jan burke
jan burke

What are the titles of Jan's novels in the order of publication?

Goodnight, Irene
Sweet Dreams, Irene
Dear Irene,
Remember Me, Irene
The Messenger

Note: for a list of books and brief publishing info in PDF format to print out and use for ordering, click here. You need Adobe's free Acrobat Reader to view the PDF; download it for free here.
I'm in a book club. Do you have reading group guides available?

Yes. From the Books section of this site, click on the book you will be reading. As guides are developed, a downloadable PDF for a reading group guide is added to each book's page.
I'm looking for advice about writing and getting published. Can you help me?

Here's a PDF you can download with some basic advice. Please note that the publishing industry is changing. (I could have written that sentence at any time in the last 600 years and it would have been as true just after Gutenberg printed his first Bible as it is now.)

Please visit my blog where I often give advice for writers. You can use the blog tags to search for all the entries about writing.

Also, I strongly recommend a visit to: Writer Beware.
Who is your literary agent?

I am represented by Philip Spitzer of Philip Spitzer Literary Agency.
Are Jan's books available in other languages?

Yes. Jan's books have been published in Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Flemish, French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Spanish, and other languages.

To learn more, please click here: International Editions.
What about these books: Unharmed, A Fine Set of Teeth, 18, Breaking and Entering?

Unharmed and A Fine Set of Teeth are short stories which were available in bound, limited editions produced by ASAP Publishing. These are signed collectors' editions which are sold out. The book 18 (aka Eighteen) is a collection of Jan's short stories. Breaking and Entering is a booklet about getting published; Jan edited the first edition of the booklet for Sisters in Crime. There is now a new edition available, edited by Denise Swanson.
Sometimes I see a book called Harm mentioned. Why isn't that listed here?

For a brief period of time, Harm was the working title of Bones. The book was not published with that title.
Is Nine an Irene Kelly book?

No. Nine is a stand-alone thriller featuring new characters.
Is The Messenger an Irene Kelly book?

No. The Messenger is a supernatural thriller.
Will there be a sequel to The Messenger?

I hope so! I have one planned. Stay tuned.
What about Flight?

Flight is a spin-off of the Irene Kelly series. Frank Harriman is the protagonist of Flight.
Will there be more Irene Kelly books?

Will there be more stand-alone novels?

I can't find some of the earlier books. Where can I get them?

The earlier books have all been reprinted by Pocket Books. You should be able to order any of them from mystery bookstores or online. All of the books are also available as ebooks.
Why did you drop Irene's name from the titles?

When I wrote the first three books, I had only one title with the name "Irene" in it—Goodnight, Irene. The next one was going to be Season of the Witch, and for a time, Dear Irene, was known in this household as Fall From Olympus. My first editor thought it would be a good idea to put Irene's name in all the titles. I won't say that my original titles were the greatest, or that this change wasn't for the best. But there were problems with it. First, there was another series out with the name Irene in the titles—a series by Carole Nelson Douglas, featuring Irene Adler of Sherlock Holmes fame. Another problem was that whenever a new book came out, readers often thought they had already read it—because the titles were so similar. Every year, I'd try to talk my editor out of this plan. She left the publishing house, and I got a new editor. I tried again. I almost convinced her. For a little while, I was telling everyone that the next book would be called Three Kind of Lies. At the last minute, this editor talked to one bookseller (!) who convinced her that she was making a big mistake. Ironically, of all of my books, the title most often forgotten by people who are trying to list them is Remember Me, Irene. I lucked out with Hocus. A defining look, a title without "Irene" in it. When I first realized I was now going to be coming up with one-word titles, I wasn't sure that I hadn't gone out of the frying pan and into the fire. But I find I like these titles, and that readers have no difficulty telling the books apart, or remembering the names of the books.
Will you come to my city for a signing anytime soon?

Check the Schedule page for a list of my signings and events.
Which of your books is your favorite?

Choosing a favorite book would be something like choosing a favorite child, I think. At the same time, I hope that I'm growing as a writer, and that each new work is a little better than the last. I leave it to the readers to judge whether I've succeeded.
What inspires you to write a short story instead of a novel?

I love writing short stories, both because I am a fan of the form as a reader and because they give me a chance to stretch as a writer. "The Man in the Civil Suit," for example, is comedic and quite different in style from my contemporary novels; "Unsuspected Condition of the Heart" is historical; "Haunting of Carrick Hollow " is both historical and co-authored (my first experience with working with another writer on fiction). And "Abbey Ghosts" is a Christmas ghost story set in Regency England—not something I could work into an Irene Kelly novel. "Why Tonight?" is contemporary, but needed characters and settings not found in my novels.

