PERSONAL: Daughter of a minister (father) and social psychologist (mother); married; children: two sons. Education: B.A. (psychology), M.A. (social work).
ADDRESSES: Home—Greensboro, NC. Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins, 10 East 53rd St., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Author and social psychologist.
"SIERRA LAVOTINI" SERIES; MYSTERIES
The Miracle Strip, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Drag Strip, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 1999.
Film Strip, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2000.
Strip Poker, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2001.
Your Cheatin' Heart ("Maggie Reid" mystery series), HarperPaperbacks (New York, NY), 1999.
Stand by Your Man ("Maggie Reid" mystery series), HarperTorch (New York, NY), 2001.
A Death in the Family, Silhouette Books (Buffalo, NY), 2004.
Contributor of stories to periodicals, including Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.
SIDELIGHTS: Mystery writer Nancy Bartholomew "grew up outside of Philadelphia with a minister for a father and a social psychologist for a mother," she commented on her Web site. "So of course I set about doing everything I could to prove that I wasn't a bit like them." Minor scrapes with the administration followed her through high school, but even in the midst of rebellion Bartholomew had her first encounter with creative writing. "If I hadn't 'tinkered' with my schedule to get an advanced English class called Creative Writing and Political Philosophy, I might never have advanced my writing career from forged attendance excuses to novels," she remarked.
Before becoming an author, Bartholomew began a career at a very young age singing at what she described as "biker bars." Despite the risks, it was an activity she did with parental support. "When I would sing, underage, in bars, [my father] would come—wearing his collar—to the biker bars," Bartholomew said in an interview on the Crescent Blues Web site. "At the time, I thought he was showing up to give me support. But now I think he was also kind of being a bodyguard, so they would know that's his daughter, don't do anything wrong. And no one ever did." Bartholomew described her father as "the epitome of unconditional love."
In college, Bartholomew pursued creative writing and psychology, becoming a psychiatric social worker despite her early attempts to distance herself from her mother's profession. After moving to Atlanta, marrying, and having two children, "my inner-rebellious voice returned to whisper in my ear," she remarked on her Web site. The voice, she said, was that of her series character, Sierra Lavotini, an exotic dancer and amateur detective. Sierra made her debut in Miracle Strip, "a humorous caper involving a dognapping, dead bodies, and drugs," wrote Don O'Briant in the Atlanta Constitution. In the book, bartender Denise's beloved dog, Arlo, comes up missing, and a one-hundred-thousand-dollar ransom is demanded for his return. Sierra agrees to help look for the pooch, but the case turns sticky when a corpse is discovered in Denise's motel room. When Denise herself disappears, Sierra finds out that she was hiding from an abusive former lover, a drug dealer recently released from prison. Rex E. Klett, reviewing the book in Library Journal, called The Miracle Strip a "promising first mystery" that is "a pleasure to read."
The Miracle Strip grew out of a short story Bartholomew had written, under duress, for a writing contest at a Sleuthfest mystery conference in Florida, O'Briant reported. Though she was still without a story the night before the conference, Bartholomew agreed to install some computer software for her son. A brochure fell out of the software box, and Bartholomew's attention was drawn to the headline: "Sierra Reveals All." She began to wonder "who would reveal all, and of course it would be an exotic dancer named Sierra," she commented in the Atlanta Constitution article. The story won first place, intrigued mystery writer Stuart Kaminsky, and led to a pair of two-book contracts.
Sierra's second appearance, in Drag Strip, finds her serving as the mentor of Ruby Diamond, a new dancer at the club. When Ruby is killed during a promotional appearance at a local racetrack, Sierra braves an assortment of rednecks, thugs, and dirt-track toughs to find Ruby's killer. "What makes this book hum and whir—besides a sturdy plot—is a startlingly agreeable array of local crackpots," including Sierra's insane but canny neighbor, a peculiar millionaire, and Sierra's "dazzlingly foolhardy mother," remarked Jeff Zaleski in Publishers Weekly.
In Film Strip, Sierra is injured in a shooting at the club where she works. Sierra takes a bullet to the rear, but porn star and headlining act Venus Lovemotion is killed. When the sniper returns to take a shot at another featured porn star, Sierra starts sorting through the many characters frequenting the club to locate the murderer. "The plot is so flimsy you could tuck it into a G-string," observed Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times Book Review, "but the flamboyant heroine's saucy attitude imprints its brazen charm on this series." In Strip Poker, Sierra has to deal with unemployment when Vincent Gambuzzo, owner of the Tiffany Gentleman's Club, loses his business in a poker game. When an attempted robbery interrupts the game, Vincent is accused of killing one of the other players. While Sierra tries to clear Vincent of the crime, New Jersey mobster "Big Moose" Lavotini arrives in town, looking to find out who has been claiming him as an uncle to get her out of tough situations with other mobsters and thugs.
Bartholomew's early experiences as a singer form the background of her "Maggie Reid" series of books. Your Cheatin' Heart and Stand by Your Man star country singer Maggie Reid. In the former title, Maggie—determined to forget about her unfaithful husband—wins the role of lead singer for a honky-tonk band in Greensboro, North Carolina. A relationship with detective Marshall Weathers begins to bud, but then Maggie is accused of murdering her brother-in-law. Maggie's search for the killer leads to a second murder. Mark Rotella, writing in Publishers Weekly, called the book "a witty, suspenseful adventure" and described Maggie as "a wonderfully spunky heroine."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Constitution, November 12, 1998, Don O'Briant, "Book Notes: Bartholomew's New Hero Strips Away Mystery," p. E02.
Booklist, September 15, 1999, Jenny McLarin, review of Drag Strip, p. 236; May 1, 2001, Bill Ott and Brad Hooper, review of Film Strip, p. 1603; October 15, 2001, Carrie Bissey, review of Strip Poker, pp. 384-385.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of StripPoker, p. 1325.
Library Journal, September 1, 1998, Rex E. Klett, review of The Miracle Strip, p. 219; October 1, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of Drag Strip, p. 138.
New York Times Book Review, December 10, 2000, Marilyn Stasio, review of Film Strip, p. 35.
Publishers Weekly, July 20, 1998, Dulcy Brainard, review of The Miracle Strip, p. 212; September 27, 1999, Jeff Zaleski, review of Drag Strip, p. 76; January 24, 2000, Mark Rotella, review of Your Cheatin' Heart, p. 298; October 9, 2000, review of Film Strip, p. 77; October 29, 2001, Peter Cannon, review of Strip Poker, p. 39.
Crescent Blues Web Site,http://www.crescentblues.com/ (January 30, 2004), Jean Marie Ward, "Nancy Bartholomew: Murder, Mayhem, and Mirth."
Nancy Bartholomew Home Page,http://www.nancybartholomew.com/ (January 30, 2004).*