Author: Keenan Powell

Keenan Powell is the Agatha, Lefty, and Silver Falchion nominated author of the Maeve Malloy Mystery series. While still in high school, she was one of the illustrators of the original Dungeons and Dragons. Art seemed an impractical pursuit – not an heiress, wouldn’t marry well, hated teaching – so she went to law school instead. An Air Force brat, she was ready for a new place to go upon graduation so the day after commencement, she moved to Alaska where she continues to practice law. Her career has spanned the gamut from criminal defense, family law, dog law, personal injury, workers compensation, and appeals. In addition to writing the Maeve Malloy series, she has published a number of short stories including The Banshee of Adams, Massachusetts which short-listed for the Al Blanchard award. When not writing or practicing law, Keenan can be found oil painting, studying the Irish language, or hanging out with her friends at mystery conventions.

Writerly New Year Resolutions

I was thrilled to ask the Miss Demeanors this absolutely original and inspired question: What are your writerly New Year resolutions? Keenan Mine is to read more outside of traditional mystery. I’m currently writing a gothic psych thriller, or think I am, so as the year goes by, I will read more of them.  (I’m open to suggestions.) Completely outside of the mystery genre, I’m currently listening to Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes, which is included in the Audible plan. I haven’t read anything by her before but she’s quite popular so I was curious. So far, so good. It’s women’s fiction, about a young Irish woman living in New York City who is packed off to rehab by her family. But funny in a Bridget Jones kind of way. Right now, I could use funny. Also I’m open to suggestions on funny reading. Connie Your writerly question, if not original, is at least traditional. We all make resolutions at this time of year, and most of us break them within two weeks (or am I speaking only of myself??). I am resolving this year to have a finished manuscript in three months’ time, plus a stand-alone pretty well laid […]

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You Have the Right to Remain Silent and Other Legal Stuff Media Get Wrong

Previously published in Sisters in Crime First Draft, December 1, 2021 The police do not have to give Miranda warnings. You absolutely do have the right to remain silent. Your right is protected by the Fifth Amendment and there are few rights so jealously guarded by the courts. But so often media gets the Miranda warnings wrong. The police do not have to Mirandize a suspect at the time of arrest. The police do not have to Mirandize people who voluntarily talk to them. However if the police do not Mirandize a suspect who is in custody and then interrogates him or her and later tries to introduce the alleged confession into evidence, the accused’s statements will be suppressed, i.e. held inadmissible, because of the failure to give the warning. Don’t leave town. What an overused trope! No one can order anyone, witness or a suspect, not to leave town. Americans have a constitutional right to travel where they please. Granted, it might look bad if the cops accuse you of murder and you jump on a plane as soon as they leave. But the only way the authorities can restrict someone’s travel is to arrest them for a committing […]

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What’s Your Holiday Tradition?

I love Christmas. And I start preparation the day of Thanksgiving. Long before it was known as Black Friday, I used to pack up the kids, go to a toney café for hot chocolate and baked goodies and then go shopping for one new Christmas ornament for each of us. That way, they would have enough to decorate their first tree after they grew up and moved out. Here’s a photo of the ornament my grandson picked out a couple of years ago. So I asked the Miss Demeanors: If you celebrate the holidays, what is the first thing you do after Thanksgiving in preparation for the season? Connie Keenan, that’s a tricky question for me because I am terrible at planning ahead. The most organized thing I do after Thanksgiving is make turkey soup. I would love to get my tree up and decorated the day after Thanksgiving. I’d also like to get in on all those Black Friday sales. But what I usually do is nothing. Then, when the pressure builds, I go out and buy gifts.  Tracee I love your ornament tradition! What a nice memory.  In our household, the weekend of Thanksgiving we decorate for Christmas. […]

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The Holidays, Translated by Catriona McPherson

