Carlotta Carlyle
Created by Linda Barnes

CARLOTTA CARLYLE's one red-headed, tough-talking, blues-loving, heart-on-her-sleeve-wearing, ex-cop cab-driving P.I. cruising the streets of Boston, MA, looking for trouble in all the wrong places. And usually finding it.

"As smart as Spenser and as mean as Hawk" is how Margaret Cannon in The Globe and Mail puts it. As the series has progressed, Carlotta gone from being something of an overly earnest do-goode, maybe willing to cut a few corners, to something of an avenger willing to not just cut corners, but mow them down if necessary, and generally revealing a meaner side to her persona, angrier, more conflicted and holier than thou (and everyone else).

In Cold Case, she turns downright mean, making up a story about a dead child and runaway husband to fool an older woman who's had these troubles for real -- while secretly sneering all the while at the lady's Okie accent and bad taste in home furnishings. All of which is a bit more appealling than the cloying cuteness that at times has crept into the series, especially the subplot of her attempted rescue/adoption of Paolina, a young Hispanic girl, and the ensuing enforced knee-jerk liberal non-racism that comes off as, well, sounding unfortunately suspiciously like, um, racism.

Author Linda Barnes is also responsible for the Michael Spraggue series, about an an actor turned P. I. turned actor again.


  • “... illuminates the power of our deepest regrets and the fleeting chances we sometimes get to fill the emptiness in our souls. Writing with sensitivity and grace, Linda Barnes once more demonstrates why ex-cop Carlotta Carlyle has become a treasured mainstay in the field of crime fiction.”
    -- Robert Crais on Heart of the World

  • “... one of the best private-eye series ever.”
    -- Harlan Coben

  • "Nobody knows Boston like Linda Barnes's red-haired private investigator Carlotta Carlyle... Barnes's knack for crisp, snappy dialogue and devising a mystery that has both timeless and contemporary appeal is a winner."
    -- The Boston Herald



  • "Lucky Penny" (1985, The New Black Mask, No. 3)
  • "Miss Gibson" (1996, Women On the Case)


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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