PERSONAL: Born in CA; married Win Blevins (a writer); children. Education: Attended several colleges in California. Hobbies and other interests: Recording music, tarot, spending time with family.
CAREER: Writer and music therapist. Santa Rosa Junior College Community Services Department, Santa Rosa, CA, music therapist and founder of inter-generational program. Also held various jobs such as marketing for the food industry, writing financial columns, and lecturing on business to nonprofit farm organizations, food packing associations, and University of California extension programs.
MEMBER: American Association of Business Journalists.
ANNIE SZABO MYSTERIES
The Hummingbird Wizard, Forge (New York, NY), 2003.
The Vanished Priestess, Forge (New York, NY), 2004.
The Red Hot Empress, Forge (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: When Meredith Blevins was growing up, all she wanted was to run off and become a Gypsy. Instead, she took the more common path of working, playing music, and raising a family. She never lost her fascination with the Gypsies, however, and incorporates that interest in her "Annie Szabo Mysteries." The first book in the series, The Hummingbird Wizard, introduces us to Annie Szabo, the widow of a Gypsy. When her oldest friend, a man who was married to Annie's sister-in-law, is murdered, she decides to investigate with the help of her colorful mother-in-law, Mina. Rex E. Klett, writing in a Library Journal review, applauded the story's "riveting characters, great plot, and insights into Gypsy culture." A Publishers Weekly contributor concurred, noting that the "fascinating gypsy lore, unforgettable characters and a wicked sense of humor distinguish Blevins's highly unusual mystery debut."
Blevins followed her successful first effort with The Vanished Priestess. This second novel in the series finds Annie's daughter and grandson coming to stay with her in an attempt to escape from Annie's abusive son-in-law, who comes looking for them shortly after their arrival. Meanwhile, a circus to support battered women opens in the yard next door, and when a murder occurs at the circus, Annie attempts to solve the crime. Klett, again writing in a Library Journal review, praised the book's "wild story, wonderful wit, and great characters." A Publishers Weekly contributor, however, was less satisfied, calling the book "uneven."
The third installment in the series, The Red Hot Empress, centers around Jimmy Qi, an Asian boy whose musical talent has healing powers. At the urging of Mina, Annie writes a newspaper feature about the boy, raising interest in Jimmy's music while simultaneously causing him trouble. Two suspicious-looking deaths cause Annie and Jimmy to hide from people who are only concerned with using Jimmy's abilities for their various causes. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the book, noting that it blends "humor, zany characters and the occult into an entertaining story with serious undertones." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews agreed, observing that while "at times the wackiness is forced," The Red Hot Empress "will have you howling, and everyone will want to adopt Jimmy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2003, review of The Hummingbird Wizard, p. 1046; July 1, 2005, review of The Red Hot Empress, p. 710.
Library Journal, August, 2003, Rex E. Klett, review of The Hummingbird Wizard, p. 138; October 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of The Vanished Priestess, p. 62.
Publishers Weekly, August 4, 2003, review of The Hummingbird Wizard, p. 58; September 13, 2004, review of The Vanished Priestess, p. 62; July 25, 2005, review of The Red Hot Empress, p. 52.
Agony Column Book Reviews and Commentary, http://trashotron.com/ (March 17, 2006), review of The Hummingbird Wizard.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (March 17, 2006), reviews of the author's works.
Meredith Blevins Home Page, http://www.meredithblevins.com (March 19, 2006).
Reviewing the Evidence, http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (March 17, 2006), review of The Red Hot Empress.