Alleyn, Susanne 1963-

views updated

Alleyn, Susanne 1963-

PERSONAL:

Born 1963, in Munich, Germany; daughter of Johanna Albrecht (a singer and voice teacher). Education: Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, B.F.A.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—Don Congdon Associates, 156 Fifth Ave., Ste. 625, New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and translator. Tricolor Books, online bookshop, owner. Previously worked various jobs, including artist's model, singer in musicals, bookstore clerk, and freelance editor. Appeared on the game show Jeopardy!, c. 1980s.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Top five mystery novels list, Library Journal, 2007, for A Treasury of Regrets.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

A Far Better Rest, Soho (New York, NY), 2000.

Game of Patience (first in the "Aristide Ravel" historical mystery series), St. Martin's Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2006.

A Treasury of Regrets (second in the "Aristide Ravel" historical mystery series), St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

In her first novel, A Far Better Rest, Susanne Alleyn borrows from the Charles Dickens classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities. The author uses the protagonist, Sydney Carton, to explore the French Revolution in a novel that expands on the parts of Carton's life first fictionalized by Dickens. Narrated by Carton, the novel reveals how Carton, who is studying art in Paris, returns to England to find himself disinherited, which leads him to a life of debauchery as he carelessly studies the law. Eventually, Carton does practice law, saves his old college classmate Charles Darnay, who is charged with treason, and eventually returns to Paris on the eve of the revolution. "It is here that his life takes on meaning, and the novel acquires dramatic tension," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor, who went on to note the author's "insightful storytelling and assiduous historical research." Andrea Lee Shuey, writing in the Library Journal, called A Far Better Rest a "well-written historical romance." In a review in Booklist, Kristine Huntley commented that the "novel gives a vivid picture of the development of the French Revolution."

Game of Patience, Alleyn's second novel, also takes place around the time of the French Revolution and features police investigator Aristide Ravel. The inspector is investigating the murder of a wealthy woman and a single man, who was an extortionist. Research into the woman's past reveals that she had an illegitimate child. Ravel and his partner track down the man, who appears to be guilty, but Ravel remains uncertain and is hesitant to bring charges considering the current instability in France. "Game of Patience is a fascinating window three hundred years into the past," wrote Jean Utley on the I Love a Mystery Web site. Utley added: "Alleyn writes with authentic details and lovely imagery." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that "the story builds to an emotionally charged climax." Writing in the Library Journal, Jo Ann Vicarel noted that the author "knows her French Revolution, creates a complex brain-teaser of a mystery, and excels in making her characters believable."

Alleyn revisits police investigator Aristide Ravel in her 2007 novel, A Treasury of Regrets, an "absorbing sequel" to Game of Patience, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Here Ravel, aided by Commissaire Brasseur, investigates the death by poisoning of the head of the important Dupont family. The housemaid is accused of the crime, but Monsieur Dupont's daughter-in-law thinks she is not guilty. This suspicion is proved correct when another murder furthers the investigation. The Publishers Weekly reviewer further commented, "With a light, literate hand, Alleyn includes a wealth of detail about life in France during the Republican period." Similarly, Booklist contributor Brad Hooper observed "that the reader is in the hands of an author interested in immaculate historical detail and accuracy." More praise for Alleyn's historical detail came from School Library Journal contributor Francisca Goldsmith, who noted, "Alleyn brings the period to life through nomenclature (the Republican 10-day week, for example) and a tidy subplot involving a deceased friend from Ravel's past." Likewise, a Kirkus Reviews critic concluded, "Alleyn's historical authenticity—extending to a bibliography, glossary and other explanatory features—lifts her competent and conventional whodunit above the ordinary."

On the Susanne Alleyn Home Page, Alleyn attempts to explain, in part, her fascination for the historical period in which she sets her fiction: "The French Revolution was viewed by a lot of people, for at least the first couple of years, as the greatest event in the history of civilization, and it was really the beginning of our modern world…. As an ex-actor, I'm drawn to dramatic situations and personalities, and the Revolution is full of them. Suddenly a whole society was breaking up and re-forming itself, and all these incredibly complex and gifted people, who without the Revolution would probably have lived long, dull, comfortable lives as lawyers and career army officers, were throwing themselves into public life."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 2000, Kristine Huntley, review of A Far Better Rest, p. 1847; March 1, 2006, Kristine Huntley, review of Game of Patience, p. 70; March 15, 2007, Brad Hooper, review of A Treasury of Regrets, p. 27.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2006, review of Game of Patience, p. 61; March 1, 2007, review of A Treasury of Regrets, p. 194.

Library Journal, June 1, 2000, Andrea Lee Shuey, review of A Far Better Rest, p. 192; February 1, 2006, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of Game of Patience, p. 56.

Publishers Weekly, May 29, 2000, review of A Far Better Rest, p. 47; January 2, 2006, review of Game of Patience, p. 38; February 12, 2007, review of A Treasury of Regrets, p. 66.

School Library Journal, July 1, 2007, Francisca Goldsmith, review of A Treasury of Regrets, p. 129.

ONLINE

Harriet Klausner Web site,http://harrietklausner.wwwi.com/ (September 19, 2006), review of A Far Better Rest.

I Love a Mystery,http://www.iloveamysterynewsletter.com/ (September 19, 2006), Jean Utley, review of Game of Patience.

Reviewing the Evidence,http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (September 19, 2006), Sarah Dudley, review of Game of Patience.

Susanne Alleyn Crime Space Profile,http://crimespace.ning.com/ (April 14, 2008), "About Susanne Alleyn."

Susanne Alleyn Home Page,http://www.susannealleyn.com (April 14, 2008).

Susanne Alleyn MySpace Profile,http://profile.myspace.com/susanne_alleyn (April 14, 2008), "Susanne Alleyn."

More From encyclopedia.com