Thursday, December 17, 2015


This blog has moved...

Please follow the link to my latest blog post, and blog subscription form.  Sorry for the hassle! I hate changes, but I do love my new website.  I hope you do too!



Saturday, November 14, 2015


 Finally biting the bullet and getting a new, fully functional website where people should be able to find everything they need, including my blog. Blogger has been a giant pain in the butt for me for many years. Not sure why, but I've never been able to get this page to sync with my Google profile, which means I have to log out and in to post.  So anyway, look for a new blog and website announcement around January 1!

 People have been asking about upcoming books, etc., so here's  the scoop:

January 2016: New Anne Frasier website and blog
June 2016: New police procedural crime fiction set in Minneapolis, Minnesota
2017: Elise Sandburg, book four

I want to thank everybody for their continued support of the Elise Sandburg series. The popularity seems to increase with each new book, which thrills me because whenever anyone asks me to name my favorite book child, it's hands down the Sandburg series.

The series had an odd beginning

Play Dead was originally written over ten years ago as a stand-alone title for Penguin Putnam. My editor at Penguin loathed it. It made her extremely angry. She called David Gould "despicable, with no redeeming qualities". I'll never forget those words. I was told that if I did not drastically change his character they would pull all backing for the book and might not sign me for any future work—and future work would not get in-house support (this makes or breaks a traditionally published book). Normally I do what I'm "asked" because basically I work for the publishing house. 

Now, I cherish a good editor. A good editor can take a book to another level.  But I loved the David Gould character, and I refused to change him, and all backing was pulled. As threats continued, I held my ground under what I now consider extreme abuse of the creative spirit.  I'll never regret standing up for my work even though that decision set back my crime fiction career, and Anne Frasier disappeared for several years. 

 Flash forward: The Amazon imprint Thomas & Mercer reissued Play Dead and a series was born.  And I'm able to write what I want to write.  I've never had anyone at T&M try to tell me what to write or how to write it.

The Minneapolis book is finished and, because of reader response to Pretty Dead,  I'm back with Elise and David. It feels good. 

If you're reading this and haven't bought all of the Sandburg books, they're on sale through November. $2.00 each, or grab them all for $6.00.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Release Day for Pretty Dead

Release Day!! 

From New York Times bestselling author Anne Frasier comes her newest SERIAL-KILLER THRILLER!
What reviewers are saying:
"A great read. Would recommend to any fans of KARIN SLAUGHTER and LISA GARDNER."
"This thrilling page-turner will keep readers intrigued and on the edge of their seat."
"By far the best of the three books. I laughed, I was almost bought to tears and I couldn't put my kindle down till I'd read every last page. After being approved for this book, I went to Amazon and downloaded the first two books. The first first two books are good, but there is something about this one that leaves them in the dust. I loved the use of misdirection, angst, betrayal, attraction, and suspense.. I can't wait for what comes next for Elise, David and their merry band of misfits."
"The story line and the characters were gripping. Would highly recommend this book and author."
"This is my favorite book from the Elise Sandburg series. Once again Anne Frasier kept me captivated from the beginning to the end."
"A working girl is dead at midnight under the moss draped square. And the story never stops. Elise Sandberg's world collapse in the aftermath. From opening to denouement, you will not put this book down."
"This was possibly the best book of this series, and one can only hope there are more to come. Riveting."
Author website:
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A serial killer stalks the streets of Savannah...
Homicide detective Elise Sandburg and her partner, profiler David Gould, are all too familiar with the terrible costs of chasing evil. Despite their wounded psyches, the detectives delve into the deranged killer’s twisted mind, determined to unravel the clues in the taunts he leaves behind.
A city gripped by fear...
When his daughter becomes the killer’s next victim, a grief-stricken mayor comes down hard on the police, demanding that they catch the psychopath—now. Feeling the pressure, department officials enlist the aid of both Elise’s estranged father and an FBI profiler who has unresolved business with David.
A cunning and elusive madman...
In a heart-pounding race to stop the next homicide, the detectives uncover their own role in the madman’s deadly game. Will they outsmart the killer before another horrific murder takes place in their beautiful city? Or have Elise and David finally met their match?

