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Charlene Weir: November 10, 1937 – April 4, 2015

Charlene Weir, El Cerrito resident for over 50 years, died April 4, 2015.  She was born November 10, 1937 in Nortonville, Kansas, the seventh and youngest child of the late George and Clara Kettner.  Charlene graduated from Hutchinson High School in 1955 and received her nursing certification from the state of Oklahoma in 1959.

She settled in the Bay Area shortly after and had two children, Chris and Leslie. After an early diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, Charlene abandoned nursing and turned her love of reading and puzzles into a career as a mystery writer. Her first novel, The Winter Widow, won the St. Martin’s Malice Domestic contest for best first mystery and was nominated for an Anthony Award.  The six novels that followed featured Kansas Chief-of-Police, Susan Wren. Charlene said of her strong female protagonist, “Susan is intelligent and competent, any doubts or uncertainties are hidden beneath a cloak of cool confidence.  She solves her own problems effectively. She doesn’t get rescued. She gets herself out of the burning building.” In many ways, this was the perfect description of Charlene herself.

Charlene’s final novel, Unknown Footprints, has been posthumously published. When she wasn’t writing, Charlene enjoyed playing the piano, looking after her two beloved cats, and visiting with her grandchildren.  She was known for her sharp wit and quick sense of humor.

Author of the Susan Wren Series

“Weir continues to entertain with her crisp, easygoing style, some intriguing characters, and a complex scenario that still holds up to close inspection.”
Kirkus Reviews

April, 2015

A new mystery from Charlene Weir

unknown-footprints-coverSanta Monica is a place of amazing sunsets, spectacular scenery, great hotels, five star restaurants, perfect weather, great shopping, theaters and coffee shops. The rich live in million dollar mansions, and the cops wear plain clothes to blend into the scenery, a car worth less than a million is likely to be reported to them. Detective Maddie Martin lives in Mira Vista where a house is available for less than three million.

Rain hammered the roof of the car. She inched along the narrow road with nothing but darkness on both sides. She hadn’t seen her ex-husband in over three years. Why would he suddenly need her? To report a crime? He was a suspect in a crime and needed her help to prove his innocence? 

Greg? Nonsense. 

Inching along in the dark, she thought she was totally lost. A few more turns and she saw a large, sprawling, two-story house tucked beneath huge trees. A completely dark house. No lights. Not one inside, not one outside. A little worm of worry wiggled through her mind. 

She pulled up into the driveway and cut the headlights and the motor. The only sound was the splatter and splash of rain. People expecting a visitor turned on lights. At least an outside light. Why no lights? An oversight? 

Or a trap. 

Set up by her ex-husband? Come now. She grabbed the flashlight from the glove box, flicked it on and slid from the car. Rain pelted her as she sprinted up the brick path toward the house. It was a dark and stormy night—


 In Charlene’s Words

It all began…

LightningLightning forked through the night sky, rain pounded against the roof, fierce gusts of wind rattled the window panes.  He pulled out a chair and gestured for me to sit.  I hesitated, then did as I was told.  He slapped a yellow legal pad on the table and held out a pencil.

I looked up, hoping this was only a joke.

He tapped the pencil twice against the pad.

Even knowing this could lead to serious consequences, I closed my fingers around the pencil.  A horrendous rending cracking crash shook the house.

On that dark and stormy night, just as lightning ripped through the tree outside the window, I entered a life of crime.*


Dealing in crime requires me to sit at my computer and worry.  I’m working on a new character, Maddie Martin, a detective with the sheriff’s department in southern California.  She felt harassed by her boss, her partner, a persistent headache, her sixteen-year-old niece showing up unexpectedly, her current case getting cold, and a surprising phone call.

He ex-husband has just taken a job with a company doing stem cell research, and he claimed he needed her help.

Her instinct was to say no.

* What is writing, but telling lies?

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