The Ottawa Valley Mysteries

Karen Copeland

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Latest Release!

Smoke and Murders

Book six in the Ottawa Valley Mysteries

For those of you who enjoy a little “spark” in your mystery, this is the book for you! I am happy to have just released my latest book “Smoke and Murders” which is available in paperback and E-book formats on Amazon. I am currently working on the seventh novel in the Ottawa Valley Mysteries series.

In Smoke and Murders, Karen Copeland’s sixth novel in the Ottawa Valley mysteries series, Cairnsmore is being plagued by arsons, but one fire does not fit the pattern and appears to have been deliberately set to mask the murder of a retired university professor. The investigation leads Detectives Joe Gallagher and Fiona Barrows to the University of Toronto where several employees in the immunology department fall under suspicion. However, when the major suspect is found murdered at an abandoned cottage in the Ottawa Valley, Joe and Fiona must untangle a complex web of lies protecting the identity of the killer.

Interview with Crime Writers of Canada

Brenda Chapman, Ottawa/Eastern Ontario Director for Crime Writers of Canada recently interviewed me about my books. Here is the link to the interview:

Fatal Euphoria

Book five in the Ottawa Valley Mysteries

With the cold weather setting in again here in Canada it’s always nice to curl up with a good mystery! I am pleased to announce that my latest book, Fatal Euphoria, is available at the Ottawa Public Library and in paperback and E-book formats on Amazon.

In Fatal Euphoria, Karen Copeland’s fifth novel in the Ottawa Valley Mysteries series, the murder of a drug dealer initially leads Detective Joe Gallagher and his partner, Detective Fiona Barrows, to Montréal to find the killer. However, the investigation moves closer to home when an orthopedic surgeon disappears, and soon after his patients are targeted by fentanyl-tainted drugs. In their race to find the person responsible before more patients die, they discover a connection between the mysteries, one involving greed, resentment, and drug trafficking.


Beyond the Trees

Book 4 in the Ottawa Valley Mysteries

For those with an interest in conservation, Beyond the Trees, which involves environmental crimes as well as murder, is now available at the Ottawa Public Library and in paperback and E-book formats on Amazon.

In Beyond the Trees, Karen Copeland’s fourth novel in the Ottawa Valley Mysteries series, the discovery of a body proves too close for comfort for Detective Joe Gallagher. The finding leads Joe and his partner, Fiona Barrows, on an investigation of the murder of an admired conservation biologist and brings into question the activities of environmentalists in Ontario and Québec. When two women mysteriously disappear shortly after the discovery of the murder victim, Joe and Fiona’s investigation becomes so complicated that it is hard for them to see the forest for the trees.


Cata Hari

Cata Hari, my first middle grade children’s book, is now available at the Ottawa Public Library and in paperback and E-book formats on Amazon.

Have you ever wondered what your pets get up to when you’re away from home? Emma Barrett does because her cat, Smokey, always seems too sleepy for play. What Emma does not know is that Smokey leads a double life: house pet by day and working cat by night. In fact, Smokey works as a spy under the code name “Cata Hari”. Cata Hari goes undercover at an animal research centre after reports that something fishy is going on. She soon learns that the life of a very talented calf is at risk and sets out to save him.  When the mission proves more dangerous than expected, and her own life is on the line, she calls on her best canine friend, Mustafa, and a streetwise mouse named Jocko for help.


Madness in the Method

Book 3 in the Ottawa Valley Mysteries

Madness in the Method is available at the Ottawa Public Library and in paperback and E-book formats on Amazon.

In Madness in the Method, Karen Copeland’s third novel in the Ottawa Valley Mysteries series, Detective Joe Gallagher and his team investigate the brutal killing of a respected university biology professor. The main suspect is on the run, targeted not only by the police, but by a mysterious stalker who will go to great lengths to get what she wants, including murder. Joe’s investigation opens an unexpected hornet’s nest of connected mysteries involving mistaken identity, drug trafficking and misogyny.


Dead Ringer

Book Two in the Ottawa Valley Mysteries 

Dead Ringer is available at the Ottawa Public Library and in paperback and E-book formats on Amazon.

