Nicholson, Deborah L. 1961–
Nicholson, Deborah L. 1961–
PERSONAL: Born 1961, in Canada. Education: Attended college in Alberta, Canada. Hobbies and other interests: Volunteer work for local charities.
ADDRESSES: Home—Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Agent—Anne Dewe, Andrew Mann Ltd., 1 Old Compton St., London W1D 5JA, England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Centre for the Performing Arts, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, staff member for five years, became house manager for Theatre Calgary.
MEMBER: Writers' Union of Canada, Crime Writers of Canada, Mystery Writers Ink, British Crime Writers Association, Writers' Guild of Alberta.
"KATE CARPENIER" SERIES; MYSTERY NOVELS
House Report, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2004.
Evening the Score, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2004.
Sins of the Mother, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2005.
Flirting with Disaster, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2005.
Liar, Liar, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Having herself worked as a theater house manager in Calgary, Canada, mystery novelist Deborah L. Nicholson drew on this experience to create her series character, Kate Carpenter. The manager of the fictional Centenary Theatre in Calgary, Kate makes her debut in House Report. Although completely inexperienced with police procedures and detective work, Kate has read a lot of mystery novels, and so when a dead body turns up in her theater she takes it upon herself to start her own investigation. The victim has been bludgeoned with a hammer that has her boyfriend Norman "Cam" Caminsky's fingerprints on it, and when Kate learns that Cam's ex-wife has put out a restraining order against him, the evidence seems weighted against him. Of course, Kate believes Cam is innocent and sets out to find the real killer. "Unfortunately," stated a Kirkus Reviews contributor, "Kate's breeziness and self-regard undermine Nicholson's attempt to inject menace and obsession into a debut." In a Booklist review, however, Emily Melton maintained that the "writing is enthusiastic, the characters appealing, and the overall effect engaging."
In Nicholson's follow-up, Evening the Score, a piano competition has been scheduled at the Centenary. When Kate's former mentor and lover Stephan Bouchard shows up, Cam is naturally jealous, and this tension only gets worse when Stephan is named a suspect for yet another killing at the theater. While Melton, writing again in Booklist, felt that two unrelated murders at the same theater within about a month's time strained credibility, she enjoyed the "breezy writing style, intricate plots, and smart-mouthed, energetic heroine." Although a Kirkus Reviews contributor complained of the novel's "awkwardly constructed plot," the reviewer added that the "breezy first-person narrative … smoothes over the joints."
The crimes in Sins of the Mother and Flirting with Disaster do not occur at the Centenary. In the former mystery, Kate's cousin Carrie is accused of an attempted murder after leaving an abusive husband. This installment was praised by Booklist writer Melton for its "meaty plot, wry humor, deft writing, and an engaging heroine [that] make this a worthy successor" to the first two novels. Flirting with Disaster involves a serial killer known as the Bishop because of the chess pieces he leaves behind at the murder scenes. Much of the novel, however, involves Kate's complicated relationship with Cam, which seems to be falling apart when she refuses to go on a Caribbean cruise with him because of her work. When Cam moves out, Kate strikes up a relationship with another man, Doug, while rejecting a third, Jeff, who consequently starts threatening her.
Describing Flirting with Disaster as "DOA," a Kirkus Reviews critic complained that Nicholson spends too much time on Kate's relationships and not enough on the mystery. In a completely opposing view, Melton asserted in a Booklist article that this fourth novel in the series offers "nerve-tingling suspense … plenty of action, [and] memorable characters" in what is an "always-satisfying series."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2004, Emily Melton, review of House Report, p. 1515; October 15, 2004, Emily Melton, review of Evening the Score, p. 393; May 1, 2005, Emily Melton, review of Sins of the Mother, p. 1532; November 1, 2005, Emily Melton, review of Flirting with Disaster, p. 29.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2004, review of House Report, p. 425; November 15, 2004, review of Evening the Score, p. 1071; November 1, 2005, review of Flirting with Disaster, p. 1165.
Midwest Book Review, July, 2005, review of Sins of the Mother.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (March 10, 2006), Marlene Robertson, review of House Report.
Deborah L. Nicholson Home Page, http://www.deborahnicholson.com (March 10, 2006).