Brewer, Steve 1957–
Brewer, Steve 1957–
Born February 2, 1957, in Bremerton, WA; son of R.L. (a retired lumber mill foreperson) and Roberta Brewer; married Kelly Gibbs (a newspaper editor), December 17, 1983; children: Max, Seth. Ethnicity: "Anglo." Education: University of Arkansas—Little Rock, B.A. Hobbies and other interests: Crossword puzzles, blues music, reading.
Home and office—Redding, CA. E-mail—[email protected]
Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock, AR, reporter, 1975-78; Associated Press, Little Rock, AR, El Paso, TX, Albuquerque, NM, and San Francisco, CA, reporter, 1979-87; Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, feature writer, 1987-97; freelance writer, 1997—. Humor columnist, Albuquerque Tribune, 1998—.
Visiting lecturer in honors program at the University of New Mexico.
Mystery Writers of America, Southwest Writers, National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
End Run ("Drew Gavin" mystery novel series), Intrigue Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2000.
Cheap Shot: A Drew Gavin Mystery Intrigue Press (Denver, CO), 2002.
Trophy Husband, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 2002.
Bullets, Intrigue Press (Denver, CO), 2003.
Fool's Paradise, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 2003.
Boost, Speck Press (Denver, CO), 2004.
Bank Job, Intrigue Press (Boulder, CO), 2005.
Whipsaw, Intrigue Press (Madison, WI), 2006.
Cutthroat, Bleak House Books (Madison, WI), 2007.
"BUBBA MABRY" MYSTERY NOVEL SERIES
Lonely Street, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Baby Face, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Witchy Woman, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Shaky Ground, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Dirty Pool, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Crazy Love, Intrigue Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2000.
Monkey Man, Intrigue Press (Madison, WI), 2006.
In his 1994 novel Lonely Street, mystery writer Steve Brewer introduced a new detective into the mystical, multicultural world of New Mexico and the Southwest: Bubba Mabry, a self-confessed "recovering redneck" who does not conform to stereotypes of other Southwestern detectives. "He doesn't know squat about Southwestern art, and he prefers frozen pizzas to green chile stew," wrote Bill Ott and Brad Hooper in Booklist. But even if Brewer's fictional private investigator (PI) stands apart from his fellows, Mabry "plays against type so successfully, you can't help but enjoy him," Ott said in another Booklist review.
Brewer was born in Bremerton, Washington, on February 2, 1957, and worked for a number of years as a journalist and feature writer. Making his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he weaves a resident's touches into his "Bubba Mabry" mystery novel series. However, "Brewer's New Mexico is very different from the version in travel brochures" and from that portrayed by other southwestern writers, remarked John Rowen in an article for Booklist. "This is the bleak, seedy, ramshackle urban side of the Southwest, and Brewer gets it just right."
In Lonely Street, the first book in the "Bubba Mabry" mystery novel series, a convincing Elvis look-alike who turns out to be the King himself hires Bubba for some surveillance work to prevent his secret from being exposed. As the plot thickens, Bubba is accused of murder when corpses are discovered and Elvis disappears.
In the fourth book in the "Bubba Mabry" series, Shaky Ground, Bubba is joined by his fiancée Felicia in solving the murder of a biology professor who may have been killed because of his connections to a sinister, reclusive real-estate developer with mob ties. While Bubba solves the case through direct action against the principals and mobsters, Felicia solves it by analyzing real-estate deals.
In Dirty Pool, the fifth book in the "Bubba Mabry" series, Bubba competes against a rival PI to find Richie, the neo-Nazi son of a Texas millionaire. Along the way, Bubba has to deal with the return of his father, a truck driver who abandoned him when he was nine years old and who has now resurfaced—apparently suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Bubba watches over his father, but in the meantime, Richie is murdered. "Brewer offers some clever twists and brings the threads of the story together in a surprising, and oddly poignant, fashion," a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted in a review of Dirty Pool.
Bubba is married and searching for a lecherous doctor, the lover of a client's ex-wife, in the sixth novel in the "Bubba Mabry" series, Crazy Love. Bubba finds the doctor murdered and realizes he could be considered a possible accessory—or next in line to die. In Monkey Man, the seventh book in the "Bubba Mabry" series, the detective is surprised by a gun assault in a local cafe by a perpetrator wearing an ape suit. The attack kills Bubba's prospective client, who has been concerned about the disturbingly high number of recent animal fatalities at the local zoo. Booklist contributor David Pitt observed that the novel continues the series's pleasant balance of "low-rent comedy, solid action, and general amiability." Bubba's blue-collar background clashes with the popular perception of other fictional New Mexico sleuths, who are "by and large a sensitive bunch, multi-cultural to a fault, in touch with nature, respectful of Native American culture," wrote Ott. "[Bubba] lives in a different Southwest: strip malls, take-out pizza, and skinheads."
