O'Shaughnessy, Pamela (Perri O'Shaughnessy, a joint pseudonym)
O'Shaughnessy, Pamela (Perri O'Shaughnessy, a joint pseudonym)
Home—Hawaii. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, attorney. Practiced law in Lake Tahoe, NV.
"NINA REILLY" SERIES; WITH SISTER, MARY O'SHAUGNESSY, UNDER PSEUDONYM PERRI O'SHAUGHNESSY
Motion to Suppress, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1995.
Invasion of Privacy, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Obstruction of Justice, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Breach of Promise, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Acts of Malice, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Move to Strike, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Writ of Execution, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Unfit to Practice, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Presumption of Death, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Unlucky in Law, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Case of Lies, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2005.
OTHER; WITH SISTER, MARY O'SHAUGHNESSY, UNDER PSEUDONYM PERRI O'SHAUGHNESSY
Sinister Shorts (stories), Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Keeper of the Keys, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.
A number of books have been adapted for audio.
Pamela O'Shaughnessy and Mary O'Shaughnessy write together under the pseudonym Perri O'Shaughnessy, a combination of their own names and a tribute to Perry Mason, the character created by Erle Stanley Gardner. The sisters have turned out a series featuring attorney Nina Reilly, a Lake Tahoe lawyer who practices in the same town where Pamela once had a solo practice.
In the first book of the series, Motion to Suppress, Nina, also the single mother of Bob, moves from San Francisco to Tahoe after her husband betrays her. Her first client is Misty Patterson, a cocktail waitress accused of killing her husband. Marilyn Stasio, writing in the New York Times Book Review, assessed the novel, noting that trial lawyers who turn to writing "can usually crank up some verisimilitude for their courtroom scenes," but added that Perri O'Shaughnessy, the lawyer-writer combo, "accomplishes much more."
Invasion of Privacy features characters who include murdered filmmaker Terry London. The suspect is Bob's father, Kurt Scott, and Nina must create his defense. A Publishers Weekly contributor called this book a "deft, multileveled tale of legal and criminal treachery."
Nina's adventures, both in and out of the courtroom, and including her romantic alliances, continue in further installments. Unfit to Practice follows the action put into motion by the theft of Nina's truck, which contained sensitive case files, and leads to her possible disbarment. A Kirkus Reviews contributor summed up the book, writing: "An idealistic lawyer staggers under the weight of legal and ethical charges you can be certain will never stand up in court. Nina's eighth may be her most irresistible to date." Writing in Booklist, Mary Frances Wilkens opined: "What really gives this legal thriller its appeal is the genuinely unusual premise."
In Presumption of Death, Nina finds herself searching for a deadly arsonist and defending an accused young man whose defense is nonexistent. A critic for Kirkus Reviews deemed the story "great fun." Reviewing it for Entertainment Weekly, Karyn L. Barr wrote that the book "offers enough steamy sexual tension, curiously bewitching characters … and head-spinning plot twists to make for a fiery read."
Unlucky in Law finds Nina in California with her son and her private investigator lover, Paul van Wagoner, and becomes Paul's romantic target when he offers her his grandmother's diamond and asks her to marry him. Nina is more focused, however, on helping her former mentor, aging trial lawyer Klaus Pholmann, with a murder case, for which he has asked her to be second chair. The defendant is Stefan Wyatt, who is accused of grave robbing and murder. He admits to the robbing but says that he found two bodies in the grave rather than one. Stefan seems to be the killer, however, since his blood is found at the scene. "O'Shaughnessy comes up with the neatest solution to that classic puzzle in recent thriller memory," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
A Publishers Weekly contributor described Case of Lies as being "the most intriguing yet." Nina returns from California to reopen her Lake Tahoe law practice. She agrees to take a case on behalf of her massage therapist, whose aunt was killed in the Ace High Lodge during a robbery, but time is running short, as none of the witnesses have been located. Nina would rather not ask for help from Paul, now her former lover, and instead hires his son. The novel offers insight into advanced number theory through the subplot, in which three Massachusetts Institute of Technology students gamble by counting cards. The authors have "a knack for plotting and for combining suspenseful action with a light and playful tone," concluded Wilkens in Booklist.
