Elizabeth J. Duncan

Elizabeth J Duncan, Author of the Penny Brannigan Series

Elizabeth J. Duncan is the author of the Penny Brannigan mystery series set in North Wales.

Elizabeth’s first novel, The Cold Light of Mourning,  won the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic 2006 Grant for Unpublished Writers and the 2008 St. Martin’s/Malice Domestic Award for best first traditional mystery and was nominated for an Arthur Ellis award in Canada and an Agatha Award in the United States.

Her fourth novel, A Small Hill to Die On won the 2013 Bloody Words best light mystery (Bony Blithe) and the fifth book in the series, Never Laugh as a Hearse Goes By, was nominated for the same award in 2014.

The sixth book in the series, Slated for Death, will be available in Spring 2015.

After graduating from Carleton University, Ottawa, with a BA in English, Elizabeth worked as a writer and editor for some of Canada’s largest newspapers, including the Ottawa Citizen and Hamilton Spectator. She lived and worked in London, England for five years as a freelance writer and broadcaster. She has also worked in public relations and is currently a faculty member of the Humber School for Writers.

Elizabeth lives in Toronto and spends several months each year in North Wales.

Stay up to date with Elizabeth by signing up for her newsletter, liking her on Facebook and following her on Twitter.



  • Connie Webster

    I wanted to say how much I love your work. I just finished A Brush With Death and its my favorite. Thank you so much!

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Connie! Thank you very much for the kind words. I hope that you get a new favourite each time you read a Penny Brannigan.

  • Joyce Acomb Larsen

    I just finished your first book, “The Cold Light of Mourning”, and loved it! Luckily I also have the second one, because I want to read more. I like the descriptions of the town, and also the descriptions of the friendship between Penny and Emma, and that the reader could share in Penny’s memories. I liked the character development, of all of the characters, not just the main one, and I liked how the mystery unfolded. Thank you for a wonderful book!

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Hi Joyce, I am so glad you enjoyed the books. The fifth one in the series, Never Laugh as A Hearse Goes By, is available Oct. 29. Hope you’ll read them all and I’m glad you’re reading them in sequence. I like to read series like that, too. Thank you for writing to me. All best.

  • Debra Hinton

    I am loving this series, just finished book two… How lovely to find realistic well realised characters. I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

    Congratulations on your Bloody Words Light Mystery award.

  • ElizabethDuncan

    Hi Debra
    Hope you enjoy the others, too. Thanks for your kind message.

  • mindy

    Hi I love your books I can’t wait for another one great setting and great characters thanks for these great books mindy from new york

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Hi Mindy, Sorry I just saw your message now. So glad you are enjoying the Penny Brannigan books. The next one will be out in the spring of 2015. It’s called Slated for Death.

  • mindy

    Great books and great setting and character s I can’t wait for another new one. Thanks for writing get books

  • jean hoover

    I just finished your last book and I loved them all! I have been to Wales and enjoy hearing you mention some of the places I have been. I hope that there will be another book this year?

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Hi Jean, So glad you are enjoying the books. I am just finishing the sixth book now, called Slated for Death, and it will be released in the spring. Thanks for writing!

  • Sandy Crump-Dawson

    I really enjoy reading your books and have the whole series. I can’t wait to read the next one. I am so very familiar with this area in N. Wales, having been brought up in Anglesey and my mother living in Llandudno. In fact, in one of your books you mention the street on which she lived….Church Walks! Since she died three years ago, that brought back lovely memories for me. I also know the picturesque bridge that is pictured above; have been across many times! Thank you for putting my home country on the map with your wonderful literary talent.

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Hi Sandy,
      I was touched by your note … it was lovely to hear that the books bring back happy memories for you. Thank you for taking the time to write me.

  • Wendy Johnson

    I love the settings for your books. I’m glad you’ve made Penny a Canadian with comments interspersed about Canada. Loved the Eaton’s comment!!

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Hi Wendy. Wales is a great setting, that’s for sure. Glad you like the Canadian bits!

  • Judy Hiller

    I just discovered your Penny Brannigan books this summer and will finish A Small Hill to Die On this morning. When I looked you up on Google, I was so happy to discover that the next book in the series will be available in October. As others have said, I love your characters…especially Penny and her independent move to Wales at a young age…the setting of North Wales, and the way you weave bits from the previous book into the next novel. …I have one request. Would it be possible to include an appendix showing how to pronounce the Welsh names? I’d love to be able to ‘try’ to say them as they would be spoken. Thanks so much for creating this wonderful series!

  • joanna fennell

    Hi Elizabeth
    Just finished Cold Light of Mourning, really got caught up in it. Great mystery. We enjoyed meeting you at Duncan’s wedding. I will definitely be reading more of Penny Brannigan. Hope our paths cross again. Wishing you continued success in your writing. All the best.
    Joanna and P.J.

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      HI Joanna, Thanks for reading Cold Light so quickly and for letting me know you enjoyed it! It was a pleasure meeting you at the wedding and I do hope we’ll meet up again. E

  • Judy Strohman

    I love all your Penny Brannigan books. went thru them so fast, can’t wait for your next one in 2015.

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Hi Judy. Thanks so much for letting me know you’re enjoying the Penny Brannigan books!

