Lynne Handy’s newest novel “Old Sins,” delights us with book three in the Maria Pell Mystery series. Like Christie’s Hercule Poirot, poet Maria Pell happens upon crimes, which she feels compelled to solve due to a strong sense of moral duty. As Kirkus Reviews noted, she's ... "a witty sleuth as keen and profound as the art form she teaches."

“Old Sins” takes us on a journey to a small Irish village where sleuth Maria Pell is studying Celtic myth and ancient religions while writing her next volume of poetry. But her sanctuary is invaded first by her moody cousin and then by her archaeologist lover, who is intent on gaining Maria’s forgiveness for his betrayal. When the discovery of a girl’s body on a rocky shore reawakens Maria’s devastating childhood memory of finding a dead baby floating in a stream, her days become haunted by this child’s death. As teenage girls disappear, villagers are terrified that sex-traffickers are targeting their community. With crimes to be solved, both past and present, Maria risks her life to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Each of the Maria Pell mysteries is set in a different location, Handy explains, “It excites me to write about someplace new. I generally write about places I’ve been or lived, but even then, I do extensive research to get things right, like the topography, flora and fauna, weather, etc. Setting helps create mood. Mood invades characterization.” Additionally, each of the books is written as a standalone without requiring the reader to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy the story.


Handy grew up in western Indiana, the eldest child in a farm family, where the tall corn drove her inward to create fantasy worlds. Books were her salvation. She was drawn to poetry in the beginning. Wordsworth and other poets taught her that metaphor, sound, and cadence made a good poem. From authors like Dickens, she learned that rhythmic sentences advanced plot. Hemingway taught her about verbs. Upon graduating from library school, she worked as a librarian in Illinois, Texas, and Michigan. In retirement, she co-founded Open Sky Poets, a collaboration of poets in the western suburbs of Chicago, and published poems and short stories in literary journals. With her love of poetry, it seems very fitting that her character, Maria Pell, is a poet as well. 

But when asked what lured her to mystery writing Handy has this to say, “A mystery novel is a morality play. The godliest person on earth may be propelled toward an evil act, and whether on the brink, they pull back from it or not, is a matter of conscience or circumstance. I also like puzzles. Putting together a mystery story is like putting together a puzzle. Clues must interlock with the solution.”

To learn more about Lynne Handy, please visit her website at


“Old Sins” will be available at all major retailers in paperback and on Kindle for ebook on August 23, 2022.




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