Karina Cardinal Mysteries

#1 International Bestseller

Isabella’s Painting

Book 1, Karina Cardinal Mystery Series

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Peeling back layers of lies can save a masterpiece-or reveal a killer.

After a long week lobbying on Capitol Hill, all Karina Cardinal wants to do is chill with Netflix and her boyfriend, Patrick Dunne. Instead, she’s slipping her aching feet into red stilettos for his parents’ annual holiday bash.  When she accidentally interrupts Patrick’s father in his study, her embarrassment is tempered by suspicion that Martin Dunne and his dapper, secretive guest are hiding something. Maybe the painting she barely glimpses right before it disappears behind a secret panel.

An internet search raises her curiosity to full-blown alarm. If she’s right, Martin is in possession of a stolen masterpiece. Infamous because everyone close to it has turned up dead. As in Mafia-style-execution dead.   As she’s chewing over which instinct to follow-back off while she still can, or dig deeper for the truth-she crosses paths with FBI agent Mike Finnegan. An old friend and not-quite flame from her college days. When she looks into his warm, mocha eyes, she’s tempted to tell him everything.

Trouble is, she’s already being watched. And the next move she makes could destroy innocent lives-including her own.

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Fatal Legislation

Book 2, Karina Cardinal Mystery Series

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Working the back channels can be very bad for your health.

If any day calls for a soothing glass of wine, it’s today. One moment, Capitol Hill lobbyist Karina Cardinal is having a heated discussion with Senator Harper, who just torpedoed her latest health care legislation initiative. The next, after a cryptic remark, the senator is dead at her feet. Hours later, she’s still so rattled she wakes to a freezing apartment because she forgot to close her back door. Or did she?

When her boyfriend, FBI cybercrimes expert Mike Finnegan, is suddenly reassigned to work a new case, he’s got bad news and worse news. The bad: the senator’s death was no heart attack-it was assassination by a hacker disabling his pacemaker. Worse: Karina’s a “person of interest.”

Certain that status could change to “suspect” at any moment, Karina begins her own back-channel investigation into who could have wanted the senator dead. Of course, in Washington, that means playing politics and following the money trail. A trail that leads to more murders-and possibly leaving the door open for a killer to change her status to “dead.”

Fatal Legislation  is a perfect Washington suspense novel. Ellen Butler has created an intricate plot with realistic characters embroiled in the world of policymaking, lobbyists, and Congress. There’s even a FBI love interest for good measure! D.C. denizens and those curious about our nation’s capital will enjoy this book.” –  Colleen J. Shogan, Author of  K Street Killing

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#1 International Bestseller

Diamonds & Deception

Book 3, Karina Cardinal Mystery Series

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Karina’s stuck between a rock and a hard place-and these rocks are hot property.

Sadira Manon, friend and colleague of Karina Cardinal’s sister Jillian, has been moonlighting at a jewelry store. When a loose diamond falls out of her purse, the police sing her the song of their people-“Miranda Rights.”

Karina, Jilly, and Silverthorne Security join forces to investigate who’s setting Sadira up to take a fall, and why. By the time Karina realizes they’ve dug too deep, Jillian’s in trouble, and Karina’s forced to make that dreaded phone call to Mike Finnegan, her estranged lover-hoping Mike doesn’t let it go to voice mail.

“Ellen Butler continues her bestselling Karina Cardinal mystery series with a sparkling new book: Diamonds & Deception. Butler’s confident, breezy writing style drew me in immediately and I breathlessly followed Karina and her sister Jillian as they fought for their lives in this well-crafted and timely adventure. Don’t miss it!” ~ Julie Hyzy, New York Times bestselling author

Pharaoh’s Forgery

Book 4, Karina Cardinal Mystery Series

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After some of Karina Cardinal’s recent adventures-her lover Mike Finnegan would call them scrapes, jams, or pickles-she’s more than ready to blow this D.C. pop stand for a short girls’ trip to Mexico. Until Jillian’s roller skate wreck blows their plan out of the water. With Jilly injured and Mike working, her fellow lobbyist Rodrigo volunteers to share some sun, sand, and margaritas in Cancun. It’s tough to relax, though, knowing what’s in her suitcase. A package she promised to hand off to Mrs. Thundermuffin in Mexico.

