Meltzer, Brad 1970-
Meltzer, Brad 1970-
Born April 1, 1970, in New York, NY; son of Stewart and Teri Meltzer; married Cori Flam (an attorney), 1995; children: one son. Education: University of Michigan, B.A. (high distinction), 1992; Columbia University, J.D., 1996. Religion: Jewish.
Home—Miami, FL. Office—P.O. Box 801632, Hill & Barlow Agency, 1 International Pl., Aventura, FL 33280.
Writer and attorney. Wrote speeches for President Clinton's national service program; cocreator and supervising producer of television series Jack & Bobby for the WB network, 2004.
The Tenth Justice, Rob Weisbach/Morrow (New York, NY), 1997.
Dead Even, Rob Weisbach/Morrow (New York, NY), 1998.
The First Counsel, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2001.
The Millionaires, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Zero Game, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Book of Fate, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Green Arrow: The Archer's Quest (collection of six issues written by the author), DC Comics (New York, NY), 2003.
Identity Crisis (collection of seven issues written by the author), DC Comics (New York, NY), 2004.
Also author of monthly installments of Justice League of America, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2006—.
Contributor to periodicals, including USA Weekend, Sunday Times (London, England), and Details.
Film rights to The Tenth Justice were optioned to Fox, 2000; film rights to The Zero Game were optioned to Kathleen Kennedy and director Gary Ross; First Counsel was adapted as an audiobook read by D.B. Sweeney, Time Warner, 2001.
The multi-talented Brad Meltzer is the author of bestselling political thrillers, including The First Counsel and The Zero Game, as well as innovative comic book series, including Green Arrow: The Archer's Quest and Identity Crisis. Along with friend Steven Cohen, Meltzer also developed the critically acclaimed 2004 television drama Jack & Bobby. "With novels, comics, and television, you use entirely different palettes," he told Library Journal interviewer Jeff Ayers. "In novels, the palette is words. In comics, I paint with words and pictures. And in television, you mix words, pictures, actors, music, and all the things that make a Jackson Pollock painting. The key is learning the limits and benefits of each medium."
While attending Columbia University Law School, Meltzer penned his debut novel, The Tenth Justice. The work, dubbed a "crafty legal thriller" by a Publishers Weekly reviewer, is set in Washington, DC, and centers around the novice career of Ben Addison, a Yale Law School graduate who works as a clerk for a Supreme Court justice. During his first months on the job, Addison makes the ethical error of divulging the confidential outcome of a case to a bogus source. Con man Rick Fagan is Addison's unethical antagonist; he poses as a former clerk of Justice Mason Hollis to get "inside information." Terrified to go to the authorities once he realizes his mistake, Addison enlists the help of his coclerk, Lisa, as well as housemates Nathan, who works for the State Department, Eric, who works for the Washington Herald, and Ober, who works in a senator's office. Bending and breaking rules of protocol and procedure, Addison and his friends attempt to undo the damage before more can take place.
While The Tenth Justice was still a work-in-progress, it generated interest among editors seeking the next "rising" thriller writer. James Barron, in an article for the New York Times, wrote that Meltzer "does not pander to the popular antilawyer mood." Of his own work, Meltzer noted in the New York Times that The Tenth Justice is the story of a Supreme Court clerk "who gets into trouble with the smallest indiscretion that leads to … the largest and greatest amount of peril." The "shadow-filled world will entertain most," according to a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, who said that Addison's dilemma "moves the story along at a crisp pace." A Kirkus Reviews contributor reached a similar opinion, stating that The Tenth Justice is a "barn-burning first novel," wherein Meltzer "spins a mean paranoid thriller that'll have you turning pages in a frenzy." Lori Dunn, in Library Journal, noted that the "instant chemistry" between Addison and coclerk Lisa adds to the plot, which is "perfect for a blockbuster movie."
In Meltzer's second novel, Dead Even, married lawyers Sara Tate and Jared Lynch find themselves pitted against each other in a burglary case. To make matters worse, both have received the same threat: If you do not win the case, your spouse dies. An Entertainment Weekly contributor stated that "in his new legal thriller … Meltzer delivers more evidence—with his deftly written dialogue and characters—that he is more than a blip on the bestseller list." In Publishers Weekly, a critic called Dead Even a "compelling tale of legal and extralegal adventure," and Library Journal contributor Alicia Graybill concluded that "nail-biting suspense makes this a thriller in the true sense of the word."
