Award-winning novelist Penny Goetjen (pronounced goat-gen) writes murder mystery and suspense novels where the settings play as prominent a role as the engaging characters. A self-proclaimed eccentric known for writing late into the night, transfixed by the allure of flickering candlelight, Penny embraces the writing process, unaware what will confront her at the next turn. She rides the journey with her characters, often as surprised as her readers to see how the story unfolds. Fascinated with the paranormal, she usually weaves a subtle, unexpected twist into her stories. When her husband is asked how he feels about his wife writing murder mysteries, he answers with a wink, “I sleep with one eye open.” She is a proud member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Penny splits her time between Charleston, SC and Connecticut.


No one disappears without a trace….

Don’t try to tell Victoria Sands that time heals all wounds. It doesn’t work that way for a woman who’s lost her husband the way she did. She was never able to say goodbye. Never able to arrange a memorial. Receive friends at the service. Write thank-you notes for the flowers and donations sent in his name. Because it didn’t happen that way.

Victoria’s husband never returned home at the end of a work day. And no one seems to know what happened to him.

In the seven years since his disappearance, no witnesses have stepped forward and no credible evidence has been collected–not even his car. The few tenuous leads the police had are now ice cold. He simply vanished on a field trip with the private boarding school where he taught behind stone walls–the same school their son now attends.

But someone has to know what happened. And that someone may be closer to Victoria than she realizes.


  • Having grown up exposed to and with a fascination of ghosts, hauntings, and other things that go bump in the night, Penny can speak to why she weaves a subtle paranormal thread into her novels. Although her initial paranormal experience left her terrified, her trepidation soon turned into curiosity. 
  • Penny can speak to how her novels have a recurring theme of the strength of love. Its power can compel people to hang onto hope, accomplish what they could never have dreamed they could, or stand strong in the face of adversity. 
  • Strong female characters dominate the leading roles in Penny’s stories. Often during talks, though, she feels the need to publicly apologize to her characters, particularly her protagonists. In her words, she “puts them through hell and back, and there are moments that it’s not clear if they’ll make it through.”
  • Colorful settings are a key to Penny’s stories. Readers applaud her strong descriptive language that fully immerses them in the location; feeling the ocean’s spray on their faces from waves crashing on the beach, breathing in a salty sea breeze while navigating a breakwater, or smelling jet fuel hanging in the air after a helicopter crash. She writes what she knows and sets her novels in places she’s fallen in love with so the reader does too.  


An absorbing, dreamy, water imagery–infused mystery.Kirkus Reviews

The Woman Underwater is a gripping mystery with an engaging cast of characters, lots of unexpected twists, and enticing hints of the paranormal. Victoria is a thoughtfully-rendered character, resolute in her search for answers in a years-old mystery that turned her life upside-down.—Emily Arsenault, author of When All the Girls are Sleeping and The Last Thing I Told You

The Woman Underwater is a vivid and poignant story of a woman haunted by an unsolved mystery from her past. This book, where surprises and suspicious characters abound, is for anyone who’s ever been told to move on from something they knew in their heart they shouldn’t. I gulped it down in a single day.” —Megan Collins, author of The Family Plot

“Goetjen excels at exploring the depths of characters pushed to their limits, and confidently blends high-stakes emotion and hints of the supernatural in this page-turning tale of suspense.” —Shari Randall, author of the Agatha Award-winning Lobster Shack Mystery series

“Goetjen’s setting is bucolic Connecticut, a perfect contradiction for the internal chaos Victoria experiences while living a life without resolution, and a surprising amount of truly thrilling scenes. Red herrings are sprinkled artfully throughout. . .  emboldened by Goetjen’s ability to portray her characters as imperfect human beings yet likeable in most instances . . . a challenging and courageous task for a writer.” —C. Michele Dorsey, author of the Sabrina Salter Mysteries and the Danny and Nora O’Brien Mysteries

I didn’t put it down. Vivid imagery, suspenseful and thrilling. Kudos to Penny Goetjen.” —Heather Douglass, NetGalley Reviewer 

“Penny Goetjen’s storyline is excellent and the novel was well written. Victoria Sand’s husband has been missing for seven years with no clues to his whereabouts. Although involved romantically with other men during her grief, Victoria cannot move past the loss of her husband Robert. The plot is constructed cleverly and connects in a way that keeps you glued to the pages. There are moments of tension and suspense with some unexpected twists and discoveries as the story unfolds. The novel is worthy of five (5) stars.” —Ron Batty, NetGalley Reviewer

“Fast paced thriller that will leave you reeling. I absolutely enjoyed the plot and really loved the characters as well. Anyone who loves a thriller will love this book! 5 Stars.” —Lynn Beck, NetGalley Reviewer