Dorothy Uhnak dead at 76

Oh man, this news just sucks in so many ways:

Dorothy Uhnak, once famous as a 125-pound New York City Transit Authority

policewoman who knocked down and arrested an armed mugger and then

better known as the author of gritty, suspenseful, best-selling crime

novels, died on Saturday in Greenport, N.Y. She was 76 and lived in

Shelter Island, N.Y.

Her daughter, Tracy Uhnak, said she died of a deliberate drug

overdose. She added that her mother had had a variety of accidents in

recent years, was often depressed and had discussed suicide


“You don’t have to kill yourself today,” she said more than once, her daughter recalled. “You can do it tomorrow.”

Uhnak won the Best First novel Edgar in 1968 for THE BAIT and followed it up with several books featuring NYPD detective Christie Opara before she broke out with the standalone LAW AND ORDER (1973), about three generations of a police family.

She was there before everybody – before Wambaugh, before Marcia Muller, Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky, before the current crop of procedural and forensic thriller writers. And now she’s gone.

Uhnak is survived by her daughter, her husband, Anthony, and a sister, Mary Ellis of Hartsdale, N.Y.