Category Archives: Anne Barton mysteries

The Simple Life is Murder!

New Book Release :

My latest book, The Simple Life Is Murder, by Anne Barton, is now available in both electronic and trade paperback form. There is a history involved in my writing this book.

As a small child, my family lived in a town where there was a highly regarded small liberal arts college, Antioch College. We lived across the street from the campus. I had been born in Drumheller, Alberta where we had a wheat farm. But in the early thirties, when drought and the Depression both hit, we went to live with grandparents in the U.S. My grandfather had once been a professor at Antioch College.

We attended a private school run by the college; for me two years of kindergarten and grade one. But my parents decided to move back out west, to northern Idaho. To say that this was a culture shock would be a vast understatement. The small town in Idaho was still living as if in the nineteenth century. After a couple of years, my parents bought a plot of land out in the woods, and we moved into a 16 by 20-foot tent until a log cabin could be built (it never was). We had no modern appliances, no electricity, no running water, no phone and worst of all, no insulation. Winters in the mountains of northern Idaho can be brutally cold.

I hated it!

Every few years someone writes about the joys of going back to nature to lead the simple life. Well, let me tell you, it isn’t so simple. It’s damned hard work, even for children. My chores included sawing, splitting and carrying wood for the stove, carrying buckets of water from the spring in a large copper pail that weighed much more than the modern plastic kind, and helping clean the lamp chimneys and the kitchen stove pipe. The only chores I liked were feeding and harnessing the horse, and milking the goat.

No one ever writes books debunking that kind of life, though for every family who claimed to enjoy it, there have been thousands who couldn’t wait to get away from it. I have always felt they needed a spokesman (or woman), and I decided to be that person. Since I write mystery novels, I set a mystery in an isolated mountain valley in British Columbia. My protagonist is a fourteen-year-old boy. Why a boy? I didn’t think a girl would let herself get into the scrapes that a boy would.

So here it is! The Simple Life is Murder!

The Bony Blithe Light Mystery Awards

In late May I went to Toronto for two mystery writers’ events. I took the VIA Rail train, The Canadian, from Kamloops to Toronto. Three relaxing days, with excellent food, a comfortable bed and service for my every need. I came back home by train as well.

Crime Writers of Canada holds their annual Arthur Ellis Awards for the best crime writing in seven categories. The main one, of course, was the prize for best crime novel. My novel, Cui Bono? was entered but didn’t win. However, one of the judges praised it and thought it should have been included in the finalists at least. That made me feel pretty good!

The next day, the people who used to put on the Bloody Words mystery writers’ conference held a mini-conference and awards banquet for “books that make us laugh.” It is called the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award and was won by Margaret J. Duncan for her novel, Murder on the Hour, published by St. Martin’s Press.

Anne Barton at the Bony Blithe Mini-con 2017

The mini-con was a whole lot of fun. I have found that mystery writers are one of the nicest bunches of people I have ever been with. That seems strange since all of us are constantly trying to figure out novel ways of killing people!

I hope that next year I will have a book that will be considered for this award. I’m working on it now. It will be about a young teenager who has been dragged out into the wilderness where his parents want to lead “the simple life.” Life isn’t simple, he learns. In fact, it can be murder!

Robin Carruthers Mystery Novels

Flight school operator and Anglican Church member, Robin Carruthers:
A five book series by Anne Barton

Robin Carruthers is a middle-aged woman who runs a flying school. Five feet ten inches tall, with flaming red hair, she can be a formidable character and can stand up to any man. She has decided that she really ought to start going to church, and in the course of the novels, she learns not only Anglican theology but also about church politics. Some of the books are set more in her private life as a flight instructor. Others concern problems with her business, while still others involve affairs of the church. All of the novels combine elements of her work life and church life.

the-evil-we-doThe Evil That We Do

Robin is new to the church, and this novel introduces the reader to the characters who will continue through the series, including church members, people in the aviation industry, including a problem student who keeps coming back to Robin’s school, and RCMP officers. In this first book in the series, a church administrator is murdered in the church office and the church secretary is suspect. Robin and the rector, Rev. Douglas Forsythe set out to investigate.

The Third Day

It is Easter and a prominent church member who is an accountant has uncovered a fraud among his clients. But before he can identify the culprit he is shot through the heart. Robin worries that her best friend may be dating a murderer.

 The Death of the Wicked

Three men plan to make a flight into adverse weather in order to conclude a real estate deal whereby they can make a lot of money. Robin convinces the passengers that the flight cannot be made safely, and the irate pilot sues her for slander. When the pilot and one of the passengers are killed in what seem to be separate accidents, Robin is a suspect.

