Sherry Knowlton Joins Suspense and Social Issues

Dead of Spring Cover

Alexa Williams is a social activist and sleuth. She stars in Sherry Knowlton's "Dead of" series: Dead of Autumn, Dead of Summer, and now, Dead of Spring. Each book combines a major social issue, multiple murders, multiple lovers (or at least love interests) and last but not least, exotic travel.


Dead of Autumn Cover

In Dead of Autumn, the first installment in the series, Alexa Williams is an lawyer who also volunteers at a women’s clinic that does abortions. While walking her dog in the woods she comes across the body of a young woman. This murder was tied into a story in the past, the story of the Babes in the Woods – a true crime story about the three children who were killed, either accidentally or on purpose, by their father in 1934.

A third parallel plot is that of the women’s clinic, which is targed by so-called “prolife” groups. Unfortunately Alexa is closer to one of the clinic’s attackers than she knows. It’s enough to make a girl sign off on love.

Knowlton repeats the pattern of multiple parallel plots in each installment in the series. In Dead of Summer, the second book, Alexa again stumbles on the body of a young woman, this time the head of an organization that fights sex trafficking world wide. This is connected to another plot about a client who is sure her daughter is not a runaway, but trafficked. And there is a plot line in the past, set at Woodstock during the iconic concert of 1969. 

Knowlton likes to say that her books join elements of suspense with Dead of Summer Covercompelling social issues. That’s even clearer in the third installment in the series, Dead of Spring, released on Earth Day this year. The Earth day release is fitting because the social issue in this novel is fracking: how it’s done, who benefits from it, and who suffers from it.

To celebrate the release of the book, Knowlton co-hosted an Earth Week event with Sunbury Press, the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club, The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds and FracTracker Alliance to increase awareness about the impact of fracking and raise funds for the Susquehanna Impacts Project.

This time, Alexa Williams doesn’t stumble on a body, the body “stumbles” on her, as a charismatic state senator apparently jumps to his suicide in the Capitol Rotunda and lands at Alexa’s feet. It soon becomes clear the Senator was murdered, and as a witness, Alexa herself is in danger. But Alexa refuses to hide, even when a sniper comes after her when she is relaxing, naked, in her hot tub. Her work, leading a Senate commission on sex trafficking, is too important to her. She’s also helping a friend who wants to prove that the fracking on her land led to her daughter’s rare cancer. There is also a plot from the past woven with the two plots in the present, featuring the 1979 nuclear accident on Three Mile Island.

One of Knowlton’s themes is that the world is very interconnected. Here’s how Alexa Williams sees it:

How small the world had become. Here she was in Pennsylvania, driving a German car, thinking about a guy in Africa, and listening to a CD of French monks chanting in Latin from their monastery in Italy.

Where Alexa’s life doesn’t connect is when it comes to love.  There are at least two love interests in every book, sometimes even a third. Dead of Spring starts with a promising relationship with a homicide detective apparently headed toward marriage, but from the beginning Alexa can’t seem to commit. She lets herself be distracted by a charismatic politician and only after tragedy does she realize where her heart really lies.

But I won’t give it away here. To find out, you have to read the book.

Sherry Knowlton


Sherry Knowlton is the author of the successful Alexa Williams series of suspense novels: DEAD of AUTUMN, DEAD of SUMMER and DEAD of SPRING.  When not writing the next Alexa Williams thriller, Knowlton works on her health care consulting business or travels around the world. She and her husband live in the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania.


This blog is part of a tour organized by the International Thriller Writer's Association FEARLESS BLOGGER tour. The Fearless Bloggers were created by Alison McMahan to help new thriller writers who were members of ITW promote their work. Blogs are written about new thrillers by thriller writers. All work is done on a volunteer basis. Other blogs in this tour include:

Michael Niemann - book blast

Michael Niemann - Author Interview

Death in Nostalgia City

Susanna Calkins

John Stamp

Nina Mansfield

Amy Shojai

Bonus: Article about Dead of Spring in The Big Thrill