Friedman, Michaele Thompson 1944-
FRIEDMAN, Michaele Thompson 1944-
PERSONAL: Born August 30, 1944, in Dothan, AL; daughter of Carl Clinton (a railroad ticket agent) and Laura Lee (a teacher and librarian; maiden name, Allen; later surname, Geddie) Thompson; married Alan Jacob Friedman (director, New York Hall of Science), December 26, 1966. Education: Florida State University, B.A., 1966, M.A., 1968. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Methodist.
ADDRESSES: Home—276 W. 11th St., New York, NY 10014. Agent—Virginia Barber, 101 5th Ave., New York, NY 10003.
CAREER: Florida State University, Tallahassee, editorial assistant, 1968-69; Hiram College, Hiram, OH, staff editor, 1970-72; San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco, CA, reporter, 1977-83; mystery writer, 1984—.
MEMBER: International Association of Crime Writers, PEN, Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Mystery Writers of America (member of board of directors, 1989-93; publications chair), Sisters in Crime, Phi Beta Kappa.
MYSTERY NOVELS; UNDER NAME MICKEY FRIEDMAN
Hurricane Season, Dutton (New York, NY), 1983.
The Fault Tree, Dutton (New York, NY), 1984.
Paper Phoenix, Dutton (New York, NY), 1986.
Venetian Mask, Scribner (New York, NY), 1987.
Magic Mirror, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
A Temporary Ghost, Viking (New York, NY), 1989.
Riptide, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994.
A Booklover's Guide to San Francisco, Examiner Special Projects (San Francisco, CA), 1977.
(Compiler) The Crown Crime Companion: The Top100 Mystery Novels of All Time, annotations by Otto Penzler, Crown Trade Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1995.
Short stories anthologized in Sisters in Crime, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1989; Christmas Stalkings, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1991; The New Mystery, Dutton (New York, NY), 1992; Missing in Manhattan, Longmeadow Press (Stamford, CT), 1992; and Justice in Manhattan, Longmeadow Press (Stamford, CT), 1994. Author of "Book Scene," a column in San Francisco Examiner, 1978-82.
SIDELIGHTS: Before becoming a novelist under the name Mickey Friedman, Michaele Thompson Friedman was a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. She once told CA how she fit fiction writing into her busy schedule: "I sat down after dinner with a notebook and wrote for about an hour—from eight to nine. In a year and a half I had finished [my first book]. If a person really wants to write a book, there are ways to do it; you don't, contrary to popular belief, have to have great blocks of time, or quiet, or even privacy." This first attempt produced Hurricane Season, a mystery about moonshine and murder in a small 1950s Florida town which was described in Library Journal as "a world of wide white sand beaches, juke joints, illicit passion, rusting ferries, greed, a derelict hotel, betrayal, pine woods and damp, oppressive heat."
Critics received Hurricane Season warmly and dubbed Friedman a writer to watch. Newgate Callendar in the New York Times Book Review remarked that Friedman's characters are portrayed with "the kind of realism that stems from William Faulkner." "Hurricane Season leaves the reader with a kind of itch," commented Carolyn See in the Los Angeles Times, "a yearning to go into every little ratty dime store with fly-specked windows in every little forgotten town across the country and see what's really going on." "A remarkable, compelling first novel," wrote Jean M. White in the Washington Post Book World. "What makes Hurricane Season special is its extraordinary sense of place," White continued; "the backwater land of Florida pervades the story. These are people and a way of life that few of us have met before."
Friedman's next novel, The Fault Tree, begins with a fatal amusement park mishap in San Francisco; the ensuing investigation ultimately leads "disaster analyst" Marina Robinson to the village in India where her sister supposedly died in a fire years ago. The lonely and neurotic Marina, though suffering guilt over her role in her sister's death, "functions expertly from a plucky, competent exterior," according to Carolyn See in the Los Angeles Times. Philip Galanes praised Friedman's "dramatic technique of timing her heroine's discovery of clues" in the New York Times Book Review. See, recognizing the fluidity of the plot, equated reading Friedman's story to "dancing . . . with a skill you never knew you possessed."
