PERSONAL: Married. Education: Two degrees in music.
CAREER: Novelist and musician. Consultant to record companies; former musician and record producer; has performed with Amy Grant and toured the world with various artists.
The Wind in the Wheat, T. Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1994.
The Inside Track to—Getting Started in Christian Music, Harvest House (Eugene, OR), 2000.
The Will, Scribner (New York, NY), 2000.
The Last Goodbye, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Also arranger of songs on The CD Hymnal, Crossfire Productions, 1994.
ADAPTATIONS: Paramount Pictures purchased the film rights for The Will.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A thriller, set in Nashville, about a prosecutor who accidentally convicts the wrong man of capital murder.
SIDELIGHTS: Reed Arvin had a successful career as a producer and musician in the world of Christian contemporary music before he turned to writing novels. His first book, The Wind in the Wheat, a semi-autobiographical story about a talented small-town boy who is discovered and exploited by a Nashville agent, was little noticed outside the world of Christian fiction. However, his secular legal thrillers The Will and The Last Goodbye have earned Arvin comparisons to best-selling author John Grisham.
The protagonist of The Will, Henry Matthews, originally planned a career in the ministry. However, before he completed his studies, his parents were killed by a drunk driver and Henry's faith died with them. He went to law school instead and became a rich and successful member of a large Chicago firm. He returns to his small hometown in Kansas to help execute the will of the late Tyler Crandall, the richest person in Council Grove. Instead of leaving his estate to family members or charitable causes, Crandall chose to give it to an apparently crazy, homeless man, Raymond Boyd. While Crandall's son Roger contests the will, some of the most powerful politicians in Kansas also get involved in trying to keep Boyd from getting the money—and from telling why Crandall chose to leave the money to him. The Will "is suspenseful from start to finish," wrote a Publishers Weekly critic, adding that its strongest point is Arvin's "portrait of Matthews, a complicated young man in turmoil over what he wants in life." Denver Post reviewer Tom Walker also praised Arvin's skill in working a deeper meaning into his tale. "Rather than getting the plot from point A to points B and C," Walker explained, "Arvin stops to smell the flowers," giving the reader "a sense of place and character."
The Last Goodbye pays homage to the classic detective-noir novels of Raymond Chandler. "Anyone with a taste for sultry, devious, adrenaline-boosting suspense stories may want to cancel a few appointments before opening this one," advised New York Times critic Janet Maslin. In the novel, attorney Jack Hammond is fired from his prestigious Atlanta firm and ends up working as a court-appointed lawyer for the poor. When his old college friend, Doug Townsend, is killed by an apparent drug overdose Jack suspects something more sinister. He discovers that Doug was investigating the deaths of patients with hepatitis C who were participating in clinical trials of an experimental drug. In Doug's apartment Jack also finds numerous photographs of a beautiful and famous African-American opera singer, Michele Sonnier. Coincidently, Michele's husband, Charles Ralston, is an executive with a pharmaceutical company.
"Arvin takes us into a lot of different worlds, all skillfully rendered with richly researched detail: housing projects bustling with predators, biotech firms doing complicated research, [and] the online underground where hackers do their work," noted Atlanta Journal-Constitution reviewer Phil Kloer in a review of The Last Goodbye. Moving through these worlds on both extremes of the social spectrum provides "Arvin ample fodder for exploring the lives, emotions and motives of his characters," Walker wrote, "and he takes full advantage of them, writing in an effortless style that moves the reader through the story all the while displaying talent to burn." St. Louis Post-Dispatch critic Harry Levins also thought that "Arvin seems to have the sociology of latter-day Atlanta down just right, a mixture of peach-tree affluence, bleak poverty and racial tiptoeing."
Although Arvin's books are ostensibly legal thrillers, the writer told a ReadersRead.com interviewer that "legal technicalities don't interest me as much as the things that drive and motivate my characters. The law is a great venue for drama, but at the end of the day, the human drama is the reason I became a writer."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 7, 2004, Phil Kloer, review of The Last Goodbye, p. M8.
Booklist, December 15, 1994, John Mort, review of The Wind in the Wheat, p. 737; October 1, 2001, John Mort, review of The Will, p. 282; January 1, 2004, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Last Goodbye, p. 830.
Denver Post, November 19, 2000, Tom Walker, review of The Will, p. G2; February 29, 2004, Tom Walker, review of The Last Goodbye, p. F10.
Entertainment Weekly, December 8, 2000, review of The Will, p. 92; February 20, 2004, Jeff Labrecque, review of The Last Goodbye, p. 71.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2004, review of The Last Goodbye, p. 3.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, February 18, 2004, Harry Levins, review of The Last Goodbye, p. K0489; March 17, 2004, Oline H. Cogdill, review of The Last Goodbye, p. K2232.
Library Journal, November 15, 2000, Jane Jorgenson, review of The Will, p. 95; January, 2004, Jane Jorgenson, review of The Last Goodbye, p. 151.
New York Times, February 16, 2004, Janet Maslin, review of The Last Goodbye, p. E8.
Publishers Weekly, October 9, 2000, review of The Will, p. 72; December 8, 2003, review of The Last Goodbye, p. 44.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 11, 2004, Harry Levins, review of The Last Goodbye, p. E3.
Student Lawyer, May, 2001, Matt Everett Lierman, review of The Will, p. 16.
AllReaders.com,http://www.allreaders.com/ (October 10, 2004), Harriet Klausner and Connie Rutter, review of The Last Goodbye.
BookBrowse.com,http://www.bookbrowse.com/ (October 10, 2004), interview with Arvin.
BookLoons.com,http://www.bookloons.com/ (October 10, 2004), Mary Ann Smyth, review of The Last Goodbye.
BookPage.com,http://www.bookpage.com/ (October 10, 2004), Edward Morris, interview with Arvin.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (February 20, 2004), interview with Arvin.
HarperCollins Web site,http://www.harpercollins.com/ (October 10, 2004), interview with Arvin.
ReadersRead.com,http://www.readersread.com/ (March, 2004), interview with Arvin.
Reed Arvin Home Page,http://www.reedarvin.com (October 10, 2004).
Watermark Books Web site,http://www.watermarkbooks.com/ (October 10, 2004), Sarah Bagby, review of The Last Goodbye.*