Evil In Their Hearts

Robin and Rev. Forsythe are drawn into a controversy regarding a colony whose members are suspected of criminal activity. Two women want to leave the colony. One is murdered, the other nearly so. Robin’s planes are sabotaged. She suspects her problem student, but has no proof.

book_cov_the-devil-laughsv3The Devil Laughs

A group of parishioners want to get rid of the rector, but when the person believed to be the leader of the group is murdered, things don’t get better, they get worse. Another group, led by Robin, tries to find out who is leading the antagonists, and Robin eventually identifies the murderer as well.

More details about each of these books can be found on my website.


In the next post, I will describe the novel and two novellas written under my pen name Carolyn Dale.


Anne Barton

Dr. Erica Merrill series

Medical mysteries with a twist

 Writing as Anne Barton, the sleuth in my Dr. Erica Merrill mysteries is a young woman veterinarian. So her knowledge of animal diseases and drugs, along with some basic knowledge of human medicine, provides clues to her interest in murders as well as her help in solving them. There are three novels in this series. In order they are:

             anne-b-book-cover-till-hell-freezes-over  Till Hell Freezes Over

            anne-b-book-cover-a-switch-in-time  A Switch In Time

            book_cov_catandmouse  Cat and Mouse

There is a theme that runs through all three novels, but each is a stand-alone mystery.

Erica is a recent graduate of the veterinary school at Washington State University and is trying to establish a practice in her hometown, a small northern Idaho county seat. She becomes reacquainted with a high school boyfriend, Clay Caldwell, who is now a deputy sheriff with a college degree in police science. When she becomes involved in the investigation of murders, she encounters resistance from several directions. Her boyfriend, Clay, is sceptical, her powerful father interfering, and some of the citizens of the small town antagonistic. Her veterinary practice suffers as a result. When she comes up with the solutions to the mysteries, she tries to be sure that Clay and his boss, sheriff Pete Torgeson, get the credit, since the sheriff’s position is dependent upon the voters, and Clay’s job is dependent on Torgeson being re-elected.

Till Hell Freezes Over is a variant of the locked room puzzle. There is one set of tracks in the snow leading to and from the cabin of a man found dead of a gunshot wound, who was known to be alive when the snow began to fall. The reader knows that these tracks were made by a deadbeat neighbour who discovered the body, but Erica doesn’t think he did it and sets out to solve the murder herself to prove her point and establish herself as a person in her own right.

In A Switch In Time, a wealthy widow is poisoned by a medication Erica dispensed for the family dog. Everyone connected with the household has a motive (money), but only the nine-year-old granddaughter has both means and opportunity. Erica does not think that the girl, though she is a brat, would deliberately kill her beloved grandmother. But she wonders whether the girl’s father could have persuaded her to do it.

In Cat and Mouse, a woman is shot dead while looking for her dog in a woodlot below her house. Erica and Clay think the woman was not the intended victim. When another attempt at murder goes awry, the sheriff’s office has two crimes with no suspects and no idea who was supposed to have been murdered. In a grisly game of cat and mouse, the killer tries to trap the victim, who evades the traps, until Erica nearly sets off still another one.

You can learn more about these and my other mysteries at my Anne Barton website.

In my next post, I’ll tell you about my Robin Carruthers series, featuring a female flight school operator and Anglican Church member.

Anne Barton (aka) Carolyn Dale

Meet Anne and Carolyn

cropped-img_0856_1.jpgI am both Anne Barton and Carolyn Dale. As Anne Barton, I have written mystery novels in two series. I have followed the advice to write about what you know. I am a retired veterinarian, so I wrote one series of three novels featuring Dr. Erica Merrill, a young woman vet trying to establish a veterinary practice in her hometown, a small northern Idaho county seat.

I am a pilot and have been a flight instructor, so I wrote another series of five novels about Robin Carruthers, a middle-aged female flight school operator, who is also active in her local Anglican church. Flying and church politics might seem to be an odd combination, but clues in the mysteries come from both areas.

As Carolyn Dale, I got away from the personal and have written one novel and two novellas on different subjects, though in the novellas I have thrown in vets as minor characters. The latest of these will be published by Books We Love sometime this spring. Check the Books We Love website.

All my books are in both e-book and paperback formats.

In future posts, I will describe my work in more detail, starting with the Dr. Erica Merrill series.    

Anne (and Carolyn)