Lise McClendon writes fiction from her home in Montana. She is the author of eleven novels and numerous short stories and articles. Her latest novel is “The Girl in the Empty Dress,” a sequel to “Blackbird Fly,” featuring the five Bennett Sisters in France.

“PLAN X” is a thriller written as Rory Tate and published in 2013.

Her 2012 novel is not a mystery this time but a humorous coming-of-age novel called “All Your Pretty Dreams.”

Her novel, “Blackbird Fly,” is a suspense novel set in southwest France that has been called “a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love, loss, sisterhood, and the ties that bind us together.” She is also the author of two mystery series set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and early Kansas City, Missouri, including “Blue Wolf” and “Sweet and Lowdown.”

In 1997, she wrote and directed the short film, The Hoodoo Artist,featured at the Telluride Indiefest. She has served on the national boards of directors for Mystery Writers of America and International Association of Crime Writers/North America.

Lise critiques and teaches at the Jackson Hole Writers Conference and is co-founder of Thalia Press, with Katy Munger. Visit her website for more information.

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Books By Lise McClendon writing as Rory Tate:



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PLAN X is the new kick-ass thriller by Lise writing as Rory Tate. These thrillers are edgier than her other fiction, with strong female protagonists fighting their way in the world. In PLAN X police officer Cody Byrne is just back from a Reserve tour in Iraq when a lab explosion on the campus of Montana State University sends her reeling. She is tasked with finding the next-of-kin for a professor of Shakespeare. A simple job, it would seem. With no relatives to be found she follows the trail of old documents he left behind. Could they be an authentic Shakespeare play? As she gets closer to the truth her own family, lost and estranged, comes to both haunt and help her.

PLAN X is both thrilling and sophisticated. In a serpentine story that races from small-town Montana to the vaulted halls of Windsor Castle, nothing is as it seems, including the works of the great Shakespeare himself. Former military and current police officer Cody Byrne is unforgettable–a heroine you want to root for. I love this book!

–New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author J. Carson Black  

A thrilling police procedural as (Iraqi war veteran turned) police officer Cody Byrne investigates the death of a Montana professor who may have been hiding one of the biggest secrets in academia—or perpetuating one of the biggest frauds—one that could scandalize the royal family of Great Britain. An entertaining read!

–Robin Burcell – award winning author of THE BLACK LIST

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Seattle reporter Mimi Raynard is having a bad week. Her ex-husband is now her boss at the TV station and wants her head on a platter. When three prostitutes die of a suspicious heroin overdose Mimi gets the story but in her nervous enthusiasm bungles it. The narcotics detective on the case tries to help but both are out-foxed by the buxom intern.  What’s a girl to do?

Desperate and out of ideas Mimi takes a friend’s advice and dresses up as a Russian Mafiya Madam for a resume tape she has no intention of sending out. But the lark turns serious when the intern steals the tape. At the Seattle Police Department the narcotics detective Shad Mulgrew has his own career crisis. He is framed for stealing drugs from evidence. Is someone in the department killing prostitutes? Working together to save their reputations, Mimi and Shad look for the truth, from the fishing docks of Puget Sound to the backwoods of the tiny Republic of Moldova. They end up salvaging a lot more than their careers. In a wild finish they save the soul of Seattle, and find themselves.



BOOKS BY Lise McClendon


The Girl in the Empty Dress 


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The sequel to the much-loved Blackbird Fly is here at last!

Merle Bennett is spending another summer in France, vacationing with her four sisters and one friend, lawyers all, tramping around the backroads of the Dordogne. The sixth member of their walking tour is a law colleague, Gillian Sargent. She hasn’t made a good impression on the Bennett sisters, being annoying and secretive and upsetting the delicate karma of sisterhood. When Gillian finds an injured dog along the roadside and wants to keep it for her own, the idyllic summer trip of sisterly bonding and wine-drinking turns dark and dangerous. Who else is after this dog? Why is she so special? And what secret is Gillian Sargent keeping so close to her chest that her co-workers call her ‘The Girl in the Empty Dress?’

Lise McClendon introduced Merle Bennett in Blackbird Fly, taking readers on a journey of self-discovery for Merle as her late husband’s life opened up its secrets. He left her a stone house in the Dordogne he never mentioned, his family estate. Merle’s efforts to fix up the abandoned ruin, extract a squatter, and discover the family secrets help her through her grief.

Now, back in this corner of southwest France of dark, oaky wine, rocky hills, foie gras and earthy truffles, she juggles sibling bickering, her teenage son, two boyfriends, and the law. All she wants is to unwind in the golden light of France. But France has a few tricks up its sleeves again. Thanks to a sad, dirty little dog and a woman with too many secrets.

All Your Pretty Dreams

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“The beauty of this book is its originality, and its sheer inability to be categorized, which, in today’s world of cookie-cutter books, is a good thing! It’s a romance, with its lovers troubled and conflicted and struggling with their feelings, but ultimately, wonderfully in love. It’s a coming-of-age story, with characters young as well as old doing so! It’s a story of family and values, both not necessarily going hand in hand … and more than anything, love – in all of its variations and dimensions.

