PERSONAL: Female. Education: Emmanuel College, B.A., 1958; Fordham University, Ph.D., 1968.
CAREER: Writer, novelist, physicist, educator, and researcher. Golden Gate University, San Francisco, CA, faculty member. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, scientific writer/editor. Served on faculty of Emmanuel College, St. John's College, Dominican College, and John F. Kennedy University.
MEMBER: Mystery Writers of America (board member, Northern California chapter), California Writers Club (president and member of board of directors, Mt. Diablo branch), Sisters in Crime (president, Northern California Branch).
"PERIODIC TABLE" MYSTERY SERIES
The Hydrogen Murder, Avalon Books (New York, NY), 1997.
The Helium Murder, Worldwide (New York, NY), 1998.
The Lithium Murder, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1999.
The Beryllium Murder, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.
The Boric Acid Murder, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2002.
The Carbon Murder, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Nitrogen Murder, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor of fiction to periodicals, including New-front Publication and Vermont Ink.
Contributor to periodicals, including Ms. and Elysian Fields Quarterly. Book reviewer for Review of Metaphysics Journal and Yankee Book Peddler.
SIDELIGHTS: Novelist, physicist, and educator Camille Minichino has been a scientist and teacher for more than thirty years. After receiving a B.A. in mathematics from Emmanuel College in 1958 and a Ph.D. in physics from Fordham University in 1968, Minichino went on to develop and teach interdisciplinary courses at a number of prominent colleges in the United States. She has taught a complete undergraduate physics curriculum as well as classes in logic, philosophy, and the history and philosophy of science. She has taught science and communication to children as well as adults. As a scientific researcher and physicist, Minichino conducted experimental physics research in spectroscopy at Fordham University and in high-temperature, high-pressure physics at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. She currently teaches at Golden Gate University in San Francisco and works as a scientific writer at Lawrence Livermore.
Minichino is the author of numerous mystery novels in the "Periodic Table" mystery series, starring her recurring character, Gloria Lamerino, a retired physicist who helps the police with cases requiring scientific expertise. In the first book of the series, The Hydrogen Murder, Gloria has just retired from a physics career in California and returned to her Massachusetts hometown. Taking an apartment above a funeral home owned by her best friend—as a scientist, she is not being particularly spooked by proximity to the dead—Gloria settles into her suburban retirement and begins her association with the Revere Police Department. When a young physicist, Eric Benson, is found murdered in his lab, police detective Matt Gennaro asks Gloria to find out if the death had anything to do with Benson's research on hydrogen and superconductivity. A break-in at Gloria's apartment fails to dissuade her, and she eventually uncovers wrongdoing by other members of Benson's research team, who hoped to hide flaws in a research project that would lead to a big-money payoff. As Gloria struggles to come to terms with the attention of former boyfriend Peter Matrone, she acknowledges a definite attraction to the rugged Detective Gennaro. Booklist contributor John Rowen remarked that Minichino's "first novel … is a real find," containing not only clearly explained scientific concepts but a "tightly constructed mystery with appealing, sympathetic characters."
The Helium Murder finds Gloria helping with the police investigation of the hit-and-run murder of U.S. Congresswoman Margaret Hurley, a member of the U.S. House Science and Technology Committee who was helping to decide whether or not to sell off the nation's helium reserve. Detecting similarities between Hurley's murder and the death of her own fiancée more than thirty years prior, Gloria applies her knowledge of science and chemistry to determine the meaning of Hurley's last word and reach a breakthrough in the case. Meanwhile, Gloria's interest in Detective Matt Gennaro continues to heat up. "Gloria's self-deprecating humor and clear-eyed understanding of her own and others' motives make her an engaging sleuth," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Library Journal reviewer Rex E. Klett called the book a "tidy mix of romance, intrigue, science, and mystery." The book and series "boasts sure-handed plotting and a most appealing star," commented Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper.
In The Lithium Murder Michael Deramo, a janitor at a local university is strangled after he overhears a plot to conceal environmental hazards that will accompany the development of a new type of lithium battery. Though the two chief researchers admit that they were about to try to bribe Deramo to keep him quiet, there are others in the picture who would benefit from seeing the janitor dead, including Deramo's snobby son, a patent lawyer who could have made a fortune on the battery; a sister-in-law; a step-grandson; and a coldly calculating lawyer. Gloria's knowledge of science and Italian family dynamics help her to determine the real reason behind the murder. Meanwhile, Gloria and Matt's relationship has advanced to the dating stage, though she prefers the term "companion" to "boyfriend." Library Journal reviewer Klett noted that Minichino sustains interest with "gentle humor, amiable series characters, and frissons of imminent danger."
By the time of The Nitrogen Murder, the seventh book in the series, Gloria and Matt have become engaged, their relationship strengthened by Matt's bout with prostate cancer. The two travel to Berkeley, California, to attend the wedding of Gloria's close friend Elaine Cody and retired chemist Philip Chambers. The wedding plans are put on hold when Philip's EMT daughter, Dana, is traumatized during an emergency call in which her partner was gunned down and the patient they are transporting dies. Dana discovers that the patient, Lokesh Patel, was apparently not what he seemed when she looks inside his briefcase and finds numerous fake identification cards and the I.D. needed to gain access to Dorman Industries, where Philip works. The plot gets more complicated when Dana's apartment is ransacked and clues point to a connection between Patel and a former roommate, Robin, and to her father, who suddenly cannot be found. As someone tampers with Dana's work assignment sheets and secret nitrogen files are stolen, Gloria is shot at while investigating the case at Patel's home. Matt and Gloria have to winnow out the connection between Patel, the stolen research, and Phillip Champers while still dealing with their own personal lives and pending nuptials. "Minichino's latest spin through the periodic table is a charmingly wry look at marriage the second, third and fourth time around," commented a Kirkus Reviews contributor.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 1997, John Rowen, review of The Hydrogen Murder, p. 686; April 15, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of The Helium Murder, p. 1390; February 15, 1999, Jenny McLarin and David Pitt, review of The Lithium Murder, p. 1046; February 15, 2000, David Pitt, review of The Beryllium Murder, p. 1089; April 1, 2002, Jenny McLarin, review of The Boric Acid Murder, p. 1310; January 1, 2004, Jenny McLarin, review of The Carbon Murder, p. 833.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2002, review of The Boric Acid Murder, p. 293; January 5, 2004, review of The Carbon Murder, p. 64; March 15, 2005, review of The Nitrogen Murder, p. 320.
Library Journal, June 1, 1998, Rex E. Klett, review of The Helium Murder, p. 166; April 1, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of The Lithium Murder, p. 132.
MBR Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of The Nitrogen Murder.
Publishers Weekly, November 3, 1997, review of The Hydrogen Murder, p. 68; May 11, 1998, review of The Helium Murder, p. 54; March 8, 1999, review of The Lithium Murder, p. 50; February 21, 2000, review of The Beryllium Murder, p. 68; April 8, 2002, review of The Boric Acid Murder, p. 208; February 9, 2004, review of The Carbon Murder, p. 62.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (September 3, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of The Nitrogen Murder, The Boric Acid Murder, The Carbon Murder.
Camille Minichino Home Page, http://www.minichino.com (September 3, 2005).
Mystery Reader Online, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (September 3, 2005), review of The Helium Murder; Jane Davis, review of The Beryllium Murder; Martha Moore, review of The Lithium Murder.