Reviewing The First Counsel in Booklist, Danise Hoover said that "although this novel breaks no new literary ground, the Washington color and scenery and the unusual cast of characters take it a step above your average page-turner." Michael Young, a lawyer in the White House counsel's office, is on a date with Nora Hartson, the volatile daughter of the president, who is intent on losing her Secret Service escort for the evening. The couple see Michael's boss, Edgar Simon, in a gay bar and follow him to a spot where he makes a cash drop, which Nora grabs before the intended recipient arrives. Michael is picked up by the police while in possession of the money, but when he relates the story to White House Ethics Chief Caroline Penzler, she says that Edgar Simon has told the same story—about Michael. When Penzler is subsequently murdered, Michael finds he can trust no one, including Nora, who is suddenly unavailable when he calls. In spite of the threat to his own career, Michael is determined to protect the reputations of Nora and the president amidst the turmoil generated by murder, blackmail, and betrayal. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called The First Counsel a "lightning-paced suspense thriller," and a Kirkus Reviews contributor said: "Nothing gets in the way of the adrenaline jolt Meltzer delivers like a master."
A complex but seemingly foolproof bank heist is the focus of The Millionaires, "the biggest and wildest of Meltzer's paranoid action fantasies," according to a Kirkus Reviews critic. When Oliver and Charlie Caruso, employees at an exclusive Manhattan bank, learn that three million dollars is sitting unclaimed in the account of a deceased client, the brothers decide to funnel the money into their own secret, offshore account. The plan goes awry, however, when the amount they transfer unexpectedly blossoms into more than three hundred million, setting off alarms throughout the company. "Desperate to clear their names," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "the boys escape to Florida, following the money to the daughter of the deceased millionaire, a former tech wizard for Disney with a secret invention." The author "has a knack for keeping a story moving while still throwing in plenty of insider information," noted Booklist contributor Mary Frances Wilkens, and Ayers, reviewing the novel in Library Journal, observed that "the inner workings of high finance have never been more interesting."
Meltzer made the leap to comic books in 2002, working on issues of Green Arrow for DC Comics, which were published altogether in his graphic novel. He followed that effort with Identity Crisis, a seven-issue murder mystery featuring Batman, Superman, the Flash, and other members of the Justice League of America. Meltzer emphasized character development over action in the work, according to Entertainment Weekly contributor Tom Russo, who stated that the author "trains his spotlight on such C-listers as the Elongated Man, who totes zero iconic baggage and whose wife's brutal slaying sets the story in motion." A reviewer in Publishers Weekly called Identity Crisis "a genuine comics landmark." With the success of that project, Meltzer became the driving force behind the relaunch of DC's Justice League of America series.
Cocreated by Meltzer, Jack & Bobby, a television series about two teenage brothers, one of whom grows up to become President of the United States, debuted on the WB Network in 2004. Though it lasted only one season, the show earned a Golden Globe nomination. As Meltzer explained on his Web site, "On the TV side, cocreating the TV show Jack & Bobby was one of the most amazing, humbling, rewarding, frustrating, fantastic experiences of my life. And the best part? Once you get cancelled that fast, you get to call yourself a cult-classic and no one argues."
The Zero Game, a 2004 novel, concerns Matthew Mercer, a Washington insider who gets more than he bargained for when he agrees to wager on congressional legislation. Introduced to the "Zero Game" by his best friend, Harris Sandler, Mercer realizes he has a chance to hit the jackpot when the latest bet centers on a land sale that is under his control. "Realizing that they've been handed an opportunity to break the bank," remarked a Kirkus Reviews critic, Mercer and Harris "bet all their savings on the outcome and then watch a trap door spring open beneath them." According to Library Journal critic Ayers, "behind-the-scenes glimpses of Capitol Hill doings are intermingled with tense scenes of jaw-dropping suspense."
A presidential aide uncovers a terrifying conspiracy in The Book of Fate, a "dark tale of ex-presidents, assassinations, Masonic intrigue and a 200-year-old secret code invented by Thomas Jefferson," wrote a contributor in Kirkus Reviews. Eight years after Wes Holloway survived an attempt on the life of President Leland Manning—an attack that killed deputy chief of staff Ron Boyle—Holloway spies Boyle, alive and well, in Malaysia. Meltzer "fluidly integrates historical fact and fiction," David Pitt remarked in Booklist, and in Library Journal, Ayers stated that the author "has written his best thriller yet."
