Kilmer, Nicholas 1941- (Nicholas John Kilmer)
Kilmer, Nicholas 1941- (Nicholas John Kilmer)
Born December 3, 1941, in Washington, DC; son of Kenton (a writer) and Frances (an educator) Kilmer; married Julia Millicent Norris (a librarian), June 20, 1964; children: Christopher, Sarah, Mary, Jacob. Education: Georgetown University, B.A., 1962; Harvard University, M.A., 1965; attended American University and Catholic University of America.
Office—14A Eliot St., Cambridge, MA 02138. E-mail—[email protected]
Teacher of art and Latin in Vienna, VA, 1960-62; Action for Boston Community Development, Boston, MA, writer in department of planning and evaluation, 1966-67; English teacher at private school in Beverly, MA, 1967-70; Swain School of Design, New Bedford, MA, associate professor of liberal arts, 1970-82, dean, 1979-82; affiliated with Art Research of Cambridge, Cambridge, MA, 1984-88; founder of Nicholas Kilmer Fine Art, 1988—. Painter, with exhibitions throughout the Northeast.
"FRED TAYLOR" MYSTERIES
O Sacred Head, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1997.
Dirty Linen, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1999.
Lazarus, Arise, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2001.
Madonna of the Apes, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2005.
A Story for the Lost Seasons, produced as a reading in St. Louis, MO, 1977.
The White House Wedding (three acts), produced in New Bedford, MA, 1977.
A Ceremony for the Marriage of the Charles River and the Atlantic Ocean (musical event), produced in Cambridge, MA, 1978.
One Swan Street (two acts), produced in New Bedford, MA, 1979.
The Captain's Fancy (three acts), produced in New Bedford, MA, 1980.
Francis Petrarch: Songs and Sonnets, North Point Press (San Francisco, CA), 1981.
Dante's Comedy: The Inferno, Branden Press (Brookline Village, MA), 1986.
Thomas Buford Meteyard (exhibition catalogue), Berry-Hill Gallery (New York, NY), 1989.
A Place in Normandy (memoir), Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1996.
Contributor to Frederick Carl Frieseke: The Evolution of an American Impressionist (exhibition catalogue), Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2001. Author of a festival celebration titled Masque for the Feast of Fools, 1978. Contributor of poems, translations, and reviews to periodicals, including Kenyon Review, Poetry Now, Harvard, Arion, and Parnassus.
Man with a Squirrel has been adapted as an audio recording.
Nicholas Kilmer's talent as a painter and a writer may in part be a result of his genes. His paternal grandfather was the acclaimed poet Joyce Kilmer and his maternal grandfather was the respected American Impressionist painter Frederick Carl Frieseke. Kilmer, whose father, Kenton, was also a writer, has written poetry, plays, and several crime novels. Kilmer is also the author of A Place in Normandy, a memoir about his family's efforts to restore an old Norman farmhouse in Mesnil, Normandy, that Frieseke bought in 1920.
Kilmer is best known by the reading public for his "Fred Taylor" mysteries which take place in the Boston art world and feature art expert Fred Taylor, who invariably becomes involved in murders, forgeries, and smuggling. In O Sacred Head Kilmer tells the tale of a decapitated body nailed in a crucifixion pose to a fireplace mantel with its head replaced with a painting of the head of Christ. David Pitt, writing in Booklist, called the book "very well written, and the solution to the mystery is elusive enough to keep readers turning the pages."
Dirty Linen finds Taylor attending an auction to buy erotic drawings for his art collector boss, Clayton Reed. A mystery soon develops when the drawings turn out to be extremely valuable and another art dealer connected with Taylor and Reed is murdered. In a review for the Library Journal, Devon Thomas found Dirty Linen to be "literate and witty, with nicely rendered supporting characters."
Kilmer's fifth book in the series is Lazarus, Arise. Taylor accidentally comes into possession of a smuggled medieval illustrated manuscript and sets out to discover the identity of the work and its rightful owner. As word gets out, Taylor must protect the work of art from aggressive collectors. Interwoven is the story of the life, work, and death of the self-proclaimed subversive landscape artist Jacob Geist. Rex E. Klett, writing in the Library Journal, concluded that "effective prose, fascinating subject matter, and a sometimes cynical look at the art world combine in an intriguing read." Pitt noted in Booklist that Kilmer "fills the novel with fascinating information and exciting, compelling characters." He concluded: "We are not observing the art world from without; we are within it, part of it."
In Madonna of the Apes, Kilmer goes back to how Taylor first met his reclusive boss, Clayton Reed. It happened when Taylor is called into service by Reed, who needs help getting a new acquaintance, drunken Franklin Tilley, from a cab to his Beacon Hill home. Reed, who met Tilley at a fundraiser at the Museum of Fine Arts, buys a chest from Tilley's collection, which he shows to Taylor. Inside the lid is a painting, supposedly by Leonard da Vinci, portraying the Madonna and Child with a monkey. Taylor is anxious to prove its authenticity, while Tilley wants his prize returned. Pitt felt that "fans will enjoy the novel's many foreshadowings of things to come."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kilmer, Nicholas, A Place in Normandy, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1996.
Armchair Detective, spring, 1997, review of Man with a Squirrel, p. 226.
Booklist, August, 1997, David Pitt, review of O Sacred Head, p. 1885; April 15, 1998, Ted Hipple, review of Man with a Squirrel, p. 1460; January 1, 1999, David Pitt, review of Dirty Linen, p. 838; October 1, 2001, David Pitt, review of Lazarus, Arise, p. 302; September 15, 2005, David Pitt, review of Madonna of the Apes, p. 35.
Bookwatch, December, 1997, review of O Sacred Head, p. 2.
Choice, September, 2001, M.W. Sullivan, review of Frederick Carl Frieseke: The Evolution of an American Impressionist, pp. 100-101.
Christian Science Monitor, May 14, 1997, Gail Russell Chaddock, review of A Place in Normandy, p. 302; June 19, 1997, review of A Place in Normandy, p. 12.
Globe and Mail, April 10, 1999, review of Dirty Linen, p. D15.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1997, review of O Sacred Head, p. 1159; January 15, 1999, review of Dirty Linen, p. 107; August 15, 2001, review of Lazarus, Arise, p. 1169; August 1, 2005, review of Madonna of the Apes, p. 819.
Library Journal, September 1, 1997, review of O Sacred Head, p. 223; February 1, 1999, Devon Thomas, review of Dirty Linen, p. 125; May 15, 2001, Sandra Rothenberg, review of Frederick Carl Frieseke, p. 117; October 1, 2001, Rex E. Klett, review of Lazarus, Arise, p. 145.
New York Times Book Review, September 7, 1997, Marilyn Stasio, review of O Sacred Head, p. 34; March 21, 1999, Marilyn Stasio, review of Dirty Linen, p. 26; October 14, 2001, Marilyn Stasio, review of Lazarus, Arise, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, June 23, 1997, review of O Sacred Head, p. 74; February 1, 1999, review of Dirty Linen, p. 125; February 22, 1999, review of Dirty Linen, p. 69; August 22, 2005, review of Madonna of the Apes, p. 40.
Smithsonian, February, 1997, Kathleen Burke, review of A Place in Normandy, p. 129.
Virginia Quarterly Review, winter, 1998, review of O Sacred Head, p. 21.
Mystery Reader,http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (December 28, 2006), Andy Plonka, review of Lazarus, Arise.