PERSONAL: Education: Boston University, earned journalism degree.
ADDRESSES: Home—South Dennis, MA.
AWARDS, HONORS: Shamus Award for Best Original Paperback, Private Eye Writers of America, 1991, for Cool Blue Tomb.
“ARISTOTLE SOCARIDES” MYSTERY SERIES
Feeding Frenzy, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1993.
The Mayflower Murder, St. Martin’s Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Bluefin Blues, St. Martin’s Press (New York, NY), 1997.
“NUMA FILES” SERIES
(With Clive Cussler) Serpent, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Clive Cussler) Blue Gold, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Clive Cussler) Fire Ice, Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Clive Cussler) White Death, Putnam (New York, NY), 2003.
(With Clive Cussler) Lost City, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Clive Cussler) Polar Shift, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Clive Cussler) The Navigator, Putnam (New York, NY), 2007.
SIDELIGHTS: Paul Kemprecos is the author of several mystery novels, including a series featuring Aristotle Plato Socarides, a commercial fisherman who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and works in the off-season as a private investigator. The first book in the series, Cool Blue Tomb, received a Shamus Award for Best Original Paperback in 1991.
In Neptune’s Eye, Socarides is hired to find the missing daughter of a mysterious millionaire. After he commences his investigation by visiting the missing woman’s place of employment, a marine laboratory, the woman’s supervisor is found dead. Socarides then begins a probe into the dead supervisor’s research project, which involved the development of remote-control vessels to conduct deep-sea activities. Matters culminate in a deadly contest to reach the wreckage of a German submarine. A Publishers Weekly contributor called Neptune’s Eye a “fast-paced, enjoyable yarn.” Doris Hiatt, writing in Kliatt, found the novel to be “a good mystery with enough scientific information to interest most readers.”
Death in Deep Water, the third of Kemprecos’s “Aristotle Socarides” mysteries, concerns a trained whale suspected of killing its trainer. Socarides is hired to work undercover at an aquatic park and find evidence absolving the whale of deliberate malice. However, when a recently fired public-relations director is also found dead, Socarides realizes that the two killings are related. His investigation is undermined somewhat by environmentalists protesting the exhibition of whales in captivity. In addition, he almost loses his life in a shark tank. While endeavoring to stay alive and solve the two killings, Socarides also finds himself drawn romantically to a dolphin trainer who is, in turn, the target of a jealous coworker. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that Kemprecos’s “relaxed, low-key narration is [the novel’s]… best asset, making for an easy read.”
In 1993 Kemprecos followed Death in Deep Water with Feeding Frenzy, wherein the resourceful Socarides must contend with murderous land developers. The novel is set during the tourist season, and when a series of apparent shark attacks results in death, local citizens consider the consequences of potentially declining tourism. Socarides decides to conduct his own investigation but soon becomes drawn into an apparently unrelated matter involving a summer camp targeted for scrutiny by law enforcement officers. In addition, he is hired to conduct some covert diving activities to determine the whereabouts of a sunken vessel. While conducting these various investigations Socarides also finds time to counsel a younger cousin who has made some questionable personal choices. Martin Brady, writing in Booklist, approved of Kemprecos’s “sharp, readable prose” and his ability to capture the spirit of the Boston/Cape Cod area.
In Kemprecos’s The Mayflower Murder Socarides is hired by a fellow Vietnam War veteran to establish the innocence of Joe Quint, a Native American lawyer and activist charged with murder. The victim, a watchman at a tourist site, had been struck with a hatchet subsequently discovered in the suspect’s automobile. During the course of his investigation, Socarides learns that Quint had uncovered evidence that native artifacts were being illegally sold. He is unable to question his client, though, because the fearful activist has escaped jail and gone into hiding. Despite this setback, Socarides continues his probe even as rivaling tribal factions spark further intrigue by violently vying for control of gambling rights in the area. Stuart Miller wrote in Booklist that “this page-turner provides a fascinating look at contemporary issues facing Native Americans and the communities where they live.” A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that “two first-rate sequences capture the danger of diving in strange waters.”
