Chittenden, Margaret 1935-

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CHITTENDEN, Margaret 1935-

(Rosalind Carson)

PERSONAL:

Born January 31, 1935, in London, England; naturalized U.S. citizen; daughter of James F. (a production supervisor) and Jenny (an executive) Barrass; married James C. Chittenden (retired Air Force); children: Stephen John, Sharon Lynne. Education: Educated in England. Hobbies and other interests: Working out at the gym, beachcombing, canoeing, hiking the rainforest, surfing the net, reading, traveling.

ADDRESSES:

Home—P.O. Box 1225, Ocean Shores, WA 98569. Agent—Curtis Brown Ltd., 10 Astor Pl., New York, NY 10003. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer of romance and mystery novels, short stories, and articles. Ministry of Works, London, England, clerical officer; J. Arthur Rank Productions, Denham, Buckinghamshire, England, accountant for Pinewood Studios, and Denham Film Laboratories; doctor's secretary in Sacramento, CA.

MEMBER:

Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, American Crime Writers League, International Association of Crime Writers, Sisters in Crime, Femmes Fatales, Pacific Northwest Writers.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Pacific Northwest Writers Achievement Award; Anthony Award for short story "Noir Lite."

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Findlay's Landing, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1975.

Song of Dark Water, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1978.

House of the Twilight Moon, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1979.

The Other Child, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1979.

The Face in the Mirror, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1980.

(As Rosalind Carson) Lovespell ("Harlequin Temptation" series), Harlequin (New York, NY), 1984.

Beyond the Rainbow, Worldwide Library (New York, NY), 1986.

(As Rosalind Carson) The Marrying Kind ("Harlequin Temptation" series), Harlequin (New York, NY), 1987.

Forever Love, Worldwide Library (New York, NY), 1988.

This Time Forever, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1990.

The Wainwright Secret ("Harlequin Intrigue" series), Harlequin (New York, NY), 1992.

Shadow of a Doubt ("Harlequin Intrigue" series), Harlequin (New York, NY), 1993.

More Than You Know, Berkley Sensation (New York, NY), 2003.

Snap Shot, Berkley Sensation (New York, NY), 2004.

"HARLEQUIN SUPERROMANCE" SERIES

Until October, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1989.

The Scent of Magic, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1991.

Double Take, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1993.

When the Spirit Is Willing, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1993.

As Years Go By, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1995.

"HARLEQUIN SUPERROMANCE" SERIES; UNDER PSEUDONYM ROSALIND CARSON

This Dark Enchantment, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1982.

Song of Desire, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1982.

Such Sweet Magic, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1983.

Love Me Tomorrow, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1984.

To Touch the Moon, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1985.

Close to Home, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1988.

The Moon Gate, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1988.

"CHARLIE PLATO" MYSTERY SERIES

Dying to Sing, Kensington (New York, NY), 1996.

Dead Men Don't Dance, Kensington (New York, NY), 1997.

Dead Beat and Deadly, Kensington (New York, NY), 1998.

Don't Forget to Die, Kensington (New York, NY), 1999.

Dying to See You, Kensington (New York, NY), 2000.

OTHER

When the Wild Ducks Come (for children), Follett (Chicago, IL), 1972.

Merrymaking in Great Britain (for children), Garrard (Champaign, IL), 1974.

The Mystery of the Missing Pony (for children), Garrard (Champaign, IL), 1980.

How to Write Your Novel, Writer (Boston, MA), 1995.

Contributor of novel The Enchanted Bride to the four-novel anthology Marriage by Design, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1994. Contributor of short stories and articles to children's and women's magazines, including Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Homes Journal, and Boys' Life.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

A mystery series set on the Washington state coast, involving a police chief and a P.I. in a town called Celebration—where every day is a happy day—at least until the sun goes down.

SIDELIGHTS:

After publishing over twenty romance novels under her own name and the pseudonym Rosalind Carson, Margaret Chittenden turned to mysteries with her 1996 novel Dying to Sing. Although several of her romance novels had featured suspenseful plots and detective work, it was only with Dying to Sing that Chittenden wrote a straight detective story.