There are lots of eccentric and lovable characters who both come together and break apart for various reasons in the small town of Red Vine, Minnesota. Some are rich and some are poor – but that all depends on how one defines those adjectives … monetarily or spiritually. Jonny Knobel comes home to play in his family’s polka band and to help his father repair the aging motel owned and run by his father. He’s also trying to break away from his estranged wife and all the baggage of a failed marriage. While at home, he meets Isabel Yancy, a graduate student involved in a biology study of bees. They couldn’t be more different in their ideals and dreams … you think …!!?? Lise McClendon is a joy to read. Her stories are unique and inventive … no traditional formulas for her, thank you very much. Her dialogue is witty, her characters multi-dimensional, and her locales so well defined that the visuals replay in your head long after you lay the book down. As with her previous books, ALL YOUR PRETTY DREAMS is a joy to read.”

— Goodreads review

“The push and pull of becoming an adult on your own terms is the dilemma facing Jonny Knobel. His life so far hasn’t worked out and his family wants him back to play his accordion in the polka band for the summer. He gets sucked into the family drama, and the tempting wiles of the college field team next door. The leader of the crew studying wild bees is Isabel Yancey, a rude city girl with her own baggage, including a rich family she despises.

Combining the spirit of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with the quirky, heartfelt characters of Anne Tyler the isolated yet contemporary world of Red Vine, Minnesota comes to life, a rich milieu of confrontation, betrayal, humiliation, laughter, and redemption, as Jonny plays Bruce Springsteen, James Brown, and the ‘She Likes Kielbasa’ polka on his grandfather’s accordion. What does a draftsman from Minneapolis, born into a cheesy polka band, have in common with a prickly, ambitious scientist who studies bees? How badly does she want him to breach her defenses? Romance, humor, and the heartache of growing up make All Your Pretty Dreams a unique journey through the hearts and minds of young adults searching for the keys to happiness in a complicated world. If Elizabeth Bennett had been born into a Minnesota polka band, her story would be All Your Pretty Dreams.”

— Goodreads review

Blackbird Fly

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Merle Bennett, a legal aid lawyer in New York, is shocked by the sudden death of her husband. She takes her teenage son to France when she escapes her grief. Her husband’s ancestral home, crumbling and infested with secrets, should be a project full of solace and sunshine. But soon any calm she feels is overshadowed by the past. A crumbling house, a deranged squatter somehow connected to her husband, unfriendly villagers, a ghastly surprise in the garden house — it makes a girl almost wish for the sleepy suburbs. But Merle can’t go home until all is resolved, one way or another.

In her first suspense novel, Lise McClendon reveals her love of both the French countryside and the intimacies and drama of family. Her style has been described as “lyrical and often humorous” and her mysteries as “richly detailed … quite simply gets to your heart.”

As an Amazon reader wrote: “There are dead bodies, lots of suspense and mystery, great characters, a bit of romance, but mostly it’s just a great story! This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. You won’t be  disappointed.”

A few writers are gifted with a feel for place that transforms locale from mere background into a vital element. To their number add Lise McClendon. — San Diego Union Tribune


The Bluejay Shaman 

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Traveling the back roads of Montana, not-quite-fearless art gallery owner Alix Thorssen is far from her home in Jackson Hole. Trying to clear her sister’s husband of murder, she finds herself up to her Ray-bans in shaman’s secrets, muysterious deaths, zealots, and madmen, not to mention — ah yes — passion among the pine needles. Whoever killed Shiloh Merkin hated her. But did Wade Fraser, University of Montana professor, do the deed? Alix follows a trail of moonlit rituals and legendary artifacts as another murder leads her to a chilling confrontation with a killer.

“In this first novel in the series, Lise McClendon weaves a gripping tale of suspense, blending Indian lore, the timeless clash of western values, and the magnificent landscape of the Rockies. “Delightful; compellingly twisted. Reminiscent of Tony Hillerman at his best.” — James Crumley, author of The Last Good Kiss

“A sleuth with intelligence, courage, and real heart.”— Earlene Fowler

“The magic in a Lise McClendon mystery lies in the character of the heroine, an outwardly stoic and reserved Norwegian-American, who has a big heart.”– Midwest Review

Painted Truth

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Alix Thorssen’s partnership with sexy Paolo Segundo is at a crossroads. When another gallery on the town square burns, revealing the body of a famous artist, she is drawn into the investigation as an appraiser of the lost paintings. Ray Tantro was a has-been at 30 but was on the verge of a comeback. Why would he commit suicide? Why are the police so quick to dismiss foul play? The investigation makes her confront her own contradictions as an art lover, turning everything she knows upside down. She must examine her ethics and even her way of life to find the truth, and justice. But not without a very high price.

