PERSONAL: Married; wife's name Susan; children: two sons. Education: Nasson College, Springvale, ME, B.A.; University of New Hampshire, M.A.; Emerson College, M.F.A.
CAREER: Writer, educator, singer and songwriter. Vermont College, Brattleboro, English instructor; Proctor Academy, Andover, NH, current English teacher and former department chair. Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, VT, house musician; has released several recordings. Rescue squad volunteer.
Tracked in the Whites, Write Way Publishing (Aurora CO), 1997.
Snow Kill, Write Way Publishing (Aurora CO), 2000.
Mountain Peril: A White Mountains Mystery, Viking (New York, NY), 2005.
Also author of song lyrics.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel in the "White Mountains Mystery" series.
SIDELIGHTS: Musician, songwriter, teacher, and outdoorsman Tom Eslick is also the author of several novels set in the White Mountains of northern New England, where he resides. Eslick did not take up writing until 1997, shortly after completing a master's degree in creative writing. His debut title, Tracked in the Whites, introduces Will Buchanan, a natural history teacher in a private New Hampshire school. In this initial outing, Buchanan takes his students out for the annual hike, but things go wrong from the outset. A prowler frightens the camp, and then a student, the daughter of a famous rock singer, goes missing. Buchanan is the primary suspect in the case, and to prove his innocence, he must set out to find the missing girl and capture the real perpetrator. Reviewing the novel in Booklist, John Rowen found it "fresh and accomplished," as well as a "compelling mystery." Rowen also had praise for the "realistic characters" in this first novel.
Eslick stayed in familiar terrain for his second novel, Snow Kill, setting the book in a New Hampshire town. He also used his own emergency medical technician (EMT) training for his main character, Chad Duquette, who is still reeling from the death of his wife. But Chad soon has problems worse than grief, as someone is planting evidence that frames him as the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Forced to go on the run to prove his innocence, Chad must battle personal demons as well as a very real nemesis. A Publishers Weekly reviewer was largely unimpressed with this second novel, calling it a "so-so whodunit" and "less than a stellar read."
Subsequent books from Eslick have reprised his debut character, Will Buchanan, and continued the "White Mountains Mystery" series. Buchanan is again wrongfully accused in the 2003 Deadly Kin: A White Mountains Mystery. This time out one of Buchanan's students accuses him of rape after he accompanies her to meet her brother along a hiking trail. The two siblings appear to have more than familial affection for one another, and next morning the brother turns up dead. The girl in question, Erin, after making her accusation of rape, subsequently disappears. Now Buchanan must once more set out to prove his own innocence. Reviewers responded to this novel positively. Library Journal reviewer Rex Klett praised the clear prose, the description of the setting's natural beauty, "and a deceptively simple plot," while Booklist critic Rowen noted that Eslick "sets a breakneck pace and never lets it slacken." A Kirkus Reviews critic, while finding the story "ragtag, with shadowy characters," deemed the nature and action scenes "worth the price of admission." A contributor for Publishers Weekly complained of "occasional lapses into melodrama," but concluded by noting that mystery fans will "enjoy the excitement" afforded by accompanying Will Buchanan on another trek through the White Mountains.
Eslick's third "Buchanan" novel, Mountain Peril: A White Mountains Mystery, appeared in 2005. In this mystery-thriller, Buchanan uncovers body parts along a lonely trail while searching for a missing boy. It appears a serial killer is at work, and two women are already dead. Buchanan, in at the beginning of this case, refuses to leave it to the professionals, and becomes even more involved when his love interest, Laurie, the local police chief, is shot at a holdup. Suspicion for not only the holdup, but also the murders, falls on a local man, Nelson Carpenter, the former lover of one of the dead women. Buchanan thinks otherwise, however, and pursues who he thinks the real perpetrator is. Once again, critical reception for an installment of the "White Mountains Mystery" series was generally positive. Booklist contributor Rowen noted that Eslick "sets a suspenseful … pace" and includes "plot twists and surprises." A Kirkus Reviews critic had a less favorable assessment of the work, noting that "Eslick seems uncomfortable with mystery" and does not develop his characters. However, a Publishers Weekly contributor felt that "Eslick knows this rugged terrain … and depicts its many perils [well]," while Klett, reviewing the novel for Library Journal, praised its "lively, outdoors action."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 1997, John Rowen, review of Tracked in the Whites, p. 1802; April 1, 2001, John Rowen, review of Deadly Kin: A White Mountains Mystery, p. 1449; March 15, 2005, John Rowen, review of Mountain Peril: A White Mountains Mystery, p. 1269.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2003, review of Deadly Kin, p. 885; February 15, 2005, review of Mountain Peril, p. 200.
Library Journal, May 1, 2001, Rex Klett, review of Deadly Kin, p. 130; March 1, 2005, Rex E. Klett, review of Mountain Peril, p. 71.
MBR Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of Mountain Peril.
Publishers Weekly, April 17, 2000, review of Snow Kill, p. 55; April 16, 2001, review of Deadly Kin, p. 48; August 25, 2003, review of Deadly Kin, p. 43; March 7, 2005, review of Mountain Peril, p. 53.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (July 5, 2005), Harriet Klausner, reviews of Deadly Kin and Mountain Peril.
Tom Eslick Home Page, http://www.tomeslick.com (July 5, 2005).
Who-dunnit.com, http://www.who-dunnit.com/ (July 5, 2005), "Tom Eslick."