PERSONAL: Married Allen Matthews (a therapist).
ADDRESSES: Home and offıce—P.O. Box 4021, Oak Park, IL 60303. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer. Clinical social worker.
AWARDS, HONORS: Wordweaving Award for Excellence, Midwest Book Review, for the "Cassidy McCabe" series; Readers Choice Award for Best Series Character, 1999; Cat Writers Association Certificate of Excellence.
"CASSIDY MCCABE" MYSTERY SERIES
Secret's Shadow, Intrigue Press (Angel Fire, NM), 1996.
Satan's Silence, Intrigue Press (Angel Fire, NM), 1997.
Vendetta's Victim, Intrigue Press (Angel Fire, NM), 1998.
Wanton's Web, Intrigue Press (Angel Fire, NM), 1999.
Cat's Claw, Intrigue Press (Angel Fire, NM), 2000.
Death's Domain, Intrigue Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2001.
Wedding's Widow, Intrigue Press (Denver, CO), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Alex Matthews has earned praise for her creation of Cassidy McCabe, the psychotherapist/sleuth heroine she introduced in Secret's Shadow. A flawed and realistic character, McCabe's anxieties are plentiful: the mob is chasing her ex-husband, her old, but architecturally unique house is falling apart, she pays her ex-husband's back taxes, and one of her clients in psychotherapy has committed suicide and the family is considering a law suit. Consumed with these worries, McCabe attempts to unravel the mystery of the suicide of her patient, Ryan, with the aid of his brother Zach, who believes Ryan was murdered. McCabe uncovers secrets about Ryan's past, which lead to a startling discovery.
Matthews's second mystery, Satan's Silence, continues the adventures of McCabe. When Dana, one of McCabe's patients, reveals a vision of satanic rituals in the woods, Zach, McCabe's friend and an investigative reporter, pushes McCabe to help him look into the matter. Shortly thereafter, Dana's child is kidnaped. After finding a skull in a well, McCabe begins to fear for her and Zach's lives. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "Matthews goes out of her way to create flaws in her heroine, whose interior observations are revealed." Matthews's writing style combines a personal psychological process with the elements of mystery.
In Vendetta's Victim, McCabe finds herself caught up in the machinations of a malicious stranger who is purposely infecting women with AIDS and then referring them to her for therapy. Fearing that this psychopath is one of her own patients, Cassidy sets out to track him down, again with Zach's help. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found the book "an awkward affair that mixes genuine suspense with some grating storytelling affectations," particularly Matthews's use of italicized interjections from Cassidy's conscience. Library Journal reviewer Rex Klett was more impressed, commending its "easy-to-take prose." For Klett, this third McCabe novel was "a decided improvement over Satan's Silence."
In Wanton's Web, it is Zach who must face a stranger when his ex-girlfriend Xandra, a high-priced escort, calls to tell him he has to take care of the son he never even knew existed. When Xandra is murdered, Zach finds himself the prime suspect, and Cassidy is soon involved in a frantic race to clear her boyfriend and save his son. Klett, writing in another Library Journal review, found this installment in the series to be a "successful mix of relationships, passions, and revenge." "Matthews's suspenseful writing will keep readers reading," commented Booklist reviewer John Rowen.
Engaged in Wanton's Web, Cassidy and Zach are newlyweds in Cat's Claw, but Zach's new assignment is already putting strains on their marriage. Zach has gone undercover, impersonating a drug dealer in order to expose police corruption, and he is having a hard time keeping his hard-edged dealer persona from spilling over into his home life. Meanwhile, Cassidy is growing increasingly worried about an eccentric, reclusive neighbor, Olivia, and goes to check up on her one night. Rebuffed by a visibly nervous Olivia, she returns the next day to find a drunken ex-con in Olivia's living room and Olivia's body in the basement. The ex-con is arrested, but Cassidy is not convinced of his guilt and begins to hunt through Olivia's private papers for clues. What she finds is a wealth of suspects, including loony relatives, a suspicious employer, and a number of victims of Olivia's spiteful and malicious actions. Library Journal's Klett remarked that "Matthews hits her stride in this exciting addition to the "Cassidy McCabe" series."
Death's Domain opens with a bizarre incident, when McCabe comes across her own obituary, complete with photo, while flipping through the local paper. The accompanying article claims she was killed in a car accident, and gradually it dawns on McCabe that her obit appeared on the same date as a fatal car crash for which she holds herself partly responsible. She and Zach are soon uncovering clues to the culprit's identity, and uncovering a sad chapter in Cassidy's own life. "Matthews offers one of her best mysteries in this tale dealing with marital infidelity and disturbed psyches," wrote Chicago Sun-Times reviewer Edward Gilbreth.
There is no question of marital infidelity in Matthews's sixth novel, Wedding's Widow, because the victim, named Max, is shot at his own wedding before he can take the vows. Cassidy herself had talked the reluctant bride, Claire, into going ahead with the nuptials, and now she and Zach must help her find her would-be husband's killer. Naturally, things are not as they seem, and Max turns out to be quite different from his image as an upstanding citizen. Business partners, disgruntled employees, and Max's own sisters become suspects, along with Claire's vindictive ex-husband. "Some rather stilted dialogue gets in the way here, but series fans will find much to enjoy," commented Booklist reviewer Sue O'Brien.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 1999, John Rowen, review of Wanton's Web, p. 1482; May 1, 2003, Sue O'Brien, review of Wedding's Widow, p. 1549.
Chicago Sun-Times, October 14, 2001, Edward Gilbreth, review of Death's Domain, p. 14.
Library Journal, March 1, 1997, Rex Klett, review of Satan's Silence, p. 107; April 1, 1998, Rex Klett, review of Vendetta's Victim, p. 129; April 1, 1999, Rex Klett, review of Wanton's Web, p. 132; March 1, 2000, Rex Klett, review of Cat's Claw, p. 127.
Publishers Weekly, March 11, 1996, review of Secret'sShadow, pp. 46-47; January 6, 1997, review of Satan's Silence, p. 68; March 9, 1998, review of Vendetta's Victim, p. 52; April 10, 2000, review of Cat's Claw, p. 79.
BookBrowser,http://www.bookbrowser.com/ (December 31, 1997), review of Satan's Silence.
Ed's Internet Book Review, http://www.clark.net/ (December 31, 1997), review of Secret's Shadow.*