Sunday, October 7, 2012

I Remember Liz… Elizabeth Daniels Squire

Bouchercon Sunday is a fitting time to recall a shining star of the mystery world, a first-rate American writer, who won a prestigious Agatha Award and was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.

Who left a huge hole at her sudden death in 2001, while on a book promotion tour to Alaska.

An esteemed leader of the Southeastern Chapter of MWA, national SinC, and Carolina Crime Writers, Liz began her career as a book writer in 1960 with Fortune in Your Hand, a history of palmistry, with intriguing data on hands of celebrities such as Dali, Sandburg, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Helen Keller.

PW wrote: "Forceful and engrossing!"

Kill the Messenger was her debut crime novel, about a newspaper publisher killed by cyanide poisoning in his bourbon and the menace of corporate takeovers.

Then Peaches Dann hit the world of mystery with a bang! A Southern amateur detective with a memory problem - who dazzled readers for several books: Where There's a Will, Whose Death Is It Anyway?, Memory can Be Murder, Remember the Alibi, Who Killed What's Her Name? and Is There a Dead Man in the House?

Kirkus Reviews wrote: " A talent to watch!"

I knew her as Dizzy, before I knew Liz the famous author!

A warm, gifted person, devoted wife of Chick Squire, New York Times correspondent, and the mother of three children, Jonathan, Mark and Worth.

Though she ranks high in the pantheon of America's crime literature, Dizzy's pride was in her boys.

One summer, when a group of us were having fun on the beach at Nag's Head, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, she announced — " I am the mother of THREE sons!"

Vibrant, witty, often self-effacing, Liz came from an illustrious literary family.

Josephus Daniels, her grandfather, founded the renowned Raleigh News and Observer, served as Secretary of the Navy and Ambassador to Mexico, and was a friend of Franklin Roosevelt.

Jonathan Daniels, her father, was a famous and prolific author, who also served as Press Secretary to Harry Truman.

A journalist in Beirut and Connecticut, Dizzy was also invloved in the family business in Raleigh.

She graduated from Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina, where Barbara Bush was also a student, then from Vassar.

I remember Dizzy for many little things:

  • Her zany earrings, her prized bargain clothes from Carolina outlets, her unique salads from her own garden.
  • Her prim and proper front parlor in the house at Weaverville, next to the enormous and friendly kitchen, where we were all welcome from morning to night!
  • Her genial hospitality, where friends brought their friends, whatever the occasion.
  • Visits and walks by Connecticut lakes, Carolina beaches, Weaverville woods, shared birthdays in Manhattan, drinks on the lawn .
  • Sharing the mystery galas, the Toronto Bouchercon, the Florida Sleuthfest, the Edgars receptions, the unique SinC celebration at St. Bart's Episopal Church in NYC, where she introduced me to a new writer in a blue silk dress named Annette Meyers, the MWA Symposia at Vanderbilt Hall at NYU.

One special memory - I wish I had a picture of this - took place one Thanksgiving Day. There were four of us, Dizzy, her roommate from days at Ashley Hall, Chick and I - sitting by a picture window in rural Connecticut. We looked out - and watched to our delight - a deer and her fawn, like two silent but majestic ballerinas, tiptoe daintily across the lawn, giving us a private performance!

We can only guess what memorable volumes remained in her brain, when she was taken, so suddenly, from all of us — her family, her friends, her colleagues, her fans.

As they said about John Kennedy… "Liz, we hardly knew ye."

Thelma Jacqueline Straw


  1. Oh, Thelma - what a lovely, lovely tribute to a remarkable woman. Thank you for sharing these memories and now, by golly, I do believe I need to pull out a Peaches book to re-read!

  2. Thanks, Kaye, you remind me a lot of Dizzy Squire - both NC residents, warm, big hearts, talent! tjs

  3. Liz and I used to exchange emails and I loved her wit and friendliness. I miss her and think about her frequently.

    Lelia Taylor

    1. Thanks for dropping by - if I were Liz, I'd offer you a glass of wine and a big salad and a homemade muffin! tjs

  4. I had to good fortune to be in several writing classes with Liz. And was in a writing circle that met at her house. What a charmer she was. Thanks for doing this blog.

    Sharon Wildwind

  5. Thanks, Sharon, she was a powerhouse, like many southern women, soft on the outside, dynamo on the inside!!! Thelma

  6. This is a wonderful tribute. You give such a wonderfully round vision of this woman that I will certainly see Peaches through different eyes now when I next read one of Liz's novels.

  7. I remember discussing getting tattoos with Liz in Philly. Yeah, we were kidding, but she was really convincing when she said she might get one.

    Proper, but with a streak of mischief--that was the Liz I knew.