Meltzer notes that the key to his writing is research. "You can invent all the stuff you want," he stated on his Web site, "but if it doesn't smell real, readers will know in a nanosecond (and rip your head off). To me, fiction is at its best when it has one foot in reality."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Newsmakers, Issue 4, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2005.
America's Intelligence Wire, October 13, 2006, "Meltzer's Latest Novel Inspired by Lives of Former Presidents, Freemasons," review of The Book of Fate.
Booklist, September 1, 2000, Danise Hoover, review of The First Counsel, p. 7; December 1, 2001, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of The Millionaires, p. 606; November 15, 2003, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of The Zero Game, p. 549; September 1, 2005, Gordon Flagg, review of Identity Crisis, p. 77; July 1, 2006, David Pitt, review of The Book of Fate, p. 7.
Campaigns & Elections, April, 2004, Robin T. Reid, "Author Mines for Political Thrillers," p. 45.
Christian Science Monitor, July 31, 1997, Michele Ross, review of The Tenth Justice, p. B2.
Entertainment Weekly, May 29, 1998, review of Dead Even, p. 68; summer, 2004, Tom Russo, "Murder Ink," review of Identity Crisis, p. T23.
Fortune, March 4, 2002, Nicholas Varchaver, "Hiding Dirty Money," interview with Brad Meltzer, p. 44.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1997, review of The Tenth Justice, p. 329; October 1, 2000, review of The First Counsel, p. 1380; November 15, 2001, review of The Millionaires, p. 1572; November 15, 2003, review of The Zero Game, p. 1333; September 1, 2005, "Graphic Novel & Comics Spotlight," review of Identity Crisis, p. S1; August 1, 2006, review of The Book of Fate, p. 747.
Library Journal, February 15, 1997, Lori Dunn, review of The Tenth Justice, p. 163; June 15, 1998, Alicia Graybill, review of Dead Even, p. 108; October 15, 2000, Jeff Ayers, review of The First Counsel, p. 102; January, 2002, Jeff Ayers, review of The Millionaires, p. 153; December, 2003, Jeff Ayers, review of The Zero Game, p. 167; January 1, 2006, Steve Raiteri, "Graphic Novels," review of Identity Crisis, p. 86; August 1, 2006, Jeff Ayers, review of The Book of Fate, p. 72, and "Q & A: Brad Meltzer," p. 74.
New York Times, May 18, 1996, James Barron, "Presumed Best Seller; Law Student Wins Top Money for First Novel, p. 21; May 20, 1996, James Baron, "Making a Case for the Spare-Time Novel," p. B1; August 10, 2006, George Gene Gustines, "Comic Book Excerpts Novel," p. E2.
New York Times Book Review, August 24, 1997, Erik Burns, review of The Tenth Justice, p. 19; July 5, 1998, Marilyn Stasio, review of Dead Even, p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, February 10, 1997, review of The Tenth Justice, p. 63; April 20, 1998, review of Dead Even, p. 49; November 6, 2000, review of The First Counsel, p. 67; June 4, 2001, review of First Counsel (audio version), p. 27; November 26, 2001, review of The Millionaires, p. 38; August 1, 2005, review of Identity Crisis, p. 46; July 24, 2006, review of The Book of Fate, p. 35; August 14, 2006, "Meltzer Cross-pollinates," p. 16.
School Library Journal, March, 2006, Erin Dennington, review of Identity Crisis, p. 253.
Washington Post, January 4, 2001, Linton Weeks, "The Author's Washington Cliffhanger; A Novel Idea Bumps Smack into Reality," p. C1; May 9, 2004, A.J. Frutkin, "Presidential Seedlings: On WB's Jack & Bobby, Two Brothers Will Grow Toward a Special Fate."
Washington Post Book World, October 1, 2006, Maureen Corrigan, "Forget the Happy Ending—All These Heroes Hope for Is a Few Orderly Moments," review of The Book of Fate, p. 13.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (January 26, 2001), Joe Hartlaub, interview with Brad Meltzer.
Brad Meltzer Home Page,http://www.bradmeltzer.com (January 1, 2007).
CNN Web site,http://www.cnn.com/ (September 8, 2006), Porter Anderson, "Man Tempts ‘Fate,’ Writes Comic Books."
Wizard Universe Web site,http://www.wizarduniverse.com/ (August 28, 2006), Brian Bendis, interview with Brad Meltzer.