Ann Granger Blast from the Past Crime Fiction Mark Bailey Reviews

Fran Varady series by Ann Granger

Fran Varady appears in 7 novels by Ann Granger published from 1997 to 2007.

They are

Cover of Asking for Trouble  by Ann Granger
Cover of Asking for Trouble by Ann Granger

Asking for Trouble (Fran Varady #1, 1997)
Fran Varady is insolvent, unemployed and – though for the moment she’s got a leaky roof over her head – about to be homeless. Her dreams of becoming an actress, nurtured when her father and grandmother were still alive, seem a long way off. But the quietly resolute Fran is a survivor. Which her former housemate Terry, found hanging from the ceiling rose of her room, clearly is not. Terry was far from popular with the rest of the residents, but her death shakes everyone. And the more Fran discovers about her death, the more she sees it was not what it first seemed ..




Cover of Keeping Bad Company by Ann Granger
Cover of Keeping Bad Company by Ann Granger

Keeping Bad Company (Fran Varady #2, 1997)
In Fran Varaday’s second investigation, she is drawn into the life of an alcoholic who claims to be the only witness to the violent abduction of a young girl. But when the alcoholic is found dead, Fran must fight to separate the truth from the lies as the answers begin to slip through her fingers.







Cover of Running Scared by Ann Granger
Cover of Running Scared by Ann Granger

Running Scared (Fran Varady #3. 1998)
Fran Varady, aspiring actress and private investigator, feared the worst when her friend Ganesh decided to use their less-than-reliable builder acquaintance to update the toilet at his Uncle Hari’s newsagent’s shop. But even she couldn’t guess at the trouble that follows when a man bursts in and asks to use the washroom and then is found stabbed to death. Before he died he left a note asking Fran to meet him and a roll of film hidden behind the washroom’s old pipes. As she tries to work out what the photos represent, Fran finds her difficulties have barely started..




Cover of Risking It All by Ann Granger
Cover of Risking It All by Ann Granger

Risking It All (Fran Varady #4, 2001)
When Fran Varady, aspiring actress and part-time sleuth, is approached by Private Investigator Clarence Duke, she mistrusts him on instinct. However, she can’t ignore what he has to tell her. Her mother, Eva, who walked out on Fran when she was only seven, has hired Clarence to find her daughter. For Eva is dying. But the biggest bombshell of all is that Eva has another child – a daughter she gave up soon after her birth – and she wants Fran to find her. It’s not an easy task, but it’s when Clarence Duke is found dead in his car outside Fran’s home that the trouble really begins…




Cover of Watching Out by Ann Granger
Cover of Watching Out by Ann Granger

Watching Out (Fran Varady #5, 2003)
Fran Varady fell into private detective work by accident. Now, she’s got a “real” job at a trendy pizzeria, she’s back on track with her acting ambitions, and she’s even found somewhere nice to live. However, there’s something rather sinister about the way the pizzeria is run and the play rehearsals aren’t going well. On top of all this Fran has rashly undertaken to help a young boy, illegally in the country, find an elusive people-trafficker called Max. But when the trail Fran is following is interrupted by a horrifying death, she finds herself up against dangerous men and a ruthless organization.




Cover of Mixing with Murder by Ann Granger
Cover of Mixing with Murder by Ann Granger

Mixing with Murder (Fran Varady #6, 2005)
Fran Varady isn’t keen to help seedy club owner Mickey Allerton track down Lisa, a dancer who’s done a bunk. But since Mickey’s holding Fran’s dog Bonnie hostage till the job’s done, she doesn’t have much choice. She quickly locates Lisa and they arrange to meet – but when Fran gets there early, the first thing she sees is a body floating in the river. It’s Ivo, one of Mickey’s nastier bouncers. If Lisa wasn’t terrified already, she is when she gets this news, and Fran finds herself torn between helping the frightened girl and doing Mickey’s bidding. And it’s all about to get a lot more complicated…




Cover of Rattling the Bones by Ann Granger
Cover of Rattling the Bones by Ann Granger

Rattling the Bones (Fran Varady #7, 2007)
Edna, the dotty bag lady who Fran Varady used to see living in a churchyard with only feral cats for company, has crossed her path again. Now Edna is staying in a hostel, spending her days roaming as before. But Fran begins to see a method to her madness and, even though no one will believe her, she is certain Edna is being followed. Who could be interested in a harmless old lady? Determined to protect her from this hidden danger, Fran finds herself digging into Edna’s previous life and an old love affair and family quarrel come to light. But by rattling the bones of the past, Fran has uncovered more than she bargained for..




The Fran Varady series is as well written as the rest of Ann Grangers work (the Mitchell & Markby, Lizzie Martin and Campbell & Carter series) but is much darker in tone albeit not as dark as Mo Hayder et al.

Fran is a very likeable character who has been on the edges of society and is gradually moving in. Her friend, Ganesh, is a combination of Doctor Watson and comic relief – the latter augmented by his Uncle Hari in later books.


What is the future for Fran Varady,

Ann Granters says on her website

“Fran Varady, too, after seven books needed to be ‘rested’. It is more difficult for me, as a writer, to take her forward, because the essence of her situation is that she is down on her luck. Slowly, book by book, her situation has slightly improved. But if it improves too much, she is not the same person.”



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