Kuhfeld, Mary Pulver 1943- (Monica Ferris, Margaret Frazer, Mary Kuhfeld, Mary Monica Pulver)
Kuhfeld, Mary Pulver 1943- (Monica Ferris, Margaret Frazer, Mary Kuhfeld, Mary Monica Pulver)
Born October 15, 1943, in Terre Haute, IN; daughter of Harry Gene (an electrician) and Marie Therese (a homemaker) Pulver; married Albert W. Kuhfeld (a museum curator). Education: Attended the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Politics: Independent. Religion: Episcopal.
Writer, novelist, short-story writer, lecturer, public speaker, and educator. Secretary in Milwaukee and Madison, WI and in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, beginning 1968. Volunteer teacher of medieval living and mystery writing at local elementary schools. Member of Minneapolis Third Precinct Advisory Committee. Cathedral Church of St. Mark, Minneapolis, MN, Lay Eucharistic Visitor, lector, and usher. Military service: U.S. Navy, journalist, 1962-68.
Society for Creative Anachronism, Sisters in Crime.
Anthony Award nomination, Best First Novel, for Murder at the War; Edgar Award nomination, Best Original Paperback, 1993, for The Servant's Tale.
"PETER BRICHTER" SERIES; UNDER NAME MARY MONICA PULVER
Murder at the War, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1987.
The Unforgiving Minutes, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1988.
Ashes to Ashes, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1988.
Original Sin, Walker (New York, NY), 1991.
Show Stopper, Diamond Books (New York, NY), 1992.
"SISTER FREVISSE MEDIEVAL MYSTERY" SERIES; UNDER NAME MARGARET FRAZER, WITH GAIL FRAZER
The Novice's Tale, Jove Books (New York, NY), 1993.
The Servant's Tale, Jove Books (New York, NY), 1993.
The Outlaw's Tale, Jove Books (New York, NY), 1994.
The Bishop's Tale, Jove Books (New York, NY), 1994.
The Boy's Tale, Jove Books (New York, NY), 1995.
The Murderer's Tale, Jove Books (New York, NY), 1996.
"BETSY DEVONSHIRE" SERIES; UNDER NAME MONICA FERRIS
A Stitch in Time, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2000.
Unraveled Sleeve, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2001.
A Murderous Yarn, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2002.
Hanging by a Thread, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2003.
Cutwork, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2004.
Crewel Yule, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2004.
Embroidered Truths, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2005.
Patterns of Murder, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2005.
Sins and Needles, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to anthologies, including The Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives, The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits, Shakespearean Mysteries, RoyalWhodunnits, Unholy Orders, Murder Most Crafty, and Silence of the Loons. Contributor of stories to magazines, including Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. Author's works have been translated into German, Italian, and French.
A mystery novelist under several different pseudonyms, Mary Pulver Kuhfeld is the author of series novels with subjects as distinct as her pennames. Her "Peter Brichter" police series includes works with various themes, including one set at a medieval recreationist event. She collaborated with coauthor Gail Frazer, under the name Margaret Frazer, to produce the first six books in the "Sister Frevisse Medieval Mystery" series. As Monica Ferris, Kuhfeld also writes the "Betsy Devonshire" series, each of which concentrates on amateur detective Devonshire and themes related to knitting, needleworking, and related handcrafts.
Betsy Devonshire is a needleworker and amateur sleuth based in Excelsior, MN. The proprietor of a craft and yarn shop, Crewel World, Betsy hones her knitting skills while finding herself involved in mysteries related to needlework and stitchery. As an added attraction to stitch-minded readers, the books also include considerable information on needlework as well as patterns for interested handcrafters. The first seven titles in the series were published in paperback, but with Crewel Yule, the eighth novel in the series, Betsy made her first appearance hardcover. In this story, Betsy is attending a national needlework convention in Nashville, TN, along with her friend, police officer Jill, and store employee Godwin. A heavy snowstorm hits the area during the convention, stranding everyone inside the hotel. The bad weather cannot keep out murder, however, as Belle Hammermill, a shop owner from Milwaukee, WI, falls nine stories to her gruesome death in the hotel atrium. At first, the attendees assume the woman's fall to be an accident, but as Betsy and friends begin to ask questions of the other convention-goers, they discover that Hammermill was a selfish, unpleasant person with no shortage of enemies who might wish her dead. Worse, most of them are snowbound inside the convention hotel and could have killed her. "Ferris' characterizations are topnotch, and the action moves along at a crisp pace," commented Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper.
