Deets Shanahan Mysteries

The Shanahan crime novels are about a wry, old private eye who, while unimpressed by money and power, is a sucker for the underdog. His ingrained curmudgeonly pessimism is, however, tempered by his charming 50ish, tough, friendly, and funny girlfriend, Maureen Smith.

They live where I grew up, in once sleepy Indianapolis, sometimes disparagingly called “Naptown.” In these books, Bible Belt meets urban grit, and serious crime happens among the rich and powerful as often as it does on the increasingly mean streets. Smith and Shanahan share a house on the city’s Eastside with a 60-pound Catahoula hound and Einstein, an ancient, bony feline.

I hope readers get to know the city. In some ways, Indianapolis is the “every man” city and the books expose both the wholesome values and hidden hypocrisies of many inland towns and cities. Also, I hope you will grow fond of the characters who inhabit the elder detective’s world, including Howie Cross, a young private investigator and reluctant father, who seems better at getting into trouble than getting others out of it, and a Harley-riding rebel lawyer named James Fenimore Kowalski. There are eleven Shanahan novels. The most recent, and likely the final entry is Killing Frost, currently available in hardback and e-book.

Killing Frost

At seventy-two Deets Shanahan is still reeling from brain surgery. He is ready to “check out.”  But fate has other plans. As he waits for the arrival of a mysterious, unwanted, yet insistent new client, he spies a car pull in his driveway.  From his window, he sees a woman head toward his front door. This is the first time he sees her and the last time he sees her alive.

Her death leaves too many questions. What did she want with Shanahan? Why was she killed? And what can he, in his condition, do about it? Shanahan’s obsessive search for answers will uncover a disturbing trail of greed, lies, ambition, sibling rivalry and police corruption.

Twenty-five years ago Shanahan embarked on his first case. This case is likely his last, a touching story of age, infirmity — and love.

The real prize here is the tone, which Tierney keeps expertly hovering between compassionate valediction and civic outrage. — Kirkus Reviews

…the book’s real appeal is Shanahan’s gruff, dogged devotion to his much younger girlfriend, Maureen. Maureen keeps this old, broken-down detective going with a mixture of tough love, canny professional assistance, and gritty determination. This entry is a tribute to human decency and one man’s refusal to give up in the face of age and inevitable physical deterioration. — Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)


Bullet Beach by Ronald Tierney
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Bullet Beach

Seventy-one-year-old private investigator, Deets Shanahan, takes on the search of a lifetime. With only a snippet of news found on the Internet, he learns his brother — who disappeared when they were kids — could be somewhere in Thailand. Eager to tie up the loose ends of his life, Shanahan and lover, Maureen, embark on a journey to find the errant sibling. But this is more than a story of a missing person who wants to stay missing. Treasure, deceit and murder are at play on the streets of Bangkok and on the beaches of Phuket.

Halfway across the world, partner Howie Cross, in Indianapolis, is set up to take the fall for murder. Two young and attractive dead bodies in the trunk complicate what was to be a simple, late-night auto repo. Who are the victims? Who killed them? Why? Unfortunately they aren’t the only bodies to be linked to the younger detective who is caught between the police and the people trying to frame him.

Tierney is as entertaining as ever. In particular, thumbs up for the nice, understated septuagenarian love story. — Kirkus Reviews

Tierney... adds spice to the story with eccentric characters, wry humor, and a spare but compelling writing style. Engaging and entertaining. — Booklist



Bullet Beach by Ronald Tierney
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Now available for Kindle.

Bloody Palms

When 70-something Indianapolis PI Dietrich “Deets” receives a call from Jack Wenders, his former commanding officer in Korea, inviting him to Mexico to discuss a case, Shanahan accepts. But Wenders’ shadowy tactics put Shanahan on his guard — and for good reason. Wenders has become involved in a private security force that operates lawlessly across borders, without boundaries or limitations. Before he knows it Shanahan’s trip to sunny Puerto Vallarta turns dark and devious. And just about everyone in his life — including his tough and funny long-time girlfriend, Maureen — is in jeopardy.

Howie Cross, Shanahan’s partner, is sucked into the deadly game. It doesn’t matter that the younger detective has serious problems all his own. Someone else is gunning for him. And they’re playing for keeps too.

