LIST was the seventh and last book in the series, published in 2020 when Elizabeth was 93.
Marilyn Stasio, mystery critic for the New York Times, called Gunn’s novels “precision-tooled procedurals.” While she loved police ride-alongs, and was known for careful depiction of the latest bells and whistles, Gunn said she enjoyed writing mostly “for the chance to build characters and turn them loose on each other. People-watching, that’s what’s fun.”