Marni, thank you so much for inviting me to be your guest on your fabulous crime review weekly, Auntie M Writes.

I’d like to start by introducing your readers to my protagonist and her sidekick. Shirley Combs is the world’s greatest detective (in her opinion, anyway), and Dr. Mary Watson, a naturopath, is her sidekick and narrator. They live and work in present day Portland, Oregon, just as I do.

They first met at a self-help weekend workshop in Seattle several years ago. That was when Shirley decided to pursue her passion for private investigation, and Mary started chronicling their exploits. One of the things that drew them together was they were both asexual. Shirley most likely always will be, but in the second book, Mary discovers her sexuality and falls in love.

In the first book,THE HOUNDING, Shirley is hired to find the true killer of Priscilla Vandeleur, a timber heiress, who had a phobia of dogs. Someone took advantage of that fear and set hounds on her to literally scare her to death. Sherlock Holmes fans will recognize this story as similar to The Hound of the Baskervilles. All the stories will be descended from Sherlock Holmes stories as written by A. Conan Doyle. Shirley often uses Sherlock’s methods to solve her crimes. She grew up reading the stories and because her name said fast sounds like his, she was teased all her life. She decided maybe having a name that sounded like his wasn’t a coincidence, but a pointer for her life.

The second book finds Shirley and Mary hired by an emissary for an illustrious client, to try their best to get a young French pop star out of the clutches of a billionaire Afghan player. They travel to France to meet with the young woman’s parents, only to be return immediately to Portland when a crime occurs. This novel is called THE ILLUSTRIOUS CLIENT, as might be expected.

The third book, which is in its infancy, will be called THE VALLEY OF FEAR, and will introduce Shirley’s Moriarty.

It is not necessary to read the books in order. The relationship between Shirley and Mary will grow over time, but if you want to read a mystery, you don’t have to know anything about Sherlock Holmes or read them in a particular order.

THE HOUNDING is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook. The audiobook is set up with Whisper Sync, which allows the reader to listen for awhile, then pick up the Kindle and find it set at the place she left off — and vice versa. THE ILLUSTRIOUS CLIENT is available in paperback and ebook. Both books can be found (or ordered) wherever books are sold. They are also available online through the usual sources.

Sandra de Helen’s books as well as short stories are available at bookstores, libraries, and online. Her poetry and plays are published in several journals. Samples of her works are on her website

Even though she says she isn’t a “joiner,” de Helen is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Oregon Writers Colony, the Golden Crown Literary Society, and International Centre for Women Playwrights.

Like her at, follow her on Twitter @dehelen, and read her blog at She lives with her cat Stanton in Portland, Oregon where they both type.

My website:
My blog:
Buy links:
The Hounding:
The Illustrious Client:

If you have questions or comments, I’d love to have them. Also, I love book clubs, so if your book club would like me to Skype at your meeting, I’m available for that. If you happen to be within my driving distance, I’ll come in person.