Embroidered Truths finds Betsy's store manager, employee, and friend Godwin du Lac accused of murder. Tossed out by his lover, attorney John Nye, when the two returned from a Mexico City trip, Godwin has found temporary respite at Betsy's house. However, Betsy and Godwin later find Nye dead, and some valuables missing from his body. During the police investigation, two wills are discovered; the second, unsigned one cuts Godwin out of a considerable inheritance. Godwin is summarily arrested and accused of Nye's murder. Betsy knows her trusted friend is incapable of murder. She begins her own investigation into the case, while an assortment of friends and colleagues pitch in to keep Crewel World open and running. As the investigation develops, Nye's brother John discovers that the attorney maintained a false identity and had accumulated a great deal of money. Another resource, Susan Lavery, a Crewel World customer who worked for Nye's firm, offers to search for possible suspects in the legal world, but is later attacked and stuffed in a car trunk. Ultimately, Betsy ties the divergent threads together to solve the case and rescue Godwin from false accusation. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the story "a lighthearted tale with no real sense of danger."
Sins and Needles places Betsy in the midst of an adoptee's search for her birth mother. When Lucille Jones visits from Texas, Betsy sees a strong resemblance between her and a local customer, nurse Jan Henderson. Lucille, eager to locate her birth mother, also noticed the resemblance when she met Henderson at a medical conference. In fact, she deliberately stole Jan's hairbrush with the intent of running DNA tests. The case is complicated by the fact that Jan and her mother, Susan McConnell, are in line to inherit a large sum of money from Susan's Aunt Edyth, a cranky, eccentric old woman whose hatred of men is so keen that she removed Susan's brother Stewart and the rest of the family from her will. When Aunt Edyth is found dead with a knitting needle stabbed into her head, Jan turns to Betsy for help in finding the killer. A chance for Edyth's relatives to choose a keepsake from the woman's mansion finds Stewart's daughters all selecting valuable antiques, but Stewart himself opting for a beat-up old motorboat. An old knitted cushion on the boat is apparently a genuine treasure map that points the way to the solution to the murder and the mystery. "Betsy, who's growing as a character, gets an especially interesting case this time," mused a Kirkus Reviews critic. A Publishers Weekly reviewer observed that the "brisk plot and well-developed characters make this complex novel" a strong entry in the Devonshire series.
Mary Pulver Kuhfeld told CA: "‘Write what you know’ sounds far more simple than it is. A writer should never stop expanding his or her field of knowledge, if only to discover a new angle for a story or a new area of research needed to complete one.
"My books are mysteries—murder mysteries. I like the mystery genre because there is a strong element of morality in it. Good triumphs and wickedness is punished and all (or much) is well at the end. Both in writing and reading them one comes away with a feeling of something having been accomplished."
Kuhfeld's earlier novels, published under the name of Mary Monica Pulver, "form a series involving a police detective and his wife," she continued. "They live in a small Illinois city recovering from a bout with corruption, elements of which remain. She runs a small but successful horse-breeding operation. They are both members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a for-real organization that studies life in the medieval period by dressing and behaving as if at a medieval gathering on the occasional weekend. My first book, Murder at the War, was set at the Society for Creative Anachronism's largest annual event, the Pennsic War, at which medieval battles are fought with wooden swords and in real armor.
"I am taking a flier at the real Middle Ages by setting my fifth book at a fifteenth-century English abbey, St. Frideswidde's, run by the redoubtable Domina Edith, as seen through the eyes of the novice Thomasine. A great lady comes to the abbey to ‘rescue’ Thomasine from life as a nun, much against Thomasine's wishes. The great lady dies of poison, and it is up to Domina Edith to discover the truth when everything points to Thomasine as the murderer."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Crewel Yule, p. 393.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2005, review of Embroidered Truths, p. 453; May 1, 2006, review of Sins and Needles, p. 440.
Library Journal, June 1, 2004, Ann Kim, review of Crewel Yule, p. 109.
Publishers Weekly, September 27, 2004, "October Publications," review of Crewel Yule, p. 41; May 9, 2005, "June Publications," review of Embroidered Truths, p. 59; April 24, 2006, review of Sins and Needles, p. 42.
Monica Ferris Home Page,http://www.monica-ferris.com (March 10, 2007).