Grady, James 1949–

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Grady, James 1949–

(James Thomas Grady, Brit Shelby)


Born April 30, 1949, in Shelby, MT; son of Thomas W. (a theater manager) and Donna (a librarian) Grady; married Bonnie Goldstein (a private investigator), 1985; children: Rachel (stepdaughter). Education: University of Montana, B.A., 1971. Politics: "Too complex to label, but crucial." Religion: "Call it reverence."


Home—Washington, DC. Agent—William Morris Agency, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.


Montana Constitutional Convention, Helena, research analyst, 1971-72; Youth Development Bureau, Helena, analyst and bureaucrat, 1972-73; aide to Senator Lee Metcalf in Washington, DC, 1974; investigative reporter in Washington, DC, for columnist Jack Anderson, 1975-79; writer. Appeared on the "Today" show.


Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Writers Guild, Mystery Writers of America, Fraternal Order of Police.



Six Days of the Condor, Norton (New York, NY), 1974.

Shadow of the Condor (sequel to Six Days of the Condor), Putnam (New York, NY), 1976.

(Under pseudonym Brit Shelby) The Great Pebble Affair, Putnam (New York, NY), 1976.

Catch the Wind, Coward (New York, NY), 1980.

Runner in the Street, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1984.

Razor Game, Bantam (New York, NY), 1985.

Hard Bargains, Bantam (New York, NY), 1985.

Just a Shot Away, Bantam (New York, NY), 1987.

Steeltown, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1988.

River of Darkness, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Thunder, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1994.

White Flame, Dove Booksellers (Allen Park, MI), 1996.

Mad Dogs, Forge (New York, NY), 2006.


Suffrage and Elections, Montana Constitutional Convention Commission (MT), 1972.

(Contributor) Brian Garfield, editor, I, Witness (nonfiction), New York Times Press (New York, NY), 1978.

Introduction to Archaeology, Techbooks (Fairfax, VA), 1992.

Working With the Press, Keel Publishing, 1995.

(Editor) Unusual Suspects: An Anthology of Crime Stories from Black Lizard, Vintage Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Target U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the New Terrorist War, John Wiley & Sons (New York, NY), 1998.

Also author, with Dick Berg, of "DC Cop," a television dramatic pilot.


The 1975 movie Three Days of the Condor, which was directed by Sidney Pollack and featured Faye Dunaway, Robert Redford, Cliff Robertson, and Max von Sydow, was based on Grady's novel Six Days of the Condor.


James Grady is best known for his two espionage thrillers, Six Days of the Condor and Shadow of the Condor, but has written many other novels, as well. In the best-selling first novel, Ronald Malcolm arrives at his CIA office and discovers everyone has been killed. Throughout the book, he dodges fellow agents and hired killers while slowly piecing together the action culminating in the office slaughter. In Shadow of the Condor, Malcolm becomes involved in another CIA affair.

Runner in the Street starts with the life and choices of Janet Armstrong, an excellent student from Eugene, Oregon, who went on to Harvard University, but whose life took an unlikely turn when she fell in love with a pimp named Magic, became a hooker herself, and was eventually murdered. When her father wants to find out how this could have happened, he hires a former reporter, John Rankin, to look into her death. Rankin's investigation serves as a platform to offer readers a look at life in 1980 and the sense of disillusionment that appeared to be prevalent. A reviewer for People called the book "a snappy murder mystery that is something more."

White Flame features Faron Sears, an up-and-coming politician with a history as a con artist, and the FBI agents he hires to protect him in the wake of an assassination threat. The agents blend in with Faron's entourage in an attempt to flush out the potential killer, and Grady uses the investigation to reveal the lives of each of the players. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "a disappointing finale mars this otherwise strong thriller," but praised it overall for "excellent writing and a great buildup." Wes Lukowsky, writing for Booklist, commented on the somewhat cliché cast of characters, but noted such positive details as "a timely, politically believable plot, a white-knuckle shoot-out, and a surprisingly effective final act."

