Tag Archives: female privtate detective

Interview with M. Ruth Myers, author of DON’T DARE A DAME, Finalist for the Shamus Award

Why do you write?

MYERS: I write because I have to. It’s too painful not to. Writing is who I am – which I don’t think is especially healthy. Even when I want to tear my hair out because my scene or pacing isn’t working, I’d rather write a book than win the lottery.

When do you write?

MYERS: Whenever I can. At some points in my life I was able to keep a regular schedule of six hours a day, five days a week. Right now I count myself lucky to get in 15 hours a week. Real life has a rotten way of making demands.

Where do you write?

MYERS: I’ve always been fortunate to have a private writing space. In Nebraska, it was an unheated attic that was freezing in winter & broiling in summer. Mostly I’ve had an actual, civilized room. In my current study, as well as the previous one, I enjoy the utter hedonism of wall of bookshelves.

For some time now, I’ve written my novels on a laptop computer that is not connected to anything else. I step over to the desktop computer with printer and internet connections for all other purposes. Somehow I like the magic of the novels not sharing bytes or electrons or whatever with other work.

What do you write?

MYERS: I write the Maggie Sullivan mysteries, a series featuring a woman private eye with great legs who keeps a gin bottle in her desk and a Smith & Wesson under her seat. The series follows her, and the city of Dayton, OH, from the waning years of the Great Depression through the end of WWII. I’ve also written books that aren’t in the series, and will probably be a repeat offender.

How do you write?

MYERS: I’m a plodder and a plotter. I like to have a sense of my opening scene and my climax scene before I write the first word. In addition, I need to have some key plot points in between so I know the book will really hang together. I may throw some out and add others, but that’s how it starts. Then I use index cards and a flow chart to check the flow of the story and test for rising and falling action. It sounds more anal than it really is. There’s plenty of room for spontaneity.

Tell me about your books and where they can be found.

MYERS: I did nine books with New York houses. The last, a thriller titled (not by me) A TOUCH OF MAGIC, is the only one I’ve reissued as an ebook. I hope to bring out my first novel, which was classic romantic suspense, as an ebook within the year. In between were assorted types which are out of print but available used from various sources.

Tell me what you’re working on.

MYERS: I’m currently working on the fourth Maggie Sullivan. It starts with hanky-panky with jewelry in a hotel safe, but quickly leads to murder and attempted murder. Maggie wouldn’t mind getting through a case without broken ribs or stitches somewhere, but we’ll have to see.

Tell me something funny.

MYERS: I’d love to, but I broke my funny-bone tripping over a misplaced comma.


My first novel, a romantic-suspense novel set in Peru, was published by Coward, McCann & Geoghegan in 1979. Since then I’ve had more than a dozen novels published in assorted genres. They’ve been translated into various languages, optioned for film and condensed for magazine publication.

Early on, I wanted to write more mysteries, specifically a series with a woman P.I. The traditional publishers I worked for kept telling me there just wasn’t enough market for that sort of book. Finally I took a long break from fiction writing. Then I decided to do the Maggie Sullivan mysteries. On my own. I’ve never regretted it.

I was born in Warrensburg, MO, moved to Cheyenne, WY, with my mother and grandmother when I was eight, and returned to Missouri to earn a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri. Prior to novel writing, I was a reporter for city dailies in Michigan and Ohio.

My infinitely patient husband and I live in Ohio, and we have one grown daughter.

M. Ruth Myers
author of the Maggie Sullivan mysteries & other novels




Review of DON’T DARE A DAME by M. Ruth Myers

On M. Ruth Myers’ website, the author claims her books have “strong women–small guns–smart dialogue.”  And Don’t Dare a Dame, the third book in the Maggie Sullivan detective series, makes good on those claims.  And then some.

Set during the Depression Era in Dayton, Ohio, Don’t Dare a Dame starts off in classic P.I. form with Maggie Sullivan taking a seemingly dead-end case. The Vanhorn Sisters, two sweet spinsters, one of them blind, hire Maggie to look into the disappearance of their father, who vanished some quarter of century ago during the Great Flood of 1913.  The investigation immediately turns deadly when the Vanhorn’s stepfather–and Maggie’s chief suspect–commits suicide, and then she gets hauled before the Chief of Police for asking too many questions. From there, the pot really begins to boil as Maggie discovers that the Vanhorn sisters’ suspicions are justified: their father was, indeed, murdered; the only question is: who is the killer?  But before Maggie can identify the killer and bring justice to the Vanhorn’s, her P.I. license, her livelihood, and her life will be put at risk.

Myers definitely makes good on the “strong women” in this novel, especially the protagonist Maggie Sullivan.  Tough and pretty with a smart mouth and a strong moral compass, Sullivan is a “dame” a reader can root for.  This is the passage in chapter one that really sold me on this character when Sullivan takes a bully down:

I hated to persuade him, but Neal seemed like one of those guys who needed taking down a peg or two. I gave him a quick little kitten jab in the snoot. Not enough to break it, just enough to start blood gushing down to his chin and get his attention. . .’Don’t drip on the rug on your way out,’ I said.

Now that’s my kind of detective, but if you remain unconvinced of her toughness, here’s a great exchange between Sullivan and one of her operatives after she’s caught a beating herself:

“Holy smokes, Sis! Someone roughed you up bad.”

“Yeah, but I shot him,” I said to allay his dismay. ..

“Was it Cy Warren’s mugs did it?”

“Nah,” I lied. “Some girls have a fan club. The one they started for me is people lining up to break my nose.”

But it’s not only Sullivan’s toughness and sharp tongue that make this an enjoyable read. It’s also the setting. The descriptions of the area, the secondary characters and how they act, speak, and think, and the police procedural aspects of the novel: all of these elements are authentic and highly readable. And when you add those elements with a formidable lead character and a page-turning plot, it all adds up to a great mystery.

Maggie Sullivan is in the running for my favorite new P.I. series, and I’ve already downloaded Tough Cookie to my Kindle. Don’t Dare a Dame, which was recently nominated for the Shamus Award for Best Indie P.I. novel,has everything working for it. Go buy it. You will not be sorry.