Mary Jane Maffini Home Page
The Camilla MacPhee Series

NEWS FLASH: All the Camilla MacPhee books are available as e-books through your usual e-book source, except for The Dead Don't Get Out Much and that will be available soon. I am working on the seventh Camilla book and that curmudgeonly sleuth is impatient to get on the page again.

Camilla MacPhee is the black sheep of her perfect family: the only stubby, dark one in a family of willowy and well-behaved blondes (Alexa, Donalda, and Edwina). Her elderly father still looks at her with puzzlement. Camilla's pretty sure this means he has trouble remembering her name. It's been the same story all her life.

Camilla runs an advocacy agency for victims of violent crime. If you can call an eight by twelve room, (with one window, two desks and a filing cabinet and scarcely enough income to meet expenses) an agency. Justice for Victims is one way she has of dealing with her personal issues over the death of her husband three years ago as a result of one more bad move by a drunk driver. One of the side effects of running such an agency is that she is in contact with people who have found that the law and justice don't necessarily coincide. Camilla doesn't suffer fools gladly. She doesn't follow the rules. Miss Manners would find much of her behaviour in need of correction. The lawyers, Crown Attorneys, Corrections Canada officials and police officers Camilla deals with would agree with Miss Manners.

The MacPhees hail from Cape Breton and the family has lived in Ottawa for nearly thirty years. Cape Breton ties are strong. So that's not nearly enough time to lose contact with their many friends and relatives from down east, which is the short answer to why Alvin Ferguson is still in the picture. In addition to plotting possibilities, this link offers the opportunity to have a lot of parties.

Each of the Camilla MacPhee mysteries takes place during one of Ottawa's many festivals and special events. Speak Ill of the Dead pops up during the Tulip Festival, The Icing on the Corpse puts a chill on Winterlude, Little Boy Blues plays off Bluesfest and The Devil's in the Details takes place during the Gatineau Balloon Festival. The Dead Don't Get Out Much highlights Mrs. Parnell's role in World War II and begins at the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies in the capital. In Law & Disorder Camilla's partner's daughters arrive to take part in the Dragon Boat Festival, while sinister lawyer jokes seem to be fatal for unwary legal types.

Dozens of festivals and events come to mind as settings for subsequent books. I haven't chosen the next event yet, but it is hard to overlook the immense plot charm of an outdoor group activity in which things that make big booms in the sky are part of the entertainment. Sizzle sizzle.

Here they are, last to first:

Law & Disorder Law & Disorder
Dundurn 2009

"Law & Disorder is vintage Maffini: a brisk pace fuelled by a twisted plot with a climax that ties the story together with a startling climax." The Hamilton Spectator

"Here's a mystery with attitude and legs to go the distance."The Ottawa Citizen

ISBN-13: 9781894917865 ISBN: 1894917863

Camilla MacPhee is distracted when Ashley and Brittany, her step-daughters-to-be visit. As the girls strive to excel at dragon boat racing, Camilla struggles to discover who is killing Ottawa lawyers and leaving lawyer jokes to make the point. As the jokes start to hit too close to home, Camilla does her stubborn best to head off the killer, hampered by her assistant, the police, the bossy sisters, her real estate agent, her favourite burglar, her absent boyfriend, Ray Deveau, and the visiting girls. Well, at least they're all safe. Oh wait, maybe not. Will be final joke be on Camilla?

The Dead Don't Get Out Much The Dead Don't Get Out Much
Dundurn 2005

"an outstanding example of what can be done in mysteries-with-history. It is an engrossing, satisfying read." The Sherbrooke Record

"This is a delightful series more please."Deadly Pleasures Magazine

ISBN-13: 9781894917308 ISBN: 1894917308

It's the Year of the Veteran and that means a lot to Camilla's friend, Mrs. Violet Parnell. But Mrs. P. claims to have had a conversation with a dead man, which sets her on a journey to discover how that could be. Since she doesn't mention that she's leaving or where she's going, naturally this triggers a protectionist panic with Camilla and Alvin. Mrs. Parnell is well past eighty and, according to the emergency room doctors, it seems likely she's suffered a series of mini-strokes. Meanwhile, the extraordinarily patient Ray Deveau's been planning a romantic trip for Camilla and himself, but looks like that just fell off Camilla's radar. So it's a transatlantic trauma as Camilla doggedly tracks Mrs. Parnell through the hills of Italy in search of old secrets with deadly ramifications in the present. Will she find Mrs. P. before someone with good reason to silence her does? Will Ray Deveau quit trying to get together? Will Alvin redecorate Camilla's new digs? Will those sisters ever shut up? What a nightmare.

