Married; wife's name Jená. Education: B.A. (English and social studies); graduate degree (linguistics).
Office—Longwood University, Department of English and Modern Languages, 201 High St., Farmville, VA 23909. Agent—Jeff Gerecke, JCA Literary Agent, 27 West 20th St., Ste. 1103, New York, NY 10011. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected].
Educator and writer. Longwood University, Farmville, VA, English professor. Worked as a teacher in AZ, carpenter, musician, and guitar builder.
Graves Gate, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2003.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Unspeakable, another historic mystery novel featuring Baker and Wallace.
As a writer of mystery thriller novels, Dennis Burges draws from his varied background as a carpenter, soldier, musician, and teacher. Mostly, though, Burges's linguistic and historical knowledge forms the basis of his works. Inspiration starts at home in Arizona, where Burges taught for a decade while taking note of the contrast between modern life and the mysterious geography of the canyons. Burges may be an Arizona native but he traces his roots to colonial Virginia, where Burges continues a family tradition of teaching through his English professorship at Long-wood University. His heartfelt interest in history shows in his novel Graves Gate.
Graves Gate is the post-World War I story of American reporter Charles Baker, a former spy who is hired by famed British writer Arthur Conan Doyle to investigate an intriguing situation. Through the entire book, Burges paints a realistic picture of the era. Reviewer D. L. Browne noted the historical accuracy in I Love A Mystery Newsletter, commenting that "Graves Gate very nearly reads as though it were written in the 1920s, and that's about as high praise as I can give a historical novel." In the book, Doyle, recently the subject of public criticism for his beliefs in spiritualism, has received a letter from someone claiming to be the late Dr. Bernard Gussmann, the same psychiatrist who treated Doyle's father years before. Doyle leans toward believing the letter is authentic because it includes information only the doctor would know. In the letter, Doyle is offered the opportunity to communicate with the dead if he agrees to bring one of three people to a prison to visit a woman about to be executed. Fearing more public ridicule if he pursues the spiritual challenge, Doyle hires Baker to investigate. Another associate of Doyle's is the beautiful Adrianna Wallace. Together, Wallace and Baker put together the pieces of the puzzle. All three people had connections to the Morton Graves Voluntary Hospital, the London asylum where Gussmann died. The journey becomes dangerous and eerie as the three subjects suffer from blackouts and mood swings, suggesting Gussmann might be controlling them with his mind. In the midst of the mystery, a romance develops between Baker and Wallace. A reviewer from Publishers Weekly found Graves Gate disappointing, but a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that "Burges offers fine Conan Doyle atmosphere and plotting without the old gasbag in the deerstalker hat."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2003, review of Graves Gate, p. 623.
Publishers Weekly, June 23, 2003, review of Graves Gate, pp. 47-48.
Dennis Burges Home Page,http://www.dennisburges.com (October 24, 2003).
I Love A Mystery Newsletter,http://www.iloveamysterynewsletter.com/ (October 24, 2003), D. L. Browne, review of Graves Gate.