Paper Phoenix tells the story of the recently divorced San Francisco socialite Maggie Longstreet, who overcomes her depression only after learning of the "suicide" of a tabloid magazine editor. Based on a passing comment from her ex-husband, Maggie suspects murder and commences her own investigation. An Armchair Detective reviewer characterized the story as "conventional . . . but a pleasant diversion nonetheless," and Callendar commented in the New York Times Book Review that Friedman "has set out to entertain, and she has succeeded in doing so in a bright and sensitive manner."
The exotic festivities of the annual Winter Carnival in Venice provide the setting for Venetian Mask. Five friends plan to meet in costume in the Piazza San Marco where they will attempt to uncover one another's identity. Their plan goes awry when one of them, a young bisexual American, turns up dead in a canal, and his wife disappears into the reveling crowd to escape a similar fate. People's John Stark praised the mystery for its "kaleidoscopic" setting, commenting that Venetian Mask is "a brainy, psychologically astute cut above most mysteries." Chicago Tribune contributor Alice Cromie described the plot as "twisted and [as] easy to get lost in as a back street in the city itself."
Georgia Lee Maxwell, a disillusioned American journalist-turned-Paris-magazine columnist, solves murders in Friedman's next two novels. In Magic Mirror, Maxwell becomes embroiled in an art museum heist involving a mirror that belonged to the Renaissance astrologer Nostradamus. Psychics, kidnappers, and a cat named Twinkle are woven into a narrative that "offers suspense with a light touch and bizarre, unexpected twists," observed Sean White of the Washington Post Book World, although a Times Literary Supplement reviewer lamented the absence of a romantic interlude for Maxwell, who "after all, . . . is in Paris." In A Temporary Ghost, Maxwell receives death threats when she agrees to ghostwrite the biography of the wealthy and widowed Vivien Howard—a biography that will proclaim Howard's innocence in her husband's murder. Vivien's French villa houses a tidy cast of suspicious characters, including Vivien's lover, Ross Santee, and her shady motorcycle-riding son.
Friedman once told CA: "I have chosen to write in the mystery-suspense genre because, first, it provides a form for a writer to play with. Limitations can be liberating. Also, it's an opportunity to look at the idea of death and what it means, but look at it in a way that isn't too disturbing and threatening. Mainly I want to engross and entertain, but I don't mind nibbling away at issues significant to our emotional lives, too.
"My advice is, if you aren't compelled to write a book, don't torture yourself. If you are, find the best way to fit it into your life and then do it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Armchair Detective, spring, 1987, review of PaperPhoenix.
Booklist, February 15, 1994, Emily Melton, review of Riptide, p. 1063.
Chicago Tribune, August 2, 1987, Alice Cromie, review of Venetian Mask.
Library Journal, July, 1983, review of Hurricane Season; May 1, 1995, Rex E. Klett, review of The Crown Crime Companion: The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time, p. 136.
Los Angeles Times, June 20, 1983, Carolyn See, review of Hurricane Season; December 6, 1984, Carolyn See, review of The Fault Tree.
New York Times Book Review, November 27, 1983, Newgate Callendar, review of Hurricane Season; February 24, 1985, Philip Galanes, review of The Fault Tree; June 1, 1986, Newgate Callendar, review of Paper Phoenix.
People, September 21, 1987, John Stark, review of Venetian Mask.
Publishers Weekly, January 10, 1994, review of Riptide, p. 48; September 19, 1994, review of Justice in Manhattan, p. 54.
Times Literary Supplement, November 3, 1989, review of Magic Mirror.
Wall Street Journal, December 11, 1995, Tom Nolan, review of The Crown Crime Companion, p. A11.
Washington Post Book World, August 21, 1982, Jean M. White, review of Hurricane Season; September 18, 1988, Sean White, review of Magic Mirror.*