PERSONAL: Female. Education: B.A. Hobbies and other interests: Asian culture.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Penguin Group, Berkley Prime Crime, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
CAREER: Writer and feng shui practitioner. Public relations director for Potawatomie Indians, OK.
MEMBER: Mystery Writers of America (editor of newsletter, The Lineup).
Cut to Murder ("Queenie Davilov" mystery novel), Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1995.
Coauthor of a book on Native American art and artists.
"FENG SHUI" MYSTERY SERIES
A Deadly Arrangement, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY, 2001.
Positioned to Die, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2002.
Designed to Kill, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2003.
Evil Intentions, Perseverance Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Mystery novelist Denise Osborne is a writer, public relations professional, and a long-time practitioner of feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of positioning objects, such as buildings and furniture, in patterns based on yin and yang energy flow. These patterns are designed to achieve the greatest positive effect and harmonious balance with the environment.
In the first book of her "Feng Shui" mystery series, A Deadly Arrangement, Osborne introduces Salome Waterhouse, a feng shui practitioner whose life and profession regularly take her from coast to coast. Salome is also a landlord, having rented the old family house in Holyrood, known as the Perfume Mansion, to Palmer Fordham, an artist. Salome has been perfectly happy to let Fordham occupy the place; she has not been inside the house in years because of the strong negative energy she senses there. When an anonymous payment and request for a feng shui consultation arrives, she gathers up her courage to return to the Perfume Mansion—the unnamed benefactor requested the consultation for Fordham's birthday. Arriving at the house, Salome finds Fordham dead, apparently a murder victim. She calls her cousin, Phyllis, Holyrood's chief of police, who treats her shabbily and seems to think she is the prime suspect in Fordham's murder. Phyllis's behavior may be fueled by a longtime grudge against Salome for having inherited the house instead of her. Determined to avoid suspicion in a murder she did not commit, Salome applies her feng shui knowledge to her own investigation of Fordham's past, which turns up suspects who might have wanted him dead, and who might suddenly want Phyllis and Salome dead, too.
Harriet Klausner, in a review on the Best Reviews Web site, called the book's storyline "cleverly designed," and noted that Salome is "an interesting and refreshing lead character." Romantic Times Web site reviewer Tony Bromberg named the book a "well-plotted mystery" that is "enlivened by an explanation of feng shui." BookLoons online reviewer Theresa Ichino remarked that Osborne's "descriptions are vivid, the pacing quick and smooth, and she slips in necessary information subtly." Ichino called Salome "an appealing protagonist, strong-minded, loyal to friends and family, and stubbornly determined."
In Positioned to Die Salome travels to her sister's home in Texas. While there, she intends to visit a house where several murders occurred. The visit is designed as part of her research into the negative energies of murder houses. When she returns to her Washington, DC home, Salome finds that a new neighbor, Duncan Mah, has moved into her enclave, and has been attracting the ire of other neighbors by acts such as earing out a prime bed of roses for parking and hiking parking rates in the communal garage. Salome gives him the benefit of the doubt and hopes that his Chinese import business will allow her access to materials she can use in her feng shui consulting business. When noted decorated Simon Snow is killed, Mah emerges as the top suspect, and Salome's investigation puts her into contact with some danger ous people who would rather remain anonymous.
Jennifer Monahan Winberry, writing on the Mystery Reader Web site, remarked that Positioned to Die is "an entertaining mystery, but at times a little unfocused" because Salome "doesn't share what she is thinking, making her hard to understand." Still, Winberry called Osborne's protagonist "very spirited and likeable," and also remarked favorably on the feng shui tips and suggestions scattered throughout the book.
Salome one again battles the negative energy of murder in Evil Intentions. When young, attractive professional Honey Lee is found dead, hanged from a metal rod, Salome works to find out who would want the helpful Chinese woman dead. Honey was an organizer, a professional consultant who helped people gain control over the disarray in their homes and lives. As the plot unfolds, Salome finds that Honey was also an illegal alien, brought to America and forced to work practically as an indentured servant to a white slaver who charged exorbitant fees for passage to the United States. Salome discovers that the white slaver in question is noneother than Duncan Mah, whom she encountered in Positioned to Die. While searching for the reasons behind Honey's murder, Salome must also contend with the possibility that her nemesis Mah is seeking revenge. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that "Salome, a combination guru and New Age pragmatist, charms," while an MBR Bookwatch reviewer called the novel a "finely crafted mystery."
Osborne is also the author of the "Queenie Davilov" series of Hollywood-based mysteries. In the first book, Murder Offscreen, ex-private investigator Davilov has moved to glamorous Hollywood to make it big as a screenwriter. However, Tinseltown is not as receptive as she might have hoped, and she finds it necessary to work as a script supervisor and part-time detective. Queenie's joy at finally convincing a top-flight agent to look at one of her scripts is destroyed when her boss, Burke Lymon, is hacked to death by the axe that served as the main prop of his recently finished horror movie. It falls to Queenie to find the murderer and the motive. Booklist reviewer Emily Melton offered "high marks to this new author and her feisty heroine."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 1994, Emily Melton, review of Murder Offscreen, p. 1927.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2005, review of Evil Intentions, p. 202.
MBR Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of Evil Intentions.
Publishers Weekly, June 27, 1994, review of Murder Offscreen, p. 60; June 26, 1995, review of Cut to Murder, p. 93.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (July 9, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Designed to Kill.
Best Reviews, http://www.thebestreviews.com/ (August 19, 2001), Harriet Klausner, review of A Deadly Arrangement; (July 2, 2002) Dawn Dowdle, review of Positioned to Die; (February 9, 2003) Harriet Klausner, review of Designed to Kill; Dawn Dowdle, review of Designed to Kill; (February 13, 2003) Dawn Dowdle, review of A Deadly Arrangement.
BookLoons, http://www.bookloons.com/ (July 9, 2005), Theresa Ichino, review of A Deadly Arrangement.
Denise Osborne Home Page, http://www.deniseosbornemysteries.com (July 9, 2005).
Mystery Reader Web site, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (July 9, 2005), Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of Positioned to Die.
Romantic Times Web site, http://www.romantictimes.com/ (July 9, 2005), Toby Bromberg, review of A Deadly Arrangement.