Moody, Skye Kathleen 1945- (Kathy Kahn)

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Moody, Skye Kathleen 1945- (Kathy Kahn)

PERSONAL:

Born April 2, 1945, in Seattle, WA; daughter of Robert Arthur Moody and Donna Kelly; children: Simon Peter, Jesse MacDougall.

ADDRESSES:

Home—New Orleans, LA. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, photographer, and playwright. Has worked as a bush guide in East Africa and a visiting poet at Tulane University. Photographic exhibitions mounted in Seattle, WA: New York, NY; Moscow; and Leningrad.

MEMBER:

PEN

AWARDS, HONORS:

Woman of the Year award, Mademoiselle, 1974; National Endowment for the Humanities Grant, 1981.

WRITINGS:

"VENUS DIAMOND" MYSTERY SERIES

Rain Dance, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Blue Poppy, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1997.

Wildcrafters, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Habitat, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 1999.

K Falls, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2001.

Medusa, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2003.

The Good Diamond, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2004.

OTHER

Washed Up: The Curious Journeys of Flotsam and Jetsam, Sasquatch Books (Seattle, WA), 2006.

Also author of Hillbilly Women, 1973, and Fruits of Our Labor, 1982. Author of play, The Contest, 1983.

SIDELIGHTS:

Skye Kathleen Moody is the creator of the "Venus Diamond" mystery series, a collection of novels which characteristically educate readers on environmental topics and perspectives while leading them through a mystery. Rain Dance, the series debut, introduces the series' heroine, Department of Interior agent Venus Diamond. In Rain Dance the short, motorcycle-riding, daughter-of-a-movie-star sleuth returns from Singapore to determine the relationship between a violent murder and the altered pelican habits on Seattle's Ozone Beach. Calling the story "utterly captivating," Booklist contributor Emily Melton praised Rain Dance for its "fresh-as-a-breeze style, in-your-face humor, offbeat plot, and delightfully sassy heroine." A Kirkus Reviews critic maintained that Moody's "spirit and sophistication … smooth any number of rough edges."

Blue Poppy involves a dead young scientist, a perfume business, a model, a fiance, and murders. A presumed extinct butterfly and the poppy fields that a perfumery has leased also play a role in the mystery. Blue Poppy has "some terrific social and environmental lore" and shows Moody to have "a lot of potential, but," determined a writer for Kirkus Reviews, "she reads like Jackie Collins on a busy day." In contrast, John Rowen's Booklist assessment of Blue Poppy called Moody's characters "sympathetic," and complimented the mystery's "interesting facts" and "gritty, realistic portraits of police work and bureaucratic politics." The "solution arrives by a somewhat disappointing route," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who called the novel a "solid mystery … enhanced with graceful digressions [about environmental issues] … and Northwest American Indian legends."

With Wildcrafters, "Moody again incorporates an environmentalist message into her plot, this time tying it to our society's fear of aging," observed a Publishers Weekly critic. Venus Diamond searches for a missing infant. Track marks from some type of unknown animal, perhaps elk, perhaps Bigfoot, lead away from the child's empty bassinet and the young victim's trailer park home. The search in the thick wilderness is paired with the newly wed Diamond's personal life. The story's "monster myths" and "environmental mystery" in some ways seems "a bit forced," according to John Rowen in a Booklist review, but it is successful because of its "stubborn mystery, vivid outdoor landscapes, [and] rich [environmentalist] background." A Kirkus Reviews contributor stated: "It is a tribute to the author's skill that, despite a tangled web of plot threads and a jampacked collection of mostly intriguing characters, suspense builds steadily to the socko finish." Rex E. Klett, writing in the Library Journal, specifically referred to the novel's "wildcrafting … lore" when complimenting the work.

Habitat finds Venus Diamond investigating an arson and murder at a research lab funded in part by her supervising agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Called back to work following her marriage to Richard Winters, Venus looks into the death of former colleague, close friend, and brilliant embryologist, Dr. Hannah Strindberg, founder of a highly experimental genetics clinic called Breedhaven. Hannah has been killed in an arson fire that also claimed the lives of thirteen other noted scientists from around the world. Strindberg's research into preserving endangered species through genetic engineering had created a great deal of controversy, and Venus must consider if her scientific work had a role in her death. To Venus's surprise, when Hannah's will is read, she finds that she has been named the guardian of one of the dead woman's most precious possessions, a repository of endangered species embryos nicknamed "Hannah's Ark." Even more surprising, Hannah asked that Venus accompany the ark on a space shuttle mission, where it will be safely stored in a space station orbiting high above the Earth. Suddenly, Venus finds herself facing rigorous astronaut training as well as the ire of the Breedhaven trustees, who are not at all in favor of Hannah's posthumous request. Soon the ark disappears, and Venus finds herself in danger from forces with diabolical plans for other types of genetic experimentation. Booklist reviewer John Rowen commented favorably on the book's "strong pace."

