PERSONAL: Married; children: two sons.
ADDRESSES: Home—MN. Offıce—Pioneer Press, 345 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55101.
CAREER: Journalist. Pioneer Press, St. Paul, MN, reporter and staff writer, 1980s—.
"PARIS MURPHY" SERIES
Clean Cut, G. P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2003.
Cold Blood, G. P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2004.
Dark House, G. P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist Theresa Monsour created her character Paris Murphy, a homicide detective with the St. Paul, Minnesota police force for her mystery Clean Cut. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "sex, violence, Catholic guilt, and sloppy police work mark Monsour's debut thriller." Paris, who lives on a houseboat on the Mississippi River, is estranged from her husband, Jack, but she continues to sleep with him, as well as her lover, Erik. Her partner, Gabriel Nash, is an older cop who grows fatter on liverwurst and mayo sandwiches. They solve the case early on, but it takes the rest of the book to understand the killer's motives.
A. Romann Michaels is a handsome doctor who was psychologically damaged as a teen when his mother tried to seduce him just hours before she committed suicide. Now obsessed with killing women who have beautiful hair like his mother's he kills his victim, then cuts her hair and adds it to the collection he keeps in a Victorian hat box. Paris takes the case when a prostitute she knew and liked is murdered. Because the killer has strong ties with politicians, the dots are not connected, so Paris, with her beautiful raven hair and violet eyes, sets herself up as bait.
Library Journal reviewer Jane Jorgenson felt that Monsour's writing sometimes resembles newspaper reporting. "The storytelling is straightforward and rarely delves into the characters or plot," she wrote. Booklist reviewer Connie Fletcher called Monsour's pacing "truly chilling" and noted that the writer's background "shows in her realistic depictions of cops, the press, and prostitutes" to produce a"stunning" novel. Washington Book World critic Patrick Anderson called Clean Cut "a solid piece of work" "because of the precision and toughmindedness of [Monsour's] writing."
A third love interest enters Paris's life in the sequel, Cold Blood, when Axel Duncan becomes head of the homicide squad. Fletcher felt that this outing "is almost excessively creepy crawly." Paris is on the hunt for a serial killer, who she suspects to be Justice Trip, nicknamed "Sweet" by their classmates in high school. Social outcast Justice committed his first crime when he ran down and killed four of Paris's friends after they beat him for asking her to Homecoming. Now he acts the part of hero, first killing drunken bridesmaid Bunny Pederson and burying her in a shallow grave, then planting a finger he has severed from her hand and "finding" it during a search for clues. Soon Paris realizes she is also a target.
A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that "the harrowing relationship Trip has with his father contrasts neatly with Murphy's organized work and more normal personal life, despite its romantic confusions." Thea Davis, who reviewed Cold Blood for MysteryReader.com, wrote that "the plot structure is tight, and the story rushes to a quixotic ending. It is clear that Theresa Monsour has joined today's ranks of leading authors in the crime thriller genre."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2003, Connie Fletcher, review of Clean Cut, p. 856; April 1, 2004, Connie Fletcher, review of Cold Blood, p. 1353.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2003, review of Clean Cut, p. 109; March 15, 2004, review of Cold Blood, p. 252.
Library Journal, February 1, 2003, Jane Jorgenson, review of Clean Cut, p. 122.
Publishers Weekly, January 27, 2003, review of Clean Cut, p. 238; April 19, 2004, review of Cold Blood,
Washington Post Book World, March 16, 2003, Patrick Anderson, review of Clean Cut, p. T5.