Janet Kole Books


Janet Kole


Author of THE SMELL OF MONEY: An Odd Fellows Mystery

Janet Kole graduated from Bryn Mawr College before going on to receive her master’s from New York University and law degree from Temple University’s James Beasley School of Law. She has written many books and articles on legal issues, but has been a fan of mystery fiction her whole life, especially the works of Agatha Christie and Robert Parker. She practiced law for 30 years with both large law firms and, for five years, her own environmental law boutique. She started writing stories for her family at age 5. As a teenager, she wrote press releases for the local 4H club. She started publishing her work in The Bergen Record in the 1960s, as a feature reporter for the newspaper. She wrote for Ms. magazine, New Times, Penthouse and Harper’s Bazaar before becoming a lawyer. For years she had a column on women and the law in Harper’s Bazaar. She has also written guides for young lawyers, Chasing Paper, Pleading Your Case, A Brief Guide to Brief Writing, and Avoiding Bad Depositions,which were published by ABA Publishing. Her first book, Suggestion of Death, was published last year.

Ms. Kole retired as a lawyer in 2010. Her new career as a writer is keeping her busy, which means that she doesn’t get out to play golf as much as she thought she would. She loves her family and boats. She tries to stay warm by spending the winters in Florida. She lives part time in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Janet says:

When I started in the profession, thirty years ago in a large national firm, the practice of law was a genteel affair, with afternoon breaks for tea served in china cups and brought around by a uniformed lady wheeling a tea cart, and evening drinks in a senior partner’s office replete with a well-stocked bar. I loved the clients, and I loved the cases, all interesting and intellectually challenging. I even liked many of my colleagues.

But gradually, over the years, lawyering became less a service industry and much more of a business. Add to that the economic collapse of 2008, and what was merely more of a business evolved into a cutthroat environment that rendered practicing law, at least for me, no longer fun. I left the firm where I had been a partner for years, and retired.

Although being a lawyer had stopped being fun, writing about my experience has been. I started by writing reality books for young lawyers that, with humor, gave advice about learning how to practice law. As these kinds of books go, they were best-sellers. Then I thought—why not let everyone get a sense of what a lawyer’s life is like?

So I wrote Suggestion of Death, published this year. It’s a murder mystery with a lawyer narrator. I added a bit of wish fulfillment to my experiences, having one law partner murder another. The humor is there, because as one of my colleagues said to me years ago, “if you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.”

As I look at my notes over the years, I realize I have material for many novels. And because I enjoy reading mysteries, I intend to include murders in all of my future novels. For some of the more outrageous situations I describe in my writings, be assured: truth is stranger than fiction. These things have happened, although not all to me. While my tenure in law firms has included coping with suicide and murder, no law partners of mine ever murdered other lawyers. They might have wanted to, but really, lawyers kill with words, not weapons.

See the ABC interview with Janet Kole:



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See the ABC interview with Janet Kole.

Hear Janet's Radio Interview with Briar Lee Mitchell: