Johnson, Claire M. 1956-

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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.


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.



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:/ (January 16, 2003).

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Johnson, Claire M. 1956-

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