Sunday, March 7, 2021


Sad News. Mystery author Judith Van Gieson has passed away. Judy was a wonderful author whose characters and own life focused on the environment and history. She wrote the Neil Hamel series and the Claire Reynier series. She also wrote a stand-alone, children's books, short stories, non-fiction, and poetry. She was awarded the Literary Spirit of Magnifico Award and the Zia Award for Best Fiction Work by a female writer from New Mexico. She was also shortlisted for the Shamus Award.

Over the years she wrote several articles for the Mystery Readers Journal, most recently "Writing About the Environment in the West" for the Environmental Mysteries issue (36:1) Spring 2020. I'll put a link to that article in the next few days. I enjoyed all our many email exchanges. She was fun and witty!

Read more about Judith Van Giesen's work on Book Series in Order.

From the Albuquerque Journal, February 21, 2021:

Judith Van Gieson of Albuquerque, the author of two series of lively, colorful mystery novels about New Mexico people and places, has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 79. Her body was found by a neighbor in her home at Los Ranchos de Albuquerque in January. The cause of death has not yet been determined.

Van Gieson's 13 mystery novels were based on the exploits of Neil Hamel, a tough, young Albuquerque woman lawyer with a passion for history and the environment, and Claire Reynier, a middle-aged archivist and rare book buyer at the Center for Southwestern research at the University of New Mexico library. Neither woman had an investigative background, but they were both adept at solving mysteries.

Among the subjects Judy wrote about in her novels were the Hot Shots, the fire fighters who parachute into wild fires throughout the West; the reintroduction of wolves in southern New Mexico; and the story of the Conversos, the Jews who fled to Northern New Mexico to escape the Inquisition in colonial Mexico and subsequently converted to Catholicism but retained some Jewish rituals.

Van Gieson was born in New York City and grew up in New Jersey, where she graduated from Morristown High School in 1958. She graduated from Northwestern University in 1962 and took a job at a New York publishing house where she edited famous mystery novelist John LeCarre.

Van Gieson sold real estate in Vermont, then moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, to attend writing school. She moved to Santa Fe, where she began writing her books, then settled in Albuquerque.

After she retired from writing novels, Judy formed ABQ Press, an on-line publishing company. She helped more than two dozen aspiring writers to edit and publish their works.

Van Gieson is survived by her brother, John Van Gieson, of Tallahassee, FL.

Family and friends plan to hold a remembrance for Judy during the spring. The date has not been set.

Books and Review:


Memarge said...

I loooooved her books. I am sorry to hear she’s died. Her books were wonderful!

Debbi said...

She was a total inspiration for my own writing.

I'm so sorry I never got to meet her.