Johnson, Claire M. 1956-
JOHNSON, Claire M. 1956-
Born December 15, 1956, in Berkeley, California; daughter of a doctor and a nurse; married; husband's name, Mark; children: Emma, Paul. Ethnicity: "Irish-Scots." Education: University of California-Berkeley, B.A.; attended California Culinary Academy. Politics: Democrat. Hobbies and other interests: Cooking, reading, gardening, quilting, sewing.
Home—Lafayette, CA. Agent—c/o Poisoned Pen Press, 6962 East First Avenue, Suite 103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. E-mail—[email protected].
Author and pastry chef, 1983-91; University of California-Berkeley, editor.
Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime.
Malice Domestic writers grant, 1999.
Beat until Stiff, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
A second novel with working title Roux Morgue.
After training as a historian but being unable to find work in that crowded field, Claire M. Johnson decided to turn to her lifelong passion for cooking. She registered for an eighteen-month cooking course at the California Culinary Academy, where she acquired the skills to be a pastry chef. She then began working in some of San Francisco's best restaurants. After eight years, however, she called it quits and began a writing career. Her first book, Beat until Stiff, is a murder mystery set in San Francisco's restaurant district.
The novel's protagonist is Mary Ryan, a pastry chef who is recently divorced from San Francisco police detective Jim McCreary. When Mary begins prepping one day, she discovers the dead body of a co-worker hidden in the restaurant's laundry room. With Jim's partner assigned to the case, Mary herself becomes involved in the investigation. The novel presents a not-too-nice view of restaurants and their kitchens, where more than just food-making is going on. Johnson exposes the nature of philandering chefs, the demands of egotistical patrons, and the all-too-familiar practice of hiring undocumented immigrants in exchange for cheap labor.
A reviewer for Publishers Weekly hailed the novel as a "delicious debut," and added that it would likely appeal not only to mystery buffs but also to readers who enjoyed serious food-themed books. Beat until Stiff was nominated for an Agatha Award as best first novel.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2002, review of Beat until Stiff, p. 1508.
Publishers Weekly, November 25, 2002, review of Beat until Stiff, p. 46.
Roux Morgue Web site,http:/www.rouxmorgue.com/ (January 16, 2003).