Dying to Sing introduces amateur sleuth Charlie Plato, a thirty-year-old divorcee and owner of the San Francisco country bar CHAPS, and her partner Zack Hunter, a former television actor now living on residuals. Following an earthquake that opens a fissure in the bar's flowerbed, a skeleton is uncovered. When the police show little interest in the body and the bar starts getting threatening phone calls, Charlie and Zack work to discover the skeleton's identity, while struggling to remain platonic friends. The story, wrote a Library Journal reviewer, has "easy pacing, solid plotting, and well-oiled prose." Booklist critic Emily Melton found the novel to be "fun, fresh, entertaining, and original." Charlie, according to a critic for Publishers Weekly, possesses "a wry tone and a good heart" and "demonstrates an appealing, lightweight charm."

Charlie reappears in Dead Men Don't Dance. In this mystery, Zack decides to run for city council. But when his opponents begin to turn up dead, one in the trunk of Zack's car, the police focus their attention on Zack's campaign and Charlie swings into action to save her friend's reputation. In a Library Journal review, Rex E. Klett applauded Chittenden's "refreshing characters, bright humor, enjoyable plotting, and easy-going prose," while Booklist's John Rowen claimed, "With an appealing female sleuth, this is a series to watch."

Charlie's character continues in the third installment of the series, Dead Beat and Deadly. In this mystery, Charlie enrolls in a self-defense class and is outshined by a diligent—but bruised—student, Filipina Estrella Stockton. When Estrella is murdered, Charlie begins her own investigation with the aid of Zack and police detective Taylor Bristow. More murders follow, leading the trio to discover a sinister side to Estrella's personality upon tracking down her husband, Thane Stockton. Reviewer Bill Peschel, on his Web site Planet Peschel, commented that Dead Beat and Deadly "reads at times like a Harlequin with blood." Conversely, Booklist's John Rowen felt that the third "Charlie Plato" book "is easily the best," and that Chittenden has taken more care in "developing the mystery element and using the Bay Area setting to maximum effect."

The plot of the fourth "Charlie Plato" book, Don't Forget to Die, revolves around one of Charlie's business partners, Angel Cervantes, and the murder of his father, Vic, whose dead body is discovered in a storage locker. Charlie and Zack investigate the murder, beginning with the two suspects, Angel and his brother Miguel. They then branch off and question other people in the victim's life, including Roxy, Vic's former girlfriend whom he had deserted to pursue a relationship with a younger woman. As Charlie gets closer to finding Vic's killer, she finds herself narrowly avoiding incidents and fielding anonymous threats, at the same time avoiding a relationship with Zack. In a review of Don't Forget to Die, one Publishers Weekly contributor thought while "Chittenden's breezy prose presents the buildup of any serious suspense, series fans will find the novel an amenable romp." In Booklist, David Pitt wrote that the mystery element of the novel had been used a bit too much in the series. Nonetheless, Pitt commended Chittenden's gift for creating "nifty characters," as well as the author's "knack for storytelling that is several notches above that of many of her competitors."

In Dying to See You, the fifth "Charlie Plato" mystery novel, Charlie's business partner Savanna Bristow throws a high-school reunion and fiftieth birthday party for everyone's favorite teacher, Reina Diaz, at CHAPS. A murder mystery again finds Charlie when Reina's dead body turns up in the bar's bathroom, and an investigation inevitably ensues. Charlie uncovers startling aspects of Reina's life and hidden personality, and the plot reveals secrets, lies, and various crimes. Booklist contributor John Rowen commented on the author's character development throughout the series, stating that the characters in the fifth book "have grown more quirky and less cutesy." A Publishers Weekly contributor suggested that Dying to See You is "just as sassy and full of fun" as the rest, concluding the review with an appeal to the author, "Please, Ms. Chittenden, don't keep us waiting too long for the next Charlie Plato mystery."

