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Cozy Killings


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Castro Valley mystery writer Camille Minichino writes “cozies.” One of the many subgenres of crime fiction, cozies deal out less gore than other whodunits; Minichino replaces blood and guts with science and local color. But while her literary work fits neatly into a category, the author defies easy classification.

Minichino has worn many hats. The 67-year-old Massachusetts native earned a Ph.D. in physics, then lived as a nun for 18 years. She came to the Bay Area in 1975 for a one-year sabbatical at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and an unlikely chemical reaction occurred: She fell in love with an engineer named Dick Minichino. She left the convent, married, and became a stepmother, a physicist, and a college teacher. In 1997, with the publication of The Hydrogen Murder, she added mystery author to her résumé.

Her latest book, The Nitrogen Murder (St. Martin’s Press, $23.95), arrives in bookstores May 1. It’s her seventh mystery themed on the elements of the periodic table. (Her next, based on oxygen, is in the works.) Set in Berkeley, Nitrogen follows a retired physics researcher turned amateur sleuth who attends a wedding where the groom has gone missing.

Join Camille Minichino and the Mystery Reading Group discussion on May 18 at 7 p.m. at the Dublin Barnes & Noble.

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