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George, Anne Carroll (?)-2001

GEORGE, Anne Carroll (?)-2001

PERSONAL: Died March 14, 2001, during cardiac surgery; married; husband's name Earl; children: Buster. Education: Attended Samford University.

CAREER: Writer, editor, and former school teacher. Cofounder of Druid Press.

AWARDS, HONORS: Named Alabama Poet of the Year, 1994; Agatha Award for Best First Mystery for Murder on a Girls' Night Out, 1997; former Alabama State Poet; nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Some of It Is True; Alumna of the Year, 1999, Samford University; The Map That Lies between Us was named Book of the Year, Alabama State Poet's Society, 2001; recipient of other writing awards, including the Hackney Award, for poetry.

WRITINGS:

"southern sisters" series

Murder on a Girls' Night Out, Avon (New York, NY), 1996.

Murder on a Bad Hair Day, Avon (New York, NY), 1996.

Murder Runs in the Family, Avon (New York, NY), 1997.

Murder Makes Waves, Avon (New York, NY), 1997.

Murder Gets a Life, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.

Murder Shoots the Bull, Morrow (New York, NY), 1999.

Murder Carries a Torch, Morrow (New York, NY), 2000.

Murder Boogies with Elvis, Morrow (New York, NY), 2001.

other

Wild Goose Chase, Druid Press (Birmingham, AL), 1982.

(Editor, with Jerri Beck) A Baker's Dozen: Contemporary Women Poets of Alabama (anthology), Druid Press (Birmingham, AL), 1988.

This One and Magic Life: A Novel of a Southern Family, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.

The Map That Lies between Us: New and Collected Poems, 1980-2000, Black Belt Press (Montgomery, AL), 2000.

Also a contributor to literary journals.

SIDELIGHTS: One-time school teacher Anne George began her writing career with a book entitled Wild Goose Chase, published in 1982 by the small Alabama publishing house Druid Press, which she cofounded. Over two decades she contributed short stories and poems to literary magazines, coedited an anthology of poetry by Alabama women, and wrote seven mysteries featuring the irascible "Southern Sisters" Patricia Anne and Mary Alice. Readers know George's mysteries for their middle-aged sleuths, humorous dialogue, and comic situations rather than their plots, which have variously been called fragile or derivative. Shortly before her death in 2001 due to complications of cardiac surgery, George saw the publication of a collection of her verse, entitled The Map That Lies between Us: New and Collected Poems, 1980-2000.

In 1996 George made her debut as a mystery writer with Murder on a Girls' Night Out, which features unlikely sleuth Patricia Anne Hollowell, a retired teacher suddenly drawn into the world of murder investigation when her flamboyant sister, Mary Alice, becomes proprietor of a country-music nightclub. George constructs a plot that centers around the slaying of the club's former owner and the prime suspect in the deed—coincidentally, one of Hollowell's favorite students from her classroom days. A review of Murder on a Girls' Night Out in Publishers Weekly offered a mixed assessment: as a crime novel, its solution involved too many flimsy links and long-dormant secrets, but the reviewer praised George for her "sprightly dialogue and a humorous eye for detail."

Patricia Anne and Mary Alice return in Murder Runs in the Family, which begins with the wedding of Mary Alice's daughter. At the festivities, the sisters strike up a friendship with genealogist Meg Ryan, but they are later shocked to learn that she has committed suicide. The Hollowells suspect foul play in Ryan's improbable jump from a courthouse window. The more the sisters dig, the more intrigue they uncover, and eventually they learn that Ryan was not the person she seemed. A contributor to Publishers Weekly found that the story line of Murder Runs in the Family "spins out of control" but granted that George creates "wonderful dialogue," exceptional characterizations of even minor players, and an engaging party scene that opens the novel.

Clearly, the "effervescent" sisters, as Library Journal's Rex E. Klett dubbed them, are the stars of these mysteries, rather than the plots. Additional "Southern Sisters" mysteries include Murder on a Bad Hair Day, in which the sisters discover a victim dead, without a hair out of place, and Murder Makes Waves, in which they investigate the death of a new friend while vacationing at a Florida condominium. Asserting that the "enjoyable characters and light humor" of the latter novel compensate for its unoriginal plot, Klett added that it is the first title of the "Southern Sisters" series to debut in hardcover. In Murder Gets a Life, the duo discovers a corpse in the family trailer of Patricia's son's fiancée, while in Murder Shoots the Bull they find the murderer of their neighbor Arthur's wife. Writing about the latter, a Publishers Weekly critic praised the humorous dialogue, "nifty web of subplots and … complications," and true-to-life characters.

George's 2000 offering, Murder Carries a Torch, which a Publishers Weekly reviewer dubbed "another genuinely funny mystery," revolves around the sisters' discovery of a the dead body of a renegade preacher while looking for their cousin Luke's wife, who has supposedly deserted him to run off with a painter. The critic also complimented George's ability to write humorous dialogue, a view shared by Klett, who commented about the "loads of excitement" in the narrative. Remarking on the development of Mary Alice and Patricia as the series has progressed, Booklist's GraceAnne A. DeCandido remarked: "They make great company." Murder Boogies with Elvis was George's last "Southern Sisters" publication, though not her last published work. This novel recounts the adventures of the sisters as they investigate the murder of an Elvis Presley impersonator who was one of a group of such impersonators at a benefit. Like the real Elvis, George will likely linger through her poetry and the colorful characters that she brought to life in her mysteries. "Thanks for all the sweet tea," concluded DeCandido.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

Booklist, April 15, 1998, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Murder Gets a Life, pp. 1382-1383; May 15, 1999, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Murder Shoots the Bull, p. 1673; May 1, 2000, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Murder Carries a Torch, p. 1616; July, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Murder Boogies with Elvis, p. 1987.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2001, review of Murder Boogies with Elvis, p. 774.

Library Journal, July, 1997, Rex E. Klett, review of Murder Makes Waves, p. 130; December, 1997, Dean James and Shirley E. Havens, review of Murder Makes Waves, p. 184; May, 1998, Rex E. Klett, review of Murder Gets a Life, p. 143; August, 2000, Rex E. Klett, review of Murder Carries a Torch, p. 165; August, 2001, Rex E. Klett, review of Murder Boogies with Elvis, p. 170.

Publishers Weekly, January 22, 1996, review of Murder on a Girls' Night Out, p. 66; March 14, 1997, Sybil S. Steinberg and Jeff Zaleski, review of Murder Runs in the Family, p. 71; January 22, 1996, p. 66; April 14, 1997, review of Murder Runs in the Family, p. 71; March 23, 1998, review of Murder Gets a Life, p. 81; May 24, 1999, review of Murder Shoots the Bull, p. 71; June 19, 2000, review of Murder Carries a Torch, p. 63; July 9, 2001, review of Murder Boogies with Elvis, p. 51.

References Services Review, summer 1995.

Southern Living, October, 2000, Charly Porter, review of Murder Carries a Torch, p. 124; December, 2001, Nancy Dorman-Hickson, review of Murder Boogies with Elvis, p. 100.

online

Avon Books,http://www.avonbooks.com/ (November 11, 1999).

Books 'n' Bytes,http://www.booksnbytes.com/ (May 7, 2003), Harriet Klausner, reviews of Murder Carries a Torch and Murder Boogies with Elvis.*

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