Andreae, Christine 1942-

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ANDREAE, Christine 1942-

PERSONAL:

Born 1942, in Stamford, CT; daughter of William and Mary (maiden name, Challinor) Ewing; married Frederick Shedd Andreae (an architect), August 19, 1967; children: Morgan MacKenzie, Timothy Ewing. Education: Manhattanville College, B.A., 1964; Yale University, M.A., 1967.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Bentonville, VA. Office—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER:

Writer. Previously worked as a journalist, adjunct professor of English, and grant writer. Cofounder and president of Scenic 340 Project, a conservation advocacy group seeking to preserve Virginia's Highway 340; member of board of directors of Warren Memorial Hospital and the Glen Burnie Museum.

MEMBER:

International Association of Crime Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Women Writing the West.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Edgar Award nomination for best first mystery, Mystery Writers of America, 1992, for Trail of Murder; Shenandoah Arts Council Award for literature, 1996.

WRITINGS:

MYSTERY NOVELS; "LEE SQUIRES" SERIES

Trail of Murder, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1992.

Grizzly, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994.

A Small Target, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.

OTHER

Seances and Spiritualists, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1974.

Smoke Eaters (thriller), St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2000.

When Evening Comes: The Education of a Hospice Volunteer, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

SIDELIGHTS:

The bulk of Christine Andreae's fiction is set in Montana, where the Shenandoah Valley author has spent numerous summer vacations with her husband and two sons. In 1990 Andreae was traveling through Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness with her husband and friends when one of their horses slipped off the trail and threw its rider. The group joked about members of the party "killing each other off." Andreae became intrigued with the concept and used it as the basis of her first published mystery, Trail of Murder, released in 1992.

Trail of Murder is a blood-feud thriller that introduces the reader to Lee Squires, the sleuthing camp-cook heroine of Andreae's first three novels (Grizzly and Small Target are the remaining two). In her debut, Lee takes a job on a wilderness trip in which a series of "accidents" befall wealthy tyrant Cyrus Strand and his backbiting family, culminating in Strand's death by poisoning and a mad scramble to find his newly revised will. Squires's task is to flush out the killer before the situation gets worse. Her character, commented Gail Pool in the Wilson Library Bulletin, is "refreshingly unstereotypical, both as woman and as sleuth." Andreae initially constructed the character of Squires as a man—Ted Squires, a detective in Washington, D.C., who figures in the author's early unpublished mysteries.

In Grizzly, the second book of the "Squires" series, Lee takes another job as camp cook, this time on a Montana dude ranch. While the owners work to keep their struggling business alive by courting some visiting Japanese executives, Squires quietly deals with the presence of a corpse she has discovered in a nearby ravine. Grizzly's final twist has drawn minor criticism for being what one Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to as "unsurprising," though "Lee is shrewd enough that you wish she'd chuck her teaching job in D.C. and come to Montana for keeps." Stated Rex E. Klett of Library Journal, Grizzly offers "good character interaction, great sense of place, and steady suspense." The third installment of the "Squires" series, A Small Target, finds the heroine back in Montana, cooking for a llama trek through the Mission Mountains and hunting a killer holed up in the wilderness. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews noted that "there aren't many surprises in store" but added that "Andreae stocks her trailbags with interesting people." Mark Terry of Armchair Detective wrote that the story line of A Small Target "is a mystical blend of Native American religion, Greek myths, and Jungian She-Wolf symbolism," a mix that adds "texture and depth" to the plot.

Andreae again uses the wilds of Montana as a central feature in Smoke Eaters, a thriller involving a highly disturbed arsonist, a raging forest fire, and the federally appointed troops camped out to fight the blaze. To prepare, Andreae spent several months in the fire camps of Montana and California, ultimately basing the book's heroine, Mattie McCullough, on a real-life, high-level firefighter named Candace Gregory. In the book Andreae also explores the nature of sexism in the world of firefighting—a singularly male profession—by putting McCullough in charge of 1,700 troops. Andreae takes additional pains to make her novel's backdrop as realistic as possible: "With painstakingly accurate details," said Denver Post columnist Sybil Downing, "the author captures the danger, the sacrifice, the smells and the heat." Booklist contributor Budd Arthur had similar comments about Andreae's use of setting, noting that her writing style "enables the reader to feel the heat, hear the crackle of the flames, taste the smoke, and smell the ashes."

In addition to her mystery novels, Andreae has also produced nonfiction works, including Seances and Spiritualists and When Evening Comes: The Education of a Hospice Volunteer. The former title, released in 1974, is an account of psychic phenomena aimed at a junior high and high school readership. In this book Andreae examines such topics as astral projection and automatic writing, and she also provides an account of her own visit to a medium in Washington, D.C. Theories on the existence and causes of extrasensory perception and spirit communications "are treated seriously and with delicacy," according to a Booklist contributor.

Andreae's book When Evening Comes is "a sensitive first-person narrative of one volunteer's hospice work," noted a contributor from Kirkus Reviews. In the early 1990s, when Andreae was working as a grant writer for Blue Ridge Hospice in Virginia, she decided to undergo training to become a hospice volunteer. When Evening Comes is an emotional record of her ten years of service, particularly the stories of cancer patients Bivie and Amber, both of whom Andreae attended to in their final months of life. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted, "Thoughtful and lively, the book provides a clear-eyed look at hospice work and the business of dying."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Armchair Detective, fall, 1996, Mark Terry, review of A Small Target.

Booklist, October 15, 1974, review of Seances and Spiritualists, p. 240; January 1, 2000, Budd Arthur, review of Smoke Eaters.

Denver Post, March 12, 2000, Sybil Downing, review of Smoke Eaters, p. H2.

Kirkus Reviews, November 11, 1994, review of Grizzly; October 18, 1996, review of A Small Target; September, 2000, review of When Evening Comes: The Education of a Hospice Volunteer.

Library Journal, November 15, 1974, Harriet F. Miller, review of Seances and Spiritualists; November 1, 1994, review of Grizzly.

Missoulian, August 22, 2000, Sherry Jones, "A Flaming Novel."

Publishers Weekly, October 5, 1992, review of Trail of Murder, p. 57; October 10, 1994, review of Grizzly, p. 65; August 26, 1996, review of A Small Target, p. 81; December 13, 1999, Sybil Steinberg, review of Smoke Eaters, p. 61; September 11, 2000, review of When Evening Comes, p. 78.

Wilson Library Bulletin, Gail Pool, review of Trail of Murder, p. 94.

ONLINE

Christine Andreae Home Page,http://www.chistineandreae.com/ (February 17, 2004).*

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