Kim Hays

Kim Hays
Photo by Sandra Blaser

The Facts

Kim Hays is a dual citizen (Swiss/American) who has made her home in Bern since she married a Swiss. Before that she lived in San Juan, Vancouver, and Stockholm, as well as the US, her birthplace. Since the age of seventeen she has worked at a wide variety of jobs, from factory forewoman to director of a small nonprofit and, in Switzerland, from sociology lecturer to cross-cultural trainer. She began writing mysteries when her son left for college. Pesticide, the first book in the Polizei Bern series, which features detectives Giuliana Linder and Renzo Donatelli, was published by Seventh Street Books in April 2022 and was shortlisted for the 2020 Debut Dagger award by the Crime Writers’ Association. The second book in the series, Sons and Brothers, will be out on April 18, 2023.

Hays has a BA in English history and literature from Harvard and a PhD in cultural sociology from UC-Berkeley.

The Rest of the Story

When I was twenty-six, I met my husband, Peter, on a park bench in the south of France. A week after our wedding, we settled in his hometown of Bern in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, and I’ve lived here ever since. In fact, we’re still in the same neighborhood we moved to as newlyweds.

In between being born in the US and moving to Bern, I lived in twenty homes; six of those were in San Juan, Vancouver, and Stockholm. Being forced to learn new languages and adapt to different cultures from childhood on turned out to be very useful preparation for marrying a Swiss and moving to Switzerland. Peter and I have a son, Thomas, who’s thirty and lives in Zürich. While he was young, I taught sociology and English and wrote magazine articles about Swiss traditions. Later I became a cross-cultural trainer, preparing employees of multinational firms and their spouses to live and work in a foreign country. It was an interesting job, and I did it for fifteen years.

What I really wanted to do, though, was write a mystery. My mother, a librarian and dedicated reader of crime fiction, had guided me from Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie to Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey, and Michael Gilbert. After that, it was up to me to discover Dick Francis, Michael Connelly, Margaret Maron, Reginald Hill, and Donna Leon, moving on to Robert Galbraith, Tana French, Louise Penny, Adrian McKinty, Jane Harper, and many, many more,

The result was my first novel, Pesticide, a police procedural set in Bern. It features Giuliana Linder, a homicide detective in the Kantonspolizei Bern (Bern cantonal police), and Renzo Donatelli, a younger investigator who is in love with her. Pesticide is the first in a series of books featuring not only Giuliana and Renzo but also the city and canton of Bern—places of dramatic beauty that are occasionally disturbingly violent.

After all, the cows grazing happily on our serene Alpine meadows are still destroying the environment with their methane.

I hope you’ll buy Pesticide and give it a try. If you like it, the second book in the Polizei Bern series, Sons and Brothers, will be published on April 18, 2023, and can already be preordered. Both books are available from Simon and Schuster:

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