“An extremely satisfying mystery whose intricate plot kept me guessing. It’s a rare book that can keep me riveted to its pages and have me reaching for tissues at the end. This one did. I give it my highest recommendation.”– Mystery News

“Writing in a lyrical, often humorous style, McClendon brings the surrounding Wyoming territories to life.”  — Armchair Detective

“An unusually complex art swindle that will leave you gasping with admiration for the killer’s imagination and industry. McClendon knits detective work together with domestic betrayals in a satisfyingly intricate tangle.” — Kirkus Reviews

Nordic Nights

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“Set in wintry Jackson Hole, Wyo., this crisp, straightforward mystery plunges gallery owner Alix Thorssen into the local Nordic Nights festival, which features ice carving, a parade, ski races and a startling murder. Famous Norwegian painter Glasius Dokken, who had come to town for his show at Alix’s gallery, is found stabbed with an ice pick in the hotel room of an itinerant and provocative fortune-teller.

Arrested for the killing is Alix’s glumly stoic stepfather. .  who reveres his Scandinavian heritage and has painstakingly crafted a replica of a Viking ship to be displayed in the parade. Alix, persistent and unflappable, begins to investigate, but accidents plague her and her family: the Viking ship nearly crushes her; her mother barely escapes a hit-and-run; and Bjarne, a seductive ski-racer who has beguiled Alix, is also implicated in the murder.

McClendon works a good deal of Nordic folklore into her story. The fortune-teller is a specialist in runes, and her silver-and-wood tools quickly become a central point in the case: Are the runes museum quality? Have they been stolen? The third entry in the McClendon’s series (after The Bluejay Shaman) conjures up the icy beauty of Jackson Hole. Her agreeably feisty heroine and a hair-raising finale will keep readers entertained throughout the night, Nordic or otherwise.” — Publisher’s Weekly

Blue Wolf

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This is the fourth novel in an engaging series featuring artist, gallery owner, and sometime sleuth Alix Thorssen, a resident of touristy Jackson Hole, Wyoming. October is a slow month for tourism in Jackson Hole, but there is enough drama among the locals to keep them busy. In the midst of an uproar over the shooting of an endangered wolf, a friend asks Alix to look into an older crime–the murder of a local boy.

The case has been swept under the rug for 25 years, but it turns out to be far from closed, as Alix discovers ties to prominent citizens and current scandals in her search through long-forgotten documents and memories. Wyoming flora and fauna are lovingly described alongside sharp dialogue and good pacing in this readable, down-to-earth mystery, which is refreshingly free of a histrionic heroine-in-danger finale.

“Recommend to fans of the outdoorsy and witty Nevada Barr and Dana Stabenow novels.” — Booklist.

“A tension-filled novel which shows McClendon’s keen sense of people and their emotions and their conflicts. And always, watching from the mountains, as Alix and the others caught up in this surprising and twisting tale, is the avatar and the catalyst, the blue wolf. This is a powerful, moving novel.”   — Amazon review

The DORIE LENNOX Mysteries

One O’Clock Jump

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Halfway around the world, war has begun, but for Dorie Lennox, a newly-minted private eye on her first tail, danger is more immediate. The dark streets of Kansas City of 1939 offer swing music, fast cars, gangsters, and the chance to forget about the Depression and her own murky past. But first she must conquer her fears and save a woman on a bridge high above the muddy Missouri. Dorie is thrown into a quickly unraveling scam that offers salvation to few — and misery to plenty — in the high stakes world of machine politics and desperation deals.

With vivid prose and sharp dialogue, the world of Dorie Lennox comes alive, behind the wheel of her Packard, into the packinghouses, race tracks, and mansions of jazz-age Kansas City. The landscape of America and the homefront of World War II are evoked in this thoughtful mystery that lingers for the force of characters and keen sharpness of a slice of history, seen through the perceptive, compassionate eyes of Dorie Lennox.

“A time capsule, transporting a tale of murder, greed, and intrigue from vintage Kansas City.”  — Sue Grafton

“Wonderful: a richly detailed story that quite simply gets to your heart.” — Michael Connelly

Sweet and Lowdown

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A book to be savored

“In this worthy sequel to One O’Clock Jump, set in the fall of 1940, Britain stands alone against Hitler, FDR is making a bid for a third term as president and Nazi spies have infiltrated American political groups to promote isolationism. In Kansas City, PI Dorie Lennox and her partner, Amos Haddam, are tailing Thalia Hines, the wayward 21-year-old daughter of a prominent local family. (Not the least of this mystery’s myriad pleasures is the author’s tip of the hat to Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep.)

McClendon handles all the threads, using a taut, staccato style that perfectly complements her edgy, skittish heroine. The author masterfully evokes the period. This is a book to be savored; read it too fast and you might miss something.”  — Publisher’s Weekly

“Lise McClendon expertly probes the mystery of human desires and behavior with a character so real you will swear you are riding in the Packard right next to her.”  — Michael Connelly

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