Seventeen years ago, Carolyn Wheat burst on the mystery scene with her Edgar-nominated first novel about Cass Jameson, one of the first female lawyers in a crime series. Since then Wheat has written five more novels and some of the finest recent short stories in the genre.
Throughout Wheat's work is sympathy for the underdog and the helpless. The title story in Tales Out of School, her first short story collection, explores how an abused child reacts to unexpected violence. In "Three Time Loser," Cass Jameson finds herself torn between her sympathy for an elderly woman and her job of giving the best defense for a young Jamaican immigrant. "Accidents Will Happen" is told from the viewpoint of an elderly paralyzed woman who is persecuted by a sadistic nurse, but finds her own revenge. In "Crime Scene" a young female cop is encouraged to cry in pity for a murder victim, and in doing so solved the crime. Some of the 19 stories are lighter in tone in theme, including a well-wrought pastiche of Sherlock Holmes and a case involving cats and smuggling.