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Geary, Nancy 1967-

Geary, Nancy 1967-

PERSONAL: Born 1967, in New York, NY; father a principal of a Wall Street specialist firm, mother a photographer; children: one son. Education: Brown University, received degree (magna cum laude), 1987; Harvard Law School, received degree (magna cum laude).

ADDRESSES: Home—Westchester County, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Warner Books, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Has worked as a prosecutor for the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office; attorney with Choate, Hall, & Stewart, Boston, MA. Participant in Attorney General's Urban Violence Strike Force.

AWARDS, HONORS: Minnie Helen Hicks Prize.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Misfortune, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Redemption, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Regrets Only, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Being Mrs. Alcott, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2005.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Another novel.

SIDELIGHTS: Former attorney Nancy Geary was born into the upper crust of East Coast society, and her own background provides the setting for her mysteries, which show the darker side of the well-to-do life. Her first two novels, Misfortune and Redemption, revolve around Frances Pratt, an assistant district attorney whose family is part of the Long Island elite. When Frances's stepmother, Clio, is murdered, there are numerous people with motives for the killing: an African-American surgeon Clio barred from her club, a stepdaughter whose request for a loan was flatly rejected, and many others whom Clio "has insulted, duped, betrayed and offended," remarked a Publishers Weekly writer. In investigating the crime, Frances must contend with the unspoken rule that well-bred people do not discuss their problems. "Geary handles the complex nature of this tight community quite adeptly," Mostly Fiction critic Judi Clark noted. In addition to the murder mystery, readers are presented with the puzzle of Frances herself, who has chosen to distance herself from her social set and who is struggling with serious doubts about her chosen career.

In Redemption Frances travels to Massachusetts for the wedding of her cousin Hope Lawrence. As a child, Frances always felt she could not quite measure up to Hope, and as the celebration approaches, she worries about how her boyfriend, Sam, will deal with her pretentious family. The groom, Jack Cabot, is a very wealthy young man Hope has known and dated since high school. It is the match her family dreamed of, but Hope is in love with someone else—a rough-hewn lobsterman named Carl Lefleur. When the bride fails to show up for the ceremony, her mother sends Frances to get her, but Frances finds Hope dead, apparently from a suicide. As the case unfolds, "Geary neither overly glamorizes nor excessively knocks [the characters'] well-to-do lives," commented a MostlyFiction.com reviewer. "Instead, she draws us in by teasing us with snippets here and there until it ties together. The plot is tangled around the convoluted secrets and the resulting damage; all made worse in trying to protect the wrong things."

Geary's third novel features new characters, while still being set in the world of moneyed, well-connected families. Regrets Only introduces Lucy O'Malley, the daughter of a working-class Boston family with a tradition of serving on the police force. Lucy has taken a position with the homicide division of the Philadelphia police force. Before long, she becomes romantically involved with a wealthy bar owner who was adopted as a child. When his birth mother is found dead, Lucy begins her investigation of the high-society tragedy. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commended Geary for her well-drawn characters, saying she took pains to portray them "as more than a sad, clueless crowd with too much money." The reviewer also praised the characterization of Lucy, noting that she "is vulnerable enough to make mistakes, competent enough to keep plugging."

Geary's own history has much in common with Frances Pratt's; she, too, spent summers in the Hamptons and in exclusive Massachusetts coastal towns, graduated from top East Coast schools, and worked for a time as an assistant district attorney. Like her fictional detective heroine, Geary eventually gave up her job in the district attorney's office. She first practiced law with a private firm, then decided to try her hand at writing. As she remarked on the Time-Warner Bookmark Web site, "I had fantasized about being a writer for years, but was apprehensive about giving up my profession. After a number of family traumas forced me to examine my own life, I realized that I would rather be a failed author than a dreamless writer." Far from being a failure, Geary signed a million-dollar contract for her first two books.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 15, 2004, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Regrets Only, p. 1601.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2003, review of Redemption, p. 718; June 15, 2004, review of Regrets Only, p. 552.

People, August 13, 2001, Olivia Abel, review of Misfortune, p. 45.

Publishers Weekly, December 6, 1999, John F. Baker, "Murder in the Hamptons," p. 17; June 4, 2001, review of Misfortune, p. 54; July 14, 2003, review of Redemption, p. 58.

ONLINE

AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (February 8, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Redemption.

Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (February 8, 2005), Melissa A. Martin, review of Redemption.

MostlyFiction.com, http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (February 8, 2005), Judi Clark, review of Redemption, and review of Misfortune.

MyShelf.com, http://www.myshelf.com/ (February 8, 2005), review of Regrets Only.

Time-Warner Bookmark Web site, http://www.twbookmark.com/ (February 8, 2005).

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