Heywood, Joseph 1943–

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Heywood, Joseph 1943–

(Joe T. Heywood, Joseph T. Heywood)


Born October 18, 1943, in Rhinebeck, NY; son of Edwin T. (a U.S. Air Force officer) and Wilma C. Heywood; married Sandra V. Phillips, August 21, 1965 (deceased, 2002); children: Timothy Brian, Todd Allan, Troy Joseph, Trevor Michael, Tara Lynne. Education: Michigan State University, B.A., 1965; graduate study at Western Michigan University, 1974-75. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, cartooning, painting, photography, fishing, coaching ice hockey and soccer.


Home—Portage, MI. Agent—Betsy Nolan, 50 West 29th St., Ste. 9W, New York, NY 10001.


Upjohn Co. (now Pfizer), Kalamazoo, MI, executive director of worldwide public relations, 1970-2000; writer. Military service: U.S. Air Force, navigator, 1965-70; served in Vietnam; received Distinguished Service Medal and Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters.



(Under name Joe T. Heywood) Taxi Dancer, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1985.

The Berkut, Random House (New York, NY), 1987.

The Domino Conspiracy, Random House (New York, NY), 1992.

The Snowfly, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2000.


Ice Hunter: A Woods Cop Mystery, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2001.

Blue Wolf in Green Fire: A Woods Cop Mystery, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2002.

Chasing a Blond Moon: A Woods Cop Mystery, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2003.

Running Dark: A Woods Cop Mystery, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2005.

Strike Dog: A Woods Cop Mystery, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2007.


Covered Waters: Tempests of a Nomadic Trouter (memoir), Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2003.


The Berkut has been optioned for adaptation as a screenplay.


Joseph Heywood has combined his success as a public relations executive with an impressive sideline as a best-selling novelist. Heywood received a journalism degree from Michigan State University in 1965, but, following a five-year stint in the U.S. Air Force as a navigator, he joined the public relations staff of the Upjohn Company. Writing at night and on weekends, he published his debut novel, Taxi Dancer, in 1985. A story of fighter pilots in Vietnam, the book sold more than 70,000 copies.

Heywood followed Taxi Dancer with The Berkut, a thriller based on the premise that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler survived World War II. Facing defeat in 1945, Hitler is believed to have shot himself in an underground Berlin bunker and left instructions that his remains be incinerated. In The Berkut, however, Heywood suggests that an imposter was killed and burned in the bunker, while Hitler, disguised as a refugee, escaped from his enemies. Named for a small Russian eagle that preys on wolves, the novel traces Soviet special agent Vasily Petrov's hunt for Hitler, now known as Herr Wolf. The Berkut achieved best-seller status and attracted considerable critical attention. Michael J. Bandler, writing in Tribune Books, deemed the novel a "sizzling thriller" and praised Heywood's "unfailingly compelling" blend of history and fiction. And while Washington Post reviewer Richard Harwood called into question the believability of the events portrayed in the book, he nevertheless conceded that "the action is relentless," and added: "There is tension and suspense from beginning to end."

In 2001, Ice Hunter: A Woods Cop Mystery, the first book in a series based on the lives of Michigan's Upper Peninsula conservation officers, was published. It is subject matter that Heywood knows well, as he spent one month a year over the course of seven years on patrol with these officers. Ice Hunter's protagonist, conservation officer Grady Service, is quite passionate about the land he has been charged with protecting. When a serial arsonist and, soon after, the body of a man belonging to a well-known family of poachers shows up in Upper Michigan's Mosquito Wilderness Tract, he is ready for action. According to Mystery Reader contributor Andy Plonka: "As a mystery novel, [Ice Hunter] is mediocre at best…. What appears to be Mr. Heywood's forte is his ability to describe the setting and the history of the area in which the story takes place." A Publishers Weekly critic noted that things such as "a strong sense of place, a protagonist with a moral commitment to his job," and the cast of conservation officers and their cronies in law enforcement "make this a promising beginning to the series."

In the next book of the series, Blue Wolf in Green Fire: A Woods Cop Mystery, Service, who was just promoted to wildlife detective, has his hands full chasing poachers, helping federal agents track terrorists and animal rights demonstrators, seeking a rare blue wolf, and dealing with the opening of deer hunting season. A Publishers Weekly contributor observed that "an overlay of ecological and sociological detail threatens to overwhelm the mystery." However, "when the action takes over, Heywood is incomparable." A Kirkus Reviews critic felt that though the book is "a bit plot-heavy … our stalwart hero and his sexy girlfriend make a couple most readers will enjoy trekking with." In a review for Booklist, John Rowen praised the installment, saying it "is well written, suspenseful, and bleakly humorous while moving … quickly."

Chasing a Blond Moon: A Woods Cop Mystery, the third in the series, starts off with Service discovering he has a teenage son, Arthur. Though not sure how to deal with the situation at first, the two start making their way toward a caring relationship. Meanwhile, Service has to investigate a rare species of bear that is being illegally hunted—an investigation that is often sidetracked by other issues. "Top-notch action scenes, engaging characters both major and minor, masterful dialogue and a passionate sense of place make this a fine series," commended a Publishers Weekly contributor.

