Coggins, Mark 1957–

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Coggins, Mark 1957–


Born August 13, 1957, in Farmington, NM; son of John D., Jr. and Zoe Ann Coggins; married Linda Zhou. Education: Stanford University, B.A., 1979, M.S., 1988.


Home—San Francisco, CA. Office—P.O. Box 460714, San Francisco, CA 94146. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer. Has worked for Silicon Valley, CA, computer and venture capital firms, including Netscape Communications, VeriSign, Hewlett Packard Company and other software start-ups.


International Association of Crime Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime (former president, Northern California chapter), Phi Beta Kappa.


The Immortal Game was selected as one of the top ten crime novels of the year, San Francisco Chronicle, 2000.



The Immortal Game, Poltroon Press (Berkeley, CA), 2000.

Vulture Capital, Poltroon Press (Berkeley, CA), 2002.

Candy from Strangers, Bleak House Books (Madison, WI), 2006.

Runoff, Bleak House Books (Madison, WI), 2007.


Work represented in anthologies, including The New Black Mask, Volume 4, edited by Richard Layman, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich (New York, NY), 1986. Contributor of short stories and articles to periodicals, including Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Distributed Object Computing, and View Camera. Also author of Riordan's Desk blog.


Mark Coggins once told CA: "I came to writing mysteries because of my admiration for the work of Raymond Chandler. I was introduced to Chandler in my first creative writing class at Stanford—a class that was taught by Tobias Wolff.

"Wolff was making the point that certain writers have a very unique style, and he was reading from various works to back up his assertion. One of the things he read was the first chapter from The Big Sleep. I didn't know anything about Chandler before that reading, but I very much liked what I heard.

"Later that week I went to the college bookstore and bought a copy of The High Window. I can't tell you now why I picked that instead of The Big Sleep, but I did. I devoured the book and quickly ran through the rest of Chandler and all of Dashiell Hammett, too.

"The next creative writing class I took was from Ron Hansen. In it, I wrote a short story in the hard-boiled tradition titled ‘There's No Such Thing As Private Eyes.’ I shopped the story around and a number of years later it was published in The New Black Mask, a revival of the famous pulp detective magazine that gave Chandler and Hammett their start. It was edited by Richard Layman (one of Hammett's biographers) and published in trade paperback format. As you might expect, I was very pleased that my first published story appeared in the same magazine that first published Chandler and Hammett.

"The private eye in my short story—August Riordan—is the same character in my first novel, The Immortal Game. In fact, The Immortal Game started out as a follow-on story for The New Black Mask, but the magazine folded before the story was published. Obviously I expanded and revised the story considerably in the process of converting it to the novel form, but the link with the short story is still there. In the first chapter of The Immortal Game, Riordan and his client discuss an event that happened in the original story."

In his second novel, Vulture Capital, Coggins features Riordan working with venture capitalist Ted Valmont to look into the disappearance of an inventor who is working on computerized motion aids for the disabled. Valmont, who is interested in the inventor so he can help his disabled brother, enlists Riordan's aid after Valmont is nearly blown up. "The book is fast-paced and enjoyable," wrote Valerie Frankel on the Web site. Frankel also wrote: "Coggins writes his book in the real world of Silicon Valley, showing readers the inmost secrets and lifestyles of everyone in the corporate world."

Candy from Strangers, the third book in the "August Riordan" series, features the trigger-happy, jazz-playing private detective working on the case of a missing student after he finds a dead teenage girl in a San Francisco back alley. His investigation soon leads him to the Internet world of sexual predators. Since Riordan is old fashioned and not interested in all the new technology, he has a cross-dressing friend who is Internet savvy help him with the case. Bob Lunn, writing in the Library Journal, called Candy from Strangers "a volume that fits comfortably alongside those of Hammett and Chandler." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted the author's "well-crafted cast of characters, led by his smart-stepping shamus."



Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2006, review of Candy from Strangers, p. 810.

Library Journal, September 15, 2006, Bob Lunn, review of Candy from Strangers, p. 53.

Publishers Weekly, August 21, 2006, review of Candy from Strangers, p. 53.


Mark Coggins Home Page, (June 3, 2007)., (June 3, 2007), Valerie Frankel, review of Vulture Capital.