Mary V. Welk has drawn on her experience as an ER nurse to knock off sixteen characters in her “Rhodes to Murder” mystery series.
Born and raised in Chicago, Mary grew up in a family addicted to reading and writing. Her father's written work was published in scientific magazines, and two of her sisters were published in non-fiction. Mary's first brush with publishing came when she was thirteen; she wrote a short story that found its way into her school's newspaper. At sixteen she bought a guitar and was soon creating both music and lyrics for original songs. During her high school years, she played guitar and sang with a female folk group called The Nebulas.
It was through music that Mary later met her husband. Fred was also a guitarist, and his best friend was dating Mary's best friend. Rich and Sue brought Fred and Mary together on the assumption that, having music in common, they'd get along nicely on a blind date. Well, they did, and eighteen months later they were married, with Rich as best man and Sue as one of Mary's bridesmaids. Six children and eight grandchildren later, their life together is--in the words of Paul Simon--"still crazy after all these years".
While in nursing school, Mary wrote the first draft of what would eventually become A Merry Little Murder. The draft languished for years in a desk drawer, only seeing the light of day in mid 1992 when Mary turned to writing in earnest. Under the guidance of a knowledgeable Chicago editor, she made improvements in the manuscript, including major changes in the plot and a total switch in characters. Six revisions later, the book was finally published in 1998 as A Deadly Little Christmas. This debut novel featured amateur sleuths Caroline Rhodes and Carl Atwater and earned Mary a Readers' Choice Award in 1999 for Best First Mystery. The title was changed by the publisher to A Merry Little Murder when, after going out of print, the book was reprinted by Echelon Press in 2007.
The Chicago Sun-Times said of it, "The novel shines for its scenes evoking the warm and fuzzy comforts of the holiday season."
Mary's second Caroline Rhodes mystery, Something Wicked in the Air, was released in 1999. The title to this book was also changed by the publisher when it was re-published by Echelon Press in 2009. Now called The Rune Stone Murders, the book had previously received favorable comments from reviewers, including Romantic Times Magazine. They called the story "A nicely woven campus mystery… characters so appealing you will think of them as friends."
A Chicago Sun-Times review of To Kill A King called Mary's 2000 release a novel that "traces the political machinations of a large hospital beset with murderous intrigue." This third book in the "Rhodes to Murder" series was re-released with a new cover design in 2012 and is now available in both print and eBook format.
Fourth in the series, The Scarecrow Murders was praised by Midwest Book Review as “a first-rate mystery” with an “unusual and interesting plot” and “well-defined characters.” Originally published in 2004, it was re-released with a new cover in 2012 and is available in both print and eBook format.
Mary has written two novellas featuring Caroline Rhodes, the protagonist of the "Rhodes to Murder" series. Framed was published in February, 2012 in the three-novella book Hearts & Daggers. Haunted Hearts was published as a stand-alone novella in October, 2012. Because they introduced a new character to the series--a love interest for Caroline--the two novellas were reprinted back-to-back in Criminal Mischief, the fifth book in the "Rhodes to Murder" series released in October, 2013.
Mary's short stories include:
"The Case of the Extra Ingredient" in Hot Crimes, Cool Chicks, 2012;
"Diamonds Aren't Forever" in Dark Things II: Cat Crimes, 2011;
"The Case of the Fugitive Farmer" in Missing, 2009;
"Code Blue" in Chicago Blues, 2007;
"A Family Affair", winner of the 2007 Lovey Award for Best Short Story, in Deadly Ink, 2006;
"Murder Most Politic" in Blondes in Trouble & Other Tangled Tales, 2004;
"Hickory, Dickory, Doc" in Mayhem in the Midlands, 2001.
Other credits include:
"Emma Lathen", Mystery Muses: 100 Classics That Inspire Today’s Mystery Writers, edited by Jim Huang, 2006;
"To the Rescue", issue 92, Mystery Scene Magazine;
"Small But Mighty: Indy Presses", issue 91, Mystery Scene Magazine;
"Let's Hear It for the Independents!", issue 86, Mystery Scene Magazine;
"Small Press News and Reviews" column, Mystery Scene Magazine;
"Death Delivered" column, FMAM Magazine.
Mary is currently working on the sixth "Rhodes to Murder" mystery, an anthology of new short stories, and a second series set in the fictional Chicago suburb of Storm Woods. A member of Sisters in Crime, Mary previously served on the Board of the Midwest Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and as a reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Scene Magazine, and Reviewingtheevidence.com. Mary's hobbies are reading and gardening. She is a rabid sports fan and loves the Chicago Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls, and--in a baseball move unusual for a ChiTown native--follows both the White Sox and the Cubs.