Jazz Crimes – Joan Merrill

February 1, 2013


Given Joan Merrill’s impeccable jazz credentials, her decision to write jazz-based crime novels meant there was a good chance that the characters and the settings would be right. But could she write crime fiction?

Until this point in her life, Joan had worked on the jazz scene in talent management and booking, as publicist for various jazz singers, and had produced radio shows for NPR’s award-winning Jazz Profiles and PRI’s Smithsonian Productions. She also produced excellent CDs by jazz singers Nancy Kelly (Well, Alright!) and Rebecca Parris (You Don’t Know Me), and the masterly video documentary, Saying It With Jazz.

saying it - video cover

Joan is presently producer of Qué Sera! Celebrating Doris Day, a stage show starring Kristi King (released on CD in September 2012).

So far, so good.


Fortunately for lovers of crime writing, things got even better when Joan’s first novel was published in 2010 and it was immediately apparent that she certainly could write crime fiction.

Creating an exceptionally good lead character, gutsy San Francisco-based PI Casey McKie, who happens to be a jazz fan, Joan set out to write a continuing series of novels.


The first of these is And All That Murder, which kicks off when Casey’s good friend, veteran jazz singer and club owner Dee Jefferson, urges her to inquire into the death of a jazz club owner. As Casey investigates, the bodies pile up, all linked to jazz; alarmingly for some of us, these include less than generous critics.MURDER COVER

Jazz lovers will feel … joy as Ms Merrill craftily deflects suspicion from suspect to suspect before sounding the final chord in this swinging whodunit.”
Harvey Siders, Jazz Times


And All That Murder by Joan Merrill, iUniverse, Inc. ISBN 978-1-4401-9163-3 (ebook ISBN 978-1-4401-9164-0)


In the sequel, And All That Sea, Casey McKie takes a Caribbean vacation aboard a jazz cruise ship. Dee Jefferson is one of the star attractions and others on board include jazz veterans and newcomers, some of whom turn out to have shady secrets when Casey investigates the disappearance of a mysterious and very rich jazz-loving countess.SEA COVER



And All That Sea by Joan Merrill, iUniverse, Inc. ISBN 978-1-4502-7539-2 (ebook ISBN 978-1-4502-7540-8)


The third book, And All That Stalking, finds Casey again pulled into a case by Dee Jefferson, who asks her to help jazz drummer Greg Sanderson. He is suspected of murdering his girlfriend, an aspiring jazz singer, but when Casey investigates, she soon discovers that she is on the trail of a serial killer targeting young jazz singers.stalking cover




And All That Stalking by Joan Merrill, CreateSpace. ISBN 1-4679-7283-5 (ebook ISBN 9 781467 972833)


Casey McKie’s latest case, And All That Madness, takes her to New York and a mystery surrounding the long-ago death of Georgia Valentine, jazz singing star of the 1950s. Only the authorities believe the death was from a drug overdose; Georgia’s friends have other ideas. With a newly-discovered letter opening fresh lines of inquiry, Casey encounters Georgia’s ex-husband, a former narcotics agent, a drug dealer, a mafia boss, and a wealthy socialite, along the way to eventually unearthing shocking truths about the jazz legend’s life and death.

And All That Madness by Joan Merrill, CreateSpace. ISBN 13: 978-1480278981 (ebook ISBN 0 000000 000000)


Throughout Joan Merrill’s books, almost all of the characters, major and minor, are jazz people: singers, instrumentalists, agents, promoters, jazz writers, a mob-linked owner of a seedy club, a writer of bad songs, a vocal coach, the publisher of a jazz magazine, and some fans. There is on-going commentary on today’s jazz scene and how it differs from yesterday. No preaching, just strong and well-argued opinions during realistic conversations between characters.

Writing with flair and imagination, Joan’s pace is crisp, her dialogue snappy and apposite, and comments on jazz, the music and the people, are insightful. These are books that will appeal both to lovers of crime fiction and to jazz fans. To those who are fans of both genres they will be a special delight.

With four novels completed, and more on the way, Joan Merrill has clearly demonstrated that she has enough jazz and crime in mind to keep her private investigator, Casey McKie, busy for a long, long time.

Reviews of these books appear in Jazz Journal.

All the books, CDs and DVDs mentioned here are available from various sources, but probably best direct from Joan Merrill’s Website.

And speaking of Websites, you must visit Joan’s wonderful tribute to Carmen McRae.

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