Mad Dogs offers readers a twist on the standard thriller, telling the story of five former CIA agents who have been hidden away in Maine, inmates of a top-secret asylum for the insane, run by the government. When a psychiatrist is murdered and the agents are framed for the killing, their instincts reemerge, and they break out of the asylum and head south toward Washington, DC, hoping to find the person who can prove their innocence. In a review for Booklist, contributor David Pitt remarked: "Grady does a remarkable job of crafting his characters and of creating their ‘mission.’" Pitt also noted that the book may be read either as a traditional, straight thriller, or as a crazed adventure through the eyes of the mentally disturbed. David J. Montgomery, in a review for Mystery Ink, found this to be more of a distraction than a feature, stating that "the reader is never quite sure what is real and what is simply part of the delusion—fine fodder for a head trip, but not so much for a thriller novel. This is amplified by the book's overly-stylized style, which only contributes to the confusion." Barbara Conaty, reviewing for Library Journal, wrote that Grady's effort "grips you immediately with phantasmagoric writing at a breakneck pace."

In addition to novels, Grady has written several volumes of nonfiction and served as editor on Unusual Suspects: An Anthology of Crime Stories from Black Lizard, a collection of twenty-two short stories written in the crime fiction genre. The book includes works by such noted authors as Jim Thompson, James Lee Burke, Jer- emiah Healy, John Lutz, and Andrew Vachss, and range from the predictable to the surprising. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly labeled the book an "often gripping collection of crime fiction," adding that "the collection is largely a success." Thomas Gaughan, writing for Booklist, commented: "All crime-fiction fans will find something here to enjoy."

Grady once told CA: "Perhaps I became a writer looking for answers to questions I couldn't avoid, for control I couldn't otherwise possess, for intrinsic joy/pain relief I couldn't find elsewhere. At this point the whys are immaterial. I'm a writer because I have no other choice.

"I was attracted to the espionage genre primarily because I knew something about it, because those type of stories are entertaining, and, when told properly, contain all the elements of good stories. And, in Six Days of the Condor, I knew I had a good story.

"As for writers who influenced me, in the early days I couldn't say. Now, perhaps the biggest influence is the best American novelist, John Steinbeck, and, strange as it may seem, one of America's better poets, Bruce Springsteen. The best fiction is fiction that tells important stories of real life and tells them well. If ‘social comment’ includes portrayal of reality, since all portrayals require a perspective, making social comment is unavoidable in good fiction."



Booklist, April 15, 1996, Thomas Gaughan, review of Unusual Suspects: An Anthology of Crime Stories from Black Lizard, p. 1424; May 1, 1996, Wes Lukowsky, review of White Flame, p. 1490; September 15, 2006, David Pitt, review of Mad Dogs, p. 32.

Chicago Tribune Books, October 20, 1991, review of River of Darkness, p. 6; May 15, 1994, review of Thunder, p. 7.

Library Journal, November 15, 1980, review of Catch the Wind, p. 2432; September 1, 1984, review of Runner in the Street, p. 1688; November 1, 1985, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of Hard Bargains, p. 114; December 1, 1988, Robert H. Donahugh, review of Steeltown, p. 132; September 15, 1991, M. Anna Falbo, review of River of Darkness, p. 110; March 1, 1996, Roland Person, review of White Flame, p. 105; October 1, 2006, Barbara Conaty, review of Mad Dogs, p. 57.

New York Times Book Review, October 21, 1984, Miriam Berkley, review of Runner in the Street, p. 30; March 2, 1986, Newgate Callendar, review of Hard Bargains, p. 28; April 12, 1987, Newgate Callendar, review of Just a Shot Away, p. 34; December 29, 1991, Newgate Callender, review of River of Darkness, p. 23; April 24, 1994, Newgate Callendar, review of Thunder, p. 23.

People, October 22, 1984, review of Runner in the Street, p. 13.

Publishers Weekly, September 19, 1980, Barbara A. Bannon, review of Catch the Wind, p. 143; June 29, 1984, review of Runner in the Street, p. 101; September 20, 1985, Sybil Steinberg, review of Hard Bargains, p. 103; December 26, 1986, John Mutter, review of Just a Shot Away, p. 53; November 4, 1988, Sybil Steinberg, review of Steeltown, p. 73; August 9, 1991, review of River of Darkness, p. 45; February 28, 1994, review of Thunder, p. 72; March 25, 1996, review of White Flame, p. 62; April 8, 1996, review of Unusual Suspects, p. 64.

Washington Post, September 14, 1984, "Running with the Renegades; James Grady Writes of Life on the Fringe," p. 1; September 16, 1984, Nicholas Proffitt, review of Runner in the Street, p. 3; May 15, 1996, "They Wrote the Book on Fund-raising," p. 1.


Mystery Ink, (June 29, 2007), David J. Montgomery, review of Mad Dogs.