Gwendolyn Southin was born in the county of Essex, England, and immigrated to Montreal, Quebec, 1952. She worked as private secretary to the Director of Transmission at Teleglobe-Canada for twelve years. Retiring to British Columbia=s Sunshine Coast in 1982, she managed a resort and marina with her husband in Pender Harbour before moving to Sechelt where she launched her writing career.
Gwen was a founding member of the SunCoast Writers= Forge, The Festival of the Written Arts, and The Sunshine Coast Writers-in-Residence Program. She co-edited The Festival of the Written Art=s The Great Canadian Cookbook with Betty Keller. Her short stories and articles have appeared in Maturity, Pioneer News and Sparks from the Forge.
Participated in the Year 2000 International Writers Festival held on Granville Island October 18-22. With Stephen Miller as moderator of What=s your MO? she shared the stage on the Friday with panel members Laurence Gough, Quintin Jardine, Ian Rankin and Kathy Reichs. Second appearance was on Saturday with moderator Hal Wake in Calling All Crime Buffs with panel members: Joolz Denby, Laurence Gough, John Maclachlan Gray and Quintin Jardine.
Participated in the 19th Festival Of The Written Arts, which was held in Sechelt August 9th - 12th 2001. As usual, this event was well attended by the public.
2008-Touchwood Editions published Death On A Short Leash and re-published her two previous books, Death In A Family Way and In The Shadow of Death.
February 2010 a well-attended launch for Death As A Last Resort, the fourth book in the Margaret Spencer Mystery series, was given in the Arts Centre in Sechelt, BC.
Participated in the 28th Festival Of The Written Arts which was held in Sechelt August 12 - 15th 2010, in the beautiful grounds of Rockwood Centre. The Pavilion was packed for this event and thoroughly enjoyed by all. See a casual collection of pictures from the event.
Death as a Last Resort
Margaret Spencer and Nat Southby, now partners in their detective agency, are cross-country skiing on Hollyburn Mountain when Maggie stumbles onto a body frozen into the snow. It is that of Maurice Dubois, who went missing from a fishing resort at St Clare's Cove in Pender Harbour over the Christmas holidays.
Their inquiries into the man's death lead them to a smuggling ring, clandestine visits to a clothing factory on East Hastings Street in Vancouver, a visit to horse-breeding stables, a car chase to Lulu Island and other wild adventures that include Nat's ex-wife, Nancy. The story ends at the fishing resort, and as usual Maggie and Nat solve the crimes, with Maggie just one step ahead of Nat all the way. See the Review in the Feb. 19/10 Coast Reporter newspaper
Death as a Fine Art
Journey into the fashionable art world of 1960s Vancouver as Margaret Spencer and Nat Southby return in Death as a Fine Art, the fifth book in the Margaret Spencer mystery series. The owner of the Silver Unicorn Art Gallery is dead, and Southby and Spencer, Private Investigators are back at work in search of the killer. With plenty of suspects and twists and turns along the way, Maggie and Nat have their work cut out for them.
The cast of memorable characters are no match for the investigators. Maggie trusts her instincts as they take her from the streets of Vancouver to Victoria, Galiano Island, and Mission. Meanwhile, her estranged husband continues his efforts to win her back, but even with plans for her daughter's wedding taking up all her spare time, Maggie knows there is no returning to her old life. Author Gwendolyn Southin uniquely blends the charm of gumshoe techniques with the fresh perspective of a developing female detective.
See the review published on Amazon.ca, GoodReads and Chapters/Indigo September, 2012 in PDF format
The Hamilton Spec review for Death as a Fine Art Sat Oct 13 2012
Death on a Short Leash - A Margaret Spencer Mystery
The third book of the series is set in 1960 in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Margaret Spencer and her boss, Nat Southby, have agreed to look into the disappearance of a veterinarian's assistant when her body turns up in a cranberry bog in Richmond. They soon discover that the victim led a double life, and Margaret begins compiling a seemingly endless list of possible suspects that leads her to investigate a corrupt nursing home, a phony religious sect and the puppy mill that links them together. With this case, she proves to herself and her boss that she has the ability, the daring and the determination of a true sleuth.
Death in a Family Way - A Margaret Spencer Mystery
is the first in Gwen Southin's series of mystery novels set in the 1950s in Vancouver and other parts of British Columbia. It stars Margaret Spencer, who at fifty years of age abandons home and hearth for a secretarial job in Nat Southby's detective agency. Before she's been on the job a week, she discovers a dead man and then acquires his cat, Emily. After that, there's no turning back, and as her boss takes on the case of a missing teenaged girl, Margaret herself falls into the clutches of a murderer and becomes involved in a wild boat chase on the high seas.
- Quill and Quire Magazine: "The flow of the book is smooth, the action well paced, and the plot well thought out."
- Alma Lee, Vancouver Int's Writers Festival: "Gwen Southin has created a winner with character of Maggie Spencer....Sure to appeal to crime fiction fans."
- National Post: "...An engaging sleuth reminiscent of more laid-back times."
- Ottawa Citizen: "Gwen Southin's cast of characters and Agatha Christie-ish penchant for detail should guarantee her a solid fan base."
- Times Colonist: "There is something engaging about a middle-aged middle-class wife and mother living out the super sleuth fantasy. You somehow know, as she runs barefoot across the cliff tops and plunges into the ocean to elude evil pursuers, that Maggie has got her feet wet and will survive to sleuth again."
In The Shadow of Death - A Margaret Spencer Mystery
(Touchwood Editions)This second book of the series set in 1959 has Margaret Spencer, now separated from her husband Harry, living alone in Kitsilano and happy in her job as assistant to detective Nat Southby, who she has also taken as her lover. With her husband, Harry, harassing her to return to her upper middle-class Kerrisdale life, Maggie decides to head north for a week on a dude ranch. As she travels to Williams Lake through Squamish, Whistler and Lillooet, Maggie ventures ever deeper into a new mystery. Peopled with intriguing characters, filled with sharp dialogue and a healthy dose of betrayal, arrogance, violence and suspense, this appealing mystery is set against the bucolic but ultimately frightening splendor of the Cariboo district.
- Globe and Mail: "What would you do if you wanted to write an old-fashioned British cozy, but you didn't want to re-create Miss Marple? If you were Gwendolyn Southin you'd invent Margaret Spencer. Southin has a real love for British Columbia, and it shows in her loving descriptions of Vancouver and Maggie's train trip into the Cariboo country. This is a great getaway book"
- :Victoria Times Colonist: "The appeal of Southin's novel is in its emphasis on the natural - the techniques of science to uncover crime are in their infancy, so Maggie and Nat have to rely solely on brain power, much like Agatha Christie's detectives. In the Shadow Of Death will appeal to lovers of mysteries who need a break from the gadget-driven DNA scouting, high-tech approach of some contemporary mystery writers.