Johnson, Claire M. 1956-

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JOHNSON, Claire M. 1956-

PERSONAL:

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.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Lafayette, CA. Agent—c/o Poisoned Pen Press, 6962 East First Avenue, Suite 103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER:

Author and pastry chef, 1983-91; University of California-Berkeley, editor.

MEMBER:

Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Malice Domestic writers grant, 1999.

WRITINGS:

Beat until Stiff, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2002.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

A second novel with working title Roux Morgue.

SIDELIGHTS:

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:

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2002, review of Beat until Stiff, p. 1508.

Publishers Weekly, November 25, 2002, review of Beat until Stiff, p. 46.

ONLINE

Roux Morgue Web site,http:/www.rouxmorgue.com/ (January 16, 2003).

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Johnson, Claire M. 1956-

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