Lia Matera is the author of twelve crime novels in two series, one featuring politically conflicted lawyer Willa Jansson and the other, high-profile litigator Laura Di Palma. Matera has also published eleven short stories and a novella. A complete list of her books and stories, including audio and foreign editions, is here.
She is a graduate of Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, where she was editor-in-chief of the Constitutional Law Quarterly. She is a member of the California Bar and was a Teaching Fellow at Stanford Law School before becoming a full-time writer.
Two of her novels were nominated for the mystery genre's top prize, the Edgar Allan Poe Award. Three were nominated for the Anthony Award, and two were nominated for the Macavity Award. She was the editor of Irreconcilable Differences, an anthology of twenty original tales by well-known crime writers. A collection of nine of her short stories, Counsel for the Defense and Other Stories, was published by Five Star Press. Lovers and Lawyers, a new ebook collection from Mysterious Press/Open Road Media, includes two additional stories and a novella.
"Dead Drunk," first printed in Scott Turow's Guilty As Charged, won the Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award for Best Short Story of 1996. Her latest, "Snow Job," in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Jan/Feb 2019), was nominated for the International Thriller Writers 2020 Thriller Award.
In December 2022, her short story "The Party" will be published in Edgar and Shamus Go Golden, an anthology of original stories set in mystery's golden age. All are by authors whose previous stories won Edgar or Shamus Awards.
Praise For Lia Matera's Willa Jansson Series:
"Willa Jansson is one of the most articulate and surely the wittiest of women sleuths at large in the genre." The New York Times Book Review
"I'm in love with Willa!" John Leonard, National Public Radio's "Fresh Air"
"Readers will be shaken by Matera's rapier-sharp dissection of personal relationships and radical ideologies. Matera again demonstrates that she is one of today's best mystery writers." Publishers Weekly
"Intelligent and entertaining... Absorbing... With sharp descriptions and crisp dialogue... admirably delivers the complex situations and memorable characters of a 'real novel' while still managing to let the detective story have its day in court." The Wall Street Journal
"[A] distinctive voice, sharp wit, discussion of social and moral issues, insight into personal ideals and compromises and characters that grab your emotions." Washington Post
"Willa Jansson is an unusually deep and complex character for crime fiction--tough-minded, sexual, vulnerable, lonely, morally alive… This is gutsy, grown-up crime-writing from one of the best practitioners around." Newsday
"Matera's wit, grace with language, irreverence toward the legal system, and wry dissection of being a child of the Sixties make this a standout." Kirkus Reviews
"Willa's cases and escapades always top the fun-to-read list... The beauty of Matera's writing is that the story, fun as it is, doesn't shortcut a shrewd social commentary." Houston Chronicle
"Matera seems to really understand the moral and social issues that were on the deck in the late '60s and early '70s, and she's not interested in blowing them off. She's smart enough to realize that many of these issues are still with us… Good stuff." Austin Chronicle
"Blessed with pungent prose, an affecting, funny, realistic heroine/detective and pressing moral and emotional issues." San Francisco Chronicle
"Matera's language is witty and sharp; her images by turn humorous and poignant. The moral dilemmas with which her characters wrestle are real and wrenching." The Recorder
"Her voice is clear and light, and she knows when to jettison the gags and get on with the story. As long as Willa is still the star of the show, the series will stand out in the often homogenous mystery landscape." San Francisco Chronicle
"Matera has produced a first-rate mystery, exhibiting her usual hallmarks of excellent plotting, solid characterizations, and brisk pacing." Booklist
"The real pleasure is Willa, who alternates between humor and annoyance at her predicament—and whose love-hate relationship with men strikes a chord with many female fans." Entertainment Weekly
"Almost everything a good mystery needs…a complex plot, social commentary, loads of atmosphere and a cast of unusual characters… The reader wants to hang out with Jansson and see more of her clear-eyed view of the world." San Jose Mercury News
"Few writers possess Lia Matera's wry humor, especially when it comes to putting down lawyers." San Jose Mercury News
Praise for Lia Matera's Laura Di Palma Series:
"Di Palma is one of the smartest, most open-minded sleuths in the lawyering trade... [Matera] writes with intelligence and feeling about issues that still hurt and people who still care." New York Times
"Compelling... Matera writes with passion about debts to old lovers and old causes." New York Daily News
"Sharply written, brilliantly observed." John Leonard, "Fresh Air"
"Absorbing... A fine, intelligent story." USA Today
"Extraordinary, thought-provoking." Baltimore Sun
"Tight plotting, good characterizations, and page-turning suspense... make Matera one of the best contemporary mystery novelists... Highly recommended... Matera is too good to miss." Booklist
"Reading a Lia Matera novel is a lot like drinking a superb brandy: velvety, mellow, a bit dizzying and with a bite that stays with you a long time... She leaps to the forefront of the remarkable vanguard of women... who have redefined the modern mystery." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"A complex and very likable detective..." Newsday
"Di Palma certainly belongs in the same league as Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone and Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski when it comes to brains, determination, and guts." Booklist
"A welcome respite from the mystery-by-formula crowd." Kirkus Reviews
"Matera has her own distinctive voice... Her off-beat plots, quirky style and hard-to-pin-down characters make for a novel both unique and entertaining." San Diego Union
"More proof that some of the leanest, most tough-minded prose is coming from women... With emotional zingers throughout and no easy answers." Kirkus Reviews