Taffy’s Books

STOP THE WORLD: Snapshots from a Pandemic

STOP THE WORLD: Snapshots from a PandemicIn April 2020 we asked forty writers from around the country and around the world to share a brief piece of writing related in some way to the Covid-19 pandemic. STOP THE WORLD: Snapshots from a Pandemic includes personal essays, history, fiction, and poetry.

I am proud to be a co-editor of this significant collection, which editor Lise McClendon brought from idea to publication in record time.

My own account is “The Down Home Coronavirus Victory Garden Blues” and looks at how planning and planting and tending an unanticipated vegetable garden helped with my own transition from the world I used to know into a world that none of us really know.

All profits from this book will go to charity.


Beat Slay Love

Beat Slay Love

Beat Slay Love is a clever and witty collaboration from Taffy, Lise McClendon, Katy Munger, Kate Flora, and Gary Phillips, writing as Thalia Filbert. Set in the world of TV’s celebrity chefs, the culinary thriller features a series of nasty, food-related murders around the country and is loaded with deadly dishes, simmering feuds, kinky sex, and unforgettable characters.

“An incredibly sly mystery, with everything you’d want when you bite into a dish: suspense, spice, and a new take on an old classic. For anyone who has ever watched ‘Chopped’ or even stopped into a Williams-Sonoma, Beat Slay Love is a perfect read.”
—Charlaine Harris, New York Times Bestselling Author

Available as an ebook and paperback from Amazon.com

San Diego Noir

San Diego Noir

San Diego Noir, in the popular series from Akashic Books, features Taffy’s unforgettable short story, “Instant Karma.” The popular Noir series has circled the globe, stopping at last at this city better known for sunshine than darkness.

“When it’s done right, noir is a darkly delicious thrill: smart, sharp-tongued, surprising. The knife goes in at the end with a twist… One highlight is from Taffy Cannon, who conjures a revenge-gone-bad story from a support group for the terminally ill.”
San Diego Union-Tribune Book Review

“These regional gems give us a chance to sample new stories from writers who know the dark sides of their cities… It is delightful to find Taffy Cannon included.”
Library Journal

Blood Matters

Blood Matters

Best Mystery/Thriller, San Diego Book Awards

Now a new detective in the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Roxanne Prescott (Guns and Roses) is part of the team investigating the mysterious murder of the beloved Sam Brennan. The founder and head of Adoption Central, Sam spent his working life creating families and his spare time collecting the toys that represented the love he hadn’t received in his deprived childhood. Who could have wanted to hurt the man who did such wonderful things for so many grateful people? Roxanne must wrestle the shadow of her own past tragedy still hanging over her, along with rookie nerves and a killer determined to hide a different past.

“Taffy Cannon’s writing style is so smooth that she just pulls the reader into Roxanne Prescott’s world without any apparent effort. It’s like sitting down in front of the television to watch your favorite program. Cannon knows her police procedural, and the reader gets a bird’s eye view of how the police department works, down to the boredom of surveillance. Blood Matters is a delightful read with a great plot; wonderful pacing; and a well hidden villain.”
Midwest Book Review

Paradise Lost by Taffy Cannon

Paradise Lost

The private calm of Paradise Plaza, a posh Santa Barbara health spa, is shattered when two guests are kidnapped during an early morning hike. Stanford junior Holly Constantine and hot TV star Vanessa Wyatt form an uneasy alliance in their sensory-deprived captivity, while an unorthodox Internet ransom demand from a group of eco-nuts calling itself Parks for People seeks public contributions to create California parks in unlikely locations. Holly’s parents, Beverly Hills entertainment lawyers, hold the media at bay as they coordinate the ransom funding. A determined stalker, old secrets, and a murder complicate the race against the clock.

“This gripping suspense novel will keep readers on their toes and allow them to get inside the mind of cop, victim and kidnapper alike.”
Publishers Weekly

Open Season on Lawyers

Open Season on Lawyers

Somebody is killing the sleazy attorneys of Los Angeles. LAPD Robbery-Homicide Detective Joanna Davis matches wits with a serial killer who tailors each murder to a specific abuse of legal practice. They call him the Atterminator… and he likes it. Political and press pandemonium ensues, and tensions in the Southland rise even higher when the murders escalate. Then the killer begins to take a personal interest in stopping Joanna’s investigation.

“A welcome air of edgy humor sharpens Taffy Cannon’s Open Season on Lawyers. You can sense the fun to come from the first sentences: ‘Somebody was killing the sleazy lawyers of Los Angeles. In the beginning, hardly anybody even noticed.’ The author moves the action from law enforcer to lawbreaker with easy grace.”
Los Angeles Times

The Tumbleweed Murders

The Tumbleweed Murders

Passion, greed, deceit and murder surface when plant pathologist Claire Sharples discovers a skeleton buried beside the Kern River and finds herself drawn into events of a half-century earlier. This evocative botanical mystery moves between past and present in California’s Central Valley, exploring the worlds of oil, cotton and country music. Claire tries to unravel the mystery of the singing Cherokee Rose’s lost love with the help of enigmatic Ramon Covarrubias and his eccentric journalist cousin Yolanda, in a story dictated as much by the nature of the land as by the character of its inhabitants. These are secrets someone is willing to kill to protect, and Claire’s quest puts her own life in danger.

