Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday's "Forgotten" Books - B.J. Oliphant & Shirley McClintock

Have you heard of B.J. Oliphant? How about science fiction author, Sheri S. Tepper? Tepper used two pseudonyms for her mysteries; one was A.J. Orde, and one was B.J. Oliphant. As A.J. Orde, she wrote the Jason Lynx mysteries about a Denver antiques dealer and puzzle solver. But, the series I appreciated was her Shirley McClintock series, beginning with Dead in the Scrub.

Dead in the Scrub came out in 1990, and was an Edgar and Anthony Award finalist in 1991 for Best Paperback. Colorado rancher Shirley McClintock is in her fifties, twice widowed, and a no-nonsense woman. The Washington, D.C. career woman returned home to manage the family ranch after the death of her parents. In this introductory book, McClintock is hunting with two couples she barely knows, and stumbles across a body. When one of her companions is murdered, McClintock turns investigator.

The fourth book in the series, Death and the Delinquent, marked a turning point. Shirley vacations in New Mexico in this one, and she and a teenager girl are both shot. Shirley survives, and the girl dies. She may have been a liar and a thief, but Shirley is determined to discover the killer of a teen. After this book, McClintock moves to New Mexico, and runs a guest ranch, just as Tepper does.

It was a series of seven paperbacks, ending in 1997. But, I remember it as a series with an intriguing, strong woman, who in her fifties, was older than most amateur sleuths in mysteries in the 1990s. Her life as a rancher also led McClintock to be involved with nature and the environment, at a time when it was not yet popular. Nevada Barr's mystery series did not start until 1993. Tepper, writing as Oliphant, may be a forgotten author, but her books foreshadowed mysteries that came later.

And, for other Friday "Forgotten" Books, check out Patti Abbott's website at, where she summarizes all the suggestions for Friday.


Cathy said...

After reading this post, I scurried over to Paperback Swap and now a copy of Dead in the Scrub is on its way to me. Thanks for bringing this series to my attention!

caite said...

A strong woman in her 50's! Finally a book for me! lol

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Cathy. I think you'll like Shirley. Let me know!

Lesa said...

That's what I thought when I read the series, Caite, and I was in my early 40s at the time. But, it was so good to read about a mature character!