Daheim, Mary 1937-
DAHEIM, Mary 1937-
PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "day-hime"; born November 7, 1937, in Seattle, WA; daughter of Hugh E. (a marine engineer) and Monica (a legal secretary; maiden name, Dawson) Richardson; married David C. Daheim (a professor of humanities), December 18, 1965; children: Barbara, Katherine, Magdalen. Education: University of Washington, Seattle, B.A., 1960. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Roman Catholic.
ADDRESSES: Office—Ballantine Books, c/o Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Author and communications consultant. Pacific Northwest Bell, Seattle, WA, public relations manager and communications consultant, 1960—. Consultant to banks and telecommunications companies.
MEMBER: Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Authors Guild.
AWARDS, HONORS: Pacific Northwest Writers Association Achievement Award, 2000.
HISTORICAL ROMANCE NOVELS
Love's Pirate, Avon (New York, NY) 1983.
Destiny's Pawn, Avon (New York, NY), 1984.
Passion's Triumph, Avon (New York, NY), 1988.
"BED AND BREAKFAST" SERIES
Just Desserts, Avon (New York, NY), 1991.
Fowl Prey, Avon (New York, NY), 1991.
Holy Terrors, Avon (New York, NY), 1992.
Dune to Death, Avon (New York, NY), 1993.
Bantam of the Opera, Avon (New York, NY), 1993.
A Fit of Tempera, Avon (New York, NY), 1994.
Major Vices, Avon (New York, NY), 1995, Beeler Large Print (Hampton Falls, NH), 2002.
Murder, My Suite, Avon (New York, NY), 1995.
Auntie Mayhem, Avon (New York, NY), 1996.
Nutty As a Fruitcake, Avon (New York, NY), 1996.
September Mourn, Avon (New York, NY), 1997.
Wed and Buried, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.
Snow Place to Die, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.
Legs Benedict, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.
Creeps Suzette, Avon (New York, NY), 2000.
A Streetcar Named Expire, Avon (New York, NY), 2001.
Suture Self, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2001.
Silver Scream, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2002.
Hocus Croakus, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.
This Old Souse, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.
The Alpine Advocate, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1992.
The Alpine Betrayal, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1993.
The Alpine Christmas, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1993.
The Alpine Decoy, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.
The Alpine Escape, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1995.
The Alpine Fury, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1996.
The Alpine Gamble, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1996, Beeler Large Print (Hampton Falls, NH), 1999.
The Alpine Hero, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1996, Beeler Large Print (Hampton Falls, NH), 1999.
The Alpine Icon, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1998.
The Alpine Journey, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1998.
The Alpine Kindred, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1998.
The Alpine Legacy, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1999.
The Alpine Menace, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2000.
The Alpine Nemesis, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2001.
The Alpine Obituary, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2002.
The Alpine Pursuit, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Carolyn Hart, Jane Isenberg, and Shirley Rousseau Murphy) Motherhood Is Murder (mystery collection), Avon (New York, NY), 2003.
Also author of Sound of Surrender, Avon (New York, NY), and other historical romance novels. Managing editor of Anacortes American Bulletin, 1960; reporter and columnist for Port Angeles Daily News, 1966-69; former staff member of Pacific Search (now Northwest magazine). Contributor to magazines and newspapers.
SIDELIGHTS: As a child in the Pacific Northwest, Mary Daheim aspired to a career as a sports reporter. Friends and relatives told her that women do not become sports reporters. When she asked her grandmother why, she was told, "Because those boys don't want you to see them with their clothes off." Daheim turned to writing novels instead and became the author of the popular "Bed and Breakfast" and "Alpine" mystery series.
After penning a number of historical romances, Daheim realized she was working in a field that did not reflect her interests as a reader. She was actually a fan of mystery novels, and proceeded to launch two successful mystery series. Both series are set in the Pacific Northwest, and feature casts of characters drawn from her own experiences. The "Bed and Breakfast" series takes place on the coastal island of Chavez where its protagonist, Judith McMonigle Flynn, runs the only B & B when she is not too busy solving crimes. The "Alpine" series is based in Alpine, Washington, which a reviewer from Publishers Weekly characterized as a "soap-opera small town." It features amateur sleuth Emma Lord, editor of the Alpine Advocate.
Daheim's mysteries have received a mixed critical response. In the sixth novel of the Alpine series, The Alpine Fury, the town is suffering the economic effects of a failed logging industry when rumors begin to circulate that its only bank is headed for a merger. Emma Lord begins to investigate in her capacity as a journalist. However, when the bank's bookkeeper turns up murdered, her role soon switches to that of detective. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly stated, "The book's small town ambience makes a good contrast to this high-finance very 1980s mystery. The town's quirky characters . . . add a nice, honest feel to the tale." However, another Publishers Weekly reviewer found nothing to praise in the seventh novel in the series, The Alpine Gamble, describing it as a "predictable, mundane book."
Despite some harsh criticism, Daheim has had considerable success with the "Alpine" series. The author made her hardcover debut with the sixteenth novel in the series, The Alpine Pursuit, in which Emma investigates the shooting death of an actor killed onstage during the performance of a play. Library Journal's Rex Klett said the novel contains "solid prose, remarkable characters, and [an] entertaining plot."
