Sometimes a Girl’s Gotta Be Bad to Be Good


I’m not David Simon. I’m not Laura Lippman.

But dammit, they’re not the only ones who can tell a good crime fiction story about Baltimore.

Dog Park coverWhich is why I’ve penned Murder in the Dog Park: Bad Girl. Good Cop. Bad Dog. Baltimore needed a murder mystery with a bitchy protagonist: a homegrown Lisbeth Salander-like character with superior computer hacking and street fighting skills and a fuck you attitude and a penchant for only-in-Baltimore characters like Jerome, a gun toting transsexual bail bondsman channeling his inner Donna Summer.

That’s why I created Jane Ronson, a near-savant, freelance detective who cruises Baltimore’s dive bars, smokes and drinks like a sailor and makes her way through Charm City with her middle finger permanently extended skywards. Jane lives with her bull terrier Archie whose misshapen head resembles some prehistoric creature. Jane’s only living relative is her shelppy cousin Lenny, a once acclaimed photographer for the Baltimore Sun who’s become the neighborhood peeping tom.

Think I am making this up? Look around you. My friend, the award-winning author and screenwriter (and WTBH collaborator) Rafael Alvarez, says that at any hour of the day, someone in Baltimore is walking down the street in Homer Simpson slippers with a warm beer in their hand and a half-lit cigarette dangling from their lips. From the man screaming obscenities on the median of Martin Luther King Boulevard to the city hall shenanigans that leave Baltimore taxpayers holding the bag while politicians get in bed with developers, sometimes Charm City ain’t so charming, hon.

Murder in the Dog Park isn’t a cutesy novel. You want cute? Then snuggle up with your overweight cat and read Agatha Christie. I tell it like it is, from the aging frat boys hitting on bubble headed blonde drug reps at the Mt. Jefferson Tavern (in no way to be confused with Mt. Washington, *wink*) to the anorexic soccer and lacrosse moms who spend thousands of dollars on their children’s private school tuitions while the 99% kids manage the best they can with Baltimore City’s flawed public school system.

Jill Yesko
Jill Yesko

But Murder in the Dog Park isn’t all gloom and doom; it’s also a love story. For my romantic lead, I created Don, a sexy Baltimore City cop with abs to die for, a dimpled chin and a Glock as hard as….well, use your imagination. Don is the perfect foil for Jane. He treats her with respect and let’s her run off leash when she needs her freedom. And they have hot sex.

I hope I’ve tantalized you enough to read my book. You can pick up a copy at the Ivy Bookshop, Breathe Books, Greetings and Readings, Ukazoo Books and on Amazon where Murder in the Dog Park is also available as an ebook.

Please visit my website and like my Murder in the Dog Park Facebook page.

PS: My new book, Dog Spelled Backwards: An Unholy Mystery, will be out soon. It’s the sequel to Murder in the Dog Park. Jane goes undercover in Baltimore’s Orthodox Jewish community to investigate a black market kidney ring. It’s the movie Witness meets Murder in the Dog Park!

Excerpt from Murder in the Dog Park:

The instant I opened the Hub Cap’s darkened door, the intense hit of cigarette smoke, Natty Boh and cheeseburgers penetrated my nervous system like a bump of heroin. Instinctively, my shoulders dropped an inch and my jaw unclenched. My jangled nervous system went from 60 to zero.

I looked down the grimy bar at the motley crew of barflies and nodded at the semi-regulars. At the near end of the bar sat Rudy, a grizzled ex-Hell’s Angel turned BMW master mechanic. Rudy’s days as a hard-living biker were practically gospel to Hub Cap regulars. Rudy had done time in California for armed robbery. He’d pulled a guy’s eye out with his bare hand after the guy touched his Harley, or so he claimed.

Jill and Bull Terrier
Jill and Bull Terrier

These days Rudy lived in a mini mansion in Carroll County with a young blonde wife and a couple of kids. He drove an SUV and went to church on Sundays. But he still had plenty of street cred and I was sure he could still beat the crap out of anyone who looked at him the wrong way. He met my eye and raised his mug in salute.

Next to Rudy sat Charlie O. Nobody knew who he really was. He kept showing up everyday at five o’clock talking nonsense about serving in Afghanistan and smoking hashish with the Taliban. I was pretty sure he’d never set foot out of Baltimore but if you tried to nail down details he’d say he couldn’t remember everything because he’d been gassed with Agent Orange.

A few months back some smart ass 25-year-old slumming it from Federal Hill started in on Charlie O. The kids kept arguing with Charlie, telling him that Agent Orange was used in Vietnam, not Afghanistan. Charlie O. just kept listening as the guy went on, pulling out his iPhone to show Charlie O. some website about Agent Orange. When the kid looked up from his iPhone, Charlie O.—with the precision and swiftness of a pickpocket—plucked the device out of his hand, dropped it in the kid’s beer and cold cocked him. God, I loved the Hub Cup.

About Jill:
Jill Yesko’s 20+ year writing career has included stints as a reporter and contributing writer to publications from the Baltimore Sun to Shape magazine. Along the way, she’s written about hiking the mud flats in northern Holland to body piercing. Following a solo trip around the world, Jill was profiled as an “adventurous traveler” in Oprah Magazine. Before journalism, Jill was a national-class cyclist and graduate student in geography. A New Jersey native, Jill patrols Baltimore’s dog parks with her basset hound.