Thirty-something Mara Gilgannon finds herself back in her dinky hometown of Aldoburg, Iowa, helping her Aunt Zee keep her struggling radio station alive while unraveling clues surrounding the murder of Glad, Zee's longtime partner. Mara begins to suspect that Glad's vocal opposition to a Walmart opening in the town, an issue that has sharply divided Aldoburg, may have more to do with the murder than was originally supposed. But nothing is ever simple—especially when a beautiful police officer catches Mara's eye.
"…strongly plotted and full of humor, atmosphere and psychological complexity."
—Nan Cinnater, Books to Watch Out For
"Death by Discount is a traditional mystery that has social issues woven throughout—corporations vs. small business, the death of small communities in the Midwest and hate crimes."
—Terri Bischoff, Killerbooks.org
"This may be a first: a mystery with Walmart as the apparent motive for murder."
—Richard Labonte, Bottom Line
"Death by Discount introduces Mara Gilgannon, an engaging Iowa-grown detective-heroine who is funny, smart, and full of surprises."
—Mary Helen Stefaniak, author of The Cailiffs of Baghdad
"Death by Discount, Mary Vermillion's first novel, entertains and succeeds on different levels as an atypical small-town murder mystery. Characters are well-developed, dialogue moves along smartly, and plotting is well-managed without being conspicuously contrived. Most noteworthy, though, the important themes of intolerance, secrecy, and economic paranoia help to valorize Vermillion's alternative press offering."
—Tim Davis, NewPages.com [Read Davis's interview with Vermillion]
Dave DeVoster, University of Iowa star hoopster, is found dead beneath a statue of Iowa's mascot, his blood dripping from Herky-the-Hawkeye's curved beak. Arrested for the murder is the director of the Iowa City Women's Center, Anne Golding, who led a protest against the university when it allowed DeVoster to remain on the Hawkeye squad despite charges that he'd raped another UI athlete—a player on the women's basketball team. To the rescue comes radio talk-show host Mara Gilgannon. She is not only Anne's ex, but also an avid fan of Bridget Stokes, an assistant coach of the women's team. Mara soon butts heads with overprotective parents, tight-lipped players, university administrators, and Bridget herself, whose interest in protecting her team's heterosexual image may mask motives much darker.
"The preferential treatment of star athletes, the lingering ties between lesbians and their ex's, and homophobia in college sports are just some of the topics covered in this thought-provoking page-turner."
—Cynthia Tyler, author of Descanso and Shadow Work
"Mary Vermillion has a wonderful talent for wrapping socially relevant topics in a page-turning story full of believable characters and vivid settings. Main character Mara is an appealing and convincing blend of determination, pluck, self-doubt, and wry humor."
—Lisa Harkrader, author of Airball: My Life in Briefs
"...At their heart, both Death by Discount and Murder by Mascot are about the nature of relationships—gay and straight, platonic and intimate—friends and family, and the powerful emotions that drive those relationships."
—Rob Cline, Iowa Source
Seminal Murder, Mara Gilgannon #3
When Dr. Grace Everest is murdered in her own sperm bank, Mara Gilgannon attempts to find the killer and to protect a beloved ex who is desperately seeking motherhood. So what if Mara herself has 858 reasons (and counting) never to have children? She didn't let that stop her when she and Grace launched a radio series on artificial insemination. And she won't let anyone stop her from completing the series and discovering the truth about her friend's murder. Not the thief who trashes her office. Not her flamboyant housemate who invites a top suspect to crash with them. Not the 15-year-old who wants Mara to help find her donor dad. And especially not conservative Christian activist Reverend Leo Spires. As he heightens his campaign against the radio station where Mara works and the sperm bank where the murder occurred, Mara discovers a new mystery at the bank itself—an unusually low pregnancy rate for lesbians.
"Vermillion has crafted a tidy whodunit with an intriguing premise and a raft of solid queer characters and some good creepy villains in the right-wing Christian activists. Entertaining with a political edge."
—Victoria Brownworth, Lambda Literary
"Mary Vermillion, in addition to being a terrific writer, is an advocate for the stigmatized and vulnerable, weaving their tales into mysteries that keep us involved and chuckling. In her latest, Mara is back (hooray!) and ready to fight more social wrongs in the midst of an unfolding drama that focuses on the murder of a sperm bank director. Fast paced and fun..."
—Cynthia Tyler, author of High Dive and Finding Polaris
"Mara, resilient and driven by her strong convictions and loyalties, is a likeable heroine, and Vermillion balances her emotional vulnerability...with her stubborn pursuit of the truth."
—Rob Cline, Cedar Rapids Gazette
"Mara Gilgannon is everywoman..."
—The Rainbow Reader
"The storyline raised a myriad of social issues dealing with AI fertility clinics' need for confidentiality, sperm donor anonymity and a child's right to know their biological parent. I highly recommend Seminal Murder—an entertaining read by a gifted author."
—Michael Chavez, author of Creed
"Mara's wry wit and posse of pals proceed with vim and vigor."
—E.B. Boatner, Lavender Magazine
© Mary Vermillion.