Robin Hathaway Keisman, 79, formerly of Germantown, an award-winning mystery author who began writing novels in her 50s, died Feb. 16 of cancer at the home of a daughter in Reston, Va. She had been living in Brewerytown at the time of her death.

Mrs. Keisman, who used her maiden name as her pen name, began to write in the 1980s – after some prodding by her husband – and turned out three novels in three years. When her work was rejected by publishers, she entered a mystery-writing contest sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. Nine months later she learned that her first novel, “The Doctor Digs a Grave” had won the Malice Domestic Award for best traditional mystery.

Along with the award came an agreement to publish the novel and a $10,000 advance.

One year later, the novel won an “Agatha,” the mystery writer’s equivalent of an Oscar, from Malice Domestic.

Although her novels never made the best-seller lists, they had a steady sale and can be found in libraries around the world. The protagonist of her first series of books was Dr. Andrew Fenimore, a cardiologist modeled on her husband.

The author of eight mystery novels, she was a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Born in Germantown, Mrs. Keisman graduated from Germantown Friends School and received a bachelor’s degree in English from Smith College.

She had worked as a volunteer tour guide at Stenton, a historic home in Germantown. She and her husband also lived in New York.

She is survived by her husband, Dr. Robert Keisman; daughters Anne K. Cissel and Julie K. Miller; a brother, and three grandchildren.

Services are being planned. – WF