PERSONAL: Male. Religion: Roman Catholic.
ADDRESSES: Home—Limerick, Ireland. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Thomas Dunne Books, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Monk. Inducted into Order of St. Benedict. Works at a school in Limerick, Ireland; formerly worked as a missionary in Africa and as a lawyer.
The Four Courts Murder (mystery novel), Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2005.
The Slow Release Miracle (nonfiction), Paulist Press (Mahwah, NJ), 2006.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A sequel to The Four Courts Murder titled Second Burial for a Black Prince, a mystery about African immigrants.
SIDELIGHTS: Andrew Nugent's debut mystery novel, The Four Courts Murder, concerns the killing of a high-level judge in Dublin, Ireland. Investigating the case, Inspector Jim Quilligan and Sergeant Molly Power find the cause of death was a kick in the head, and discover that the victim was involved in a sophisticated ring of art thieves and distributors. Written in the police-procedural style and including vivid descriptions of Dublin, Nugent's book is "fabulous," according to Harriet Klausner in MBR Bookwatch, adding that it has a compelling plot and an enjoyable supporting cast to create a "powerful who-done-it." A writer for Publishers Weekly called The Four Courts Murder an "impressive debut" by Nugent, and pointed to the spirited, humorous repartee between Quilligan and Power as one of the book's chief strengths. The author's varied life experiences, which include work as a lawyer, a missionary, and a school principal, all inform his writing and give it a sense of realism. In the words of a Kirkus Reviews contributor, The Four Courts Murder is "an erudite, witty and altogether delightful debut, full of characters laced with eccentricity and Irish charm."
Nugent told CA: "I have been writing all my life: legal documents and opinions, reports, then many articles on theological subjects. About twenty years ago, I found it important to revisit my childhood to deal with some things which I had not been able to cope with at the time, notably the death of my mother when I was eight. It was a short step from this introspective writing to imaginative writing. When people ask me which character in The Four Courts Murder is me, I reply that I am all of them, from the best to the worst.
My faith influences my work. Not in any narrow denominational sense. But I believe in hope, and I believe that people grow, even the worst people. The murder mystery is an ideal demonstration of these intuitions where it is a question of life and death. I do not stuff my books with piety. On the contrary!
"In spite of myself my basic optimism shines through. I cannot imagine writing a book with a really unhappy ending. I have written one nonfiction book which tries to articulate my beliefs: The Slow Release Miracle.
"In my writing, the murder comes very early in the book. I have a strong visual image of its circumstances, prompted perhaps by a photograph or a painting. Then I start to describe what the victim is like, his relationships and all the motives that people could have to murder him. I don't know who the murderer is until quite late in the book. At a certain stage the characters, or some of them, cease to obey me. That is when it gets interesting. Naturally, I enjoy misleading the readers—but I think I play fair!
"The surprising thing I have learnt as a writer is the generosity of readers and critics. When you try hard to entertain them, they respond, and they forgive any little frailties in your writing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2005, review of The Four Courts Murder, p. 320.
Library Journal, May 1, 2005, Rex E. Klett, review of The Four Courts Murder p. 66.
MBR Bookwatch, May, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of The Four Courts Murder.
Publishers Weekly, April 11, 2005, review of The Four Courts Murder, p. 38.
Best Reviews, http://thebestreviews.com/ (May 1, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of The Four Courts Murder.
New Mystery Reader, http://www.newmysteryreader.com/ (September 1, 2005), review of The Four Courts Murder.
[Sketch reviewed by agent Toni Plummer.]