Sunday, May 17, 2015


Pretty Dead, the third Elise Sandburg book, will be released September 1. Please keep in mind that this is a Thomas & Mercer title, which means the ebook will be available exclusively through Amazon. Print copies can be ordered through other vendors like B&N, or brick-and-mortar bookstores. 
The ebook is available for pre-order, and will be delivered to your Kindle on September 1. 

About the book: 
A serial killer stalks the streets of Savannah...
Homicide detective Elise Sandburg and her partner, profiler David Gould, are all too familiar with the terrible costs of chasing evil. Despite their wounded psyches, the detectives delve into the deranged killer’s twisted mind, determined to unravel the clues in the taunts he leaves behind.
A city gripped by fear...
When his daughter becomes the killer’s next victim, a grief-stricken mayor comes down hard on the police, demanding that they catch the psychopath—now. Feeling the pressure, department officials enlist the aid of an FBI profiler who has unresolved business with David.
A cunning and elusive madman...
In a heart-pounding race to stop the next homicide, the detectives uncover their own role in the madman’s deadly game. Will they outsmart the killer before another horrific murder takes place in their beautiful city? Or have Elise and David finally met their match?

Sunday, March 1, 2015


 The Orchard was released almost four years ago, but I still get lovely letters from readers who recently discovered the book and want to reach out to me.  When I was on tour for The Orchard, I wrote a lot of different essays. Short ones, long ones, some for a big audience, some for small ones. I always thought I'd eventually put the essays together in an ebook. Never got around to it. Maybe someday...  But anyway, a recent letter from a reader took me back, and got me thinking of my essays again, and I grabbed this one and thought I'd stick it up here.  This is from the talk I gave at the opening breakfast for the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association yearly conference. It about killed me because...not a morning person. :D 


 The Orchard is probably the most important book I’ve ever written. But little did I know that the nonfiction account of my life on an apple farm would be considered more compelling, more horrifying, and more thrilling than any of my thrillers.

Did you know that apples are part of the rose family? And like apples, it takes a lot of spray to create a perfect rose.  But the big difference is that we don’t eat roses. 

The Orchard opens with a chilling story I used to hear when I worked at my uncle’s bar in Illinois.

Back in the seventies, herbicide salesmen traveled the Midwest and would put on these free feeds. Farmers would get a free lunch, listen to a sales pitch, and hopefully put in an order for chemicals for the upcoming season. At that time, one particular company encouraged its salesmen to drink the herbicide in order to demonstrate its safety. The salesmen would pour it in a clear glass and drink it.  This really happened, and you have to wonder if any of those poor salesmen are alive today. And did they believe that what they were drinking was harmless? Or were they desperate enough to do whatever it took to keep their jobs?  I think sometimes we simply convince ourselves that things are okay when they really aren’t.

I wrote this book to document 70s and 80s farm culture. I wanted to show people what a farm looked like from the inside, from the heart of a young woman.  But I think The Orchard speaks to everyone. We can all relate to wanting a beautiful life. We can all relate to the feelings of isolation and confusion, of devotion to a cause, of love of family. These are things that resonate with all of us, no matter our background or lifestyle. And we all respond to the path the human spirit takes when presented with danger and challenge.

I’m not the typical memoir writer. I’ve never liked to talk about myself, and I was happy writing genre fiction. But I’d had this unique experience that had taken place in a secret world known only to a small group of people, this weird and awful and wonderful life in which I’d married a farmer, moved to his planet, observed his culture, had babies, and returned to tell people about it.   Along with my experience, I had years of writing under my belt.   How could I not tell my story? As a writer, I felt an obligation to chronicle and share this life I’d lived.

