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Loomis, Jon

Loomis, Jon

PERSONAL:

Married; children: one son.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Eau Claire, WI.

CAREER:

Writer, poet, and educator. Teaches creative writing at the college level.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Field Poetry Prize, 1997, for Vanitas Motel.

WRITINGS:

Vanitas Motel (poetry), Oberlin College Press (Oberlin, OH), 1998.

The Pleasure Principle (poetry), Oberlin College Press (Oberlin, OH), 2001.

High Season (mystery novel), St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of Web blog Zen Masters Play the Blues.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jon Loomis is a writer and poet who followed his first two books of poetry, Vanitas Motel and The Pleasure Principle, with a mystery novel titled High Season. Published in 1998, Vanitas Motel is the author's first collection of poetry. "The very title ‘Vanitas Motel’ seems to locate us in a highminded but slightly seedy environment, and Jon Loomis's poems veer deftly and ironically between the sacramental and the sordid," noted Maureen McLane in the Chicago Review. The poems address topics such as the death of Loomis's father, adultery, divorce, painting, men's ritual, and the natural landscape. Writing in the Chicago Review, McLane noted that "storytelling is something Loomis's best poems achieve with a wonderful economy of expression and sinuousness of line."

In his second collection of poetry, The Pleasure Principle, the author "visits big subjects by way of the commonplace," according to a description by the publisher, Oberlin College Press. As he explores the human condition, the author addresses a wide variety of topics, from passion and mortality to cross-dressing and tourism. In the title poem, the author writes of the beauty of life and nature among "failed agnostics."

Loomis writes on his CrimeSpace Web Page that P.G. Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler are his favorite authors, which may explain why the author's next book is a mystery novel. High Season was called an "entertaining whodunit" by New York Times Book Review contributor Marilyn Stasio. Referring to the novel as "an auspicious fiction debut," a Publishers Weekly contributor also wrote in the same review that the mystery is "full of entertaining twists and sly observations."

The story revolves around the mystery of who strangled a transvestite, whose body is discovered on a Cape Cod beach. Not only does the murder arouse shock but also reveals that the murdered man is a famous evangelist who spoke out vociferously against homosexuality and apparently visited Cape Cod to not practice what he preached. Assigned to the case is Frank Coffin, a Provincetown officer who hangs on to his job despite the fact that his uncle Rudy left the force after being accused of extortion and bribery. Although they relegate Coffin to a basement office, his superiors recognize that he is the force's best detective, especially since Coffin previously was a highly regarded detective on the Baltimore police force before he started having panic attacks and returned to his hometown of Provincetown.

However, Coffin demands that Sargent Lola Winters be assigned as his partner on the case. Winters is a lesbian; one of Coffin's best friend's is also gay so the case takes on added meaning for both detectives as they begin by investigating gay bars and other locales popular in the homosexual community. The State Police are also on the case, and the three officers assigned are homophobic, although the undercover officer may be hiding the fact that he is gay. As the investigation continues, the relatively safe Provincetown community soon is beset by a series of other murders. Coffin and Winters are now faced with trying to figure out whether the bizarre series of murders, which include crucifying a real estate developer with a nail gun, are the work of one or more murderers. In two subplots, Coffin's girlfriend is being stalked, and his shady Uncle Rudy, who has come back to town, is involved in some unsavory dealings.

"Told in the third person, this first novel induces a growing sense of menace as the investigation intensifies," wrote Drewey Wayne Gunn on ReviewingTheEvidence.com, adding later in the same review that the novel also "contains memorable aspects beyond those of a straight whodunit." Connie Fletcher, writing in Booklist, commented that the author "displays the sureness of pace, dead-on atmosphere, and effortless wit of a veteran pro like Robert B. Parker."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Loomis, John, The Pleasure Principle (poetry), Oberlin College Press (Oberlin, OH), 2001.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 2007, Connie Fletcher, review of High Season, p. 45.

Books, October 27, 2007, Paul Goat Allen, "Few Tricks, Many Treats: Southern Illinois Writer's 1st Novel Joins a Cornucopia of Stellar Debuts," p. 7.

Chicago Review, January 1, 1999, Maureen McLane, review of Vanitas Motel, p. 115.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2007, review of High Season.

New York Times Book Review, October 21, 2007, Marilyn Stasio, "Post-Postmortem," includes review of High Season.

Publishers Weekly, July 16, 2007, review of High Season, p. 148.

Virginia Quarterly Review, September 22, 1998, review of Vanitas Motel, p. 137.

ONLINE

John Loomis CrimeSpace Web Page,http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/jonloomis (May 19, 2008).

Oberlin College Press,http://www.oberlin.edu/ (May 19, 2008), overview of The Pleasure Principle.

ReviewingTheEvidence.com,http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (May 19, 2008), Drewey Wayne Gunn, review of High Season.

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