“It’s a particularly strong and well-conceived plot. There are shrewdly observed descriptions of the country along the Kern River, the locales as well as the locals. (‘The Oklahoma in her voice had been as ruthlessly suppressed as her original hair color, but in both cases the roots showed a little.’) There’s also an ingratiating mixture of history and folklore, with an emphasis on the area’s country music scene.”
Los Angeles Times


Guns and Roses

Agatha and Macavity Best Novel Nominee

Strange things are happening on the History and Gardens of Virginia tour. Are they odd misadventures? Harmless pranks? Or does somebody have murder in mind? Ex-Texas cop Roxanne Prescott thought she’d moved into a more genteel line of work, leading educational tours for the well-heeled for her aunt’s travel agency. But as the group (which she mentally nicknamed the Guns and Roses tour) moves from Mount Vernon to Monticello, a practical joker targets the tourists. In Colonial Williamsburg, the pranks escalate with deadly results. Roxanne must figure out which of her group is a killer hiding behind a genial facade, and save her aunt’s business at the same time.

“This mystery exemplifies a growing trend: the cozy procedural, in which elements of traditional cozies are melded with the carefully detailed police procedural… The tour-guide premise allows Cannon the opportunity to salt the tale with all manner of colorful background. [Guns and Roses] will appeal to readers who like their cozies well grounded in reality as well as those who prefer procedurals without the hard-boiled edge.”

Nan Robinson Mysteries:

A Pocketful of KarmaA Pocketful of Karma

No one has heard from Hollywood playgirl Debra LaRoche in weeks. Her former boss, L.A. lawyer Nan Robinson, is certain that Debra would not willingly abandon her divorce proceedings or her Hollywood muscle boys for such a long time without letting someone know. The police hardly care, so troubled Nan undertakes the thankless task of sifting through the flotsam of Debra’s headlong existence for clues to her whereabouts. But Debra’s Hollywood playmates are cagey. Her abusive husband is of little help. And her concerned colleagues at Malibu’s elegant Past Lives Institute are politically nonplussed. Nan feels she’s reaching a dead end, and perhaps she will—for a murderer decides that another “disappearance” may soon be necessary: namely Nan’s…

“Cannon’s first Nan Robinson thriller will leave readers eager for a sequel. Nan’s search for Debra plunges her headlong into a world of rock groupies and past-life hypnotists, particularly those affiliated with the Past Lives Institute… Cannon’s skeptical heroine and her elusive villain stake out the wilds of L.A. in an auspiciously flavorsome foray.”
Publishers Weekly

Tangled Roots by Taffy CannonTangled Roots

Shane Pettigrew is dead. His oldest friend, Adam Chandler, is accused of killing him. Adam’s only defense is his claim of innocence, and for his sister-in-law, L.A. attorney Nan Robinson, that’s enough. Despite the fact that Nan’s sister, Julie, admits to having an affair with Shane. And that Adam’s gun is the murder weapon. But if Adam didn’t kill Shane, who did? Nan’s race for the truth takes her deep into Southern California’s lucrative floriculture business and Shane’s rampantly promiscuous personal life. It stirs up the old feuds and sorrows of the Pettigrew family. And inexorably and fatefully it lures Nan into a trap whose only exit is death…

“In quite traditional fashion, this title begins with the murder victim’s last moments, then turns to an unjustly accused suspect. By the time series heroine Nan Robinson appears, the lines of battle are clearly drawn: her brother-in-law Adam, framed and jailed, finds himself ostracized by the victim’s powerful father (who also raised Adam’s lawyer) and by the townspeople of Floritas, California, where Adam and his wife raise and sell flowers. Cannon heightens suspense by side-stepping into discussions of the flower business, by describing characters, and by alternating groups of players. Tense, entertaining, and satisfyingly thorough.”
Library Journal

Class Reunions are Murder by Taffy CannonClass Reunions Are Murder

When L.A. attorney Nan Robinson flies to Spring Hill, Illinois, for her twenty-year high school reunion, the last person she expects to see is Class Tramp Brenda Blaine. But there she is, in all her glory. The stars are out, of course: Class Clown Wally, Cutest Couple Jim and Mary Lee, solemn Edwin, clever Janis, and all the rest. But when someone murders bad girl Brenda, Nan must look at her classmates in a blinding new light. For among old rivalries and secret passions, one of them may have graduated to become a cold-blooded killer…

“Nan Robertson and Taffy Cannon are welcome additions to the roster of intriguing sleuths. I wish them many more adventures.”
—Gillian Roberts

Young Adult Mystery:

Mississippi Treasure Hunt by Taffy CannonMississippi Treasure Hunt

Vangie Bradley expects a lame vacation when she and her brother Jason fly from California to spend the summer with their dad. Minnesota isn’t exactly a hotbed of fun for thirteen-year-olds, especially ones who like to streak their hair a different color every day. Then Dad’s eccentric great-aunt leaves him her estate, and the family takes off for Prestonburg, Mississippi, where it seems nothing has changed since the Civil War. It’s beyond boring… until they find a secret letter hidden in an old desk, with clues that may lead to a fortune. The key is a hundred-year-old test of knowledge. Suddenly Vangie is discovering all sorts of things she never knew existed. And though it’s really hard, she refuses to give up. After all, how many people get the chance to find a genuine buried treasure?