Daheim's "Bed & Breakfast" series has also established itself as a popular mystery series. In Holy Terrors, the third book in the series, investigator Judith McMonigle falls in love with homicide detective (and future husband) Joe Flynn as the two search for the murderer of a local woman. A Publishers Weekly reviewer observed that "Daheim creates a credible and sympathetic character in McMonigle." In Wed and Buried, the twelfth installment in the "Bed and Breakfast" series, Judith believes she has seen a murder outside of her hotel's reception area. To the consternation of her husband, Judith investigates. According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "Luckily clues contrive to drop into Judith's lap because, generally speaking, she doesn't seem competent enough to find them herself.... All in all, neither the characters nor the construction of the plot seems believable or coherent." In contrast, another Publishers Weekly reviewer credited September Mourn, the eleventh book in the series, with "inventive plot twists," while also praising Daheim's portrayal of the book's "picturesque backdrop."
Daheim added installations to her "Bed & Breakfast" series including Creeps Suzette, Silver Scream, and Hocus Croakus. In Creeps Suzette, Judith and her cousin look after an elderly woman who is convinced that someone is trying to kill her. A Publishers Weekly critic felt that Daheim's "acerbic wit and sarcasm propel the dialogue" in this mystery. Silver Scream finds Judith's B & B overrun by Hollywood, as actors, directors, and producers descend upon Hillside Manor on Halloween weekend. When a famous producer turns up dead, Judith begins a murder investigation. A contributor to Publishers Weekly wrote, "The fog, mist, and rain of a Pacific Northwest October add to the Halloween atmosphere" as Judith searches for clues among the strange cast of characters. The critic concluded, "Fans will be enthralled." While Silver Scream contains many Halloween tricks and treats, Hocus Croakus offers only tricks. Judith, on vacation from her beloved B & B, investigates the murder of a magician's assistant who turns up dead at a casino. A Publishers Weekly reviewer deemed Hocus Croakus a "winning addition."
In addition to writing solo, Daheim contributed to a mystery collection titled Motherhood Is Murder with mystery authors Carolyn Hart, Jane Isenberger, and Shirley Rousseau Murphy. Daheim's contribution, Dial M for Mom, finds Cousin Renie, from the "Bed & Breakfast" series, preparing for the weddings of her three children, all on the same day. When the photographer is found dead, things become even more complicated.
Prior to her mystery writing career, Daheim once told CA: "I've always written, never wanted to do anything else. I use the historical romance to inform, entertain, and amuse. I like research and do a lot of it. I consider myself a storyteller, not a novelist. While the genre isn't exactly suited to one-liners, I try to inject at least a hint of humor. I have as much fun writing the books as I hope readers will have reading them.
"I try to create characters that fit the romantic novel genre without being clichés. I also use historical personages as much as possible to give authenticity while presenting their characters with what I term interpretive accuracy. Stories with a strong historical background suit my style best, using the actual events as a springboard for my characters, real and imagined.
"The personal views I present tend to deal with my own interpretation of historical events, though I know that the historian must, by definition, deal in hindsight. To compensate I try to show how characters reacted to events within the context of their time and personal experiences. For me, history is not a grand, faceless panorama, but the meshing of individual personalities, needs, ambitions, and every other human emotion that eventually becomes what we later call 'history.'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Detecting Women, Purple Moon Press (Dearborn, MI) 1994.
Booklist, January 1, 2001, Jenny McLarin, review of Suture Self, p. 924.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2003, review of Hocus Croakus, p. 938.
Library Journal, February 1, 2004, Rex Klett, review of The Alpine Pursuit, p. 128.
Publishers Weekly, February 24, 1992, review of Holy Terrors, p. 50; November 2, 1992, review of The Alpine Advocate, p. 67; November 13, 1995, review of The Alpine Fury, p. 58; June 17, 1996, review of The Alpine Gamble, p. 62; September 30, 1996, review of Nutty As a Fruitcake, p. 80; July 7, 1997, review of September Mourn, p. 66; January 12, 1998, review of Wed and Buried, p. 57; December 14, 1998, review of The Alpine Kindred, p. 72; December 13, 1999, review of Creeps Suzette, p. 69; April 29, 2002, review of Silver Scream, p. 46; January 1, 2001, review of Suture Self, p. 71; April 29, 2002, review of Silver Scream, p. 46; August 26, 2002, review of The Alpine Obituary, p. 50; June 16, 2003, review of Hocus Croakus, p. 54.
Ballantine Books Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/BB/ (February 16, 2004), list of Mary Daheim books.
Killing Time Mystery Books Web site, Mary Daheim page,http://members.aol.com/ktbooks/daheim.htm/ (March 11, 2003), "Northwest Mystery Writers: Mary Daheim."
What You Need to Know about Bed and Breakfasts Web site,http://bandb.about.com/ (March 11, 2003), Elizabeth Arneson, "Interview with Mary Daheim; This Author Writes about B&B-Themed Mysteries."*