In Dead Ringer, a suspected criminal wanted for unresolved crimes in Karen Copeland’s first novel, Publish or Perish, returns to play a potentially deadly game of cat and mouse with scientist Dr. Annie Watson.  Meanwhile, Annie’s close friend, Detective Joe Gallagher, and his team are frantically searching for several women who have gone missing under suspicious circumstances from Bonnechere University and the local Cairnsmore area.  Even while collaborating for a short period with colleagues at a scientific institution in the Netherlands, Annie inadvertently becomes embroiled in a cold case related to the Cairnsmore abductions, leading the Dutch and Canadian police to work together to solve a frightening mystery involving blackmail, misogyny and murder. 


Publish or Perish

Book one in the Ottawa Valley Mysteries

Publish or Perish is available at the Ottawa Public Library and in paperback and E-book formats on Amazon.

Joe Gallagher is the senior detective with the police department in Cairnsmore, a quiet community in the Ottawa Valley. He responds to the scene when the sighting of an injured police dog is reported by Annie Watson, a local scientist. The dog’s handler has seemingly vanished into thin air and the disappearance sets off a sequence of events leading to murder. All clues lead to the scientific institute where Annie leads a research team. As Joe’s investigation wears on, he believes that Annie is privy to scientific information that could place her in the cross-hairs of the suspected killer.  Joe works with Annie to connect the dots of a deadly mystery in a race against time to stop the killer. 


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I was born in Ontario, Canada, and was awarded BSc (Biology) and MSc (Animal Biosciences) degrees by the University of Guelph.  Following on from these studies I obtained a PhD degree in Medical Virology at the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands – this was a fascinating period of my life in which I learned the Dutch language and thoroughly enjoyed Dutch culture.  I then returned to Canada – to a Postdoctoral Fellowship position at McMaster University where I began research into HIV/AIDS pathogenesis.  My deep interest in these studies led to me devoting my subsequent scientific career as an independent researcher to examining several of the serious issues surrounding HIV infection.  Much of this work was performed at the University of Ottawa and the government Public Health Agency of Canada and included considerable international involvement.  I led my own research group, this experience being the basis for the fictional scientific research groups in my novels.

As long as I can remember I have loved reading a wide range of novels, but gradually I realized that I wanted to write stories, too – in particular, mystery stories with plots based on my own extensive experience of scientific laboratories and organizations, and on my long-held fascination with police procedures in solving crimes.  The general public may perhaps believe that scientific laboratories are strange places full of people doing incomprehensible tasks, but they are no more mysterious to operate than supermarkets, service stations or hospitals and provide great backgrounds for crime stories if described simply and clearly – as I strive to do.  I believe that the fast pace and authenticity of my first two mystery novels – Publish or Perish and its sequel Dead Ringer – will appeal to a wide audience.  I have already almost completed a third novel in this series.

Following other enthusiasms of mine – children’s books and animal behavior and care – I have written Cata Hari, an adventure story for children featuring very wise talking animals who attempt to prevent the mistreatment of certain animals at a dubious research facility.  The main character is a talking cat (Cata Hari), who is ably assisted by her best canine friend, Mustafa, a mouse named Jocko, and a few human friends she meets along the way.  This is a fast-moving story filled with excitement, humor and whimsy.

Throughout my mystery novels the intense, macabre, and evil aspects are set in contrast to a background of strong camaraderie – in the scientific research groups, the investigating police units and the private life of the main character, Annie Watson.  Annie’s mother, Susan, is a retired chef who thoroughly enjoys providing marvelous meals for Annie’s research group, colleagues, and friends.  And then there are the dogs – most notable is the German shepherd, Gulliver, police dog extraordinaire, who provides invaluable assistance to Detective Joe Gallagher in both novels.  Gulliver becomes a good companion to Annie’s dog, Cooper, a very large but lovable Heinz 57.  Friso, a Bernese mountain dog owned by Annie’s mysterious neighbor in Dead Ringer, is a quiet animal who becomes formidable when put to the test.  In the children’s book, Cata Hari, the German shepherd, Mustafa, is nothing short of magnificent.