"Another solid performance from a savvy writer..." — Kirkus Reviews

"Ron Tierney has a gift for keeping the reader at a high level of curiosity and suspense." — Deadly Pleasures

“… another fast-paced crime adventure…. Tierney’s spirited writing, snappy dialogue, and wry wit add the final touches to this entertaining read.” — Booklist



Eclipse of the Heart by Ronald Tierney
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Asphalt Moon

The murder rate in Indianapolis is climbing, and someone wants to add 70-year-old private eye Deets Shanahan to the city’s crime statistics. Who is it? Why? While the veteran investigator is willing to take on the mysterious stalker, he fears that the love of his life, live-in girlfriend Maureen, is in the killer’s sights as well.

Shanahan’s sometimes partner, Howie Cross, wants to help his old friend stay alive, but has troubles of his own. The younger detective comes home one day to find a five-year-old girl on his doorstep. He is unsure what to do, but when he notices a familiar red pendant hanging round her neck, it becomes clear he can’t ask the police what she’s doing there.

Past loves prove dangerous for nearly everybody in Ronald Tierney’s eighth mystery novel in what Booklist says is “… a first-rate, too often overlooked hard boiled series.” With the author’s patented mix of humor and suspense, Asphalt Moon reveals Shanahan’s vulnerability as well as his toughness. Cross, in his attempt to save lives, faces the biggest challenge of his life, personally and professionally.

"Fast, smart and blessedly short – the genre's good old way." — Kirkus Reviews starred review

"Tierney writes in a style similar to the redoubtable Robert B. Parker, offering crisp, snappy dialogue, succinct but witty prose, characters with principles and enough clever humor to keep even the dourest mystery buff laughing out loud." — Booklist

Listed by Deadly Pleasures as one of the best mystery/crime novels of 2007.


Eclipse of the Heart by Ronald Tierney
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Glass Chameleon

Too many people with secrets. Michael LaSalle knew who they were and what they wanted to hide. That’s probably why he’s dead. Aging Indianapolis private detective Deets Shanahan is asked by an old enemy to investigate the murder. He says no, but Howie Cross, Shanahan’s sometimes partner, takes the case and finds links to the crime in lush and lovely and decadent New Orleans. Cross, almost taken in by the southern charm looks for something — anything — that would shed light on the case.

But protecting his client’s desperately held secret life puts Cross in serious jeopardy. Determined to help his friend, Shanahan reluctantly investigates and explores the subjects polite society doesn’t want to talk about — sex, politics, and religion.

With Shanahan’s younger and full-of-life, live-in girlfriend, Maureen, playing a central role in the story and Shanahan’s life, this seventh book in the series continues its tradition of suspense laced with humor.

“Every page has meaning….” — Deadly Pleasures

“A plot chockablock with unexpected twists, a succinct writing style… unusual characters, and deadpan humor add up to a top-notch read in Tierney’s still stellar series.” — Booklist


Glass Chameleon by Ronald Tierney
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Platinum Canary

Lianna is a beautiful, young and successful executive. She is also pregnant and missing. Police think they have their man. Her fiancé was the beneficiary of a new insurance policy, the two of them quarreled the night she disappeared — and the baby wasn't his. Deets Shanahan agrees to work for the beleaguered boyfriend. But there is some evidence that she merely ran away. Shanahan and his live-in girlfriend, Maureen, fly to the City by the Bay to find their missing person. Shanahan's sometime partner, Howie Cross, travels with them. He has his own missing person to find — an exotic dancer. One missing person leads to another and to some particularly high-level, high-tech hanky-panky.

"Clever humor, an original plot, and a likable curmudgeon as the hero make for yet another winning entry in this popular series." — Booklist

“It’s another page turner….” — NUVO Newsweekly




Platinum Canary by Ronald Tierney
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Nickel-Plated Soul

Hugh Dart served his 30 years for murdering his wife. When he is released from prison he hires Shanahan to find her. Is the man crazy? Is this part of some clever scheme by one of the great political con artists of the times? Or maybe he's telling the truth. Shanahan's adventures take him to Chicago and Miami as he retraces history, Dart's and his own. What he does to solve the case involves everyone, including his live-in girl-friend Maureen, and his occasional partner, the young, brash and irreverent Howie Cross.

