Corcoran, Tom 1943-

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CORCORAN, Tom 1943-


Born 1943.


Home—Lower Florida Keys, FL. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, editor, photographer, and songwriter. Co-owner of Ketch and Yawl Press, Key West, FL; worked variously as a disc jockey, bartender, AAA travel counselor, and graphic artist. Military service: Served in the U.S. Navy.



The Mango Opera, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Gumbo Limbo, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Bone Island Mambo, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Octopus Alibi, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2003.


Shelby Mustang ("Motorbooks International Muscle Car Color History" series), Motorbooks International (Osceola, WI), 1992.

(With Earl Davis) Mustang '64 1/2-'70 Restoration Guide ("Motorbooks International Authentic Restoration Guides" series), Motorbooks International (Osceola, WI), 1992, revised edition published as Mustang 1964 1/2-1973 Restoration Guide, 1998.

Mustang '64 1/2-'68 ("Motorbooks International Muscle Car Color History" series), Motorbooks International (Osceola, WI), 1993.

Hoofbeats: The Pulse of the Mustang World: A Collection from the Pages of Mustang Monthly, Backlash Press (Lakeland, FL), 1994.

(With Dorothy Raymer) Key West Collection, Ketch and Yawl Press (Key West, FL), 1999.

(With Paul Zazarine and Anthony Young) Ultimate Muscle: GTO, Shelby Mustang, Hemi, Motorbooks International (St. Paul, MN), 2002.

Work represented in anthologies, including Stories from the Blue Moon Cafe, edited by Sonny Brewer, MacAdam Cage Publishing, 2002; author of introduction, The Young Wrecker on the Florida Reef, by Richard Meade Bache, Ketch and Yawl Press, 1999; cowriter, with Jimmy Buffett, of the songs "Cuban Crime of Passion" and "Fins." Editor of Mustang Monthly, 1987-93.


Tom Corcoran has followed many paths, and most of them lead to the Florida Keys. His photography has graced the covers of many Jimmy Buffett album covers, and he collaborated with the famed musician in writing two songs. For Buffett's 2003 two-CD Meet Me in Margaritaville, Corcoran wrote an essay titled "Jimmy with a Capital L," which is included in the thirty-two page booklet that comes with the set.

Corcoran's photographs have appeared on numerous book jackets, including Thomas McGuane's An Outside Chance, Winston Groom's Forrest Gump, Les Standiford's Black Mountain and Last Train to Paradise, and James W. Hall's Hot Damn. Corcoran is also a Mustang and muscle car scholar. His columns from Mustang Monthly were collected and published as Hoofbeats, and he wrote a number of related books for Motorbooks International.

Florida has been home to Corcoran since 1970, and he is co-owner of the Ketch and Yawl Press in Key West. His own mystery series features Shelby Mustang-driving photographer Alex Rutledge, who is also based in Key West and is often called upon by the police to shoot crime scenes. In an interview with Mitch Alderman for Florida International University Online, Corcoran explained how he created the character: "You can't fool an informed reader, and not having been in law enforcement or private investigation, I needed a protagonist who operated tangentially to crime detection. I was a professional photographer for years, so I knew about equipment, films, types of jobs, the inherent problems and frustrations, and the joy of creativity." Corcoran continued, "Once I'd figured out the core attributes, Alex more or less created himself. His tie to law enforcement is as a freelance backup for the full-time professional forensic people. At first, he didn't have to demonstrate as much knowledge as common sense. More and more, however, he will have to improve his forensic skills."

Booklist's Bill Ott said that "melancholy mixes nicely with nostalgia" in Corcoran's debut, Mango Opera, in which Alex's former girlfriends are turning up dead. As he delves into the details, there are flashbacks to the past, providing a glimpse of the heyday of the iconic Key West. Dulcy Brainard wrote in Publishers Weekly that with its "sure feel" for Key West and "quirky, hard-edged rhythm pulsing beneath the surface calm, this debut deserves a wide and welcoming audience."

Ott called Gumbo Limbo "another satisfying installment." In this second outing, Alex is contacted by old friend Zack, an investment banker from Chicago. When Alex goes to the bar where they have agreed to meet for a beer, Zack fails to show up, and before long, Zack becomes a suspect in two murder cases that were connected to marijuana smuggling in the 1980s. Rex E. Klett wrote in Library Journal that the background, protagonist, and "Corcoran's easy-to-read prose provide a welcome escape."

Trouble begins in Bone Island Mambo, as Alex takes an early Sunday morning bike ride. He is attacked by two men when he gets too close to a nearby corpse, just one of many that begin to turn up, bizarrely dressed in drag and missing their heads. Alex becomes a suspect, but as he follows the trail to the real criminals, he uncovers a real estate scam involving an old Key West family. Ott noted that Corcoran "has a real feel for the laissez-faire Key West style, and he knows how to meld island history into his stories." Peter Cannon wrote in a Publishers Weekly review that Alex "leads a fine tour of the area, from the Green Parrot bar to fishing flats in the mangrove forests." Cannon wrote that Corcoran "clearly knows the turf."

Octopus Alibi is the fourth Alex Rutledge title, which finds him looking forward to a week working in the Grand Caymans, south of Cuba. But when his friend, Sam Wheeler, must identify a body that might be that of his missing sister, Alex accompanies him. A number of corpses turn up, including that of Naomi Douglas, an older woman who believed in Alex's talent and who had appeared very healthy the last time her saw her, just days earlier. A Kirkus Reviews contributor said that "the Key West setting is, as always, a plus."



Booklist, April 15, 1998, Bill Ott, review of The Mango Opera, p. 1379; August, 1999, Bill Ott, review of Gumbo Limbo, p. 2032; May 1, 2001, Bill Ott, review of Bone Island Mambo, p. 1626.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2002, review of Octopus Alibi, p. 1805.

Library Journal, September 1, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of Gumbo Limbo, p. 236.

Publishers Weekly, May 11, 1998, Dulcy Brainard, review of The Mango Opera, p. 54; April 9, 2001, review of Bone Island Mambo, p. 54.


Florida International University Online, (February, 2003), Mitch Alderman, interview with Corcoran.

Tom Corcoran Home Page, (January 15, 2004).