Cosin, Elizabeth M.
COSIN, Elizabeth M.
PERSONAL: Born in Ossining, NY. Education: Georgetown University, B.A. (journalism), 1986.
CAREER: Writer. Worked as a journalist, sportswriter, reporter, and feature writer in Reston, VA, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, CA; executive story editor of Hopewell, Columbia Broadcasting System.
AWARDS, HONORS: Online Mystery Award, 1999, for Zen and the Art of Murder.
"ZEN MOSES" SERIES
Zen and the Art of Murder, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Zen and the City of Angels, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 1999.
Zen Justice, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2001.
Contributor to periodicals, including Sports Illustrated, and to television series, including Buddy Faro, Snoops, Law and Order Criminal Intent, 24, and Dragnet.
SIDELIGHTS: Elizabeth M. Cosin had years of work as a journalist and sportswriter behind her when, on the second anniversary of the 1994 earthquake in Northridge, California, she made the leap to becoming a full-time fiction writer. Her first novel, Zen and the Art of Murder, was published in 1998, and the series continues to grow. Cosin writes from her home in Los Angeles.
There are similarities between Cosin and her protagonist, Zenaria Moses. Both were sports journalists, but Zen left her job after slugging a baseball star. Zen is a tough private investigator who occasionally enjoys a fine cigar, and, like her creator, she has lost a lung to cancer. Other characters include Zen's sidekick Bobo La Douceur, as well as friends, family, good and bad police, and the criminal element.
The debut novel, Zen and the Art of Murder, was reviewed by Suzan Connell for Library Journal. Connell called Zen "an unconventional, independent heroine who will appeal to Sue Grafton and Marcia Muller fans." In the book, Zen is fighting holiday depression after her cat dies. She has just scattered his ashes and is under the influence of alcohol when she stops in for reinforcement at Nat's, a neighborhood bar owned by her sometimes lover. While there, her cousin, Daniel, is found dead in the walk-in cooler. Zen thought Daniel had died twelve years earlier in a mass cult suicide, and now she feels bound to find his actual killer. She also takes on another job, locating the abusive father of a well-known talk show host, a search that takes her through California to the Mexican desert. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that "the pace is fast and the loose ends are tied up neatly."
Booklist's Bill Ott compared the series to the "Spenser" formula, commenting that the author "pulls it off with style. . . . Cosin has fashioned an appealing series star in the tough-but-vulnerable mode." Similarly, Kevin V. Johnson wrote in USA Today that "just as Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton . . . have done, Cosin makes her heroine resourceful, sardonic. . . . Moses is a tough, wary woman who wisecracks her way through even the most dangerous or revolting situations." And in a Washington Post Book World review, Paul Skenazy noted that "if it all whirls a little out of kilter at times . . . it doesn't much matter, because this is a lark from top to bottom, the writing juicy and tight all through."
In the second installment of the series, Zen and the City of Angels, Zen is asked by her cop-turned-lawyer drinking buddy, Jim Gray, to find the missing dog of a client. When she follows the trail to the home of an animal trainer, she is discovered and shot full of drugs. After she comes to, she continues on to stumble over dead bodies, police corruption, and Nigerian drug lords. Library Journal's Rex E. Klett called the plot "action-filled" and the heroine "tough but lovable."
In an interview with P. J. Nunn for the Charlotte Austin Review Ltd. online, Cosin talked about Zen Justice, the third book in the series, noting that in it, Zen witnesses the murder of a former college roommate. "In the process of searching for the killer," said Cosin, "she gets drawn into a decades-old conflict marked by hate, violence, and unspeakable evils. I'm very excited about this book because it's deeper and darker than the first two and because I feel like I'm pushing Zen's limits as well as my own."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 1998, Bill Ott, review of Zen and the Art of Murder, p. 406; September 15, 1999, Bill Ott, review of Zen and the City of Angels, p. 236.
Library Journal, September 1, 1998, Wilda Williams, review of Zen and the Art of Murder, p. 220; June 15, 1999, Suzan Connell, review of Zen and the Art of Murder, p. 132; December, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of Zen and the City of Angels, p. 191.
Publishers Weekly, August 31, 1998, review of Zen and the Art of Murder, p. 51; September 27, 1999, review of Zen and the City of Angels, p. 76.
USA Today, December 10, 1998, Kevin V. Johnson, review of Zen and the Art of Murder, p. D10.
Washington Post Book World, November 15, 1998, Paul Skenazy, review of Zen and the Art of Murder, p. 8.
Charlotte Austin Review Ltd.,http://collection.nlc-bnc.ca/100/202/300/charlotte/ (December 17, 2000), P. J. Nunn, interview with Cosin.
Elizabeth Cosin Home Page,http://www.zenmoses.com/ (January 16, 2004).*