Mrs. T’s evasive maneuvers around Karina’s questions wave more red flags than a bullfighter, leaving Karina no choice but to take a peek. Okay, so it’s not a kilo of something illegal. It’s an Egyptian death mask that turns out to be a magnet for crooks, conmen, kidnappers, and outright killers. When the situation explodes into chaos, Karina and Rodrigo are lucky to have friends in the right place-at their backs. But they’re in one hell of a jam. And they could be going home in something tackier than a souvenir t-shirt-more like a body bag.

Award: First Runner Up – InD’tale Magazine RONE Award, Mystery Category

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“I simply love Karina Cardinal as an amateur sleuth. In this installment, we follow Karina to Mexico for a vacation adventure focused on the black market for art antiquities. The characters keep the story moving, especially her clandestine retired CIA neighbor Mrs. Thundermuffin. For those (like myself) who loved the escapades of Emily Pollifax written by Dorothy Gilmore, you will love the latest edition to the Karina Cardinal series.”-Colleen Shogan, Author of the award-winning Washington Whodunit mystery series

“Conmen, kidnappers, and chaos, oh my! Buckle up, adventure-lovers! Karina Cardinal, Stephanie Plum with a master’s degree and FBI connections, is off for fun in the sun until her Mexican vacation takes a National Lampoon-style turn with a side of mayhem. Brimming with vivid, relatable characters, Pharaoh’s Forgery is a well-written page-turner that will keep you chuckling and on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.”   – Judith Gonda, Author of the Tory Benning mystery series

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Swindler’s Revenge

Book 5, Karina Cardinal Mystery Series

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There are no softball cases in the FBI-especially when an agent gets dirty.

Karina Cardinal’s Saturday starts out with a bang, and it’s not the home renovation marathon she’s watching on HGTV. It’s the FBI banging on her door, hunting for a fugitive. As if she could easily hide one in her modest condo. Especially one named Mike Finnegan. The two of them called it splitsville a couple months ago, but Mike? Take a $1.2 million bribe? No and no and no.  No matter how much damning evidence the feds claim to have.

When a mysterious burner phone shows up in her pocket, Karina has no doubt who dropped it there. Mike is deep undercover and so far off-grid, he needs help to figure out who’s framing him-and why. Classic Karina, she jumps in with both feet, ignoring the dangers. The trouble with leaping before you look? You can land in a world of dirt. And when an old enemy starts playing hardball, you can end up six feet under it.

“Butler keeps the plot barreling ahead. Fans of intelligent escapism will look forward to more.” – Publisher’s Weekly Magazine

“Ellen Butler’s “Swindler’s Revenge” is an unputdownable adventure that will take readers on an electrifying yet light-hearted and humorous journey.” – InD’Tale Magazine

“Each installment of the Karina Cardinal series just keeps getting better! Absolutely loved and wish I could give more than 5 stars!” – Affaire de Coeur Magazine

“Karina is at it again. One of my favorite things about this series is seeing Karina as the fish out of water amateur, but one who isn’t catastrophically stupid.” –Award-winning Author Melanie Jackson

“Look for mystery, suspense, and romance in this rocking adventure that will keep you reading until the end.” – Author Terry Ambrose

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Spectral Revelations

Book 6, Karina Cardinal Mystery Series


Karina’s aunt is missing—along with a list of historic treasures. Is she a victim or guilty party?

Karina is trying to keep her mind on getting a cosponsor for a bill, but it’s tough with her Mom blowing up her phone. By the time Karina finally stops hitting “ignore”, Mom is frantic. It appears Karina’s Aunt Vera has disappeared, fibbed to her employer about the reason for her absence, even abandoned her beloved cat, Nightshade—which is completely out of character. Karina would bet her favorite pair of designer shoes that Vera is in some kind of trouble.

However, when Karina hauls her cookies from D.C. to historic Williamsburg to search Vera’s house, she finds nothing suspicious. Except for a mischievous Civil War ghost who scares the bejesus out of her and keeps trashing Vera’s office. Until Karina realizes his seemingly random ectoplasmic tantrums have a purpose—revealing key evidence.

Something is definitely fishy, but the clues aren’t adding up. And as the spirit’s visitations become more urgent, Karina calls on reinforcements for help—her latest squeeze Rick Donovan and her sister Jillian. Because the cops are following faulty leads, which could put Vera on the wrong end of an arrest warrant … if she’s found alive.

Read the First Chapter of Spectral Revelations