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Auntie Lil is an 84-year-old New Yorker who has embarked on a new career as an amateur sleuth after a lifetime of duking it out in the garment industry. But she is not your typical little old lady. She is sturdily built with an appalling appetite, remains quite active, hates children and is very opinionated. Annoyingly, she is also often right. Her motivation for getting involved in all kinds of scrapes is a need to keep her life rich and interesting. She is aided in her investigations by her buttoned-down 55-year-old nephew, T.S. Hubbert, whose precise approach to life is diametrically opposed to that of his free-wheeling aunt. This series is cozier than the Casey Jones books and features a much gentler form of humor.


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In this first of the Hubbert & Lil “cozy with an edge” mystery series, Auntie Lil and T.S. Hubbert investigate the death of a very proper partner at a private Wall Street bank — the very bank where T.S. used to work. On his first day of early retirement, T.S. is ordered back to work pronto to find out who would have the nerve to invade Sterling & Sterling’s hallowed halls with murder in mind. Auntie Lil smells a mystery and promptly butts in, despite Hubbert’s efforts to stop her. Together, they investigate a trail that leads them back four decades, to a time when the stuffy old men now in power at Sterling & Sterling were not nearly so old and nowhere near as stuffy. It was a time many of them would like to forget — especially now that it appears retribution may finally be near.

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Auntie Lil and T.S. Hubbert enter the world of Hell’s Kitchen, a Times Square neighborhood where Broadway’s chorus girls of yesteryear stand in lines at local soup kitchens, makeup perfectly in place, hoping to be fed. When one of these former beauties is poisoned while eating Auntie Lil’s famous chili, Auntie Lil becomes obsessed with finding out the long-forgotten real name behind the victim’s stage identity so the woman can be given a proper burial. Her search leads Auntie Lil and T.S. into the world of NYC runaways, a world that neither of them would particularly like to admit even exists. Though an unlikely pair of buttoned-down sleuths to be plying the seedy streets of Hell’s Kitchen, they nonetheless make friends with the locals and eventually identify the killer who is preying on young runaways and uncover the courageous last act of an old woman whose glory, while faded, was not gone.

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Can a person love someone for fifty years, even when they never see them? When the love of her life is killed on his way to see her after twenty-five years of separation, Auntie Lil vows that she will find the killer. Afraid for his aunt’s safety and frightened by her uncharacteristically frail reaction to the death, T.S. agrees to help. Their search takes them back into the rough-and-tumble garment industry where Auntie Lil once plied her trade, and into a greedy family grown fat on their founder’s success. This book is an exploration of family, both good and bad, as well as a tribute to the staying power of true love.

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When the Metropolitan Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker is spoiled by a dead body that swings across the stage, ruining a crucial scene on opening night, mayhem breaks out — both within the Ballet’s management ranks and in the city at large. Is some maniac killing people at the opera house? Was there a racial motivation behind the killing? Or is there a curse on the Metropolitan Ballet? Free-wheeling octogenarian Auntie Lil is a member of the Metro’s Board and determined to find out who has spoiled her artistic vision. Aided by her buttoned-down nephew T.S. Hubbert, the duo set out to trap a clever killer.

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Auntie Lil and TS have finally had enough of life in the Big Apple. With a lifetime of memories and memorabilia in tow, they head south to a new life in the idyllic rolling hills of North Carolina’s Piedmont region. Unfortunately, Bonny Bridge Pointe proves to be anything but the restful retirement community they had hoped for. When the mysterious death of a staffer uncovers a series of suspected murders, Auntie Lil and TS are on the case again, this time aided by a curious retired professor named Calvin Ewell, a disdainful cat named Eirene, and an aloof Great Pyrenees who sometimes answers to “Magnolia.” Just about everyone is a suspected killer, from the most addled resident stuck in their 60’s era student days, to officious management and mysterious investors, to seemingly helpful employees who may be a little too quick on the draw with medication. Meanwhile, when two hardcore northerners like Auntie Lil and TS enter the Deep South, a culture clash is sure to follow—with hilarious results for all. Hushpuppies or hoagies? Barbeque or Reubens? Beehives or bob-cuts? The war between the states is still being settled, only this time it’s a battle that, perhaps, everyone can win. 

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“Deftly plotted and well-paced… two wonderful sleuths make their debut.”
— The San Francisco Chronicle


“Weaves a wondrous web of work relationships shrouded by ghosts of a long ago scandal… In the classic British cozy tradition right down to the body with the antique dagger in its chest.”
— The Drood Review of Mystery


“With a fond eye for the eccentric, Gray gives the streets of Hell’s Kitchen the air of a gritty English village.”
— Publishers Weekly

“Gray has the rare talent of being able to combine humor with sensitivity, and high comedy with realistic portrayals of genuine people.”
— The Virginia-Pilot & The Ledger-Star

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