ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
CAREER: Writer. Former columnist for Glamour magazine.
The Broken Hearts Club, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1999.
Irresistible, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2000.
All the Dead Were Strangers, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2001.
Dead for Life, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: According to the Ballantine Web site, Ethan Black is a pseudonym for a bestselling New York journalist who has written twelve novels and books of nonfiction. Black's latest work of mystery, Dead for Life, fueled an article in the Washington Post called "Whowroteit." Patrick Anderson reviewed Dead for Life while trying to piece together the identity of Black.
The pseudenymous Black's first novel, The Broken Hearts Club, follows a group of jilted men. The men meet weekly with psychologist Dr. Ian Bainbridge in the backroom of a seedy New York City bar and obsess about their ex-girlfriends. When these disparaged women start disappearing one by one, Detective Conrad Voort makes the connection. Marilyn Stasio, reviewing The Broken Hearts Club for the New York Times, felt that "although it can't take the sting out of the atrocious writing, the premise of this psychothriller by the pseudonymous Ethan Balck is perversely clever." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted that "Black fashions some terrific dialogue and keeps the scenes rolling in punchy succession," while Wes Lukowsky, writing for Booklist, claimed that "The suspense builds, the sex is steamy, and the conclusion is dramatic."
Irresistible once again features Detective Voort, and this time he is hot on the trail of New York's first female serial killer, Nora Clay. Nora keeps files on people, including her future victims. She uses these files for her own knowledge and power. Detective Voort is unaware that Nora has a file on him as well. In a review for Library Journal, Jo Ann Vicarel claimed that Black "excels … in creating engaging main characters and unleashing them in the middle of the killer's nightmare. The unexpected ending leaves the reader with a thirst for more."
Reviewing All the Dead Were Strangers for Publishers Weekly, a critic claimed that "Readers will bite their nails to the quick long before they reach the icy rain soaked triple climax of this hard-driving thriller." This time, Detective Voort is investigating a complex terrorist plot. As the novel opens, he meets an old friend, Meechum Keefe, who passes him a list of six names to investigate. Each individual on the list has some kind of relationship with terrorism. The mystery deepens when Meechum is found dead in a hotel fire later that evening. In a review for Booklist Wes Lukowsky called All the Dead Were Strangers "an exciting, carefully crafted novel that entertains as it raises serious questions about terrorism and the potential cost of fighting it."
Dead for Life showcases a single day in the lives of Detective Voort and killer Wendall Nye, and readers are privy to the killer's identity long before Voort and the rest of the police department are. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the novel an "evocative, New York City—steeped thriller … revolving around questions of personal responsibility and unforeseen consequences."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 1, 1998, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Broken Hearts Club, p. 476; February 1, 2000, Wes Lukowsky, review of Irresistible, p. 995; June 1, 2001, Wes Lukowsky, review of All the Dead Were Strangers, p. 1795; June 1, 2003, David Pitt, review of Dead for Life, p. 1747.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2001, review of All the Dead Were Strangers, p. 754; May 15, 2003, review of Dead for Life, p. 695.
Library Journal, January, 1999, V. Louise Saylor, review of The Broken Hearts Club, p. 146; March 15, 2000, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of Irresistible, p. 124; August, 2001, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of All the Dead Were Strangers, p. 156.
New York Times Book Review, February 21, 1999, Marilyn Stasio, review of The Broken Hearts Club.
Publishers Weekly, November 30, 1998, review of The Broken Hearts Club, p. 50; February 21, 2000, review of Irresistible, p. 64; June 16, 2001, review of All the Dead Were Strangers, p. 158; May 26, 2003, review of Dead for Life, pp. 47-48.
Toronto Sun, September 2, 2001, Jerry Gladman, review of All the Dead Were Strangers.
MysteryReader.com, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (October 23, 2003), Andy Plonka, review of All the Dead Were Strangers.
Washington Post Online, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ (October 23, 2003), Patrick Anderson, review of Dead for Life.