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Marks, Walter 1934-

MARKS, Walter 1934-

PERSONAL:

Born January 15, 1934, in New York, NY. Education: Amherst College, B.A.; attended Columbia University.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—c/o Carroll and Graf Publishers, 161 William St., 16th Floor, New York, NY 10038.

CAREER:

Composer and author.

WRITINGS:

The Wild Party (screenplay), 1975.

Dangerous Behavior, Carroll and Graf (New York, NY), 2002.

Also composed music for several plays, including Bajour, 1964, Golden Rainbow, 1968, The Butler Did It, 1980, and Body Shop, 1995; composed score for film The Wild Party, 1975. Author of lyrics for songs, including "I've Gotta Be Me" and "I Enjoy Being a Girl."

SIDELIGHTS:

For most of his career, Walter Marks has worked with music, composing scores for Broadway plays and writing lyrics for such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis, Jr., Steve Lawrence, Liza Minnelli, and even the Muppets. He turned to the nonlyrical when, in the 1970s, he wrote the screenplay for James Ivory and Ismail Marchant's production of The Wild Party, starring Raquel Welch and James Coco, about a silent movie director and his mistress and an ill-fated party. More recently, Marks has written fiction, producing a mystery novel which a Kirkus Reviews critic referred to as a "promising debut."

That mystery novel is Dangerous Behavior a psychological thriller, whose protagonist, David Rothberg, a bright but inexperienced psychiatrist, must determine if an imprisoned killer deserves to be paroled. Victor Thomas Janko, known as the Baby Carriage Killer because he murdered a young mother while her child watched from a nearby carriage, has spent fifteen years of his prison term in solitary confinement. During that time, Janko has been a model prisoner and has become a somewhat celebrated prison artist, painting realist landscapes of beaches. Although he pleaded guilty to the crime when he was tried in court, Janko now claims to have no memory of the incident; and his longtime girlfriend swears Janko is innocent. Also in his favor is the fact that some of the evidence in his case points to another potential suspect.

But not everything points to Janko's innocence. Added to the conflicting evidence that Rothberg must sort through are the remarks of some of the prison guards, who tell Rothberg that they have heard Janko brag about the crime. Rothberg has also been warned that Janko is very gifted when it comes to persuading people of his lack of guilt.

It is up to Dr. Rothberg to decide whether the accused murderer goes free, a difficult decision for even a well-seasoned psychiatrist to make. In order to gather more information, Rothberg not only convinces his boss to allow him to carry out long interviews with the prisoner, he also dons the role of crime investigator as he searches for more definitive clues that might point to another suspect. But the deeper Rothberg probes, the more confused he becomes until he reaches the point where he wonders if he suffers from paranoia. Why are there so many contradictory stories? What are the motives behind the people he interviews? What interests could they have in lying to him? The more he tries to analyze the people around him, the more he must analyze himself. The challenge begins to engulf him and eventually threatens to destroy him.

The story is "tightly written" with "considerable suspense," wrote a critic for Kirkus Reviews. Michael Gannon for Booklist suggested that Marks's book "should be popular with crime novel buffs."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 1, 2002, Michael Gannon, review of Dangerous Behavior, p. 477.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2002, review of Dangerous Behavior, p. 1269.

Publishers Weekly, October 7, 2002, review of Dangerous Behavior, pp. 51-52.*

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