Ford, G.M. 1945–
Ford, G.M. 1945–
(Gerald M. Ford)
PERSONAL: Born July 9, 1945, in Everett, MA; son of Gerald Manson (a contractor) and Elizabeth Clara (a secretary) Ford; married third wife; children: Jedediah Castiglione. Education: Hawthorne College, B.A.; Adelphi University, M.A.; University of Washington, Seattle, M.A. (political science). Politics: "Left of Ho Chi Minh." Religion: "Heathen." Hobbies and other interests: Fishing, boating.
ADDRESSES: Home—Seattle, WA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Writer and educator. Rogue Community College, Grants Pass, OR, English teacher, 1972–85; City University, Bellevue, WA, communications teacher, 1986–92.
"LEO WATERMAN" MYSTERY NOVELS
Who in Hell Is Wanda Fuca?, Walker (New York, NY), 1995.
Cast in Stone, Walker (New York, NY), 1996.
The Bum's Rush, Walker (New York, NY), 1997.
Slow Burn, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.
Last Ditch, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.
The Deader the Better: A Leo Waterman Mystery, Avon Twilight (New York, NY), 2000.
"FRANK CORSO" MYSTERY NOVELS
Fury: A Novel, Morrow (New York, NY), 2001.
Black River: A Novel, Morrow (New York, NY), 2002.
A Blind Eye, Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.
Red Tide, Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.
No Man's Land, Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.
ADAPTATIONS: Fury: A Novel was made into an audiobook, Macmillan, 2003.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Another Frank Corso novel.
SIDELIGHTS: G.M. Ford is known for creating the character of Leo Waterman, a wisecracking private investigator based in Seattle. Waterman's father was a long-time city councilman, so Leo has connections everywhere in the city. He even has allies among the homeless population; a group he calls "the Boys" who help him out in many ways.
The Waterman series began with Who in Hell Is Wanda Fuca?, nominated for Anthony and Shamus awards. Dennis Dodge, a reviewer for Booklist, called it a "clever, funny mystery" that would appeal especially to readers in the Pacific Northwest, but could be enjoyed by anyone. Dodge added that "Ford doesn't stint on suspense despite his bent for humor."
Ford's next book, Cast in Stone, offers "the same bang-on Seattle settings, the same irreverent humor and addictive suspense," wrote Dodge in Booklist. In this story, a childhood friend of Waterman's is critically hurt in an accident in one of Seattle's seedier districts. The detective's gang of homeless alcoholics help him find out the real story. The author "keeps the menace growing, while his large cast of colorful characters supplies laughs in some of the best dialogue around," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
Another Publishers Weekly writer praised Ford's handling of the homeless characters in The Bum's Rush, writing: "Leo exhibits just the right mix of grit and wit." The reviewer went on to note that the author "demonstrates real skill with Leo and his 'residentially challenged' cronies." Bill Ott also gave high marks to The Bum's Rush, commenting in Booklist that the novel's "supporting cast not only adds humor to the proceedings but also offers ironic commentary."
Slow Burn, Ford's fourth Waterman book, is "a hugely entertaining, over-the-top caper," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor, who particularly enjoyed the "thoroughly wacky climax in the center of the city involving helicopters, a bull on a pallet, a mammoth barbecue pit and thermodynamics." Booklist contributor Dodge wrote that "Ford certainly succeeds in entertaining readers who appreciate memorable characters, witty dialogue, and outrageous situations."
Ford once told CA: "I have read detective novels since childhood. I simply had to write one before I died. The rest, as they say, is history. I am most influenced by Rex Stout, John D. MacDonald, Ross Macdonald, and Robert B. Parker. I have, at one time or another, included little homages to each in my books. I write from six o'clock in the morning until two o'clock in the afternoon, five days a week. I do not outline. I make it up as I go along."
Ford continues his Waterman series with Last Ditch, which focuses on the murder of Peerless Price, whose body is unearthed nearly thirty years after his disappearance. The primary suspect in the journalist's murder is Leo Waterman's father, Wild Bill Waterman, a politician who was nearly brought down by the unsavory journalist years earlier. Arousing suspicion is the fact that Price's body is found in a house Wild Bill owned when Price disappeared. Leo, however, thinks his father is innocent and sets out to uncover the truth. Dodge, once again writing in Booklist, noted: "This chance to tag along … should not be missed."
The Deader the Better: A Leo Waterman Mystery finds the private investigator enlisting the aid of his "boys" and assorted other social outcasts to find out who killed a friend who had bought a place to run a fishing camp in Steven Falls, Washington. The investigation leads to a discovery of corruption in city hall and almost costs Waterman and his girlfriend, Rebecca, their lives. Writing on the January Web site, Kevin Burton Smith noted that the author "makes this crime writing thing look easy." Smith went on to write that "Ford's effortless prose makes Leo about as hard to swallow as a cold beer on a hot summer day."
In Fury: A Novel, Ford presents a new antihero in the form of Frank Corso, a disgraced journalist relegated to working for the Seattle Sun after getting fired from the New York Times. In his debut, Corso, who also makes money writing crime novels, finds himself fulfilling a favor and risking his reputation once again when he investigates the possible wrongful conviction of a serial killer. Booklist contributor Dodge called the novel "a strong start" to a new series. Harriet Klausner, writing on the BooksnBytes Web site, commented that the novel is "a mesmerizing tale."