On her Web site, Chittenden said of the "Charlie Plato" mysteries, "All twenty-six years of my writing life, I've wanted to write a mystery series that featured a young, female, amateur sleuth. In her own words, Charlie Plato is a 'thirty-year-old divorcee with an attitude,' which makes her, depending on your point of view, a cliché, or a nineties woman." When asked by Claire E. White in an interview published on the Writers Write Web site how Charlie has evolved from the first book, Chittenden responded, "She's learning some patience, I think. She's getting over her failed marriage. She's not as much of a loner. She's still hung up on Zack and still determined that she won't get involved with him." Drawing on reader feedback, she reflected on Charlie and Zack's relationship, "A lot of women agree with me, and Charlie, that getting involved with Zack would destroy Charlie's self-esteem. But some women think that she should go ahead. I don't ever want that part of the story to overwhelm the mystery story. I'm not writing romantic suspense here."

For her next mystery, More Than You Know, Chittenden temporarily retires Charlie Plato and instead introduces readers to Nick Ciacia (pronounced "chacha"), an FBI agent with a taste for vengeance. Nick's father, a police officer, was murdered in a hold-up when Nick was only thirteen. At thirty-six, Nick continues to search for his father's killer, who is rumored to be an elusive villain dubbed "Snowman." In tracking down this killer, Nick begins to trail Bart Williams, a German immigrant and newly married pharmaceutical sales representative. Nick follows Bart and his unhappy wife, Madison Sloane, until Bart disappears. A determined Nick and an uninformed Maddy begin a collective search for Bart, only to find that he has become a supposed suicide victim. As Nick and Maddy push deeper into the mystery, they find themselves in danger of becoming murder victims themselves—and of falling in love. "This book is riveting," wrote Suzanne Tucker in a review published on the Best Reviews Web site. "The story is spellbinding," Tucker continued. "The characters [are] so real that you can almost hear them breathing. [ More Than You Know is] a suspense thriller that you cannot miss."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Heising, Wiletta L., Detecting Women, 3rd edition, Purple Moon Press (Dearborn, MI), 1999.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, July 1, 1978, p. 1669; July, 1996, Emily Melton, review of Dying to Sing, p. 1807; May 15, 1997, John Rowen, review of Dead Men Don't Dance, p. 1566; August, 1998, John Rowen, review of Dead Beat and Deadly, pp. 1972-1973; June 1, 1999, David Pitt, review of Don't Forget to Die, p. 1799; March 15, 2000, John Rowen, review of Dying to See You, p. 1332.

Good Housekeeping, November, 1981.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1998, review of Dead Beat and Deadly, p. 852; June 15, 1999, review of Don't Forget to Die, p. 920.

Library Journal, May 15, 1973, p. 1695; October 15, 1974, p. 2738; June 1, 1996, p. 155; June 1, 1997, Rex E. Klett, review of Dead Men Don't Dance, p. 154; July, 1998, review of Dead Beat and Deadly, p. 141; July, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of Don't Forget to Die, p. 141; April 1, 2000, Rex E. Klett, review of Dying to See You, p. 135.

Locus, October, 1990, p. 51; May, 1991, p. 46.

Publishers Weekly, February 5, 1973, p. 89; February 10, 1984; May 27, 1996, review of Dying to Sing, p. 69; June 1, 1998, review of Dead Beat and Deadly, p. 48A; June 1, 1998, review of Dead Beat and Deadly, p. 57; June 28, 1999, review of Don't Forget to Die, p. 58; June 5, 2000, review of Dying to See You, p. 76.

School Library Journal, December, 1980, p. 72.

ONLINE

Best Reviews Web site,http://www.thebestreviews.com/ (January 29, 2004), Suzanne Tucker, review of More Than You Know.

Books 'n' Bytes Web site,http://www.booksnbytes.com/ (January 29, 2004), "Margaret Chittenden"; Harriet Klausner, review of More Than You Know.

Margaret Chittenden Web site,http://www.megchittenden.com (January 29, 2004).

Planet Peschel Web site,http://www.planetpeschel.com/ (January 29, 2004), Bill Peschel, "Star Turn," review of Dead Beat and Deadly.

Writers Write: The Internet Writing Journal Web site,http://www.writerswrite.com/ (January 29, 2004), Claire E. White, "Interview with Margaret Chittenden."