Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Sarah U. Wisseman  

Pen Name: Sarah Wisseman, Sally Underhill, Sarah Underhill Wisseman

Genre: Mystery and Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1951

-- Website --
-- Sarah U. Wisseman on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Wisseman grew up in Evanston, Illinois and currently resides in Champaign.

Biographical and Professional Information

Sarah Wisseman is a retired archeologist at the University of Illinois. She grew up in Evanston, Illinois and Weston Massachusetts. It wasn't until she spent a month at the excavation of biblical Beersheba in Israel while she was a Sophomore in college that she realized she wanted to be an archaeologist. She then returned for her Junior Year Abroad at Tel Aviv University and the experience eventually inspired ''The Dead Sea Codex''. Her books, ''Bound for Eternity'' and ''The Fall of Augustus'', were inspired by her job as a curator in a dusty attic museum. ''The House of the Sphinx'', was the result of a trip to Egypt in 2005.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

The Virtual Mummy
ISBN: 0252027922

University of Illinois Press. 2002

An accessible introduction to the non-invasive, non-destructive methods used to analyze Egyptian artifacts evaluates these innovative computerized techniques. (Science & Mathematics)

Bound for Eternity
ISBN: 0595350887

iUniverse, Inc.. 2005

I still hadn’t figured out any motive for harming Marion. She must have known or done something that the attacker found threatening, probably without realizing it. In fact, it was the classic gothic novel situation: Marion knew something, but didn’t know she knew it. Rather like me I had the feeling of some vital piece of knowledge locked in my subconscious, just out of reach.

Disappearing artifacts, jealous colleagues, and dead bodies—who says a museum curator’s job is easy?

After transporting a newly acquired Egyptian mummy to a local clinic for an X-ray, curator Lisa Donahue safely returns the ancient relic to the Boston University Museum of Archaeology and History. Upon returning to the museum after hours, the widowed young mother is shocked to discover the bloodied body of a colleague in the mummy’s vacated case. The two-thousand-year-old mummy contains an enigmatic clue that will help Lisa solve the murder and keep her job. But she must move fast—before someone turns her into a permanent exhibit.

“Highly authentic, written by an archaeologist, Bound for Eternity is a great read. The museum setting was both eerie and fascinating. I hope to see Lisa Donahue in many books to come.”—Barbara D’Amato

The Dead Sea Codex
ISBN: 0759936781

Hard Shell Word Factory. 2006

While visiting Israel, archaeologist and museum curator Lisa Donahue finds an ancient papyrus, part of a lost first century AD codex on the teachings of Jesus' female disciples. Lisa teams up with her ex-boyfriend Gregory Manzur, racing to find the rest of the codex ahead of Christian fanatics who will kill to prevent the codex's publication. Told from multiple points of view, this mystery/suspense story is set in Israel in 1997, prior to the recent Palestinian uprisings. The characters, two American archaeologists, a Jordanian epigrapher, a Lebanese museum curator, an Arab-Israeli registrar, and an American conservator, reflect the diverse population and religious beliefs of modern Israel. Since the provenance of the papyri turns out to be a cave located smack on the Jordanian-Israeli border, an international committee is convened to determine the ultimate fate of the Dead Sea Codex.

The Fall of Augustus
ISBN: 1597056154

Wings ePress, Incorporated. 2015

When Victor Fitzgerald is killed by a falling statue, Lisa Donahue becomes Interim Director of her Boston University museum.. Suddenly she’s juggling murder, artifact theft, and a complicated move into a new building. Then the treacherous Dean announces her replacement: a vicious woman from Lisa’s past…

The House of the Sphinx
ISBN: 1591332958

Hilliard & Harris. 2009

Archaeologist LISA DONAHUE and her physician husband, JAMES BARBER, hope a Nile cruise in Egypt will be the honeymoon they never had. Lisa's idea of relaxation is crawling in and out of tombs and exploring obscure parts of Luxor, whereas James plans to take a zillion photos with his new digital camera. As the trip begins, Lisa and James ride camels and gawk at the Cairo skyline. All is well until James is called on to aid a fellow tourist who breaks her arm falling off her camel. His role as a doctor becomes vital as the news of a possible smallpox outbreak in the area casts a shadow over the group as they fly south to Aswan to begin a four-night cruise on the Nile River. James realizes that his long-awaited honeymoon is going to become a medical mystery tour as the smallpox scare turns out to be a real threat. James and Lisa are pulled into a complex and terrifying adventure that includes kidnaping, an old flame and a bio-terrorist plot that could engulf the entire middle-east region.