Corso returns in Black River: A Novel. This time, he takes on the slimy crime lord Nicholas Balagula after his men beat and nearly kill Corso's former lover, Meg Dougherty. The plot revolves around Balagula's involvement in the building of a new hospital, which collapses because of cost cutting through the use of bad building materials. Corso is determined to make sure that Balagula does not go free this time. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented: "Pace, plot, pitch, prose: all precisely as they should be in a model modern mystery." BooksnBytes Web site contributor Klausner noted that the author "is an excellent writer who tells quite a story."
In A Blind Eye, Corso and Meg Dougherty become involved in the hunt for a serial killer when they have a car accident in the dead of winter in rural Wisconsin and find the dead bodies of a family in an old abandoned farm they seek out for shelter. Soon Corso and Dougherty are traversing across the country on the case of a thirty-year killing spree, with Corso nearly losing his life when he is captured by the killer. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the novel "a thrill ride, sure to please readers looking for fastpaced suspense." Writing in Kirkus Reviews, a contributor called the effort a "hugely entertaining study of good intentions and bad."
Corso becomes involved with hunting down the people who released the Ebola virus in a Seattle bus tunnel in Red Tide. The police think it was the work of terrorists, and Corso soon finds that those responsible may be an East Indian police officer whose family was killed and who is aided by a gang of East Indian thugs. Dodge, writing in Booklist, called the novel an "intelligently constructed story." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that "this is an entertaining read in a dependable series."
No Man's Land continues the adventures of Corso, who this time is asked to help negotiate the surrender of former Navy Captain Timothy Driver. Driver has tried to escape from the Arizona prison where he was sentenced for killing his wife and her lover. Corso is recruited because he wrote about Driver in a sympathetic light. However, Corso soon finds himself in the clutches of Driver's prison mate and co-conspirator, the brutal Cutter Kehoe. The situation becomes further complicated when a reality-show television star comes on the scene to help promote her show. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the two inmates "are frighteningly fascinating in their actions and thoughts." A reviewer writing in Kirkus Reviews called it "another seamless performance."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 1995, Dennis Dodge, review of Who in Hell Is Wanda Fuca?, p. 1482; April 1, 1996, Dennis Dodge, review of Cast in Stone, p. 1345; April 15, 1997, Bill Ott, review of The Bum's Rush, p. 1400; February 1, 1998, Dennis Dodge, review of Slow Burn, p. 902; March 1, 1999, Dennis Dodge, review of Last Ditch, p. 1157; January 1, 2000, Dennis Dodge, review of The Deader the Better: A Leo Waterman Mystery, p. 883; March 15, 2001, Dennis Dodge, review of Fury: A Novel, p. 1357; July, 2002, Dennis Dodge, review of Black River: A Novel, p. 1825; June 1, 2003, Dennis Dodge, review of A Blind Eye, p. 1748; June 1, 2004, Dennis Dodge, review of Red Tide, p. 1706.
Bookseller, October 15, 2004, Benedicte Page, "Wrong Side of the Track: G.M. Ford's Late Career as a Crime Novelist Has Been Built on the Back of an Interesting Life," p. 26.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2002, review of Black River, p. 772; June 1, 2003, review of A Blind Eye, p. 781; June 15, 2004, review of Red Time, p. 558; June 15, 2005, review of No Man's Land, p. 666.
Library Journal, February 1, 1998, Rex E. Klett, review of Slow Burn, p. 115; January, 2000, Rex E. Klett, review of The Deader the Better, p. 166.
New York Times Book Review, May 20, 2001, Marilyn Stasio, review of Fury, p. 41.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 29, 2002, Bob Hoover, review of Black River.
Publishers Weekly, March 27, 1995, review of Who in Hell Is Wanda Fuca?, p. 78; March 4, 1996, review of Cast in Stone, p. 56; March 10, 1997, review of The Bum's Rush, p. 53; January 5, 1998, review of Slow Burn, p. 61; February 8, 1999, review of Last Ditch, p. 198; April 9, 2001, review of Fury, p. 53; June 24, 2002, review of Black River, p. 42; June 23, 2003, review of A Blind Eye, p. 50; June 21, 2004, review of Red Tide, p. 43; June 13, 2005, review of No Man's Land, p. 32.
BooksnBytes, http://www.booksnbytes.com/ (November 28, 2005), Jon Jordan, reviews of Fury Black River, Blind Eye, and Red Tide; Harriet Klausner, reviews of Fury, Black River, Blind Eye, and Red Tide.
Crescent Blues, http://www.crescentblues.com/ (September 6, 2003), Clint Hunter, review of A Blind Eye.
January, http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (September 6, 2003), J. Kingston Pierce, review of Last Ditch, and Kevin Burton Smith, review of The Deader the Better; (September 9, 2003), J. Kingston Pierce, "Who in Hell Is G.M. Ford," interview with author.
Mystery Ink, http://www.mysteryinkonline/ (September 6, 2003), "Interviews: G.M. Ford."