  • LonormiManuel

    Your books have, literally, saved my sanity. My husband recently spent 14 days in hospital, during which time he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He is now home and has begun chemotherapy, but this news turned our world upside down. A friend in Wales recommended your books as a way to pass the time spent sitting in the hospital, and I was immediately hooked. Following along with Penny’s adventures gave me a much needed mental break from the fear and uncertainty of our situation. I am so looking forward to the book to be published in the spring! My husband’s treatment will also be completed in the spring, so I look forward to returning to Llanelen with a lighter heart. :)

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      I was so moved by your message and honoured that my books provided a bit of escape when you needed it. Please thank your friend in Wales for the recommendation. I hope your husband is on the road to recovery and wish both of you all the best. Thanks so much for being in touch.

  • Nina Whitman

    Dear Elizabeth, I just finished your book ( a brush with death). Good job. However, I do have a question (hoping it won’t be considered a spoiler). At the beginning of the book, Alys puts on Emma’s coat and prior to that Emma brought up tha she felt someone was following her. I thought this little exchange as well coat switch will somehow tie into the mystery. Was there any significance to this ( story line that was abandoned) or simply to show relationship between them. Thanks

    • ElizabethDuncan

      Hi Nina. It’s been so long since I wrote that, I can’t really remember! I think Emma was a little paranoid about the true nature of their relationship being discovered, and in the dark, Alys just grabbed the nearest coat. Perhaps it was meant to get the reader thinking as you did that there was some significance and to lead the reader away from the mystery. That’s the best I can recall — all that was four books ago! Hope you’ll read the next book in the series, A Killer’s Christmas in Wales. Thanks for being in touch. I do like your observation skills.

  • Graham Bloxsome

    Hi Elizabeth. My wife is a big murder mystery fan and as a result I often find myself reading her books. We live in North Wales and so find your stories interesting on many levels, not the least guessing where places are based on, my money for Llanelen is on Llanwrst. It isn’t easy to obtain your later books here in the UK, therefore we only have the first two, are you getting a British publisher? . On a separate note we were shopping in Llandudno today and you may be interested to know that the Badger tearooms mentioned in your stories has ceased trading, according to reviews on the net standards had dropped of late perhaps reflecting the difficulties the business was in.
    We look forward to reading more of your stories if and when we can obtain them.

    • ElizabethDuncan

      Hi Graham. You would be right on the money with your Llanrwst guess. 10 points! I haven’t heard of plans to publish in the UK (or Australia) but I wish they would as I often hear from readers like you who are having trouble getting them. Whenever I’m over I leave copies for sale at the Bys A Bawd bookstore in LLanrwst, so she carries them. I’m pretty sure she has paperback of A Killer’s Christmas in Wales (book 3) However, I’m coming back to Wales in December for three months, and I’ll have copies with me. Invite me round for a cup of tea and I’ll sell you books at reasonable prices and sign them for you! I had not heard about Badger tearooms and am surprised as the place was always packed. Mrs. Lloyd will be very cross when I tell her. Thanks for being in touch and hope to see you both on my next visit. EJD

      • Graham Bloxsome

        Thanks for the response and we would be happy to offer you a ” pannad o te” when you come across. If you contact me on glodekka@yahoo.co.uk I will give you details of where we are. Regards Graham Bloxsome.

  • Jancy Brown

    I can`t wait for the new book to come out! Hopefully we will be able to see you again now that Bloodly words is no longer happening

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Hi Jancy. How lovely to hear from you. Were you at Bloody Words this year? So sorry if I missed you. Contact me if you’re in Toronto and maybe we can meet for a coffee. All best to you and your mum!

  • Trevor

    Just read “Small Hill to Die On”, my first of your books. Was looking for something set in Wales, especially North Wales, and was amazed to discover you’re a fellow former Carletonian! Enjoyed, and will read more. Loved the picture of Llanrwst on your web page! So LLanelen is obviously LLanrwst, by its description in the book. Beautiful little town. So nice to read books set in places that you have visited and stayed!

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Hi Trevor. So glad you’re enjoying the series and yes, you’d be right about Llanrwst. Cheers.

  • Barbara Pavano Westerberg

    Hello Eliabeth, when in Spring 2015 will your next book be available in the US? Really love your series.

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Hi Barbara. Slated for Death comes out next week, April 14. So glad you enjoy the series and hope you like the latest one!

  • Stephanie Scher

    I just finished reading “A Brush with Death.” How many Beatle references were in there? I caught “the long and winding road” and “Hey, Jude,” but I’m sure there must have been others.

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Hi Stephanie, That’s a good question! I wrote the book back in 2009, so if I ever knew the answer, I can’t remember now!

      • Stephanie Scher

        Thank you for the astonishingly prompt response to my question.I forgot to add that I enjoyed the book. In fact, I now have to resist the urge to reread it, looking for Beatle references.

        • Elizabeth Duncan

          Hi Stephanie. I’m glad you enjoyed A Brush with Death. I was tempted for a moment to reread it myself to find out! However, I must stay focused on the book I’m writing now, which coincidentally, includes a John Lennon reference when some drawings show up at a taping of an antiques appraisal television show.

  • Charlotte Stewart

    Hi Elizabeth
    I was at your drop in at Dundas Library today. Really enjoyed your talk. The series set in Halifax is by Anne Emery.

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Hi Charlotte, Thanks so much for coming to the library event
      .. Hope you got your gardening in! Yes, Anne Emery. Thanks for letting me know. All best.

  • Anne

    Hi, I have just discovered your books. I am reading Slated to Death. I come from Mid Wales (Rhayader) but now live just north of Toronto. Are you writing another book? I hope so!

    • Elizabeth Duncan

      Hello Anne. So glad you are enjoying Slated for Death. Am working now on the next book in the series, Murder on the Hour. Anyone with sheep on her facebook page is my kind of person! Thanks for being in touch.