Joan Hess

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Joan Hess (January 6, 1949 – November 23, 2017) was an American mystery writer, a member of Sisters in Crime, and a former president of the American Crime Writers League. She wrote two popular mystery series: The Claire Malloy Mysteries and The Maggody Mysteries (also called The Arly Hanks Mysteries), and has contributed to multiple anthologies and book series, including: Crosswinds, Deadly Allies, Malice Domestic, Sisters in Crime, and The Year's 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. She also wrote the Theo Bloomer mystery series, under the pseudonym Joan Hadley.[1][2]


The Claire Malloy series is set in Farberville, Arkansas, and centers around Claire Malloy, who owns a small bookstore across from the campus of Farberville College. It has been suggested that Farberville is a stand-in for Fayetteville, Arkansas, with many landmarks, including the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, Dickson Street, and even well-known local citizens, thinly veiled in the prose.

The Arly Hanks series is set in Maggody, Arkansas, population 755. The main character is Arly Hanks, Maggody's irreverent young female police chief. The first book of the Arly Hanks series, Malice in Maggody, was the basis for the 1993 CBS television pilot Arly Hanks.[3]

In the Theo Bloomer series the eponymous protagonist, "a dignified offshoot of old Connecticut money and prestige", is a retired bachelor-botanist who formerly worked as a florist. In each book, family obligations take him to an exotic vacation destination, where he becomes embroiled in a mystery: in the first book, he travels to Israel to retrieve his niece, who is staying at a kibbutz hotel,[4] and in the next he accompanies her party to a "luxurious villa" in Montego Bay, Jamaica, as a chaperone.[5]


Hess has been nominated for the Agatha Award five times and won once, for her 1990 short story "Too Much to Bare".[6]

Personal life[edit]

A longtime resident of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Hess lived in Austin, Texas where she died at her home Nov. 23, 2017.[7][8]



Claire Malloy series by Joan Hess[Notes 1]
  1. Strangled Prose
  2. The Murder at The Murder at the Mimosa Inn
  3. Dear Miss Demeanor
  4. A Really Cute Corpse
  5. A Diet to Die For
  6. Roll Over and Play Dead
  7. Death by the Light of the Moon
  8. Poisoned Pins
  9. Tickled to Death
  10. Closely Akin to Murder
  11. Busy Bodies
  12. A Holly, Jolly Murder
  13. A Conventional Corpse
  14. Out on a Limb
  15. The Goodbye Body
  16. Damsels in Distress
  17. Mummy Dearest
  18. Deader Homes and Gardens
  19. Murder as a Second Language
  20. Pride v. Prejudice
Maggody series by Joan Hess[Notes 2]
  1. Malice in Maggody
  2. Mischief in Maggody
  3. Much Ado in Maggody
  4. Madness in Maggody
  5. Mortal Remains in Maggody
  6. Maggody in Manhattan
  7. O Little Town of Maggody
  8. Martians in Maggody
  9. Miracles in Maggody
  10. The Maggody Militia
  11. Misery Loves Maggody
  13. Maggody and the Moonbeams
  14. Muletrain to Maggody
  15. Malpractice in Maggody
  16. The Merry Wives of Maggody
Theo Bloomer Mystery series by Joan Hadley[Notes 3]
  1. The Night-Blooming Cereus (1986)[9]
  2. The Deadly Ackee (1988)[10]

Standalone Teenage Romance

  1. Future Tense (1987)[11]

Short stories[edit]

  • Hess, Joan & Wallace, Marilyn, ed. (1990). "Too Much to Bare". Sisters in Crime 2. Berkley. ISBN 9780425119662. 
  • Hess, Joan & Greenberg, Martin, ed. (1992). "The Last to Know". Malice Domestic #1. Pocket Books. ISBN 9780671738266. 

Maggody Files: Hillbilly Cat Great Cat Mysteries: An Anthology of Feline Capers (audio edition by Phoenix Books, 1996).

(she also has two books of solely her own short stories).


  1. ^ Numbers are those assigned by MacMillan publishers in their latest release of these books and do not necessarily reflect the order of first publication.
  2. ^ The Maggody books are listed in reading order.
  3. ^ The Theo Bloomer books are listed in reading order.


  1. ^ "Joan Hadley". Goodreads. Retrieved August 10, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Joan Hadley". Goodreads. Retrieved August 10, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Q&A: Your questions". Dallas Morning News. 11 September 1994. 
  4. ^ Hadley, Joan (November 28, 1986). The Night-Blooming Cereus. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9780312572808. 
  5. ^ Hadley, Joan (March 1, 1988). The Deadly Ackee. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9780312014162. 
  6. ^ "Agatha Awards Past Winners". Malice Domestic. Archived from the original on 12 April 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Joan Hess". Macmillan. 
  8. ^ "Joan HESS's Obituary on Austin American-Statesman". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2017-11-29. 
  9. ^ Hadley, Joan (November 28, 1986). The Night-Blooming Cereus. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9780312572808. 
  10. ^ Hadley, Joan (March 1, 1988). The Deadly Ackee. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9780312014162. 
  11. ^ Hess, Joan (May 1987). Future Tense. Silhouette books. ISBN 0373062338.