Hamilton, Denise 1959-
Hamilton, Denise 1959-
Born 1959, in Los Angeles, CA; married; children: two. Education: Loyola Marymount University, B.A., 1981; California State University, M.A., 1987.
Home—Glendale, CA. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer and freelance journalist. Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA, staff writer, 1985-95; New York University's Institute for War, Peace, and Reporting, consultant. Also taught in the former Yugoslavia during the Bosnian War.
Crime Writers International, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, PEN West, Los Angeles Press Club, Silverlake Fiction Writer's Workshop.
Fulbright scholar; Edgar Award nomination for best first novel, 2001, for The Jasmine Trade; Los Angeles Press Club awards in feature writing and business writing; Best Book of 2004 selection, Los Angeles Times, for Last Lullaby.
"EVE DIAMOND" SERIES
The Jasmine Trade, Scribner (New York, NY), 2001.
Sugar Skull, Scribner (New York, NY), 2003.
Last Lullaby, Scribner (New York, NY), 2004.
Savage Garden, Scribner (New York, NY), 2005.
Prisoner of Memory, Scribner (New York, NY), 2006.
(Editor, author of introduction, and contributor) Los Angeles Noir, Akashic Books (New York, NY), 2007.
The Last Embrace (novel), Scribner (New York, NY), 2008.
Contributor to Los Angeles Times, Wired, Cosmopolitan, Der Spiegel, and New York Times. Contributor of a short story to anthology Thriller, 2006.
Denise Hamilton worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times for ten years. During her time there Hamilton reported on the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the break-up of the Soviet Union, Japan's youth movements, and news from the suburbs of Los Angeles. A freelance journalist, Hamilton continues to write for the Los Angeles Times and has been published in other periodicals as well, including Wired, Cosmopolitan, Der Spiegel, and the New York Times.
In her first novel, The Jasmine Trade, Hamilton uses her experiences as a Los Angeles Times reporter. In the book, Los Angeles Times reporter Eve Diamond is covering the story of a seventeen-year-old engaged woman, Marina Chang, who was murdered during a hijacking at a suburban mall. As she investigates the murder, Eve discovers the world of the parachute kids, Asian kids who live by themselves in luxurious mansions while their parents run businesses in Japan and China. Eve enters the world of the parachute kids and finds dangers in the form of gangs, murder, and prostitution rings. Los Angeles magazine contributor Robert Ito praised The Jasmine Trade for containing "all the plot twists and creepy characters one would expect from an L.A. noir thriller." Other critics also wrote positive comments about Hamilton's fictional debut. "In addition to a gripping story and keen observations about contemporary Los Angeles, she also offers an undeniably winning narrator," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor of Hamilton.
Hamilton continues with mysteries featuring journalist Eve Diamond in Sugar Skull and Last Lullaby. In the former work, Hamilton mixes a mayoral race with celebrations of the Mexican Day of the Dead to produce a "passionate new puzzle," according to a contributor to Publishers Weekly. Susan Clifford Braun, writing in Library Journal, praised the "great local color" included in Sugar Skull. With Last Lullaby, Hamilton presents a "furiously boiling tale of schemers smuggling drugs, children, and more," as a Kirkus Reviews contributor noted.
In Hamilton's fourth outing with Eve Diamond, Savage Garden, the reporter investigates a crime at a theater that leads in unexpected directions. Writing in Booklist, Keir Graff commented that Savage Garden is "a nice update on the hard-boiled genre." For a Publishers Weekly contributor, the same novel was "compelling," and Braun, writing again in Library Journal, called Hamilton's protagonist "edgy, smart, and credible."
Latino and Asian communities are the focus of the initial volumes in the "Eve Diamond" series. With the 2006 Prisoner of Memory, however, Hamilton examines Los Angeles's Russian community. Now a reporter on the Metro section of the Los Angeles Times, Eve finds herself investigating the shooting death of the son of a Russian immigrant. This investigation ultimately turns back on Eve's own family history and that of the Cold War. Allison Block, writing in Booklist, found this installment the "most personal" in the "critically acclaimed series." Further praise came from a Publishers Weekly contributor who felt Hamilton "richly evokes seething, polyglot L.A."
As editor of Los Angeles Noir, published in 2007, Hamilton presents a series of short stories by seventeen writers working in the "noir" subgenre, including a story by the author titled "Midnight in Silicon Valley." The book is broken up into sections based on particular locations or neighborhoods in Los Angeles and titled "Police & Thieves," "Hollywoodlandia," "East of La Cienega," and "The Gold Coast." Hamilton also is the author of the book's introduction. "Evil was never so delicious," wrote Robert Ito in a review of Los Angeles Noir for Los Angeles magazine. A California Bookwatch contributor called the anthology "a top pick for any fan of crime fiction."
Hamilton's next novel, The Last Embrace, changes focus from modern-day sleuth Eve Diamond to Lily Kessler, who arrives in 1949 Los Angeles and discovers that Kitty, an actress and the sister of her late fiancé, has gone missing. When Kitty's body is discovered in a ravine below the famous Hollywood sign, Lily, a former spy for the OSS, begins to investigate the murder, which bears a resemblance to the famous Black Dahlia killing. In the course of her investigation, Lily encounters a menagerie of shady gangsters, egotistic starlets, and others. Before long, Lily becomes a target herself. "The details click into place smoothly … and even the obligatory romance avoids the smarm factor," wrote Bill Ott in a review for Booklist. A Publishers Weekly contributor referred to The Last Embrace as a "torrid, down-and-dirty expose of the postwar entertainment industry."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2001, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Jasmine Trade, p. 1736; February 15, 2005, Keir Graff, review of Savage Garden, p. 1064; April 1, 2006, Allison Block, review of Prisoner of Memory, p. 24; May 1, 2008, Bill Ott, review of The Last Embrace, p. 36.
California Bookwatch, June, 2007, review of Los Angeles Noir.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2003, review of Sugar Skull, p. 114; February 15, 2004, review of Last Lullaby, p. 157; March 1, 2005, review of Savage Garden, p. 263; February 15, 2006, review of Prisoner of Memory, p. 163.
Library Journal, January, 2003, Susan Clifford Braun, review of Sugar Skull, p. 164; March 1, 2005, Susan Clifford Braun, review of Savage Garden, p. 72; May 15, 2008, Susan Clifford Braun, review of The Last Embrace, p. 90.
Los Angeles, August, 2001, Robert Ito, review of The Jasmine Trade, p. 108; May, 2007, Robert Ito, review of Los Angeles Noir, p. 94.
New York Times Book Review, August 5, 2001, Marilyn Stasio, review of The Jasmine Trade.
Publishers Weekly, July 2, 2001, review of The Jasmine Trade, p. 53; February 17, 2003, review of Sugar Skull, p. 61; February 9, 2004, review of Last Lullaby, p. 54; February 28, 2005, review of Savage Garden, p. 39; February 27, 2006, review of Prisoner of Memory, p. 34; March 5, 2007, review of Los Angeles Noir, p. 43; May 12, 2008, review of The Last Embrace, p. 37.
Books ‘n’ Bytes,http://www.booksnbytes.com/ (September 3, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of The Jasmine Trade.
Denise Hamilton Home Page,http://www.denisehamilton.com (September 23, 2006).
Los Angeles Times Blogs,http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/ (July 28, 2008), interview with author.
Mystery Reader,http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (September 3, 2002), Cathy Sova, interview with Denise Hamilton; Andy Plonka, review of The Jasmine Trade.