Writers: A Room of Our Own

by Polly Whitney

Previous Work


Farewell Conch Republic

Farewell, Conch Republic

Dave the Monkeyman and his boss Annabelle head for the Florida Keys in Farewell, Conch Republic, where they encounter the dangers of storms at sea, pirates, the U.S. Navy, and the ghost of Ernest Hemingway. Published by Dell.

The Alligator's Farewell

The Alligator’s Farewell

Hiding behind a new name Polly began a mystery series set in Florida.
As “Hialeah Jackson,” Polly gave us the deaf heroine Annabelle Hardy-Maratos and her deliberately eccentric sidekick “Dave the Monkeyman.” Published by Dell.

Until Death PaperbackUntil Death Hardcover

Until Death

Until Death was Polly’s first book, published in hardcover in 1994 and nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel in 1995.

This novel was also the beginning of Polly’s relationship with the legendary editor Ruth Cavin, who would later encourage the mystery novelist when she went out of the genre for the story of This is Graceanne’s Book. Published by St. Martin’s Press.

With the publication by Worldwide Press of Until Death, the cover gave us a clear look at Connie Candela, the murder victim, which was quite a change from the cubist face of the anchorwoman that graced the hardcover.


Until the End of Time

Until the End of Time continued the adventures of Ike and Abby, but took a serious turn in its subject matter: the plight of New York City’s homeless.

The chapter where Ike and Abby travel across the East River to New York’s Potter’s Field has become known as “The Death Ferry” and has been anthologized many times. Published by St. Martin’s Press.

The violence of the mystery genre was given cover expression with the publication of the paperback Until the End of Time.

On the cover, the latest victim of the Yellow Man murders lies in a filthy alley in New York City, the city whose emerging personality makes it a character in the Until series. Published by Worldwide Press.

Until it Hurts HardcoverUntil it Hurts Paperback

Until It Hurts

In Until It Hurts, Polly indulged her love of basketball by committing the murder out on the court at Madison Square Garden.

This novel is an “impossible puzzle” mystery. Published by St. Martin’s Press.

With the paperback publication of Until It Hurts, Polly joined Harlan Coben as victims of “Bloody Balls Covers.”

Since Harlan’s sleuth is sports agent Myron Bolitar, he’s had many more opportunities for bloody balls than have Ike and Abby, who work in broadcast news. Published by Worldwide Press.


Canine Crimes

Polly also writes short stories, stories such as “The Invisible Sky,” which was published in Canine Crimes. Published by Ballantine.

Another of Polly’s mystery short stories was nominated for the prestigious Macavity Award — “Etiquette Lesson,” was published in Murderous Intent Mystery Magazine.

This is Graceanne’s Book

“A journey into Mark Twain country . . . Like Huck Finn, the novel is about magic and secrets, enslavement and escape. Graceanne’s passage down the river into awareness is lyrical, painful and ultimately uplifting. It is a beautiful book.”

Bob Simon, 60 Minutes correspondent (1996-2015)

An acclaimed writer of two mystery series, P. L. Whitney has turned to a new genre to write the story of her heart. This is Graceanne’s Book is the affecting story of two extraordinary children – characters who leap off the page with gusto.

Publishers Weekly says, “Small-town life in 1960s Missouri is conveyed with elegiac grace in this poignant coming-of-age tale.” In writing This is Graceanne’s Book, P. L. Whitney evocatively shows how much children can teach us about our humanity and calls for a greater understanding and appreciation of children.

The story is told by a nine-year old boy, Charlie, who observes with a keen eye and an encompassing awe a pivotal year in the life of his older sister Graceanne. She’s loud, intellectual, and a ruthless physical and psychological daredevil, a girl whose ferocious exploits are the stuff of local legend in Cranepool’s Landing and the stuff of all that Charlie aspires to be. He narrates Graceanne’s painful passage into a teenager, a passage made tempestuous by their violent mother.

From the ritual bonfire whose ashes are used to paint Charlie’s forehead, to a system of childhood justice that sets aside the weaker youngsters as “dead kids,” to an experiment in ice-carving that attempts to turn the baby Jesus into a “Negro,” Graceanne invents a world in Cranepool’s Landing with an imagination so fertile that it mirrors the rich landscape of which they are a part. It is Graceanne’s fierce creativity that allows these two children to survive an abusive mother and the community that turns a blind eye to their circumstances.

Praise for This is Graceanne’s Book

“Between one Independence Day and the next, as in a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, on Huck Finn’s Mississippi, in John Kennedy’s Camelot, looked down upon by heavenly astronomers, two children must save each other from an alcoholic father (the Combat Soldier), an abusive mother (the Queen of Egypt), the Ugly Blue Man, the Black Santa, degrading poverty and violent shame.
Although just thirteen herself, Graceanne will protect her younger brother, Charlemagne, from the terrifying and arbitrary power of adults–with poetry and magic, kingfisher stories and Elvis records, ice babies and cornstalk silk, scarecrows and arrowheads, a Catechism of the Mackerel and the Miracle of Our Lady of Fort McBain. In the book of wonders Graceanne braids out of their childhood games, Charlie learns to swim, not only in the swollen river, but all the way to Mars. This wonderful novel belongs on the shelf and in the heart next to Toni Morrison’s SULA.”

John Leonard, former editor New York Times Book Review


“Small-town life in 1960s Missouri is conveyed with elegaic grace in this poignant coming-of-age tale.”
Publishers Weekly

“I’m not sure I have adequate words to describe my feelings about This is Graceanne’s Book. . . After finishing the novel I felt lonely . . . What a story!”
Harry Smith, host of A&E’s Biography

“Much can be learned about life and growing up from Graceanne’s Book.”
Library Journal