Architecture and Murder

Susan Cory lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her architect husband and bossy rescue dog. Like her sleuth, she is a residential architect practicing out of a turreted office. Also, like Iris Reid, she has a brown belt in karate.

Susan grew up in New Jersey devouring mysteries. She loved seeing order restored by ingenious sleuths. But the visual arts were her medium of expression. As an Art major at Dartmouth, she imagined that designing buildings was just a larger-scaled version of creating sculpture. Susan soon discovered the many differences. At graduate school at Harvard’s G.S.D., she found a setting—insecurities and egos riding a runaway train of Design Obsession—just ripe for murder.

Conundrum and Facade are odes to Susan’s profession and all the deviously clever practitioners within it. She’s hard at work on Book 3 in the series in which Iris Reid will continue to uncover pools of evil in her world.

The mystery world is filled with sleuths who are cops, P.I.s, lawyers, bookstore owners, caterers, ministers—practitioners of every profession but Susan’s own, architecture. Aren’t we problem solvers? Don’t we find ourselves deeply enmeshed in other people’s lives? Don’t we passionately defend our beliefs? Clearly the architecture world has been ignored as a mystery setting, and architects have been neglected as sleuths and, yes, murderers. In my graduate program alone at Harvard’s G.S.D., I found a setting ripe for murder. Egos were flying, and critics would reduce sleep-deprived students to tears and screaming matches at final juries. Later, out in the real world, a tiny handful of architects would claim all the plum commissions, as a single architect each year would be awarded the Pritzker Prize, ratcheting them to Starchitect status.

Several years ago, I decided to remedy this oversight by writing the Iris Reid series. Iris designs houses in Cambridge, Ma., while her loyal Basset hound, Sheba, sleeps nearby inside the fireplace hearth. Iris spends her days hunched over a drafting table in her turreted home office, or butting heads with sexist contractors at construction sites. She spends her nights with the sexy neighborhood chef. Her loyal friend, Ellie, has her back.

I started writing the first book, Conundrum, in my head while attending my own 20th GSD reunion, reconnecting with back-stabbing, competitive classmates. (In fairness, there were plenty of nice, normal fellow students, but they aren’t as much fun to write about as the prima donnas.) In this book, Iris also returns to her 20th Architecture School reunion, only to discover the body of her former GSD boyfriend at a neo-Modernist house she’s designed. That part did not happen to me.

In the second book, Facade, Iris agrees to teach a design studio at GSD. A charismatic Dutch starchitect, also teaching that semester, lures Iris into his world. When a local schoolgirl goes missing after visiting the man’s office, Iris is his only alibi. But can she actually vouch for his innocence?

You can order the ebooks and paperbacks at: and at
Please visit Susan at her website: and tell her what you think of the books at:


15 thoughts on “Architecture and Murder

    • Bless you Jayne! The hard part for me is that I have to actually concoct these design ideas to put in the book—like designing Norman’s house in book 1. But I’m also trying to show that design world to people unfamiliar with it.


    • cristina nastri scrive:Cara Nico, volevo dirti che ho comperato il primo numero e aderito poi alla spedizione dei numeri seguenti come suggeriva il coupon all’interno della confezione!!! E’ passato quasi un mese e non ho ancora ricevuto nulla!!! Che fare???????? Grazie cristina


  1. Architecture and rescue dogs that bully; these sound great from one Jersey girl to another. I know nothing about this art/skill/profession, but her books sound unusually interesting.


    • Hi there, fellow Jersey girl ! Another thing I try to show in my books is the Cambridge setting—it’s like a village with cafes, bookstores, and everyone walking places. I’d love to hear what you think, Caitlin.


      • I think I am going to have to read your books: I have traveled throughout New England, and I know exactly the setting you describe. In fact, as I was just reading your paragraph, I thought of Princeton; I am relatively close to that region, Susan. But quite honestly, more than anything I adore dogs as well as mysteries.


  2. Yep, first I’ve heard of an architecture sleuth, so already the series is unique. Sounds like you’re making good use of your background (history of architecture school environment) and your profession to create an exciting series. Love the idea of the basset hound in the picture. Pets in mystery series is not uncommon, but that is something most readers will never tire of. A pet or pets always ups the ante for me to read a book. Thank you.


  3. How clever. Designing woven into the stories. I love architecture and my dream job would be interior design. Facade is a clever title and Conundrum has an appealing cover. Great ideas:)


    • Thanks fuonlyknew—good tag. I always like reading mysteries where I learn something about a different location or profession while I’m trying to solve the puzzle, so that’s why I chose this slant. Let me know what you think!


  4. Excellent blog, Susan. Really makes one wonder why no one has mined the architecture field for mysteries before. But you’re the perfect person to do it! Loved your first book, and am looking forward to number 2, then number 3 when it’s out. Envy you your turret house. I’ve always wanted to live in one, but had to settle for picking an old house with a turret that had been converted into a dorm for my son’s freshman year residence. He, of course, could have cared less.


    • Hi Leslie, The only problem with the turret is their curved glass windows which are only single paned, so I hear all the conversations of people on the sidewalk talking on their phones. So maybe your turret conversion wasn’t such a bad thing! Enjoy Facade!


    • Thanks, Susan. I look forward to hearing what you think about them. Cambridge is such a quirky place and I’m having such fun featuring things like the Honk festival in book 2.


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