Berry, Linda 1940-

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Berry, Linda 1940-

PERSONAL:

Born September 4, 1940, in Reidsville, GA; daughter of W.J. and Wilma Eason; married Jerry Lane Berry, August 31, 1962; children: Jeffery Crandall, Michael Barnard. Education: University of Colorado—Boulder, B.A., 1962; University of Colorado—Denver, M.A., 1998. Hobbies and other interests: Community arts activist, theater.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Aurora, CO. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Colorado Tennis Association/ Intermountain Tennis Association, writer and editor, 1981-88; Accent newspaper, weekly columnist, 1991-93.

MEMBER:

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, American Association of University Women, Denver Woman's Press Club, Colorado Dramatists, Arapahoe County Cultural Council.

WRITINGS:

Death and the Easter Bunny, Write Way (Aurora, CO), 1998.

Death and the Hubcap, Write Way (Aurora, CO), 2000.

Death and the Icebox: A Trudy Roundtree Mystery, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2003.

Death and the Walking Stick: A Trudy Roundtree Mystery, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2005.

Death and the Family Tree, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2006.

Also author of the novella The Three Wise Women; author of three one-act plays, including Mad Passionate Cliché, Taking Care of Business, and What It Looks Like; contributor of articles and short stories to periodicals, including True Love, Highlights for Children, and Needlecraft Today.

SIDELIGHTS:

Linda Berry is a mystery writer who lives in Aurora, Colorado, but her mysteries are set in the South. In Death and the Easter Bunny Trudy Roundtree is the only woman on the small-town police force of Ogeechee, Georgia. Her cousin, Chief Hen Huckabee, runs the force, so Trudy has to put up with a mix of sexism and his friendly but sometimes overly controlling "help." He tries to keep her away from the cases that she considers "the good stuff," but which he thinks are too dangerous. However, Trudy is the officer in charge when Reed Ritter, the son-in-law of the most powerful man in town, dies in a house fire. The autopsy indicates his death was not from smoke inhalation, as first thought, but that he was murdered. Because Chief Huckabee and some other members of the force are laid up with a bad case of poison elder, Trudy takes over the case. While she interrogates the man's bitter ex-wife, his girlfriend, a business owner, and others, she also has to deal with family difficulties arising from the fact that she has inherited her grandmother's house. In Library Journal, Rex Klett called this "a smooth mix of Southern country charm, undiluted police procedural, and in-your-face attitude." Booklist contributor John Rowen called Death and the Easter Bunny a "very strong first novel" and praised Berry's "lively writing and dialogue, realistic characters," and "surprising mystery."

In Death and the Hubcab, Detective Roundtree returns when the town nut in Ogeechee, Georgia, who "drives" by walking around holding a hubcap in front of him like a steering wheel, claims he has hit someone. Although this is initially dismissed as another example of his customary lunacy, the eccentric leads Trudy to a man's body—and the man has tire marks on his shirt. More, Trudy has an idea who the man is—an art dealer from Atlanta. She and Chief Huckabee interrogate suspects, test various theories about the crime, and vie with the county sheriff to crack the case. The story is interwoven with family connections, small-town gossip, and the characters' own troubles. Writing in Library Journal, Rex Klett praised the book's "down home flavor, low-key humor, and comfortable prose."

Despite her forays into other types of writing, Berry has continued to work on her series of mysteries featuring Trudy Roundtree. In Death and the Icebox: A Trudy Roundtree Mystery, Trudy has attended homicide school and returns to Ogeechee to begin her next case. This time she is investigating a murder that likely took place years earlier and was only discovered when a woman's body is found in a junked icebox. Sue O'Brien, writing in Booklist, referred to Death and the Icebox as "folksy, with a nice feel for small-town southern life." Death and the Walking Stick: A Trudy Roundtree Mystery finds Trudy at first balking at her aunt and friends' decision to investigate the death of elderly Althea Boatright, whose demise appears to be from a fall and was deemed an accident by both Trudy and her cousin, police chief Henry Huckabee. Nevertheless, the accident occurred shortly after Boatright had inadvertently killed a pedestrian with her car. Before long, Trudy changes her mind and begins to agree with her aunt and the other women that Boatright's death was murder. "Trudy is upstaged by the ladies, who are a delightfully quirky bunch, in this humorous, small-town, cozy procedural," wrote O'Brien in Booklist. Library Journal contributor Klett called the mystery "a charming much ado about little."

Berry is active in the mystery writers' community. After attending the Left Coast Crime writers' conference in Anchorage, Alaska, in 2001, she participated in a program called Authors2Bush, sponsored by Sisters in Crime, an organization of women mystery writers. The program matched writers with local communities for special writing projects. Berry visited three remote Yupik villages, Akiachak, Tuluksak, and Aniak, up the Kuskokwim River from Bethel, Alaska, where she worked with native schoolchildren and adults. She commented on her Web page: "This is about as far away in the United States as it's possible to get from Trudy Roundtree's Ogeechee, Georgia."

On her Web site, Berry notes that her mystery novels grew out of her own love of mysteries, her Georgia roots, and her cousin Johnny Shuman, who is a police officer in South Georgia and a great storyteller.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 1998, John Rowen, review of Death and the Easter Bunny, p. 1378; May 1, 2003, Sue O'Brien, review of Death and the Icebox: A Trudy Roundtree Mystery, p. 1532; December 15, 2004, Sue O'Brien, review of Death and the Walking Stick: A Trudy Roundtree Mystery, p. 710.

Library Journal, June 1, 1998, Rex Klett, review of Death and the Easter Bunny, p. 166; July, 2000, Rex Klett, review of Death and the Hubcap, p. 145; January 1, 2005, Rex E. Klett, review of Death and the Walking Stick, p. 83.

ONLINE

Linda Berry Home Page,http://www.ogeechee.avigne.org (July 1, 2002).

MurderExpress.net,http://www.murderexpress.net/ (November 30, 2006), brief profile of author.

MysteryReaders.com,http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (November 30, 2006), Thea Davis, review of Death of the Easter Bunny; Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of Death and the Hubcap.