Daheim, Mary 1937- (Mary Richardson Daheim)

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Daheim, Mary 1937- (Mary Richardson Daheim)

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) 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:

Home—Seattle, WA. E-mail—[email protected]

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.

WRITINGS:

HISTORICAL ROMANCE NOVELS

Love's Pirate, Avon (New York, NY), 1983.

Destiny's Pawn, Avon (New York, NY), 1984.

Pride's Captive, Avon (New York, NY), 1986.

Passion's Triumph, Avon (New York, NY), 1988.

King's Ransom, Harlequin (London, England), 1990.

Improbable Eden, Harlequin (London, England), 1991.

Gypsy Baron, Harlequin (London, England), 1992.

"BED AND BREAKFAST" MYSTERY 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.

Dead Man Docking, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.

Saks & Violins, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2006.

Scots on the Rocks, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2007.

Vi Agra Falls, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2008.

"ALPINE" SERIES

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.

The Alpine Hero, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1996.

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.

The Alpine Quilt, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2005.

The Alpine Recluse, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2006.

The Alpine Mysteries Omnibus, Wings Books (New York, NY), 2006.

The Alpine Scandal, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2007.

The Alpine Traitor, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2008.

OTHER

(With Carolyn Hart, Jane Isenberg, and Shirley Rousseau Murphy) Motherhood Is Murder (mystery collection), Avon (New York, NY), 2003.

Sugarplums and Scandal (novel), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

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 she 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 reviewer Rex Klett remarked that the novel contains "solid prose, remarkable characters, and [an] entertaining plot."

In The Alpine Quilt, Emma finds herself once again juggling a million tasks, including a good dose of sleuthing. In her role as publisher of the weekly paper, she has to deal with the local photography studio regarding some changes in policy and discuss the home section with the appropriate editor. On a personal level, she must fit in a visit with her brother Ben, a missionary, who has just returned to town. When Emma learns that the photographer's mother Genevieve is soon to visit after decades away, she decides to interview her on top of all of her other duties, in an effort to get a feel for what the town was like during a bygone era. But when Genevieve and another woman are poisoned while having a reunion dinner, Emma's plans take a sharp turn, particularly when Genevieve does not survive the incident. Instead of an interview, Emma sets out on an investigation, determined to learn who is responsible for the woman's death. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews opined that the book "amiably captures the rhythms and crosscurrents of small-town life."

The Alpine Recluse is the next volume in the series, and finds Emma and her friends suffering through a sweltering heat wave. Temperatures rise even higher one evening when Tim and Tiffany Rafferty's house burns to the ground. The next day, Tim is discovered dead inside the house, and a preliminary investigation suggests that he was already dead prior to the rampaging fire. A number of questions swiftly come up in the wake of this discovery, with the town wondering if Tiffany, who is quite pregnant, was in any way abused by her husband, making her and her protective parents potential suspects in what is now a murder investigation. A stranger was also seen lurking around the house prior to the fire. While the sheriff makes very little headway with his investigation, Emma manages to see things a little more clearly and get to the bottom of the situation. A Kirkus Reviews contributor remarked that "the ending is a bit of a cheat, but if you prefer your mysteries small, insular and chatty, Daheim … is your gal."

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. Observed 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" and praised 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."

Dead Man Docking finds cousins Judith and Renie taking off for a girls' trip to San Francisco as their husbands remain behind. Renie has gotten them a free cruise through one of her clients, and the two are ready to set sail. However, the owner of the ship is killed onboard during a cocktail party before the boat can even leave the dock, promptly mooring the cruise. As police investigate, a second person is killed, and the situation is just too intriguing for Judith and Renie to ignore. The two pair up for their own investigation, one that takes them wandering all over the city of San Francisco and teams them up with Rick and Rhoda St. George, Daheim's answer to Nick and Nora Charles. Jenny McLarin, writing for Booklist, praised the novel, labeling it "more madcap fun from the always-reliable Daheim."

In Scots on the Rocks, Judith and Renie once again go traveling, only this time they take their husbands along for the adventure. The two couples head for Scotland for their vacation, checking into a small bed and breakfast in a tiny town off the beaten path. Their intention is to relax and to alleviate some of the stress of running their own inn. However, when Harry Gibb, whom they have just met, is killed, the peace and quiet of their vacation fly out the window as Judith immediately feels the need to investigate the crime. Even on short acquaintance, she had pegged Harry Gibb as a good man, and can't imagine why anyone would want him dead. She looks into his marriage, as his wife is now a widow for the second time, as well as all of his business dealings, hoping to find a clue, and putting a firm end to her vacation. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly wrote that "the local color—fine wool, romantic castles, freely flowing whiskey and tea—is charming."

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:

BOOKS

Detecting Women, Purple Moon Press (Dearborn, MI), 1994.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2001, Jenny McLarin, review of Suture Self, p. 924; August 1, 2005, Jenny McLarin, review of Dead Man Docking, p. 1998.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2003, review of Hocus Croakus, p. 938; March 1, 2005, review of The Alpine Quilt, p. 261; February 1, 2006, review of The Alpine Recluse, p. 112.

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; June 11, 2007, review of Scots on the Rocks, p. 41.