Housewright, David 1955–

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Housewright, David 1955–

PERSONAL: Born in 1955, in St. Paul, MN; married Renee Valois (a theater critic for the St. Paul Pioneer Press); children: Nicholas, Victoria. Education: University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN), 1977.

ADDRESSES: Home—St. Paul, MN. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Freelance writer. Worked as a newspaper reporter at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Albert Lea Evening Tribune and the Grand Forks Herald. Worked in advertising for fourteen years; taught novel-writing courses at the University of Minnesota, Loft Literary Center, and SASE—The Write Place.

AWARDS, HONORS: Edgar Award for best first novel, Mystery Writers of America, 1996, for Penance; Minnesota Book Award, 1998, for Practice to Deceive.


Penance, Norton (New York, NY), 1995.

Practice to Deceive, Norton (New York, NY), 1997.

Dearly Departed, Foul Play Press, 1999.

A Hard Ticket Home, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2004.

Tin City, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2005.

Pretty Girl Gone, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.

Work published in anthologies, including Silence of the Loons and Twin Cities Noir. Contributor to periodicals, including Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, ADWEEK Magazine, Format Magazine, Crimespree, History Channel Magazine, and True Romance.

SIDELIGHTS: David Housewright introduced St. Paul, Minnesota, private investigator Holland Taylor in his debut novel Penance, which received an Edgar Award for best first novel from the Mystery Writers of America. In Penance, a drunk driver responsible for the death of Taylor's wife and daughter has turned up dead following his release from prison. Taylor is suspected of the murder and discovers it is linked to gubernatorial candidate Carol Catherine Monroe, who is being blackmailed because of an intimate video tape. Then the blackmailer is killed, and the body count rises. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted that "some impressive tough-guy sass emerges" in Penance, which "has an intriguing, darkly pessimistic take on American politics and media." Wes Lukowsky, reviewing Penance for Booklist, called it "a surprisingly accomplished first novel with a likeable everyman protagonist and a clever plot."

P.I. Taylor is back in the Twin Cities in Practice to Deceive, along with his African-American associate, Sidney Poitier Fredricks, and friend Cynthia Grey, a stripper-turned-attorney. Taylor's parents ask him to help an elderly neighbor who has been swindled of her savings by Levering Field, an unscrupulous investment broker. Holland harasses Levering with the help of a cross-dressing friend until Levering agrees to return the cash. Before he can do so, however, Levering is killed, and Holland is faced with two tasks—find the killer and find the missing funds. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly made a comparison of Housewright's character to author Robert B. Parker's protagonist Spenser: "Housewright's wit, while making the most of the bow to Parker, should earn him an acclaim all his own."

In Dearly Departed, Taylor is on the hunt for a missing woman who may have been murdered by a serial rapist who was stalking her. Taylor, who has become emotionally involved in the case, must also deal with the woman's seemingly uncaring husband and a debate over Indian casino rights. Jenny McLarin, writing in Booklist, called Dearly Departed "an enjoyable mystery with a corker of an ending."

Housewright introduces retired St. Paul cop Rushmore McKenzie in A Hard Ticket Home. The story revolves around McKenzie's search for a runaway who may be a suitable organ donor for his sick sister. Complicating the search is the fact that McKenzie is operating as an unlicensed private eye and is viewed by some as a vigilante out to seek revenge on a killer. Noting the novel's "captivating opening sequence," David Wright in Booklist noted that the author "churns the action." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted Housewright's "sharp, bouncy prose style."

McKenzie returns in Tin City as he seeks retribution for the murder of a friend's father and the rape of his own lawyer's wife. Once again the situation becomes even more complicated when the FBI forces McKenzie to hide out because of trumped up terrorist ties. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the return of McKenzie "a bright second appearance." Writing in Booklist, David Wright noted that "this series may be seriously habitforming." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the author "delivers plenty of action, a pinch of romance and more than a few surprises."

In Pretty Girl Gone, McKenzie is asked for help by an old girlfriend whose husband is the governor of Minnesota. The governor has been accused via an e-mail of killing his high-school sweetheart, a murder that has remained unsolved for many years. Going back to the governor's small-town home, McKenzie encounters a suicide that may be related to the decades-old murder. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the "clean plot lines, palpable Minnesota winter and understated humor make this a good, satisfying read." A critic writing in Kirkus Reviews noted that the author "does his usual creditable job."



Armchair Detective, fall, 1996, p. 436; winter, 1997, p. 18.

Booklist, December 1, 1995, Wes Lukowsky, review of Penance, p. 612; September 1, 1999, Jenny McLarin, review of Dearly Departed, p. 72; April 1, 2004, David Wright, review of A Hard Ticket Home, p. 1352; April 15, 2005, David Wright, review of Tin City, p. 1435; April 1, 2006, David Pitt, review of Pretty Girl Gone, p. 24.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2004, review of A Hard Ticket Home, p. 251; April 1, 2005, review of Tin City, p. 388; March 15, 2006, review of Pretty Girl Gone, p. 264.

Library Journal, April 15, 1999, Sandy Glover, review of Practice to Deceive, p. 164.

New York Times Book Review, November 9, 1997, p. 29.

Publishers Weekly, November 13, 1995, p. 51; September 29, 1997, p. 69; September 13, 1999, review of Dearly Departed, p. 64; April 12, 2004, review of A Hard Ticket Home, p. 42; April 18, 2005, review of Tin City, p. 47; March 6, 2006, review of Pretty Girl Gone, p. 49.

ONLINE, (August 25, 2006), Harriet Klausner, review of A Hard Ticket Home.

David Housewright Home Page,∼housewrightvalois/index.html (September 12, 2006).