Some ideas for stories clearly present themselves as built for this form; they would not sustain a novel, but that does not mean they are inferior—they are simply meant to travel a shorter distance to strike at the heart of the matter. You can find a complete list of my short stories on this site.
Which book is best to read first?

If you to like to start from the beginning of a series, Goodnight, Irene is my first book. But the mystery in each of the books stands on its own, so if you aren't someone who is worried about reading them in order, you'll be fine starting anywhere.
In which book did Irene meet Frank?

Frank and Irene have met about twelve years before the beginning of the first book, Goodnight, Irene. They met in Bakersfield, where he was a rookie cop and she was a green reporter. She moved back to Las Piernas, her hometown, and they lost touch. Shortly after that book opens, though, they meet again, and Irene acknowledges to herself that there has always been an attraction there. Readers will find Frank and Irene's first encounters in Bakersfield mentioned in Remember Me, Irene. In Hocus, there is much more information about their time in Bakersfield—Irene returns there to solve an old mystery in order to free Frank from captivity.
What mysteries do you read? Favorite authors?

I love crime fiction and mysteries of all sorts, and read outside the genre as well. My favorite mystery writers of the past include Chandler, Hammett, Woolrich, Sayres, Allingham, Tey, and Christie, not necessarily in that order. If I start naming contemporary writers, I'll undoubtedly forget to mention a friend whose work I truly enjoy.
How do you research your books?

The research for the books is important to me, and I appreciate the help I receive from the many people who take time to answer my questions about forensic science, law enforcement, and a host of other subjects. I know the acknowledgment sections of my books are long, but there are always many more people who helped out than those who are named there. The short version of how I do my research is that I use libraries, reputable Web sites, course work, a private collection of texts and materials collected over more than a decade, contacts made over the same period, friends, and friends of friends. I try not to take up the time of people working on cases until I have done as much homework as possible on my own and either need verification of what I think I've learned, or can't find an answer to a question any other way— I would rather not distract someone who is doing the real work of catching violent offenders with a question that could be answered by reading any basic text. I enjoy the research, and hope my enthusiasm for various subjects comes through in the books, but the story itself determines what stays in and what is cut—I don't think more than 2% of what I learn ends up in the book itself. The other 98% helps me to write a better story, so it isn't wasted, but I know that it's no fun to buy what you hope will be an engaging work of fiction and instead find the author is so enamored of the research, the book is nothing more than a long term paper. So I try to use the research for the story, and not the other way around.
Which novel covers the events in the cabin that fuel Irene's nightmares and claustrophobia?

Sweet Dreams, Irene
Are there any audio versions of your books available?

Yes. Many of the books are available as audiobooks from Recorded Books. These may also be purchased on Audible and from other audiobook dealers. Goodnight, Irene is available as an audiobook from iTunes, as is the short story (some would say novella) "Zuppa Inglese," in the anthology Murder at the Racetrack.
Are there any movie adaptations of your books?

No, although there have been options. As happens with most options, so far nothing has made it to the screen.
I have a book report (or other homework assignment) due soon. Can I email a set of special questions about her books?

Please don't. Unfortunately, the number of these requests has become unmanageable. You can find a lot of information about Jan and her books on this site, on Wikipedia and on the Web in general.
Will Jan sign a bookplate, a photograph, a book—if I mail it to her with return postage?

Sorry, at present the answer is no. Because she tours often, attends conventions, and speaks at Crime Lab Project events—where books can be brought to her for signing—and because she wants to support the bookstores that invite her to do signings, Jan does not accept individual requests to sign materials mailed to her. Please do not attempt to send materials to her for her signature, as it is unlikely they will be returned to you.
May I send my unpublished manuscript to you?

Please don't. For legal and other reasons, it will be deleted/tossed unread.

Send your manuscript to legitimate agents and editors, not to other writers. If you don't think it's ready and you just want advice on how to fix it, alas, I don't have time to serve as your private writing teacher or editor. Instead, take it to a writing conference or enroll in a writing program at an accredited university or college.

Before you send your manuscript anywhere, please visit this Web site: Writer Beware.
Will Jan speak to my group?

Email Maddee with as many details of your request as possible. Because she is writing and working on behalf of the Crime Lab Project, Jan's time for speaking engagements is limited.
Will Jan please send my book to her agent?

Sorry, no, she can't offer to be a manuscript forwarding service for you.