Domenic Stansberry


Domenic Stansberry is an award-winning novelist known for his dark, innovative crime novels.  His  North Beach Mystery Series has won praise in The New York Times and other publications for its rich portrayal of the ethnic and political subcultures of San Francisco.  An earlier novel, The Confession, received an Edgar Allan Poe Award for its controversial portrait of a Marin county psychologist accused of murdering his mistress.  He is the author of nine novels and a collection of stories.


Domenic Stansberry was born in Washington, DC, in 1952, and raised in California: the eldest of six children, son of Chadwick Leroy Stansberry, an aerospace engineer, and Avincenza Rose Mussolino, daughter of Italian immigrants.  The family migrated to California in 1966.  Stansberry attended UC Santa Cruz for two years, before heading north to Portland, Oregon, then eventually receiving a graduate degree from the University of Massachusetts.

Suspense.... Illicit Passion.... Murder.....Stansberry does it with originality, through the freshess of his imagery, and the lyricism of his lament for times that change, neighborhoods that grow old, and people who can never find their way home.”  THE NEW YORK TIMES

"This series... .revitalizes the classic detective story, injecting it with a noir sensibility that both evokes the old masters and seems altogether new." BOOKLIST

"Compelling….Equal parts contemporary crime fiction and dark, existential poetry." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY


Early in his career, Stansberry worked as an itinerant reporter, writing for a number of newspapers, large and small, as well as for UPI, for whom he covered sports and politics.   It was at this time he wrote his first novel, The Spoiler, published in 1987 and nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award for its portrayal of a reporter covering a minor league baseball team in a Massachusetts mill town plagued by arson.

In 1989, after stints in New Orleans and Spokane, Stansberry returned to California, where he worked in the multimedia industry, writing for documentary film, video games, and avatar-based computer training.

A collection of his early stories, Exit Paradise, appeared in 1992.


After The Spoiler, it was ten years before the publication of his next crime novel, The Last Days of Il Duce, (1997) told from the point of view of Niccolo Jones, an ex-lawyer obsessed with his brother’s wife.  The  book was nominated for  both an Edgar Award and the Hammett Prize.  Stansberry followed this with Manifesto for the Dead (1999), a fictional retelling of the last days of pulp novelist Jim Thompson.

Stansberry then wrote The Confession, a novel which sat unpublished for several years before being picked up by editor Charles Ardai at Hard Case Crime and winning the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original in 2005.  

Since then, Stansberry has written four other novels, all in the North Beach Series, otherwise known as The Pelican Books.  These book  feature  Dante Mancuso, AKA The Pelican, a melancholy investigator who cannot escape his questionable past, and so roams the gritty edge of the old Italian and Chinese neighborhoods in San Fransisco.   Books in the series include, in order of publication, Chasing the Dragon (2004), The Big Boom (2006), The Ancient Rain (2008), and Naked Moon (2010).  The latter two were  finalists for The Shamus Award, and The Ancient Rain topped the list of Booklist’s Best Crime Novels of the Year.


Stansberry is currently at work on a new novel and meanwhile continues to work as a writer and communications specialist in the Bay Area.   He also teaches as core faculty at the low-residency MFA Program at Vermont College of the Fine Arts, traveling to Montpelier twice a year, where he teaches workshops in fiction writing during the intensive 10 day residencies.  

He lives with his wife, the poet Gillian Conoley, and their daughter Gillis, in a small town north of San Francisco.

What makes Stansberry stand out from the crowd is the genuine noir sensibility he brings to his work, the overwhelming feeling that things must go wrong.  The last paragraph… captures the core of Stansberry’s view perfectly, its eloquence suggesting Joyce describing the snow at the end of this celebrated story  “The Dead.”


(starred review and one of Booklist’s Top Ten Crime Novels of the Year)

Photo by Coggins



Naked Moon
Ancient Rain
Japanese Confession

Japanese Cover of The Confession.  

This Shamus Award Finaliist was  featured in Booklist as one of the Top Ten Crime Novels of the Year.

Spoiler Dell

Dell Paperback reprint  of The Spoiler.  Originally published by Atlantic Monthly Books.

Fourth novel in North Beach Series.    Publisher St Martins Minotaur.  

© domenic stansberry