Mainstream Fiction:

Convictions: A Novel of the Sixties

Prentiss Granger and Laurel Hollingsworth grew up privileged in the South, met in private school and became best friends. Through the political upheaval of the 1960s, the two young women grapple with their own beliefs as the civil rights and antiwar movements explode around them. Then, in a single irrevocable moment of violence, everything changes. Caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, Prentiss finds herself on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and trapped in the political underground. Laurel must balance her own convictions as she struggles to help her lost friend while she moves forward with her own life.

Booked for Travel Mysteries written under the pseudonym Emily Toll:

Murder Will Travel by Emily TollMurder Will Travel

A widow in her mid-fifties, Lynne Montgomery has rediscovered her first love—travel. With the money from her husband’s insurance policy, she buys the travel agency that she works for. But guiding tour groups of well-heeled vacationers becomes more than an educational experience, when murder adds itself to the itinerary. It’s off to the Sonoma Wine Country for Lynne and fifteen tour guests as they make their way to the charming Villa Belladuce. There they will be treated to all of the finer things in life—and death—when Lynne stumbles across the body of the vineyard’s former owner. Though she tries to protect her guests from the grisly details, an investigator suspects that one of those very guests could be the killer—and there is plenty of bottled-up bitterness for the departed vintner.

Murder Will Travel is flawless. Oenophiles and teetotalers alike will be fascinated by the insider information on the California wine industry. Toll perfectly captures the Sonoma Valley—its scenery, its history, its atmosphere. Each of the characters has a unique and recognizable voice, point of view, and personality, a rare achievement. It is with protagonist Lynne Montgomery that Toll particularly shines. Montgomery is one of the most realistic fictional 50-ish women I’ve seen in a long time. Murder Will Travel is an auspicious, award-worthy kick-off for a new series.”

Murder Pans Out by Emily TollMurder Pans Out

Passion, greed, deceit and murder surface when plant pathologist Claire Sharples discovers a skeleton buried beside the Kern River and finds herself drawn into events of a half-century earlier. This evocative botanical mystery moves between past and present in California’s Central Valley, exploring the worlds of oil, cotton and country music. Claire tries to unravel the mystery of the singing Cherokee Rose’s lost love with the help of enigmatic Ramon Covarrubias and his eccentric journalist cousin Yolanda, in a story dictated as much by the nature of the land as by the character of its inhabitants. These are secrets someone is willing to kill to protect, and Claire’s quest puts her own life in danger.

“Toll is a marvelous writer, with a feel for language, a wry sense of humor, a sensitivity to human emotions, a no-nonsense narrative style and the ability to pack several mysteries into the narrow confines of one novel. Murder Pans Out is a thoroughly enjoyable work, with an implicit moral included: Don’t mess with a bunch of women school teachers.”
—John Broussard, New Mystery Lovers Magazine on Murder Pans Out

Fall Into Death by Emily TollFall Into Death

Lynne Montgomery is checking out the sights for a future Fall Foliage Tour in New England, and checking in on her mother, who plans to open a New Hampshire bed-and-breakfast to accommodate those tour guests. The old place needs a lot of work—but wood rot becomes the least of their problems when Lynne discovers human bones in the basement floor. The Maple Leaf Inn becomes a crime scene and Lynne takes her stressed-out mother and twenty-something daughter on the road. But they’re not alone on those scenic New England highways. While seeking clues to a thirty-year-old murder, Lynne’s entourage is followed by somebody who wants the past to stay buried.

“The most enjoyable part of a quite enjoyable book is the description of the historical, literary, or just plain beautiful sites in the area. I truly felt that I had taken a trip and seen these things myself when I finished the book. The various museums and homes become so very real to the reader.”
Reviewing the Evidence

Keys to Death by Emily TollKeys to Death

Murder follows travel agent Lynne Montgomery and her twenty-something daughter Jenna to the Florida Keys on what is supposed to be a simple vacation at a resort recently acquired by old friends Peggy and Rick Parker. Things have been going wrong at Dos Hermanas Resort—power outages, slashed tires, bleach poured into a tank of exotic tropical fish. When Lynne discovers the body of Darcy Gainsborough on the boat ramp, matters become more complicated. Darcy lived in the adjacent mobile home court and had some secrets of her own. Pirates, parrots, drug smuggling, diving and death combine to produce an unforgettable vacation.

“A new mystery from Emily Toll is always reason to celebrate.  A superb writer who entertains and mystifies with equal skill.”
—Carolyn G. Hart