Karp, Larry 1939-

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Karp, Larry 1939-


Born April 26, 1939, in Paterson, NJ; son of Mark (a teacher) and Cecelia (a teacher) Karp; married Myra Osterweil (a homemaker), July 29, 1962; children: Casey, Erin. Ethnicity: "Mongrel American." Education: Attended Rutgers University, 1956-59; New York University School of Medicine, M.D., 1963. Politics: Inconsistent. Hobbies and other interests: Collecting and restoring antique music boxes and phonographs.


Home—Seattle, WA. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer. Physician, specializing in care of complicated pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and prenatal diagnosis, 1963-94. Founder, Prenatal Diagnosis Center, University of Washington, 1972, and Department of Perinatal Medicine, Swedish Hospital, Seattle, WA, 1982. Military service: U.S. Navy, 1965-67.


Musical Box Society International, Automatic Musical Instrument Collectors Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, International Association of Crime Writers, Seattle Free Lances.


Bowers Literary Award, Musical Box Society International, "For outstanding literary contributions to the filed of automatic music," 1997; finalist, Pacific NW Writers Association Annual Literary Contest, 1998, for Scamming the Birdman; finalist, Romance Writers of America Daphne Du Maurier Award, 2000, for The Music Box Murders.



Genetic Engineering: Threat or Promise?, Nelson-Hall (Chicago, IL), 1976.

The View from the Vue, Jonathan David (New York, NY), 1977.

The Enchanted Ear, Emprise Publishing (Vestel, NY), 1995.


The Music Box Murders, Write Way (Aurora, CO), 1999.

Scamming the Birdman, Write Way (Aurora, CO), 2001.

The Midnight Special, Write Way (Aurora, CO), 2001.

First, Do No Harm, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2004.

The Ragtime Kid, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2006.


Larry Karp loved words as a kid, but after finishing high school he did not want to tell his parents he wanted to be a writer. He recalls in his biography on his Web site: "In those days it took a braver kid than I to tell his parents he wanted to earn his living as a writer." Instead, he went on to medical school and became a physician specializing in high-risk pregnancy, labor, and delivery care. While working as a physician, Karp wrote magazine and newspaper articles, and three nonfiction books Genetic Engineering: Threat or Promise?, The View from the Vue, and The Enchanted Ear. In 1995, Karp left his medical practice to write full time. He commented in his Web site biography: "I left medical practice and decided it was time to write some books for other people to read during math class."

In his first novel, The Music Box Murders, published in 1999, Karp uses his knowledge and experience as a collector of music boxes. In this mystery, Thomas Purdue, a neurologist and music box collector, is notified that an important piece, a Swiss rigid notation music box, is up for sale. Purdue soon realizes that the box belonged to a fellow prominent collector, Harry Hardwick, recently dead. Purdue decides to investigate and finds himself on the trail of a killer. Rex E. Klett in the Library Journal claimed the novel was "difficult to put down." The Music Box Murders ended up being the first volume in a series. Karp explained on his Web site: "By the time I finished writing the book I'd grown too fond of the company of Thomas Purdue and his friends to want to leave them forever." Purdue returns in Scamming the Birdman. In this mystery, a rare collection of musical snuffboxes has been stolen. Purdue comes up with an elaborate plan to get the collection back to its original owner. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly wrote: "As before, the author's love of music boxes, coupled with a tough, breezy style, keeps the action moving in a lighthearted thriller."

The Midnight Special is the third in Karp's series featuring Thomas Purdue. Purdue and his friend, Broadway Schwartz, are on the track of a music box Purdue would like to own. The music box is big enough to require a truck to move it. They trace the ownership history through a number of people, some being the rightful owners and some not. Their search takes them throughout Manhattan, but the music box cannot be found. Rex Klett in the Library Journal remarked: "A pleasant read, complete with familiar characters, convincing plot, and strongly focused subject."

Karp once told CA: "People forever tell me to get a life, but I like the one I've got—closing myself in a room most of the day with no phone, no fax machine, no e-mail—just a bunch of people who say and do the damndest things, and I get to write all of it down. It's a blast, watching an unconventional doctor—a guy who can run rings around me, restoring music boxes—bend the Hippocratic staff as I never would've dared. I hope to write many more adventures, as well as those of other curious and provocative characters. To day, all the people in my books have been purely imaginary, but I'm currently developing a novel which will feature real-life people such as ragtime composer Scott Joplin."

That planned novel became The Ragtime Kid. Set in Sedalia, Missouri, in the late 1800s, the novel revolves around a woman's murder and a tie pin that links the murder to famous ragtime musician Scott Joplin. The discovery is made by a white teenage pianist named Brun, who has come from a small town in Missouri to Sedalia to find his hero Joplin. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "does a wonderful job of depicting a town steeped in music history." In a review for the BookLoons Web site, Mary Ann Smyth noted: "Author Larry Karp has woven together the history of ragtime music with the vile treatment blacks were receiving at the hands of ignorant people."

Karp writes a tale of a small-town family physician in First, Do No Harm. The story begins with computer technician Martin Firestone deciding to change careers and become a doctor. However, when he tells his father, Leo Firestone, Leo is angry and relates to Martin his own experience helping Martin's grandfather care for people in a small town in the 1940s. Although Leo admired his doctor father, he was shocked to discover that he performed illegal abortions and dealt in black market drugs. Leo claims that grandfather was also involved in murder. Martin is not completely satisfied with Leo's account. He decides to return to his father's hometown and conduct his own investigation. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the novel "builds to a shattering climax that will haunt readers." Jenny McLarin, writing in Booklist, called First, Do No Harm "a triumph of storytelling—the juggling of the two narratives is flawless [and] will hold readers … spellbound."



Booklist, September 15, 2004, Jenny McLarin, review of First, Do No Harm, p. 212; August 1, 2006, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Ragtime Kid, p. 51.

Bookwatch, December, 2004, review of First, Do No Harm.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2006, review of The Ragtime Kid, p. 99.

Library Journal, April 1, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of The Music Box Murders, p. 132; March 1, 2001, Rex Klett, review of The Midnight Special, p. 133.

Publishers Weekly, February 28, 2000, "March Publications," p. 67; September 27, 2004, review of First, Do No Harm, p. 41; October 2, 2006, review of The Ragtime Kid, p. 43.


BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (April 9, 2007), Mary Ann Smyth, review of The Ragtime Kid.

January Magazine,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (April 9, 2007), Stephen Miller, review of The Ragtime Kid.

KiwE Bookstore,http://www.kiwepublishing.com/ (October 26, 2001), review of The Music Box Murders.

Larry Karp Web site,http://www.larrykarp.com (April 26, 2007).

Mechanical Music Digest,http://www.mmd.foxtail.com/ (October 26, 2001), Larry Karp, "Introduction."

Mystery Reader,http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (October 26, 2001), review of The Music Box Murders.

Stop, You're Killing Me!,http://www.stopyourkillingme.com/ (October 26, 2001), "Larry Karp."