“Easy prose, a fast-moving narrative, and a laconically likable protagonist; recommended.” — Library Journal

“It's nice to see Deets still in there pitching.” — Kirkus Reviews

“In a style reminiscent of Robert B. Parker at his best, Tierney concocts a meaty plot and complements it perfectly with rat-a-tat dialogue, oddball characters, bits of homespun philosophy, and delightfully dry humor. An outstanding entry in a first-rate, too-often overlooked hard-boiled series." — Booklist starred review

Listed by Deadly Pleasures as one of the best mystery/crime novels of 2005



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The Concrete Pillow

Young Luke Lindstrom was an all-star high school basketball player. So were his brothers. But something strange was happening. One brother committed suicide, another suffered a near fatal accident. When the third met his death, Shanahan knew there was more going on than a string of bad luck. Even though the last thing Shanahan wanted to do was work for a heroin addict, there was something likable about Luke and something absolutely weird happening to his family.

"Tierney fleshes out his characters well, with the curmudgeonly Shanahan at the fore. The author has a knack for the cleverly turned phrase and deft imagery." — The Indianapolis Star

Tierney writes with great skill and compassion. Five Stars — Deadly Pleasures

Interesting people, a solid mystery, and poignantly loopy domestic complications. — Kirkus Reviews

New editions of Concrete Pillow are now available. Click Amazon to purchase paperback or Kindle e-book format. Click Barnes & Noble for Nook format.
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The Iron Glove

The naked lady wasn't your average floater. She was the wife of an Indiana senator and half of Washington's Golden Couple. Within hours of finding her body in a canal, police arrest a young Latino boxer believed to be her lover. He has the motive, means and opportunity. Another dead body later — along with some answers that seem too pat for the P.I. — Shanahan dives into the dirty side of politics, the dark side of passion, and the hideous secrets the killer is desperate to hide.

"Tierney's 'Deets' Shanahan series offers characters of depth and sensuality, and well-placed swipes of razor-sharp humor." — Publishers Weekly starred review

"A series packed with new angles and delights." — Booklist

"Keeps the reader intrigued with (Shanahan's) cogent observations of human nature and his interaction with police officers, his mistress and the various other characters Tierney draws so well." — Indianapolis Star

New editions of Iron Glove are now available. Click Amazon to purchase paperback or Kindle e-book format. Click Barnes & Noble for Nook format.
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The Steel Web

Two sixteen-year-old boys break into a house looking for small change. Instead they find more money than they ever dreamed possible. Unfortunately, they also discover the blood-spattered body of an undercover cop. The kids make a big mistake. They take the money. With fingerprints all over the victim and blood on their shoes they give the prosecution an airtight case against them. Enter Shanahan who uncovers a few secrets among the rich and powerful that might allow the defendants to escape the death penalty.

"An extremely intelligent, masterfully plotted novel with extraordinary characters, carefully crafted and finely polished. Don't overlook it." — Booklist

"The Steel Web is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery." — Mystery News

"Fast-paced, wryly told, and evenly balanced - solid detection combined with warm, empathetic characterization." — Kirkus Reviews

New editions of Steel Web are now available. Click Amazon to purchase paperback or Kindle e-book format. Click Barnes & Noble for Nook format.
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The Stone Veil

The 69-year-old semi-retired private detective reluctantly takes the case of a Mrs. William B. Stone who seems to have lost track of her husband. Shanahan, who finds his once lonely life complicated by an attractive younger woman, nevertheless finds his client's husband almost immediately. But the job isn't over. The problem is the man is dead and buried in his own back yard. Who did it and why leads the detective to the city's meaner streets where the veil of secrecy is finally lifted

“Intricate, lusty, funny, moving adventure about believably vulnerable characters.” — Publishers Weekly

"The interest in this fine novel its characters, especially the appealing Shanahan, keenly aware of death's proximity as he re-engages with life." — Houston Post

"The pragmatic investigator makes a good first impression." — The New York Times

New editions of Stone Veil are now available. Click Amazon to purchase paperback or Kindle e-book format. Click Barnes & Noble for Nook format.
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