Dymmoch, Michael Allen
Dymmoch, Michael Allen
ADDRESSES: Home—Chicago, IL. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Five Star Publishing, 295 Kennedy Memorial Dr., Waterville, ME 04901. E-mail—[email protected]
MEMBER: Mystery Writers of America (former president and secretary of Midwest chapter), Sisters in Crime.
AWARDS, HONORS: Malice Domestic Award for Best First Traditional Mystery, St. Martin's Press, 1982, for The Man Who Understood Cats.
The Fall (novel), Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Cymry Ring (novel), Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2006.
Death in West Wheeling (novel; "Sheriff Homer Deters" series), Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2006.
"JACK CALEB AND JOHN THINNES" MYSTERY NOVEL SERIES
The Man Who Understood Cats, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.
The Death of Blue Mountain Cat, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Incendiary Designs, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 1998.
The Feline Friendship, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2003.
White Tiger, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Mystery novelist Michael Allen Dymmoch is the author of a series featuring two recurring characters: detective John Thinnes, a troubled lawman and Vietnam veteran with a rapidly crumbling marriage, and Jack Caleb, a highly respected psychiatrist who is also a Vietnam vet and a homosexual. The two are good friends and colleagues who are initially brought together in the first Caleb and Thinnes mystery, The Man Who Understood Cats. When a quiet, obsessively neat accountant is found dead, the medical examiner wants to rule the death a suicide. Thinnes, however, is not so sure, and the dead man's psychiatrist, Caleb, is also not convinced. As the two proceed with the investigation, their backgrounds and troubles turn their grudging mutual respect to friendship. The plot unfolds in a web of interconnected acquaintances of varying social and professional strata, the holdings of an art gallery, a dead artist, a tormented father, and a large real estate empire. In the midst of the compelling background stories of Caleb and Thinnes, the murderer's identity is a "shock," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. The same critic remarked that "this assured and unusual debut boasts expressive language and sinewy notions of suspense." Carl Brookins, writing on the Reviewing the Evidence Web site, called the book "dark and intelligent and a novel to be savored and treasured."
In Incendiary Designs Caleb and Thinnes put themselves at great personal risk to track down a serial arsonist plaguing Chicago. During a morning run in the park, Caleb happens upon a group of cultists trying to burn a police car with the lawman still in it and manages save the officer. Afterward, Thinnes is assigned to investigate the case. Meanwhile, having been devastated by the death of a lover some years earlier, Caleb is involved in a developing relationship with a man who now becomes a suspect in an arson-for-hire case. Both Thinnes and Caleb have to look carefully around them to find the true culprits and arsonists. Dymmoch ties the story together with detailed depictions of the sights, sounds, and personalities of a variety of Chicago neighborhoods. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that components of the novel, such as "the absorbing action scenes … compensate for the handy serendipities." Wes Lukowsky, writing in Booklist, called the book "an outstanding crime novel driven equally by character and plot."
Dymmoch departs from her "Caleb and Thinnes" series with The Fall. Protagonist Joanne Lessing is a photographer in suburban Chicago who is rebounding from an ugly divorce. During a morning photo shoot of geese in a park, she unexpectedly photographs a hit-and-run against a parked car. Earlier that same day, a man was shot and killed in the same neighborhood. The man was under cover in the federal witness protection program, and his murder may have a connection with the hit-and-run photograph Joanne took. The police discover that in her photograph is one of the city's most wanted and elusive hit men, Gianni Dossi, who was leaving the murder scene. When asked by special agent Paul Minorini to testify before a grand jury, Joanne refuses, unwilling to enter the witness protection program with her son. Her refusal to cooperate with the authorities has little meaning for Dossi and his associates, who become increasingly menacing. Complicating matters is Joanne's affair with Minorini, which endangers his job and her life. Booklist reviewer Connie Fletcher called The Fall "a convincing story of deepening peril starring a socko heroine who deserves her own series." AllReaders.com reviewer Harriet Klausner called it "a brilliant psychological suspense tale." A Kirkus Reviews critic concluded, "Dymmoch alternates brilliantly between steadily compelling psychological suspense and surprises that move so fast they're scary."
Dymmoch told CA: "What first got me interested in writing was a book called Maybe You Should Write a Book, by Ralph Daigh, the premise of which is 'Someone writes books. If you have an idea for a book, it might as well be you.' In The Crystal Cave Mary Stewart wrote 'Take power where it is offered.' Being able to write well is a great power, and I try to learn from anyone who has it.
"When I get an idea for a story, I write it down and put it in a folder with a working title. Any subsequent ideas that seem to 'fit' in that story go into the folder, along with newspaper items, names that strike my fancy, fragments of dialog that come to mind, etc. When the folder gets close to the thickness of a book manuscript, I try to work all the bits together. It's like working one of those giant 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzles.
"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is that you don't have to save any great bits for the next story. You won't run out of ideas. Your mind is like an Artesian well. As soon as you take something out, it refills. And if you don't worry about writer's block, you won't get it. Being stuck on a story means you need to do more research, or get to know your characters better, or take a break and go see a movie or read someone else's great book, or spend a weekend away with your significant other, or … (you get the idea). I hope my work will make people feel, and that feeling will make them think."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 1993, Barbara Duree, review of The Man Who Understood Cats, p. 1573; November 15, 1998, Wes Lukowsky, review of Incendiary Designs, p. 569; April 1, 2003, Connie Fletcher, review of The Feline Friendship, p. 1382; August, 2004, Connie Fletcher, review of The Fall, p. 1904.
Bookwatch, January, 1994, review of The Man Who Understood Cats, p. 9.
Drood Review of Mystery, May-June, 2004, review of The Fall, p. 11.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1993, review of The Man Who Understood Cats, p. 334; March 1, 1996, review of The Death of Blue Mountain Cat, p. 336; October 1, 1998, review of Incendiary Designs, p. 1415; March 15, 2003, review of The Feline Friendship, p. 429; July 1, 2004, review of The Fall, p. 606; October 1, 2005, review of White Tiger, p. 1052.
Library Journal, May 1, 1993, Rex E. Klett, review of The Man Who Understood Cats, p. 120; April 1, 1996, Rex E. Klett, review of The Death of Blue Mountain Cat, p. 122; October 1, 1998, Rex E. Klett, review of Incendiary Designs, p. 139; August 1, 2005, Ann Kim, review of White Tiger, p. 58.
Los Angeles Times, May 23, 1993, review of The Man Who Understood Cats, p. 8.
New York Times Book Review, May 30, 1993, Marilyn Stasio, review of The Man Who Understood Cats, p. 13.
Publishers Weekly, March 29, 1993, review of The Man Who Understood Cats, p. 39; November 1, 1993, review of The Man Who Understood Cats, p. 50; January 23, 1995, review of The Man Who Understood Cats, p. 68; February 19, 1996, review of The Death of Blue Mountain Cat, p. 206; August 31, 1998, review of Incendiary Designs, p. 50; July 12, 2004, review of The Fall, p. 47.
Washington Post Book World, May 19, 1996, review of The Death of Blue Mountain Cat, p. 8.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (January 15, 2006), Harriet Klausner, reviews of The Feline Friendship and The Fall.
Best Reviews, http://www.thebestreviews.com/ (January 15, 2004), Harriet Klausner, review of White Tiger.
Michael Allen Dymmoch Home Page, http://www.michaelallendymmoch.com (January 15, 2006).
Mystery Guide, http://www.mysteryguide.com/ (January 15, 2006), review of The Man Who Understood Cats.
Reviewing the Evidence, http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (December 1, 2002), Carl Brookins, review of The Man Who Understood Cats.