Carlson, P.M.: Murder Unrenovated


Murder Unrenovated

by P.M. Carlson

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MEDIA KIT wk 4 UnrenovatedCover copyMURDER UNRENOVATED (Maggie Ryan 1972) An Anthony Award nominee. A Macavity Award nominee.

Maggie and Nick hope to buy a lovely old brownstone. It looks like a dream house for a young couple expecting their first child, but problems show up. It needs renovation. There’s a stubborn tenant who refuses to move out. And then there’s the corpse on the top floor. . . .



“Terrific characters, funny incidents, genuine suspense, and an absolutely right sense of period and place.” — Tom and Enid Schantz, THE PURLOINED LETTER

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MEDIA KIT Carlson 5Mysteries


Brooklyn, 1972.  Realtor Len Trager shows an old brownstone to actor Nick O’connor and statistician Maggie Ryan:

            Nick and Maggie stood on the sidewalk looking up at Lund’s building.  It was narrow, chocolate-colored, three tall stories above a raised basement.  A third-story oriel window and a band of vestigial crenellation completed the rugged trim.  Nick said, “A forted residence ‘gainst the tooth of time.”

            An actor, Len remembered.

            He said, “Well, shall we go in?  Start at the bottom.”  If he hit them with Mrs. Northrup first, they’d have time to see another place.  He led the way through the iron gate under the tall front stoop and down a hall ringing with a radio preacher’s voice.

            A sharp voice answered Len’s knock.  “Who’s that?”

            “Len Trager, ma’am.  From Banks Realty.”

            “Blast.”  The door opened a few inches and a pair of shrewd eyes glittered at them.  Len wished that she would simply refuse to let them in.  That might give Lund grounds for eviction.  But she snapped, “Well, come in!”

            Unkempt gray hair, wrinkled face, alcohol smell.  Her long cardigan was unraveling at the sleeves and her pink terry-cloth slippers were stained and burst at the seams.

            Len led the way into the dark and smelly apartment. The radio preacher was requesting money now.  “Thanks!  Mrs. Northrup, meet Nick O’Connor and Maggie Ryan.”

            Nick said, “Glad to meet you.”

            Mrs. Northrup gave Nick a sharp unfriendly look, icily inspected Maggie, and asked, “You together?”


            “Living in sin, eh?  One of those libbers.  No bra, I bet.  Well, it’s your souls.”

            Len said hastily, “They’re married.  We’ll just take a quick look, okay?”  The smell wasn’t just alcohol today, he decided.  There was something rotting too.

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MEDIA KIT  PM Carlson Photo

P.M. Carlson taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun.  She has published twelve mystery novels and over a dozen short stories. Her novels have been nominated for an Edgar Award, a Macavity Award, and twice for Anthony Awards. Two short stories were finalists for Agatha Awards. She edited the Mystery Writers Annual for Mystery Writers of America for several years, and served as president of Sisters in Crime.

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6 thoughts on “Carlson, P.M.: Murder Unrenovated”

  1. It’s fun to see how the mystery unfolds, and the quirky plot sounds fun!

    1. Thanks, Trix. As a mystery, MURDER UNRENOVATED was a finalist for a couple of mystery fan awards, and it’s also important in the series development of Maggie Ryan’s life. I started the series thinking it was time for a detective who was a working mother like me. But when my kids were small I was way too busy to hunt down criminals! So I realized I’d better get to know more about a woman who would take time from her family and career to solve crimes, and the first three books introduce Maggie’s liveliness and passion for justice and humor and loyalty to her friends. So I hope readers of this book are also interested as she and Nick face up to the big change a baby will make in their lives.

    1. Thanks, Rita! I like writing the Maggie Ryan books because I get to explore how good people struggle with life problems. Maggie and Nick and their friends usually have a humorous take on life but they know that some problems are serious. In MURDER UNRENOVATED, there are problems of finding good place to live for a young family– and for older people who don’t want to leave a lifetime home they love. There are problems of career advancement, for talented men and women, back when women’s careers were discounted. There are problems of wanted pregnancies and unwanted ones, in the days when the Pill was available only to married women and Roe v Wade had not yet been decided. And yes, there’s a corpse in an upstairs room!

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