Brewer's 2000 novel, End Run, starts a new series featuring Drew Gavin, an Albuquerque sportswriter. In this series, Drew is an aging football hero, coasting through a boring but secure life with little ambition, when his former girlfriend Helen asks him to help protect her husband, Fred, from some enforcers intent on collecting a gambling debt. Fred is hiding out in the couple's secluded mountain cabin, but when Drew arrives he finds Fred murdered. He clashes with the enforcers, becomes a suspect in the eyes of the cops, and realizes "Helen isn't acting much like a grieving widow," noted Wes Lukowsky in a review for Booklist. Library Journal reviewer Rex E. Klett called the prose in End Run "smooth, swift, and sure," and Lukowsky described it as "well-written, stylish noir." Klett also noted that the book contains "diverting personal and locker-room intrigues and easy-to-hate villains."
In Cheap Shot: A Drew Gavin Mystery, Drew attempts to clear fellow sportswriter Curtis White's name after Curtis is charged with a cheerleader's murder. Drew discovers some damning evidence about financial deals concerning the near-bankrupt Albuquerque Rattlers, a minor-league basketball team, but may not survive long enough to go public with the information.
"Brewer's characters are appealing and amusing," Rowen wrote in a Booklist review of Shaky Ground, "and he vividly captures the feel of Albuquerque's neighborhoods and the desert."
Brewer's stand-alone novel Bullets begins in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Lily Marsden, a contract killer, has just executed a hit in a swanky Las Vegas hotel, Tropical Bay. The crime catches the interest of Joe Riley, a retired detective from Chicago, Illinois, who feels that Lily's methods seem familiar. As Joe starts to investigate, Ken Staley, the owner of Tropical Bay, decides to have Lily "taken care of" for the negative effects of her hit on his business. At the same time, the victim's twin brothers decide to take matters into their own hands. Klett, reviewing the book in Library Journal, observed that the book contains a lot of expected violence, but humor as well. Reviewingtheevidence.com contributor Sharon Katz, however, found the book's violence gratuitous and unfunny, concluding that Bullets is a "completely forgettable book."
Fool's Paradise features protagonist John Ray Mooney, who lands in Coronado, California, after he runs away from his home in small-town California. He lives as a small-time crook for many years until he meets Angel Flesch, who lures him into more lucrative, illicit activities to finance her luxurious tastes. Before he knows it, John Ray ends up in prison and in debt to the notorious Big Odie and his Sons of Satan, whom John Ray plans to pay back after his release from prison by robbing a bank. His plans, however, go awry as a large cast of characters adds complications. Maddy Van Hertbruggen, in a review for Reviewingtheevidence.com, observed that Brewer mixes up the plot in unexpected ways and "always goes beyond the predictable."
Cutthroat, another stand-alone novel, is also set mostly in California. The novel's protagonist, Solomon Gage, serves as the ruthless assistant to Sheffield Enterprises owner Dominick Sheffield, whose two shiftless sons have hatched a risky plan involving uranium ore and a politically unstable African country. When Gage disapproves, they plan to have him killed. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly considered this novel "undistinguished," noting that Brewer lines up his "good guys" and "bad guys" in ways that never create any ambiguity or real suspense. A Kirkus Reviews contributor also expressed reservations about the novel, finding its prose clumsy and its characterizations flat, despite the "operatic" quality of its plot. Booklist contributor David Pitt, however, observed that Cutthroat has "lightly Shakespearean overtones" that give the novel a pleasing depth and make it "an intriguing story about personal loyalty, family betrayal, and conspiracy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 1997, John Rowen, review of Shaky Ground, p. 1566; February 15, 1999, Bill Ott, review of Dirty Pool, p. 1044; May 1, 2000, Bill Ott and Brad Hooper, review of Dirty Pool, p. 1594; September 1, 2000, Wes Lukowsky, review of End Run, p. 48; March 15, 2001, John Rowen, review of Crazy Love, p. 1356; November 1, 2006, David Pitt, review of Monkey Man, p. 32; August 1, 2007, David Pitt, review of Cutthroat, p. 42.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of Cutthroat.
Library Journal, May 1, 1999, Ray Vignovich, review of Lonely Street, p. 129; October 1, 2000, Rex E. Klett, review of End Run, p. 151; September 1, 2003, Rex E. Klett, review of Bullets, p. 214.
Publishers Weekly, February 22, 1999, review of Dirty Pool, p. 69; July 9, 2007, review of Cutthroat, p. 32.
Reviewingtheevidence.com,http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (June 30, 2008), Donna Moore, review of Fool's Paradise; Maddy Van Hertbruggen, review of Fool's Paradise; Sharon Katz, review of Bullets; Maddy Van Hertbruggen, review of Monkey Man.
Steve Brewer Home Page,http://www.stevebrewerbooks.com (June 30, 2008).