Bluefin Blues, the next of Kemprecos’ mysteries featuring Socarides, finds the enterprising sleuth investigating the untimely demise of a fish dealer who is found dead with a harpoon shot through his torso. Socarides soon discovers that his client, the victim’s grandfather, is a powerful crime boss in Japan. He also learns of the more dangerous aspects of dealing fish—specifically, tuna—while various Japanese groups vie fiercely for control of the market. Although a suspect is already in police custody, Socarides perseveres in his own endeavor to solve the murder. Occasionally complicating matters is the presence of a Japanese policeman who postures, comically, as an urban American law enforcer with a flair, incredibly enough, for Yiddish humor. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly noted that “Kemprecos keeps the action moving smartly and serves up crisp characterizations,” while Wes Lukowsky in Booklist called Bluefin Blues “an excellent multidimensional mystery.”
The National Underwater & Marine Agency (NUMA) is the setting for a series of books written by Kemprecos and popular novelist Clive Cussler. Cussler had previously authored a NUMA series starring sleuth Dirk Pitt. These new NUMA books kick off with Serpent, a spy thriller that uses as its theme an actual event: the sinking of the ship Andrea Doria in 1956. In the authors’ reading, the sinking was deliberate; as Serpent opens, two generations after the fact, NUMA operative Kurt Austin and sidekick Joe Zavala begin to unravel the mystery after they rescue archaeologist Nina Kirov from a terrorist attack on her digging site. As the plot thickens, a suspicious character emerges in the form of Halcon, seeker of a hidden Carthaginian treasure he hopes to use to finance an independent Latino nation in the United States. Serpent received mixed notices from Booklist contributor Roland Green, who cited “less-than-graceful prose” and “credulity-stretching scenarios” integrated with “a superlative subplot” involving a pair of archaeologists as they dodge “outlaws, Halcon’s minions, and the natural hazards of the Yucatan Peninsula.” Lesley Dunlap, writing on the Mystery Reader Web site, suggested that while the authors’ style leans to the melodramatic, “readers of adventure mysteries won’t be disappointed by Serpent.” And Book-browser Web site critic Harriet Klausner predicted that this book “will entice fans of action tales to want many more novels from the NUMA files.”
NUMA fans got their wish with Blue Gold, a thriller that finds Kurt and Joe commandeering a high-tech submarine to Mexico to investigate the unexplained deaths of migrating gray whales. However, the mission is interrupted when, as a Writers Write Web site contributor put it, “they and their mini-sub are nearly blown to smithereens.” Espionage, treason, a mythical Venezuelan rain-forest goddess, and a mysterious billionaire all figure into the action as Kurt and his team uncover a plot to monopolize the Earth’s water supply. It is now up to the NUMA agents in a race against time to stop a potential global disaster.
Fire Ice, the third “NUMA Files” entry, is the first to have its original release in hardcover. This novel introduces villain Boris Razor, described by Michael Phillips in Book as “a potentially insane Russian millionaire who thinks he’s the second coming of Ivan the Terrible.” Razor’s dastardly plan is to take over America by setting a giant tidal wave on the East Coast. Former KGB adversary Vladimir Petrov becomes Kurt Austin’s unlikely ally in tracking down and stopping Razor before the villain can mine his “fire ice,” an explosive form of methane found on the ocean floor. Meanwhile, the NUMA team welcomes an unexpected guest, television producer Kaela Dom, after her plane crashes into the Dead Sea. Kemprecos contributes his oceanic expertise while Cussler includes “enough derring-do and eco-lore to leave his fans breathless,” in the opinion of a Publishers Weekly critic. Library Journal reviewer Robert Conroy recommended Fire Ice to readers who like “murders, Cossacks charging, Old Ironsides firing, and, oh, yes, the inevitable gorgeous heroine.”
The fourth book in the “NUMA Files” series, White Death, finds the NUMA team attempting to save part of the crew of a Danish ship, victims of a feud between the cruise ship and an environmental group. But this only leads Austin and Zavala to discover the evil machinations of a huge corporation trying to gain control of the oceans and willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. A Kirkus Reviews critic praised the “zestful heroics” of this series entry, while Booklist contributor George Cohen noted: “There’s a lot of action, as always … [that] fans will relish.”
