(Val Davis, a joint pseudonym)
PERSONAL: Married Robert Irvine (a writer), January 31, 1959.
ADDRESSES: Home—5461 La Forest Dr., La Canada, CA 91011. Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
WITH HUSBAND, ROBERT IRVINE, UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM VAL DAVIS
Track of the Scorpion, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Flight of the Serpent, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Wake of the Hornet, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2000.
The Return of the Spanish Lady, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2001.
Thread of the Spider, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Angela Irvine is one half of the pseudonymous author Val Davis; the other half is Irvine's husband, Robert Irvine. Under the Davis joint pseudonym they have published a number of books that feature Nicolette Scott, an archeologist who first appears in Track of the Scorpion. A professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Nick, as she is called, is working with her father, Anasazi scholar Elliot Scott, on a dig in the New Mexico desert that eventually leads to a military-industrial conspiracy plot. While father and daughter work to excavate some Native American ruins, Nick's interest in more-recent history sends her on a hunt for a plane that was supposedly buried in the area. She finds the B-17, which was allegedly shot down circa 1945, and in which the skeletal remains of ten crew members and one passenger are discovered, intact. While Nick investigates, the plane disappears, and her career is threatened when it is presumed she has created a hoax. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that Nick "proves herself an intelligent, game heroine whom readers will want to meet again."
Flight of the Serpent finds Nick in the Arizona desert working on a university-funded dig. Her curiosity is piqued when she spies helicopters hovering over the recent wreckage of a plane that had been flown by journalist Matt Gault. She pairs up with John Gault, Matt's grandfather, to discover why Matt's plane went down, and they quickly discover that the crash was no accident. Nearby is a top-secret government facility where illegal aliens are being used as subjects for radiation testing. A high point of the novel occurs when John brings back into service a vintage World War II bomber.
In The Return of the Spanish Lady Nick's interest in aircraft comes into play when she takes a job at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. She is assigned to recover a Japanese plane that went down in Alaska during World War II, but when she arrives at the site, it becomes clear that there is another motive behind the search. The drug company sponsoring the project hopes to find the bodies of gold miners who died during the 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic in order to recover the still-viable virus frozen in their corpses. The company's dastardly plan is to reintroduce that flu strain into the population, and then make a fortune by selling the antidote. Booklist reviewers Barbara Bibel called this literary outing an "engaging mixture of science, history, and action."
Thread of the Spider finds Nick out of a job and spending the summer on a Utah dig, where she unearths a 1937 Packard automobile that contains a revealing letter. It states that the car was used by a famous bank-robbing couple killed in 1940, and hints that some of the loot may be stashed nearby. Rather than cash, Nick finds papers that lead to a plot much larger than a simple bank robbery and evidence that could destroy the chances of a presidential hopeful. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the Irvines "captures some of the romance of archeology and makes excellent use of the topography, climate, and history of Utah." "The narrative moves smoothly between the 1940s and the present day," noted Carrie Bissey, reviewing Thread of the Spider for Booklist.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2001, Barbara Bibel, review of The Return of the Spanish Lady, p. 924; September 1, 2002, Carrie Bissey, review of Thread of the Spider, p. 62.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1996, review of Track of the Scorpion, p. 1072; August 1, 2002, review of Thread of the Spider, p. 1077.
Publishers Weekly, July 1, 1996, review of Track of the Scorpion; October 26, 1998, review of Flight of the Serpent, p. 63; January 15, 2001, review of The Return of the Spanish Lady, p. 55; September 16, 2002, review of Thread of the Spider, p. 53.*