University of Wisconsin Press colophon



University of Wisconsin Madison crest that links to main university site

Association of University Presses member logo that links to main AUPresses site



Catalog Archive / Fall 2021

Death on a Starry Night

Honorable Mention, Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award, Council for Wisconsin Writers

Who shot Vincent van Gogh? And who would kill to know it?

When art historian Nora Barnes returns to France for a Van Gogh conference in the charming medieval village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, she’s expecting a vigorous debate about whether the famed artist’s suicide was actually a homicide. But on the night before the conference, an elderly French woman who’d promised to reveal important evidence is found face down in the village fountain, and her Chanel briefcase is nowhere to be seen.

During a week of academic squabbling, dining, romance, and suspense, the quirky conference members, one by one, fall under police suspicion and the amused gaze of Nora’s husband, Toby Sandler. But someone wants to stop Nora and Toby’s amateur sleuthing, and what happens next is no joke.


Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden are coauthors of the mysteries Murder in Lascaux and The Body in Bodega Bay, the first two novels featuring Nora Barnes and Toby Sandler. They also coauthored the memoir A Castle in the Backyard: The Dream of a House in France and translated The Walnut Cookbook by Jean-Luc Toussaint. They are professors emeriti of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Long ago, Michael worked a summer as a waiter in Saint-Paul-de-Vence and fell in love with the village.





“Into the mix of personalities, the authors weave in tantalizing snippets of letters written by Isabelle’s grandfather about his acquaintance with the extremely moody and vulnerable Van Gogh in 1890. The result is an entertaining whodunit.”
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

“Making their third sleuthing appearance (after The Body in Bodega Bay), Nora and Toby are utterly delightful. . . . Mystery devotees who want an atmospheric crime novel with an art history slant such as Iain Pears’s ‘Jonathan Argyll’ books will enjoy this series.”
Library Journal

“A thoroughly engaging romp set in the olive groves above the French Riviera. Draine and Hinden’s eccentric and amiable characters (one of whom happens to be a murderer) gather together to share delicious meals, amble through medieval villages, and argue about van Gogh’s art, life, and mysterious death in this charming whodunit.”
—M. L. Longworth, author of The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne

“The best novel yet in an already strong series. The plot is tight, the subject engaging, and the characters suitably attractive, villainous, and occasionally sexy. Expertly exploring the mystery of Van Gogh’s death, the authors serve us French food and wine along the very enjoyable way.”
—Richard B. Schwartz, author of The Last Voice You Hear

“A clever mystery that weaves art and murder into a rich, colorful tapestry set against the backdrop of the real-life controversy surrounding the death of Vincent van Gogh. A sure thing for art lovers, Francophiles, and readers who enjoy their mysteries with a glass of fine wine.”
—Patricia Skalka, author of Death Stalks Door County




Download Cover: color | b/w

Download Author Photo: color | b/w

Request Review Copy

Request Exam Copy



Also by Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden

Murder in Lascaux

Murder in Lascaux
A Nora Barnes and Toby Sandler Mystery

The Body in Bodega Bay

The Body in Bodega Bay
A Nora Barnes and Toby Sandler Mystery

Death on a Starry Night: cover art of a walled city on a hill with a painted, swirling, star-filled sky behind it.
Larger images

New in Paperback! October 2021
LC: 2015036321 PS
220 pp. 5½ x 8¼

Book icon
Cloth $24.95
ISBN 9780299307301
Shopping cart

Review Cart

Book icon
Paper $17.95
ISBN 9780299307349
Shopping cart

Review Cart