Lost City, which Kemprecos again cowrote with Clive Cussler, is the fifth novel about Kurt Austin’s National Underwater Marine Agency. When an enzyme that can prolong human life is discovered in the Lost City, a half-mile beneath the North Atlantic Ocean, Austin battles numerous forces bent on destruction, murder, and world domination in order to save the day. The far-ranging plot takes readers from a mountainous glacier, where the body of a frozen pilot is found, to an island populated by cannibals, and involves the fetching archaeologist Skye Labelle and the murderous mother-son team of Racine and Emil Fauchard, who put up quite a fight on their quest to take over the world. Along the way, Austin battles environmental disaster caused by monstrous seaweed and a lumbering submarine that is up to no good. It’s all good fun, according to a writer in Publishers Weekly, who remarked that readers will find themselves “racing through the pages,” and George Cohen of Booklist, who deemed it “a page-turning adventure.”
Kemprecos has continued his collaborative efforts with Cussler in further volumes of the “NUMA Files” books. Polar Shift involves a six-decades-old earth technology discovered by a Hungarian scientist that can cause a polar shift and thereby set off a series of earthly catastrophes, from destructive volcanoes to massive earthquakes. A group opposing globalization has gotten their hands on the technology and now threatens the industrialized nations with it. Kurt Austin and his team are the only ones who can stop this deadly plot from unfolding. Booklist contributor Cohen noted of this title that “the plot is inconceivable, but… loyal fans won’t care.” Similarly, a Kirkus Reviews critic concluded: “Glacial pace, paper-thin characters, slap-dash prose and a probable warm welcome from a large and loyal audience.”
In The Navigator, Austin and Zavala are again in action, on the trail of an ancient statue stolen three thousand years earlier from a museum in Baghdad. Booklist reviewer Cohen commended the “compelling, well-organized plot” of this seventh installment in the NUMA books. A Publishers Weekly contributor was disappointed in this title, however, feeling it was “less than [the authors’] best.”Cohen, though, was more positive, concluding: “Fans will undoubtedly eat up this new novel just as they have previous ones.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book, May-June, 2002, Michael Phillips, review of Fire Ice, p. 76.
Booklist, September 1, 1993, Martin Brady, review of Feeding Frenzy, p. 40; May 15, 1996, Stuart Miller, review of The Mayflower Murder, p. 1571; November 15, 1997, Wes Lukowsky, review of Bluefin Blues, p. 547; June 1, 1999, Roland Green, review of Serpent, p. 1741; April 1, 2002, George Cohen, review of Fire Ice, p. 1282; June 1, 2003, George Cohen, review of White Death, p. 1710; September 1, 2004, George Cohen, a review of Lost City, p. 60; September 1, 2005, George Cohen, review of Polar Shift, p. 62; April 15, 2007, George Cohen, review of The Navigator, p. 4.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1992, review of Death in Deep Water, p. 572; May 1, 1996, review of The Mayflower Murder, p. 644; April 15, 2002, review of Fire Ice, p. 526; May 15, 2003, review of White Death, p. 697; August 1, 2005, review of Polar Shift, p. 804.
Kliatt, January, 1992, Doris Hiatt, review of Neptune’s Eye, p. 10; January, 2006, Mary Purucker, review of Polar Shift, p. 49.
Library Journal, August, 1993, review of Feeding Frenzy, p. 158; May 1, 2002, Robert Conroy, review of Fire Ice, p. 132.
Publishers Weekly, August 16, 1991, review of Cool Blue Tomb, pp. 52, 54; June 8, 1992, review of Death in Deep Water, p. 56; August 16, 1993, review of Feeding Frenzy; May 20, 1996, review of The Mayflower Murder, p. 243; September 8, 1997, review of Bluefin Blues; May 13, 2002, review of Fire Ice, p. 50; July 19, 2004, a review of Lost City, p. 145; April 16, 2007, review of The Navigator, p. 31.
Blog Critics,http://www.blogcritics.org/ (August 26, 2007), Megalith, review of The Navigator.
Bookbrowser,http://www.barnesandnoble.com/bn-review/ (June 13, 2002), Harriet Klausner, reviewof Serpent.
Mystery Reader,http://www.themysteryreader.com/(June 13, 2002), Lesley Dunlap, review Of Serpent.
Writers Write,http://www.writerswrite.com/ (June 13, 2002), review of Blue Gold.*