I’ve been discussing holidays with friends online recently. Partly that’s because I planned a trilogy of books ( the Last Ditch Motel series) that all opened on US holidays – book one the 4th of July, book two Halloween, book three Valentine’s Day – only I’ve just signed the contract for books five and six (of a trilogy) and I’m scared of running out. But partly it was sparked by the fact that THE MIRROR DANCE begins as Dandy Gilver is headed to a park with her female servants in tow on the afternoon of the August Bank in 1938. They’re going to watch a Punch and Judy show and eat buns. Guess whether the performance goes smoothly and they’re all home in time for supper or whether the puppeteer is murdered in his booth with fifty people watching and no way for the murder to have arrived or left again. Go on, guess. Anyway, I was talking about it and an American pal (anonymous for reasons you will find out in a bit) said, “August Bank? Didn’t he win a Tony award last year?” which made me laugh hard and feel grateful all over again for having funny friends. […]

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My Five Favorite Miss Marple Episodes

In no particular order: The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (1992) When Hollywood star Marina Greg returns to England and takes up residence in Gossington Hall, bodies begin to fall. Favorite character: Dolly Bantry performed by Gwen Watford. Miss Marple’s best friend and her perfect foil. She is kind, socially adept, observant, sometimes misses the big picture, and Miss Marple’s biggest fan. Favorite line (from Dolly): “His wife was dressed in turquoise from head to foot including gloves. Very odd.” Favorite scene: Dolly leads a gaggle of village ladies as they prowl through Gossington Hall, checking out the new bathrooms. At Bertram’s Hotel (1987) Miss Marple spends a holiday at a posh London hotel where bodies begin to fall. Favorite character: Bess, Lady Sedgwick played by Caroline Blakiston. She strolls through the airport, retrieves her roadster, throws her high heels in the back seat and drives like a bat out of hell through London. Favorite line: When Miss Marple’s friend tells her a story about ordering a muffin for breakfast in the US only to be served a tea cake with raisins, Miss Marple sneers and says, “Oh, Americans have a lot to answer for.” Favorite scene: Afternoon tea. […]

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Happy Hallowe’en!

Ghosts, the BBC version Did you see the BBC production of a three season TV show, Ghosts? It’s on HBO. Hilarious! A young woman inherits a Button Manor so she and her husband decide to open a B&B. Unbeknownst to her, it’s haunted by the spirit of Lady Button who was shoved out a window by her husband, a caveman named Robin, a Romantic poet who died in a duel, a British WWII army officer, an trouserless MP who died during a sex escapade, a naïve young woman who longs for a best friend, a Boy Scout leader who died during an archery lesson, a beheaded nobleman, and a female villager who was burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft – possibly my favorite character – played by Katy Wix, who you’ll recognize from Agatha Raisin. Watch Ghosts – Stream TV Shows | HBO Max There’s an American version. It’s okay, not quite as funny. In parting, I want to share my gluten free dairy free Irish Barmbrack recipe that I recently perfected. In Ireland, this is traditional Hallowe’en (Samhain) fare. It’s tradition to insert small objects in the bottom of the cake. The lucky recipient is foretold his or […]

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What is Gothic Fiction?

I have a new story cooking in my head which I think might be gothic, but I’m not sure. I don’t exactly know what gothic is. I’ve heard it described as horror and as romance. Now, while I can give you many accountings of horrible dates (I’m sure we call can), that’s not really the direction I want to take this story. I asked Cynthia Kuhn, author of the acclaimed Lila McLean Academic Mystery series and literature professor in real life, what goth was. She told me there are three basic elements: a creepy old house, a family legacy, and a ghost. And then she gave me a reading assignment. It took two tries but I finally finished Rebecca, Prof. Kuhn. I don’t know why I didn’t like it the first time around. Loved it the second time. Rebecca has all the elements: a creepy old house owned by some kind of aristocrat (read: legacy) and while there isn’t a ghost per se, the presence of the deceased titular character still presides over the living.  The recently popular Mexican Gothic has the creepy old house, a family legacy, and a creepy old guy – still alive but he’s practically a […]

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