Kim Hays is a dual citizen (Swiss/American) who has made her home in Bern since 1988, when 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 17 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 Linzer and Donatelli series, will be published by Seventh Street Press in 2022. It was shortlisted for the 2020 Debut Dagger award by the Crime Writers’ Association.
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 had a son, Thomas, who’s now twenty-eight, and for a while I taught English and wrote magazine articles about Swiss traditions. Then 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 about fifteen years.
What I really wanted to do, though, was write a mystery. My mother, a 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, and Jane Harper. And many more.
The result was my first novel, Pesticide, a police procedural set in Bern. It features Giuliana Linder, a homicide detective in the Bern cantonal police, and Renzo Donatelli, a younger police investigator. Pesticide is the first in a series of books featuring not only Giuliana and Renzo but also the city and canton of Bern—frequently full of serene beauty but occasionally disturbingly ugly. There are few Alpine meadows and grazing cows that don’t hide some pollution.
I hope you’ll buy Pesticide and give it a try.