Hathaway, Robin 1934-
Hathaway, Robin 1934-
Born February 12, 1934, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of John W. Hathaway (an artist and teacher) and Elizabeth McCloy (an artist); married Robert Alan Keisman (a cardiologist); children: two daughters. Ethnicity: "English/Irish/French." Education: Smith College, B.A., 1956. Politics: Independent. Religion: Presbyterian. Hobbies and other interests: Photography.
Author, photographer. Former owner of Barnhouse Press, Philadelphia, PA; teacher of mystery writing at the Gotham Writers Workshop, New York, NY.
International Crime Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime.
Winner of St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Prize, 1997 (prize was publication of first novel, The Doctor Digs a Grave); Agatha Award, 1998, for The Doctor Digs a Grave.
"ANDREW FENIMORE MYSTERY" SERIES
The Doctor Digs a Grave, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
The Doctor Makes a Dollhouse Call, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2000.
The Doctor and the Dead Man's Chest, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2001.
The Doctor Dines in Prague, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2003.
The Doctor Rocks the Boat, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.
"JO BANKS MYSTERY" SERIES
Scarecrow, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Satan's Pony, Thomas Dunne Books/Minotaur (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor of short stories to periodicals, including Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.
Robin Hathaway is a New York City-based writer who has created two mystery series, both with doctors as the central characters. Her cardiologist husband assists her with the medical details for her mystery novels.
Hathaway's longer running series features cardiologist Andrew Fenimore, an old-fashioned doctor who has a solo practice out of his townhouse in Philadelphia. Andrew, who has become disillusioned with health maintencance organizations (HMOs) and the impersonal healthcare system, still makes house calls, and his only staff is Mrs. Doyle, an elderly nurse and secretary. He has a cat named Sal, and his girlfriend, Jennifer Nicholson, runs an antiquarian bookstore with her father. In the first book in the series, The Doctor Digs a Grave, Andrew befriends Horatio, a hispanic youth who is attempting to bury his dead cat in a public park in an affluent downtown Philadelphia neighborhood. As they lay the pet to rest, they uncover the body of a Lenni Lenape (or Delaware) girl, buried in an upright position facing east, as is the Lenape custom. Andrew has two puzzles to solve—whether the girl's death was natural or the result of a crime, and why she was buried in this location, which they discover is actually an ancient burial ground. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Hathaway "deserves a wide readership for this smooth and entertaining blend of jargon-free medical lore, little-known historical facts, and credible mystery plotting." School Library Journal reviewer Pat Bangs commented that the book turns the history of this tribe, "the doctor's unconventional avocation as a P.I., and a cast of lovable but eccentric characters into a well-crafted tale of suspense."
In The Doctor Makes a Dollhouse Call, Andrew is summoned by elderly patients Judith and Emily Pancoast to their Jersey shore mansion when their niece, Pamela, is poisoned on Thanksgiving. Hers and subsequent deaths all occur on holidays and are somehow connected to the sisters' dollhouse, which is an exact replica of their Victorian home and in which each member of the family is represented by their own doll. Horatio is now helping in Andrew's office, assisting Mrs. Doyle, who leads a geriatric karate class in the basement. "An unexpected conclusion, mixed with charm and tragedy, tops off this expert tale," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Booklist critic John Rowen called the doctor and Mrs. Doyle "realistic yet appealingly quirky characters."
The third book of the series, The Doctor and the Dead Man's Chest, finds Andrew with fifty acres and a treasure map, left to him by a patient, but when he inspects the land, he finds it to be a muddy and mosquito-ridden swampland. Close by is another elderly patient, Lydia Ashley, who lives with her granddaughter, Susan, and Andrew takes advantage of the opportunity to stop and see her. He becomes concerned about her heart when he learns that someone has been leaving rotting dead carcasses in her barn, and tossing smoke bombs and messages to sell through her windows. Andrew dispatches Mrs. Doyle to stay with them, and she looks for clues among their acquaintances, help, and others in the community. When Horatio is stabbed during a gang initiation, Andrew sends him to Lydia's as well, so that he might recuperate and keep on eye on things. The troubles continue as Mrs. Doyle is shot at and abducted and Lydia's heart medications are tampered with. Andrew discovers the identity of the culprits and rescues Mrs. Doyle with the help of Jennifer. "Charming, with interesting tidbits about colonial brickwork and coins," commented a Kirkus Reviews contributor. "If Fenimore is a bit dull, Mrs. Doyle, Horatio, and Jennifer more than take up the slack."
Andrew travels to Europe in The Doctor Dines in Prague, to visit the Czech Republic, the birthplace of his mother. Upon reaching Prague, he attempts to phone his cousin, Anna Borovy, and her husband, without success. When he finally visits their apartment, he finds their young daughter, Marie, surviving on crackers. Not knowing what misdeeds have occurred, Andrew chooses to send Marie to the United States before beginning an investigation, aided by his cousin's friend, Ilsa Tanacek. Jennifer arrives, and soon they are immersed in a conspiracy with political implications. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Andrew "is a mild-mannered hero neither handsome nor particularly dashing, yet his kindness and generosity will endear him to many readers." Jenny McLarin wrote in Booklist that although the emphasis of this series has been "atmosphere over adventure, the fourth Dr. Fenimore story stands out as suspenseful as well as charming."
