Our next guest on the Crime Cafe podcast will be crime writer Kim Hays.

Along with her guest post, she’s giving away a copy of her latest book, Sons and Brothers, as well as the first book in the series, Pesticide.

Details about how to enter the giveaway follow the guest post.

So, without further ado, here’s Kim Hays on why she writes mysteries.

Why I Write Mysteries

When I was 26, I met my husband-to-be on a park bench in the South of France. Both of us were on vacation, so after a few days, I returned to Berkeley, where I was a sociology graduate student. Seven years later, we got married, and I moved to my husband’s hometown of Bern in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, where I’ve lived ever since.

During my first years in Bern, I was busy getting to know my new country, learning standard German and Swiss-German, and writing my PhD dissertation. Eventually, I needed work, so I started writing articles for an English-language magazine, Swiss News, where I got permission to do a series on foreigners with interesting jobs. During the next year or two, I interviewed twenty non-Swiss who lived in Switzerland, including an Australian soccer player, a Mexican dress designer, a Russian working to preserve forests, a Cuban ballet dancer, and a Canadian horse trainer.

Later, after our son had left for college and I’d worked at other jobs, I decided to write a book; it turned out to be Pesticide (2022), the first Linder and Donatelli mystery in my Polizei Bern series. It has since been followed by Sons and Brothers (2023) and A Fondness for Truth (forthcoming April 2024).

The most important reason I write mysteries is to entertain myself while I’m writing them and other people while they’re reading them. Still, I’m driven by a few other goals, as well. As I force my detectives to follow a path toward justice through the vast gray area between right and wrong, I get a chance to consider what it means to be a moral person. Another less grandiose goal of my series is to showcase my beautiful city of Bern, with its medieval streets and towers and magnificent river, without hiding its flashes of darkness.

I have another agenda, too, that harks back to the interviews I did years ago with foreigners: I like to write about people who do intriguing things for a living. All police procedurals feature detectives and criminals; to those inevitable professions, I’ve added—among others—organic farmers, a fashion photographer, a restorer of historic textiles, various political activists, a cemetery gardener, a freelance journalist, a church sexton, a cardiac surgeon, and someone who advises young men who’ve opted out of serving in the Swiss Army.

Writing can be a solitary business. As I educate myself about my characters’ jobs, I move around the city, meeting strangers and asking them to explain what they do. The fourth Linder and Donatelli mystery, which doesn’t have a title yet, features a master glassmaker and his assistant. I couldn’t include nine-tenths of what I learned about forming, etching, coloring, firing, and restoring glass from the Swiss craftsman I shadowed on the job. Still, I don’t regret a moment of my time with him. I hope the book will interest readers in stained glass as well as blood stains.


I’m giving away paperback copies of my first two books, Pesticide and Sons and Brothers, to one winner. To enter the contest, send an email to kimhaysbern@gmail.com, write Crime Café in the subject line, and tell me the author and title of one of your all-time favorite mysteries. Be sure to include the address you want the books mailed to.


Kim Hays is a dual Swiss/US citizen who lives in Bern with her Swiss husband and writes the Polizei Bern series featuring detectives Linder and Donatelli. The first mystery in the series, Pesticide (2022), was shortlisted for both a Silver Falchion and a Debut Dagger Award. It was followed by Sons and Brothers (2023), which bestselling author Laurie R. King called “as crisp and skilled as the first [book].” Third in the series is A Fondness for Truth (forthcoming in April 2024), an “empathetic, entertaining, smartly plotted mystery [that] will keep readers guessing” (BookLife). For more information about Kim and her books, see www.kimhaysbern.com.

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