The Orchard is really a tapestry of three stories, the story of surviving a challenging childhood, the story of a beautiful life inside a life, and the story of poor choices people make in seeking perfection.

This is the story about one farm, but it’s also a story about every farm. It’s a story about a nation and big business. It’s a story about people not speaking up. It’s a story about our children and our children’s children. It’s a story about acceptance of things that shouldn’t be accepted. It’s the story about a young woman who falls in love, marries an apple farmer, and never sees the world in the same way again.  And it’s a story about the deepest and most profound love of all: the love of a parent for a child.

While I was working in that bar in Illinois, a handsome apple farmer walked in and he began courting me in the most magical way. We went on horseback rides in the moonlight, picnics at the pond, and sketching in the apple orchard.  He welcomed me into his world, and I easily forgot that other people lived there.

Three months after he stepped into my uncle’s bar, we were married. 

I was twenty-one and he was twenty-three.
I had this romanticized notion of getting back to nature and the land. I imagined myself barefoot with a baby on my hip, raising crops and canning organic vegetables. But farm life wasn’t what I’d expected. From the very beginning, from the moment I stepped foot on the farm, I was shunned as an outsider. My handsome husband began to behave in ways I couldn’t understand. And the farm itself, while beautiful and alive, began to reveal dark secrets.

 I was told to stay away from certain areas.  “Don’t walk in the orchard. Don’t swim in the pond. When I asked why I shouldn’t do these things, faces closed, expressions became hard, and I got no answer.  I finally figured out it was because of pesticide contamination.  But nobody would speak the words aloud.

 At night, pesticides drifted in our bedroom window while we slept. During the day, the poison coated the sheets and clothes I hung on the line. It was all around us.  I was horrified by what I witnessed, but I felt helpless to do anything about it.

It wasn’t just the horrors of pesticide use that I had to deal with, it was coming to terms with the realization that I would never belong on this farm.

Here’s a little snapshot from the book.
Shortly after we were married, my husband quit showing up for supper.  The evening meal is called supper, never dinner.  Dinner happens at noon, and is never called lunch.  But anyway, he quit showing up for supper, and when I asked him what he could possibly be doing out there in the dark, he scoffed and said I knew nothing about farming. I actually began to wonder if there was another woman.

One night I heard his truck, and I followed the sound, and knew that he’d pulled up to his parents’ house, which was a stone’s throw from our little place.  So I walked across their backyard and stood on the patio where I could see in the kitchen window. And there was my new husband —eating dinner with his parents. Yes, there was another woman. His mother.

Living in this isolated world, I began writing genre fiction, and my first book came out in 1988. During that time period, I attended a county fair. The local library was selling three hard covers for twenty-five cents, and I came home with a first printing of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.  I read it and began to wonder if maybe I could write about some of what I was witnessing on the farm, but I was told that nobody really cared what happened in the Midwest, and nobody wanted to read about farm chemicals.

But writing The Orchard was something I knew I would do some day; it was just a matter of how and when.

While living on the farm, I learned to assimilate into the culture. In spite of everything, my husband and I were able to carve out our own often-idyllic existence, and create the loving family I’d never had

But at the same time, I was always aware of the darkness that surrounded us. This sense of threat. We might have been breathing poison and eating poison and drinking poison, but so was the rest of the country.  They just didn’t know it.

In the salesroom, apples were sliced and offered as samples, but workers weren’t allowed to wash the apples before cutting them. That might taint the warm, fuzzy feel of a trip to the apple orchard. Nobody wanted to be reminded of why their apples didn’t have spots on the skin, or worms inside. Customers just wanted an unblemished and beautiful apple.

When I finally started writing The Orchard, I didn’t think about the emotional toll it would take. Life (and death) on the farm was a past I’d worked hard to put behind me. It’s possible to recall an event for an hour or an evening, but immersing myself in the details for a year and a half was painful and daunting. And as I said, in the end the truth was more horrifying than any fiction I could ever write.

