Linda Maria Frank: Inspired by Nancy Drew, Author Creates Her Own Modern-Day Sleuth

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Author Linda Frank with her Annie Tillery series and fans.
Author Linda Frank with her Annie Tillery series and fans.

Author Linda Maria Frank wasn’t in Sayville’s Tiny Raccoon Books five minutes when some of her fans began pouring in.

Ann McPartlin from Freeport, Mary Lambert from Merrick, JoAnn Krapp from Farmingdale and Karen Bonnett from Oceanside were among the first.

They all knew and supported each other, helping Frank set up her table with the Annie Tillery series as well as the Buccaneer books for her meet and greet.

Growing up, Nancy Drew, the spunky fictional teenage amateur sleuth that was popular for decades, was Frank’s first writing muse and the catalyst for her own creation, Annie Tillery.

“I hated to read, and Nancy made me a lifetime reader,” said Frank of the series. “She was never afraid to meet a challenge. And she took you places.”

Like lighthouses, haunted houses and other interesting spots. Plus, she had a roadster. Quite the independent gal.

Frank, literally, is an accomplished dynamo. After retiring from teaching science to middle school students as well as graduate level students at Hofstra and Adelphi universities, she created her own fearless teen character, Annie Tillery and combined Annie’s forensic investigations with CSI (Crime Scene Investigations) inspired plots.

Voila! A successful new heroine emerged tackling crimes through six books.

“Annie’s mom has a substance abuse problem and her father works for the state department,” Frank explained. “She lives with her aunt, an NYPD Homicide Detective.”

Her first Annie Tillery book, “The Madonna Ghost,” takes her to Fire Island. Her aunt disappears “but Annie doesn’t know that she’s working on a case,” said Frank.

Besides, writing compelling reading for young people, Frank also offers Lesson Plans for teachers on her website.

“I’ve known Linda since 1989,” said Lambert admiringly. “We worked as consultants at BOCES and we were teachers, me in English, Linda in science.”

“I’m a fan and author,” said Lois Schmitt who was buying “The Buccaneers of St. Frederick Island” for her granddaughter – another mystery series that she launched a couple summers back. “She really writes great books for middle school kids.”

Frank has won Gold and Blue Five Stars Awards, Great Reading for Teens and Young Adults as well as several other publishing accolades. She also has an award from the American Society of University Women for inspiring girls to pursue science studies and careers. Also, she hosts The Writer’s Dream, a talk show on LTV where Long Island-based writers discuss different aspects of the profession. (You can catch it on her Youtube channel.)

A resident of Massapequa Park, Frank’s scholarly background in forensic science was the lead-in to the CSI aspect.

“When I taught forensic science at Seaford High School, I’d give the students a project based on a mystery story, for example about art forgery, and the kids had to figure out how it was done.”

Jerry Cimisi talks to author Linda Frank at Tiny Raccoon Books in Sayville.

As a student, you would have wanted Frank as your teacher. She plunged her classes into real science as they studied evidence, tested for authenticity; students became sleuths themselves.

The Girl with Pencil, Drawing” delves into art forgery, for example.

Jerry Cimisi from Rocky Point was particularly interested in that subject.

“My wife saw this book event and I’m a writer myself,” he said.

They discussed the Nazi pilfering of artwork and “The Woman in Gold,” the story about Maria Altman, a Jewish woman who fled Nazi Germany settling eventually in Los Angeles who reclaimed her Aunt Adele’s portrait by Gustav Klimt. The story emerged in a book and a 2015 film with Helen Mirran and Ryan Reynolds based on “The Lady in Gold” book published in 2012.

Frank is easy to talk to, and interested in those who seek her advice, background and specific information. Tiny Raccoon Books owner Daniel McGowan said, “She’s one of the more interesting authors we’ve had.”

Writing and promoting her books full time is Frank’s new career. She’s plenty busy. There was a time that Frank would contact bookstores, libraries, and organizations for talks. Now, they reach out her.

“I can’t keep up with them,” she said.


Visit Linda Maria Frank’s website at