In The Doctor Rocks the Boat, Dr. Fenimore decides to rejoin his old rowing team in an effort to get involved with the sport once more. The man who sponsors his membership is an old fraternity brother, Charlie Ashborn, who has been forced to quit due to a diagnosis of a potential for sudden cardiac death. His son, Chuck, however, remains on the team, supposedly having been given a clean bill of health. Fenimore is suspicious and does some digging, but each twist leads to a different diagnosis, until suddenly Chuck is rushed to the hospital, having collapsed following a qualifying race for a major event. Fenimore puts on his detective hat and delves further into the mystery. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews remarked that "the mystery, alas, is all too easily solved."
Jo Banks, the protagonist of Hathaway's second series, bears no resemblance to Andrew, except for her resistance to "the establishment." She is a twenty-something family-practice doctor who flees New York City, deeply affected by the death of a young patient. In the first story, Scarecrow, Jo is staying at a motel in Bayside, New Jersey, and is asked to treat the ill woman in the adjoining room. The woman recovers and, with her husband, leaves without paying. Motel owners Maggie and Paul Nelson ask Jo to stay on as the motel's on-call doctor, which she agrees to do, and the next time she sees the errant couple they are guests of Becca, a runaway to whom Jo had offered a lift. Becca and her aunt disappear, and Jo is presented with the possibility that the two are responsible for this and the disappearance of the Nelsons' son, as well as for the dead man who is found inside the garb of a scarecrow. Jo relies on Tom Canby, an expert in house restoration, to help her with the mystery that leads to her own brush with death. Jo is also the on-call provider for other motels in the area, and travels by motorcycle. Her motel doctoring leads to interesting situations and provides her with plenty of opportunities for sleuthing. A Kirkus Reviews critic noted the story's "offbeat heroine, crusty local characters, and a fine sense of menace." McLarin called Scarecrow "an affectionate portrayal of small-town life."
Jo Banks continues her adventures in Satan's Pony, in which she finds herself struggling to clear an old friend's name in relation to a murder investigation. A biker gang arrives one evening, making fun of her own modest motorcycle, but one of their number proves to be Pi, a young man she knew growing up who used to have a crush on her. Following a spur-of-the-moment party, one of the bikers is discovered dead, and Pi appears to have been the killer. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly, found the plot uneven and the mystery vague, but remarked: "Hathaway is best at creating likable characters and evoking place."
Hathaway told CA: "When I was ten, I had rheumatic fever and was confined to bed for six months. To entertain me my mother gave me Agatha Christies to read. I also was an avid radio listener (TV hadn't been invented yet). I discovered if I turned the dial all the way to the right I could pick up police calls—robberies, fires, accidents, and on a good day, even a homicide! One day in an effort to keep me occupied, my mother gave me a pad of paper and a pencil and told me to write her a story. It was a terrible mystery—but that was the beginning.
"I hope my books will entertain. Give readers a few hours in which they can escape into another world, meet some new people. My greatest ambition is to be reread—to have people come back to my books, even though they know the answer to the puzzle—and reread them because they enjoy returning to the setting and being with the characters."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 1999, John Rowen, review of The Doctor Makes a Dollhouse Call, p. 759; November 15, 2001, Jenny McLarin, review of The Doctor and the Dead Man's Chest, p. 557; February 15, 2003, Jenny McLarin, review of Scarecrow, p. 1053; September 15, 2003, Jenny McLarin, review of The Doctor Dines in Prague, p. 215.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of The Doctor and the Dead Man's Chest, p. 1326; February 1, 2003, review of Scarecrow, p. 188; September 1, 2003, review of The Doctor Dines in Prague, p. 1102; April 15, 2006, review of The Doctor Rocks the Boat, p. 381.
Library Journal, April 1, 2003, Rex Klett, review of Scarecrow, p. 133; October 1, 2003, Rex Klett, review of The Doctor Dines in Prague, p. 120; October 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Satan's Pony, p. 64.
Publishers Weekly, March 16, 1998, review of The Doctor Digs a Grave, p. 57; December 20, 1999, review of The Doctor Makes a Dollhouse Call, p. 60; October 15, 2001, review of The Doctor and the Dead Man's Chest, p. 50; October 13, 2003, review of The Doctor Dines in Prague, p. 61; September 13, 2004, review of Satan's Pony, p. 62; April 24, 2006, review of The Doctor Rocks the Boat, p. 41.
School Library Journal, October, 1998, Pat Bangs, review of The Doctor Digs a Grave, p. 161.
Robin Hathaway Home Page,http://www.robinhathaway.com (June 1, 2004).