But I came back to something I’d been told in the eighties: Nobody wants to read about pesticides. Then I realized what I had was a dark, but true fairy tale, complete with the magical land, the handsome prince, the na├»ve bride, and the poison apple.

And along with the fairy tale was a message to the world about what was happening on farms throughout our country, a time undocumented and unexamined. I needed to document it. Examine it.  This piece of my life, this piece of seventies and eighties farm culture that still impacts all of us today.

Most of the events in The Orchard took place some time ago, but sadly not much has changed in the farming world. Apples have once again been named the most pesticide-laden fruit in the country.  But I no longer believe that people don’t care. I think they care, and I think they want to know, and I think they need to know what’s happening and what has happened.

I think it’s also important to keep in mind that farmers aren’t to blame. The market dictates what kinds of crops are raised, and how they are raised. Farmers couldn’t sell imperfect produce, and a lot of farmers paid the price for that perfection. Many men and women died to provide unblemished food for our tables.  The United States as a culture seeks perfection in everything, and no one person is strong enough to stand up to that culture, but fortunately, we have a more educated consumer today.

Apples symbolize home and love and family. There is no other fruit that speaks to us on such an emotional level, marking the seasons with promise and mystery, and that bittersweet feel of a beautiful fall day when the shadows hitting the ground are black and sharply defined, when the air carries with it a loamy, ephemeral scent that smells like the perfume of our lives, and we can feel our history and our future in that single, magical day. In one beautiful apple.

So visit an organic orchard. Pick an apple. A deep red one. Polish it on the leg of your jeans.  Hold it in your hand, and enjoy its beautiful imperfections.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


We're heading into award season and I recently got news that Stay Dead was listed as one of the best suspense thrillers of 2014 by Suspense Magazine.

Complete list of winners in the suspense/thriller category:

Peter May
Jenny Milchman
m.c. Grant
Lisa Unger
Alan Jacobson
Anne Frasier
Jon Land
Allison Brennan
Steven James

Other news:

I finished the third Elise Sandburg book in November. Right now it's scheduled for a July 25 release, but that could change. AND damn if I still don't have a title. :D Nobody's fault but mine. I have a list of possibilities, but nothing feels 100% right. 

What I'm working on now:

This is a long, boring story. This summer I was invited to be a part of a super-secret project involving a big and exciting concept. I can't go into a lot of detail because... secret. The whole concept was so compelling that I couldn't say no. I wrote a post-apocalypse crime fiction story (50,000 words) for this project.

 When will I learn not to get involved with new companies? I should have learned my lesson with Quartet Press. Remember them? Didn't think so. They folded before they started, but not before sucking up a lot of my time and leaving me with nothing to show for it. So it happened again with this super-secret project. I was wrapping up the first draft of my story when things fell apart, and now I've spent a total of five months on this story—first writing it for a high-concept project, then later trying to revamp the super-secret story into straight crime fiction.

 If you've ever done a major revamp you know it can take ten times as long as simply starting from scratch. It's like trying to remove the baking soda from a recipe once you realize you added it by mistake.  Yeah, you could dump it completely, but you used this really fantastic chocolate that you'll never find again.

  So now my post-apocalyptic book has dwindled to 15,000 words of straight crime fiction. And it should be 80,000. Basically I'm starting over.  Sigh. Hope to have it finished by June. It actually DOES have a title, but it's too early to share. Present day crime fiction set in Minneapolis. 