The Bootlegger's Nephew
ISBN: 1591333725

Hilliard & Harris. 2012

"The Bootlegger's Nephew has everything I've come to expect from a Wisseman mystery!"—Molly MacRae, author of Wilder Rumors and Lawn Order A gunshot wound in the middle of the night—the last patient in a long tiring day for Dr. Earl “Illinois” Junker or Doc Junker to the little town of Big Grove, Illinois. The victim—a very drunk Nathan Donaldson with a large hole in his leg—smelled of bad booze. Doc wasn't sure which condition was more life-threatening. It is 1923 and life for Doc Junker is getting complicated. In addition to patients with broken limbs, complicated pregnancies and colds and influenza, Doc Junker senses that the population of is getting sicker—succumbing to ailments that they should survive. Prohibition had spurred a black market trade of liquors and potions that contained a lot more than crude alcohol—heavy metals, opiates and medicinal herbs like digitalis that in homemade concoctions could be dangerous. With the number of illegal speakeasies sprouting up all over the county, the chance of deadly complications was a reality. Now he could add gunplay to the list of hazards the town's people could face. Nate claims he thwarted a burglary, but Doc suspects he was digging for artifacts on someone else's land and was shot for it. There was a cottage industry in the area of archeological digging. Doc knew because it was his hobby too, but he approached his explorations scientifically—Nate was in it for the money. When Doc's friend and patient, Harry Stipes, a local reporter for the paper suddenly takes ill and dies in his arms, Doc discovers an amber flask in his pocket with the name Blue Fire on the label. Harry had been complaining of “seeing yellow” right before he died and Doc suspects that Harry's death is not due to his heart condition at all. Suddenly, the bad feeling that has settled over Doc Junker for the last few months takes a sinister turn—Harry had been working on a story about local bootlegging. Doc Junker starts his own investigation to find Harry's killer and get to the bottom of the mysterious malaise that affects the people of Big Grove.

Burnt Siena (A Flora Garibaldi Art History Mystery)
ISBN: 1432830686

Five Star. 2015

In the magical and historically rich city of Siena, Italy, old paintings are as common as cobblestones. But what if some of those paintings are forgeries? And what if your employers at a respected firm of art conservators might be smuggling antiquities? After colleague and roommate Ernst Mann is found dead in the street below their apartment balcony, Flora Garibaldi suspects her bosses are crooks and that her new job is disintegrating into desiccated paint flakes.

Burnt Sienna is a suspenseful mystery combining a spectacular Italian setting with complicated

art historical dilemmas. The story of Flora Garibaldi and the colorful Lorenzetti family will take the reader on a labyrinthine journey while probing family and professional loyalties that no amount of yellowed varnish can hide

ISBN: 1613097506

Wings ePress, Incorporated. 2016

Art conservator Flora Garibaldi is just getting the hang of her new job restoring paintings in Rome, Italy. Then her policeman boyfriend, Vittorio Bernini, asks her to join a risky search under Rome for a lost trove of Nazi-looted art worth millions. Along with an international team of art experts, they face the daunting task of locating art in miles of underground tunnels. After they discover evidence of recent digging underground, one of Vittorio’s Carabinieri colleagues is murdered. Flora and Vittorio find themselves up against a group of ruthless art thieves who will do anything to prevent the discovery of the art and its return to its rightful Jewish owners.


Bound for Eternity

  • Finalist, St. Martin's Press Malice Domestic Content, 2004 ''Virtual Mummy''
  • Best of the Best From University Presses, ALA, 2004

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)