The Devil's in the Details The Devil's in the Details
Dundurn 2004

"always there's a lot of smart deduction and humour in Maffini's tale. The Globe and Mail

ISBN-13: 9781894917124 ISBN: 189491712X

It's Labour Day, Camilla's favourite weekend of the year. She's planning to relax and ponder what's happening in her newly evolving relationship with policeman Sgt. Ray Deveau, (warm heart, cold feet) who is inconveniently located back in Sydney. She's emphatically not planning to get involved in anything that means trouble. No wonder the news that an old acquaintance has had an accident comes as a surprise. There must be some mistake. By the time Camilla unearths Laura Brown's connection to a violent revolutionary group active two decades earlier, she's had several blows to the head and discovered that women she's been talking to or talking about keep ending up dead. Looks like someone will do anything to keep Laura's connections secret. Soon getting arrested is the least of Camilla's problems. Camilla relies on her old friends, like Elaine Ekstein, and her old enemies like Sgt. Leonard Mombourquette and her old clients like that sexy reformed burglar, Bunny Mayhew. But will that be enough to keep her from joining those other women in the morgue?

Little Boy Blues - July 2002 Little Boy Blues
Dundurn 2002

"Expect the unexpected." The Ottawa Citizen

ISBN-13: 9780929141947 ISBN: 0929141946

Camilla MacPhee is finally getting a life. Her thorn-in-the-side, Alvin Ferguson, has a new job. Her meddlesome family is out of town. Camilla plans to party at Ottawa's Bluesfest, the huge open-air summer extravaganza, with her friend P.J. Lynch, not that he'd know a bass guitar from a beer mat.

Then Alvin's younger brother vanishes from a Canada Day crowd on the boardwalk in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Jimmy Ferguson, brain-damaged from a childhood accident, is far too childlike to survive on his own. Alvin is traumatized by his brother's disappearance. And Camilla owes Alvin big time. Plus she doesn't want him to lose that new job. Soon Alvin, Camilla, and Mrs. Parnell take the road trip from hell.

Sleuthing irritably about Sydney, Camilla manages to upset the usual quota of people, including Jimmy's frantic family and forlorn friends. She doesn't spare the parish priest or even the guy at the chip stand. Most likely, the Cape Breton Regional Police, especially one Sgt. Ray Deveau, won't be sending her any Valentines.

Why are the police so tightlipped? What secrets are the Fergusons keeping? And what the hell's eating Alvin?

All roads lead back to Ottawa where a killer with everything to lose waits to create havoc among the Bluesfest tents and happy swaying crowds.

The Icing on the Corpse - September 2001 The Icing on the Corpse
Dundurn 2001

ISBN-13: 9780929141817 ISBN: 0929141814

If someone kills the bad guy, who's the bad guy then? ? When a deranged serial batterer ends up in an Ice Sculpture competition during the annual Winterlude celebrations, it looks like it might even be good news for his victims. But it's bad news for Camilla and her client, Lindsay Grace. Soon the wrong person is claiming responsibility for the crime and the real killer is lurking, making sure no one gets too close to the truth. Before long Camilla's in hot water with her client, the police, the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Crown Attorney's office. She's in trouble with her family too: but that's because of her sister Alexa's wedding preparations. Camilla would much rather pursue a killer than hunt for a butt-ugly bridesmaid's dress. She's lucky she has Alvin and Mrs. Parnell to rely on in her search for the murderer. Or is she?

Speak Ill of the Dead - 1999 Speak Ill of the Dead
Dundurn 1999


ISBN-13: 9780929141657 ISBN: 0929141652

In the first book in the series, Camilla's best friend, Robin Findlay, is found in a hotel room with a murdered journalist during Ottawa's annual Tulip Festival. Many many people felt like killing Mitzi Brochu but for some reason the police decide Robin has something to do with the crime. Maybe it's the blood on her hands. Maybe it's because she won't say what she was doing there. It's up to Camilla to keep Robin out of the slammer even as the killer strikes again. And again. Each time the danger gets a bit closer to home. Meanwhile Camilla's family, her so-called office staff member Alvin Ferguson and chain-smoking, sherry-guzzling nosy neighbour, Mrs. Violet Parnell, run interference every step of the way. To make matters worse, her favourite sister is making eyes at her least-favourite police officer. And what the devil are all those damn cats up to? Speak Ill of the Dead was short listed for the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis award for Best First Mystery of 1999.

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