Nichols, Kelly

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Nichols, Kelly

(Kelly Montee, P.J. Parrish, a joint pseudonym)

PERSONAL:

Born in Detroit, MI; children: two daughters, one son. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Attended Northern Michigan University.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Mississippi. Agent—Maria Carvainis Agency, Inc., 1270 Avenue of the Americas, Ste. 2320, New York, NY 10020. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Worked in the gaming industry in Nevada as manager of casino human relations.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination, best paperback original (with sister, Kristy Montee), Mystery Writers of America, 2002, and Anthony Award nomination, best paperback original, Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, 2003, both for Paint It Black; Shamus Awards, Private Eye Writers of America, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006; citation for "Michigan notable book," Library of Michigan, 2006, for An Unquiet Grave.

WRITINGS:

FICTION UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM P.J. PARRISH; WITH SISTER, KRISTY MONTEE

Dark of the Moon, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Dead of Winter, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 2001.

Paint It Black, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 2002.

Thicker than Water, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 2003.

A Killing Rain, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 2004.

Island of Bones, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 2005.

An Unquiet Grave, Kensington Publishing (New York, NY), 2006.

A Thousand Bones, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Work represented in anthologies, including Death Do Us Part, edited by Harlan Coben; Detroit Noir, Akashic Books; and These Guns for Hire, edited by J.A. Konrath. Contributor to periodicals, including Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

SIDELIGHTS:

"P.J. Parrish" is the joint pseudonym of sisters Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols, who teamed up in 1995 to create the fictional character of police officer Louis Kincaid. As their Web site notes, their collaboration is unusual, because they live in separate states, Kelly in Mississippi and Kristy in Florida, which results in "hefty phone bills and a reliance on America Online."

Kincaid is a biracial child from a troubled background. Although he is half African-American and half white and moves in both worlds, he is not fully accepted in either. In Dark of the Moon Kincaid travels to the small town of Black Pool, Mississippi, to take care of his dying, alcoholic, and estranged mother. While there, he takes a job on the local police force, and shortly after he arrives, the bones of a lynching victim from three decades ago are found. Kincaid must confront his own identity, and endangers his life by solving a crime that local people, both African-American and white, would rather not deal with. Stephanie Zvirin and Jack Helbig wrote in Booklist, "Parrish quickly creates a divided community with a violent secret and a determined investigator." A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that "Parrish's debut is promising."

The plot of Dead of Winter turns on a mystery in the rural town of Loon Lake, Michigan. A police officer has been killed, and the only clue left at the scene by the murderer is a playing card marked with numbers and a drawing of a skull. Soon after, a retired officer is also killed, and the same card is left behind. Recently hired by the Loon Lake police department, Kincaid begins to suspect that his new chief may be involved with the killings. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the second offering from the sisters "a suspenseful tale" that "will appeal to [readers] seeking a fast-paced thriller propelled by a cast of charismatic characters."

In Paint It Black, Kincaid is a freelance private investigator in Southwest Florida in the 1980s, when two black men are found, dead and mutilated. When another body shows up, Kincaid becomes involved in the search for the killer. In Thicker than Water, Kincaid is drawn toward the case of Jack Cade, a poor, convicted murderer recently released from prison only to be accused of a new killing—the murder of his defense lawyer from the original case. In Island of Bones, Kincaid juggles three cases at once, including the mystery of a baby's skull found on a Florida beach after a hurricane. He also teams up with Mel Landata, a white police officer who is going blind, to investigate the connections between a middle-aged librarian and a series of missing women going back more than thirty years.

As in all Kincaid novels, the sleuth wrestles, not only with unsolved crimes, but with his own biracial and troubled past. All of the novels have been popular with reviewers. Pam Johnson commented in School Library Journal about Island of Bones: "Full of twists, turns, and mangrove swamps, the mystery offers readers all sorts of incentives to keep the pages turning."

Another novel, An Unquiet Grave, finds Kincaid back in Michigan, where he is spending a Thanksgiving holiday with his current lady-friend, another Michigan expatriate and Miami-Dade detective named Joe Frye, when Kincaid's foster father seeks the investigator's help with a mystery involving a missing body, a foreboding mental institution in the process of demolition, and a possible serial killer. In Publishers Weekly a reviewer noted that Parrish bypasses a tendency toward formulaic mysteries by her gift for character development and hair-raising suspense.

Kincaid's love interest, Joe Frye, is featured as the lead character in the next novel, A Thousand Bones, in which she relates her role in a 1973 murder investigation in northern Michigan. As a rookie sheriff's deputy Frye had found human bones in the woods, near a tree marked by Native American symbols that might be clues to a murder. Though the story begins in flashback mode, the reader is drawn inexorably into the core of it, where the suspense crackles and the tension mounts until Parrish unveils the final surprise. There are hints, according to more than one reviewer, that a series of Joe Frye novels would be a welcome addition to the Parrish lineup.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 1, 1999, Stephanie Zvirin and Jack Helbig, review of Dark of the Moon, p. 965.

Cosmopolitan, July, 2007, Zoe Ruderman, review of A Thousand Bones, p. 207.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1999, review of Dark of the Moon, pp. 171-172.

Publishers Weekly, March 1, 1999, review of Dark of the Moon, p. 63; January 1, 2001, review of Dead of Winter, p. 73; November 25, 2002, review of Thicker than Water, p. 49; December 1, 2003, review of Island of Bones, p. 46; January 10, 2005, review of A Killing Rain, p. 44; December 5, 2005, review of An Unquiet Grave, p. 37; May 7, 2007, review of A Thousand Bones, p. 47.

Sarasota Herald Tribune, April 2, 2006, Bob Morrison, review of An Unquiet Grave, p. G6.

School Library Journal, August, 2004, Pam Johnson, review of Island of Bones, p. 146.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel, February 15, 2002, Nancy Pate, review of Paint It Black; July 11, 2007, Oline H. Cogdill, review of A Thousand Bones.

ONLINE

P.J. Parrish: New York Times Bestselling Author of the Louis Kincaid and Joe Frye Series,http://www.pjparrish.com (December 29, 2007).

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