Illinois Authors

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Jennifer Dodwell

Born: 1962 in Greene County, Ohio
Pen Name: Nikki Baker

Connection to Illinois: Baker is a former resident of Chicago and received her MFA from the University of Chicago. Her Virginia Kelly Mysteries are set in Chicago.

Biography: Nikki Baker is a mystery writer who attended Purdue and lived in Chicago while attending the University of Chicago. She received her bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and took an MBA in economics and finance and worked briefly as an engineer before turning to the financial services industry. Her mystery novels feature a young, black, lesbian financial analyst who lives and works in Chicago.

  • The Lavender House Murder finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Mystery.
  • Long Goodbyes finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Mystery.

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction; Mystery

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

In the Game
ISBN: 1562800043 OCLC: 24010926

When businesswoman Virginia Kelly, a black lesbian, meets her old college chum Bev Johnson for drinks late one night, Bev confides that her lover, Kelsey, is seeing another woman. Ginny had picked up that gossip months ago, but she is shocked when the next morning's papers report that Kelsey was found murdered behind the very bar where Ginny and Bev had met. Worried that her friend could be implicated, Ginny decides to track down Kelsey's killer and also contacts a lawyer, Susan Coogan. Susan takes an immediate, intense liking to Ginny, complicating Ginny's relationship with her live-in lover. Meanwhile Ginny's inquiries heat up when she learns the Feds suspected Kelsey of embezzling from her employer.

Long Goodbyes
ISBN: 1562800426 OCLC: 28293000

Naiad Press, Tallahassee : 1993.

A small midwest town at Christmas time...A high school reunion...Buried ghosts and repressed passions resurface from the past of Afro-American Virginia Kelly.

The Lavender House murder :
ISBN: 1562800124 OCLC: 24667337

Naiad Press, Tallahassee, FL : 1992.

By night – the bars, the music, the sexual energy. By day – the beaches, the bay … basking in the sun and the scent of suntan lotion. And everywhere the women of Provincetown. Among these women in the sun is Virginia Kelly, a woman of color, on vacation from the mostly white world of finance. Ginny has come to P-town with friend Naomi, and without lover Emily. They stay at Lavender House, a hotel for lesbians run by Sam, a woman with whom Naomi has had some dramatic history. Other inhabitants include Anya, who works for the inn; Joan, a writer and sometime guest; loud Barb and her quiet partner. And in P-town, Ginny is drawn to another woman. Then … murder shatters the vacation bliss. For among the people brushing up against Ginny and Naomi for these few sensual days is a ruthless killer. And a victim whose death will change the lives of Ginny and Naomi.

The Ultimate Exit Strategy
ISBN: 1931513031 OCLC: 49338584

Bella Books, Ferndale, Mich. : 2001.

Virginia Kelly is looking at the future and doesn`t want to go there, at least not alone. That Monday morning in October she mistakenly thought that a long procession of lonely nights, middle age and a growing list of embittered ex-girlfriends was what she had to fear.She was wrong.The tensions at the investment firm where Virginia toils are as mercurial as the stock market. A lucrative buy-out offer from a competing company has partners and associates at odds. That Monday morning, Virginia spots police detective Cassandra Hope in the firm`s lobby. Bells ring -- alarm bells. Cassandra is one of those embittered ex-girlfriends. But then Virginia learns of the CEO`s demise from a suspicious case of the flu. Suspects multiply as the buy-out feeding frenzy intensifies. Plenty of people were angry with the CEO, including an unctuous golden boy with excellent golf scores, a tediously jealous wife, and a cohort of fringe employees who are too old, too gay, too brown or too female to be taken seriously at the firm. Avarice and tragedy transform enemies to friends and back again. Cassandra Hope wants the inside dirt. Angered by Cassie`s presumptuous demands, Virginia still can`t say no . . . to anything Cassie wants. With a multi-million dollar payoff at stake, Virginia agrees to be Cassie`s eyes and ears in the overlapping worlds of high finance and murderous greed.