The fourth "Woods Cop" book, Running Dark: A Woods Cop Mystery, takes place in the mid-1970s during Service's first days as a conservation officer. During this time, he goes undercover to infiltrate a group of violent fishermen who have no reverence for the local game laws or the conservation officers trying to enforce them. The story "is suspenseful, atmospheric, and populated by a genuinely believable cast, particularly the thoroughly ingratiating Service," remarked Booklist contributor Wes Lukowsky. In the next book in the series, Strike Dog: A Woods Cop Mystery, Service finds himself in an unfamiliar situation when he goes on the hunt for a serial cop killer. "Though some spread around the middle slows the action a bit, Heywood's colorful cast is, as usual, redemptive," maintained a Kirkus Reviews critic.

Heywood once told CA: "I don't believe in Muses or divine inspiration. Writing is a relatively straightforward process once a story has percolated, scut work in pursuit of a higher order. I write every night, year-round, and start each night by hacking up what I wrote the previous night, which then puts me into the flow of the new material. I write first drafts in longhand with a fountain pen; all subsequent revisions go onto the word processor. I need a ‘governor,’ and longhand serves that purpose; writing an original on the word processor tends to make it too easy to fly. While a story may be intended to put the reader into a jet stream, the crafting needs to be carefully measured. In car terms, the novel is a handbuilt Indy car, not an off-the-production-line model. There's an anachronistic element to my approach as well, a link to times past when virtually all writers handwrote their manuscripts, and I relish that connection.

"I work in a dark basement at an oak roll-top desk without a desktop lamp, a television above me (which is on and loud all the time), and surrounded by dusty, musty gewgaws. I need stimuli (sound) to write, but I tend to edit and revise in stone silence. Over the years I've probably heard bits and pieces of several thousand movies. From time to time mice come to check my progress. One year I bought traps to kill them but couldn't handle the reality of it.

"When I'm working, ten or twelve hours can pass in a snap. It's quite extraordinary what happens to time when your nose is down. I have no real advice for aspiring writers other than to write every day and everywhere. I firmly believe that good work will eventually find light, but you have to do the work. For me, it's the work that's good, not the collateral activities related to publishing. My high comes when the first draft is done, not when there are books on the shelves. Writing excites rather than depresses—even revisions. Many people have talents for all sorts of endeavors, but few have the discipline to do the work and stay at it. No writer is ever as good as he wants to be, which is where the continuity comes from—the endless drive to do it better, cleaner, more efficiently—this being the contest with yourself, one that ultimately cannot be won. I've always got ten more novels in mind. The world presents me with new ideas virtually every day. I thank it for such generosity."



Heywood, Joseph, The Berkut, Random House (New York, NY), 1987.


Booklist, September 1, 1992, Eloise Kinney, review of The Domino Conspiracy, p. 36; September 1, 2000, Dennis Dodge, review of The Snowfly, p. 65; September 15, 2002, John Rowen, review of Blue Wolf in Green Fire: A Woods Cop Mystery, p. 210; April 1, 2003, John Rowen, review of Covered Waters: Tempests of a Nomadic Trouter, p. 1365; May 15, 2005, Wes Lukowsky, review of Running Dark: A Woods Cop Mystery, p. 1639.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2000, review of The Snowfly, p. 1135; August 1, 2002, review of Blue Wolf in Green Fire, p. 1079; May 1, 2005, review of Running Dark, p. 512; July 1, 2007, review of Strike Dog: A Woods Cop Mystery.

Library Journal, August, 1992, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of The Domino Conspiracy, p. 149; August, 2000, Fred M. Gervat, review of The Snowfly, p. 156; July 1, 2001, Rex Klett, review of Ice Hunter: A Woods Cop Mystery, p. 129; September 1, 2002, Rex Klett, review of Blue Wolf in Green Fire, p. 217.

Mystery Scene, summer, 2005, Jeff Siegel, review of Running Dark.

New Yorker, September 28, 1987, review of The Berkut, p. 98.

New York Times Book Review, November 29, 1987, Stewart Kellerman, review of The Berkut, p. 20.

Publishers Weekly, July 10, 1987, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Berkut, p. 57; June 15, 1992, review of The Domino Conspiracy, p. 82; August 7, 2000, review of The Snowfly, p. 76; June 4, 2001, review of Ice Hunter, p. 61; August 26, 2002, review of Blue Wolf in Green Fire, p. 46; September 1, 2003, review of Chasing a Blond Moon: A Woods Cop Mystery, p. 68; April 11, 2005, review of Running Dark, p. 37; June 25, 2007, review of Strike Dog, p. 37.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), September 13, 1987, Michael J. Bandler, review of The Berkut.

Washington Post, September 28, 1987, Richard Harwood, review of The Berkut.


Joseph Heywood Home Page, http://marschke.com/heywood (April, 2008).

Mystery Reader, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (September 24, 2001), Andy Plonka, review of Ice Hunter.