Monday, December 22, 2014



                                                CRACK HOUSE

I live in Walmart. No, really. I live in Walmart.  A few years back I dated a guy who’d been involved in the construction of the Super Walmart on Highway 8 in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. 
            “There’s an anomaly in the wall,” he’d told me. “A crack you can squeeze through.”
            I thought he was lying, and I’d insisted he take me there, show me the crack.  He was almost too fat to squeeze through.  But me, I made it easily.  Once inside, we pulled out our key chains with their little lights.  A room about twelve-by-twelve.  Cement block walls.  Cement floor.  “Somebody could live here,” I’d said, laughing.
            And then the recession hit.
You wouldn’t recognize the place now.  Green shag rug, red lamps, posters, inflatable couch and an inflatable bed.  A small television.   It’s really quite cozy.
            I usually sleep late, then wake up to hit the restroom followed by a visit to the Walmart cafe before taking my usual spot in the traffic outside.   I was still nursing my eggnog-flavored coffee when one of the security guards approached my table near the front of the store.
            “Afternoon, Molly.” 
I’d guess him to be close to my age, maybe twenty-six. He’d asked my name once, and I’d told him.
            “Hi,” I replied.  That one syllable ended in a cautious lilt as I wondered what he wanted.
            “Enjoying your day at Walmart?”
            “Um, yeah.” 
            “I’ve noticed that you’re here quite a bit.”
            “I like to people watch.”
 “Me too.”  And now he was giving me one of those you-know-what-I-mean looks.
He knows.  He knows about my secret room.
I hated to think of moving.  Especially now, at Christmas.   I glanced around, expecting more guards to materialize.  When they didn’t, I calmed down.
“Well, have a nice day,” he said.
  Once he was gone, I remembered I was dressed in insulated Carhartt overalls, a wool stocking cap, and a red scarf.  Not attire for a day of shopping.  I wasn’t fooling anybody.
            Outside, I took a spot on the median so people in cars were forced to look me in the eye as they entered the parking lot.  The cardboard sign I held said Merry Christmas in black magic marker.
            Panhandling was against the law, but nobody could really do anything about saying Merry Christmas.  And it wasn’t as if I didn’t mean it. Christmas was my favorite time of the year.
            Two hours later, I’d had enough of the near-zero temperature.  On my return to Walmart, I passed the Salvation Army worker ringing her bell, shifting from one foot to the other, her breath a cold cloud.  I removed a mitten, reached into the pocket of my overalls, pulled out a ten, and tucked it into the red kettle.
Inside, I sat down at a table near the soft pretzels and popcorn to count my earnings.
Two-hundred dollars. It would last a few weeks if I didn’t go crazy.
“You might want to move along.”
I looked up to see the young security guard standing there, a stern expression on his face, his eyes cold. 
“Sure.  Okay.”  I gathered my money and shoved it in my pocket. A movement caught my eye, and I turned as a group of teenagers sauntered away.
When I swiveled back around, the guard’s face had lost its chill.   I pulled off my stocking cap and tried to smooth some stray strands of hair.
“We’ve had a lot of robberies lately,” he explained.
I’d always taken care of myself, and I didn’t need anybody watching out for me, but all the same his concern felt nice.
“What’s that button?” I pointed to his lapel. 
“This?” He tugged at the blue pin with an upside down V that looked like a roof.  “I’m a member of Have a Nice Day.  It’s a secret society for hidden spaces.”  He was giving me that look again.
 “You know about me, don’t you?” I asked.
 “Your space? It’s not unique. Not a mistake. There are close to ten thousand Walmarts in the world, and all of them have at least one secret space.  Most superstores have more than one, and don’t even get me started about Sam’s Club.  A hidden city.”   He smiled. “We just think of it as reclaiming what used to be ours.”
 “What about surveillance cameras?”  I’d often wondered why I hadn’t been caught.
“We take care of that.” He pulled a pin from his pocket and gave it to me.  A yellow smiley face.
“This isn’t like yours,” I said.
“The blue pins designate the builders; the yellow pins, the occupants.”  In a gallant gesture, he found my hand, almost brought it to his lips, but seemed to think better of it, then said: “Have a nice day.”
Crack House was previously published in Discount Noir.