In K Falls, Moody "wraps an exhilarating mystery around the wistful history of the Columbia River, its dams, and its beautiful salmon," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Terrorists have staged a series of bombings of dams along the Columbia River, one of which killed Fish and Wildlife Service special agent Louie Song. To investigate the bombings, Venus and a male colleague assume the identities of Juneau and Kay Lynn Jones, traveling to Kettle Falls, WA, and taking up residence there. To entice the terrorists, the disguised agents begin circulating rumors about their skills as demolition experts. The agents soon meet the enigmatic Gerald, key planner behind the bombings. They learn some of his plans, but gaining his complete trust is difficult, and critical information remains hidden. They learn enough to realize that Gerald has designs on the Grand Coulee Dam, where two prominent presidential candidates are scheduled to give speeches. Library Journal reviewer Rex E. Klett called the novel a "riveting addition" to what is already a "fine series."

Venus must come to the aid of her adopted teenage brother Tim and decide if a sea monster actually exists as she investigates a drowning death in Medusa. Bratty young Pearl Pederson has drowned after falling off Tim's mother's yacht. Tim, an eyewitness, offers an implausible tale: he claims that a giant jellyfish swept Pearl off the yacht and dragged her down to perish in its tentacles. Accused of Pearl's murder, Tim turns to Venus for help. Though Tim and Venus have always been close, even she finds his story hard to believe. When Pearl's body is finally recovered, however, jellyfish toxin in her system causes a dramatic reconsideration of Tim's story. As the truth behind Pearl's death unfolds, Venus must deal with a myriad of other difficulties involving Russian mobsters, child pornography, virulent biotoxins, and more. "Moody's plots have always been thick and dense; this one is way over the top," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor. "This page-turner has it all of the darkest variety," mused Booklist reviewer GraceAnne A. DeCandido.

In The Good Diamond, the discovery of an enormous diamond, the Lac de Lune, leads to multiple murders and uncovers the diamond industry's ties to organized weapons smuggling. Big Jim Hardy uncovers the huge gem in a Canadian diamond mine, but he is brutally slain during the theft of the diamond. Venus discovers that he was actually a former colleague, Buzz Radke. Incensed at his death and determined to recover the diamond, Venus sets out to find the killer and, at the same time, the remarkable gem that sparked the bloodshed. The novel "offers an insider's look at a fascinating subject," noted Stephanie Zvirin in a Booklist review.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 1996, Emily Melton, review of Rain Dance, p. 68; July, 1997, John Rowen, review of Blue Poppy, p. 1804; October 15, 1998, John Rowen, review of Wildcrafters, p. 406; October 15, 1999, John Rowen, review of Habitat, p. 422; June 1, 2001, John Rowen, review of K Falls, p. 1853; July, 2003, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Medusa, p. 1871; August, 2004, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Good Diamond, p. 1906.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 1996, review of Rain Dance, p. 1007; June 15, 1997, review of Blue Poppy, p. 913; November 1, 1998, review of Wildcrafters, p. 1565; July 15, 2003, review of Medusa, p. 940.

Library Journal, August, 1996, Francine Fialkoff, review of Rain Dance, p. 119; January, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of Wildcrafters, p. 163; July, 2001, Rex E. Klett, review of K Falls, p. 130; July, 2003, Rex E. Klett, review of Medusa, p. 130; August, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of The Good Diamond, p. 60.

Publishers Weekly, June 9, 1997, review of Blue Poppy, p. 41; November 2, 1998, review of Wildcrafters, p. 73; November 1, 1999, review of Habitat, p. 76; June 18, 2001, review of K Falls, p.63; July 14, 2003, review of Medusa, p. 60.

ONLINE

Skye Kathleen Moody Home Page,http://www.skyemoody.com (March 10, 2007).