McClendon, Lise 1952–
McClendon, Lise 1952–
(Lise Webb McClendon)
PERSONAL: Born February 8, 1952, in Carmel, CA; daughter of John H. (a college professor) and Betty M. McClendon; married Kipp B. Webb (a cardiologist). Education: University of Nebraska, Lincoln, B.A., 1974; University of Missouri—Kansas City, M.A., 1981.
ADDRESSES: Home—Jackson, WY. Agent—c/o Philip Spitzer, 60 Talmage Farm Ln., East Hampton, NY 11937.
MEMBER: Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime.
"ALIX THORSSEN" SERIES; MYSTERY NOVELS
The Bluejay Shaman, Walker (New York, NY), 1994.
Painted Truth, Walker (New York, NY), 1995.
Nordic Nights, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 1999.
Blue Wolf, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2001.
"DORIE LENNOX" SERIES; MYSTERY NOVELS
One O'Clock Jump, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Sweet and Lowdown, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Lise McClendon is a mystery writer whose first series of novels feature art dealer Alix Thorssen. Alix owns an art gallery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, "where the Old West merges with upscale art galleries and white-water rafting concessions," as a critic for Publishers Weekly related. In her debut appearance, The Bluejay Shaman, Alix is called in to appraise stolen art recovered by the local police. While she is busy with that project, her brother-in-law is arrested for murdering an Indian woman. She must work for his freedom while completing her appraising assignment. Calling the novel "a gripping debut," the Publishers Weekly critic added: "Ancient rituals and the powerful Montana landscape are deftly integrated in this suspenseful tale."
Painted Truth finds Alix investigating the arson of a local art gallery and the murder of an unidentified man. Although allowing that the plot "relies on speed more than finesse," a Publishers Weekly contributor found that "Alix, fueled by endless cups of coffee and a lot of angst, more than makes up for the shortcomings." Emily Melton, in her review of the novel for Booklist, stated: "The novel features competent writing, a good premise, and an atmospheric setting."
Alix returns in the more recent installment Blue Wolf, a novel with a wildlife conservation theme in its concern for the plight of the wild wolf. Alix has agreed to hold a benefit art auction at her gallery, an event designed to raise awareness and funds towards conservation in the Jackson Hole area. A friend and reclusive local artist, whose remarkable paintings often focus on wolves, asks Alix to investigate a hunting accident in which a teenage boy died twenty-five years earlier. Matters are complicated when another friend, a local rancher, admits to shooting an endangered wolf. The shooting sets off a conflict between local environmentalists and nearly everyone else in the community, including ranchers, business leaders, and local authorities. The conflict soon escalates and threatens to become violent. Alix notices the apparent contradictions in the community's attitudes: on the one hand, they are very supportive of the art auction and its message of conservation, but on the other they seem to be very much anti-wolf. More controversy erupts when the auction committee chair refuses to accept a stunning wolf portrait created by Alix's wolf-painting friend. As the locals fight among themselves and the quarter-century-old mystery is pursued, Alix must face difficult issues from her own past that have relevance to the ongoing controversy. School Library Journal reviewer Christine C. Menefee observed that this novel would not be an ideal place for new readers to enter Alix's world, but that "for those already familiar with her milieu, it should be a satisfyingly complex outing."
With One O'Clock Jump McClendon leaves the snowy wilderness of Jackson Hole to begin a new series set in mid-twentieth century Kansas City. It is a time and place where Count Basie was entertainment king, President Roosevelt conducted his regular fireside chats, and jazz music is a national phenomenon. The heroine of the series, Dorie Lennox, is a private investigator hired by Iris Jackson, a woman with a secret and potential connections to the Mob. When Iris flings herself off a bridge, Dorie thinks the job is over. The client who hired Dorie wants to continue the case, however. Information on Iris is maddeningly difficult to find, and Dorie seeks some escape in a local race track investigation her partner, Amos Haddam, was involved in before he was hospitalized. Dorie finds plenty of secrets involving those associated with the race track, with the allegedly dead Iris (who is still making phone calls to the client's frightened wife), and even herself. "McClendon debuts an excellent historical series, with evocative period dialogues and a story line full of surprises," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
In Dorie's next adventure, Sweet and Lowdown, the P.I. and Amos are on the trail of Thalia Hines, a member of a prominent local family. The two investigators trail the wayward Thalia, trying to keep her out of trouble, until Amos is distracted by a refugee from London and a series of threats against a Negro League baseball team called the Monarchs. A murder and an attempt to kidnap Thalia propels Dorie into the midst of potential race riots, plots against Thalia, and bitter sports rivalries between the Monarchs and the KC Blues. "The author masterfully evokes the period, from details of dress to a rally for Wendell Willkie," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "This is a book to be savored—read it too fast and you might miss something."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 1, 1995, Emily Melton, review of Painted Truth, p. 612; January 1, 2001, Bill Ott, review of One O'Clock Jump, p. 925; July, 2001, Carrie Bissey, review of Blue Wolf, p. 1988.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2001, review of Blue Wolf, p. 985; April 15, 2002, review of Sweet and Lowdown, p. 529.
Library Journal, December, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of Nordic Nights, p. 191; February 1, 2001, Rex E. Klett, review of One O'Clock Jump, p. 127.
Publishers Weekly, February 28, 1994, review of The Bluejay Shaman, p. 75; October 16, 1995, review of Painted Truth, p. 45; November 8, 1999, review of Nordic Nights, p. 51; February 12, 2001, review of One O'Clock Jump, p. 187; July 23, 2001, review of Blue Wolf, p. 53; July 8, 2002, review of Sweet and Lowdown, p. 34, and Monica Whitebread, "PW Talks to Lise McClendon," p. 35.
School Library Journal, January, 2002, Christine C. Menefee, review of Blue Wolf, p. 170.
All about Romance, http://www.likesbooks.com/ (December 10, 2005), Jane Jorgenson, review of One O'Clock Jump.
Books N Bytes, http://www.booksnbytes.com/ (December 10, 2005), Carl Brookins, review of Blue Wolf; Harriet Klausner, reviews of Blue Wolf and One O'Clock Jump.
Lise McClendon Home Page, http://www.lisemcclendon.com (December 10, 2005).
Mystery One Bookstore Web site, http://www.mysteryone.com/ (December 10, 2005), interview with Lise McClendon.
Mystery Reader, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (December 10, 2005), E.W. Becker, review of Nordic Nights; Diane Gotfryd, review of Blue Wolf; Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of One O'Clock Jump.