Sinister Shorts is a collection in which all of the stories, except one, were written individually. They range from detective stories to psychological thrillers to classic suspense. Stephanie Zvirin reviewed the volume in Booklist, naming "Gertrude Stein Solves a Mystery," which is based on a true account, as being "among the most memorable." Zvirin also favorably compared "The Furnace Man" to an Alfred Hitchcock-type thriller. Many of the stories involve bad marriages. In "To Still the Beating of Her Heart," the question is whether the husband or wife will be the one to commit murder. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote: "‘His Master's Hand’ is in the grand tradition of campfire horror stories, as chilling as it is slick."
Keeper of the Keys is another title outside the "Nina Reilly" series and is set in the Topanga Canyon, near Los Angeles. Architect Ray Jackson and his wife Leigh, a furniture maker, live in a house they designed. Ray creates models of all the houses he has lived in and keeps a key for each of the actual houses. When Leigh, who has found escape from their crumbling marriage with another, disappears, her policeman father suspects Ray. Kat, a friend who works in real estate and who was close to Leigh when they were younger, is also suspicious, but she helps Ray look for her friend. The keys figure in the plot because Ray uses them to delve into his past to see if he may have committed a misdeed. Booklist contributor David Pitt considered Keeper of the Keys to be "a well-paced, smartly written thriller."
The O'Shaughnessy sisters talk about what it is like to share plotting and writing tasks on their Web site: "We sometimes juggle the writing back and forth, scene by scene…. We are chronic tinkers, who even went so far as to change the murderer in the fourth draft during the writing of our first published novel…. The main thing that works about our collaboration is that we have come to trust and respect each other as writers. We like to think Perri takes what's best in both of us and puts it into the finished draft."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist May 15, 1998, Emily Melton, review of Breach of Promise, p. 1565; April 15, 1999, Jenny McLarin, review of Acts of Malice, p. 1483; May 15, 2000, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Move to Strike, p. 1702; May 15, 2001, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Writ of Execution, p. 1708; June 1, 2002, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Unfit to Practice, p. 1646; May 15, 2004, Mary Frances Wilkins, review of Unlucky in Law, p. 1580; June 1, 2005, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Case of Lies, p. 1713; January 1, 2006, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Sinister Shorts, p. 68; October 1, 2006, David Pitt, review of Keeper of the Keys, p. 6.
Entertainment Weekly, August 1, 2003, Karyn L. Barr, review of Presumption of Death, p. 82.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1996, review of Invasion of Privacy, p. 923; July 1, 1997, review of Obstruction of Justice, p. 978; May 1, 1998, review of Breach of Promise, p. 610; May 1, 1999, review of Acts of Malice, p. 659; June 15, 2000, review of Move to Strike, p. 825; May 1, 2001, review of Writ of Execution, p. 615; July 15, 2002, review of Unfit to Practice, p. 985; June 1, 2003, review of Presumption of Death, p. 776; May 1, 2004, review of Unlucky in Law, p. 418; December 1, 2005, review of Sinister Shorts, p. 1258; August 15, 2006, review of Keeper of the Keys, p. 813.
Library Journal, September 1, 1997, Susan Gene Clifford, review of Obstruction of Justice, p. 220; June 1, 1998, Cecilia R. Cygnar, review of Breach of Promise, p. 156; June 15, 2000, Nancy McNicol, review of Move to Strike, p. 117; July, 2003, Nancy McNicol, review of Presumption of Death, p. 124; October 15, 2006, Nancy McNicol, review of Keeper of the Keys, p. 56.
New York Times Book Review, August 6, 1995, Marilyn Stasio, review of Motion to Suppress, p. 23.
Publishers Weekly, May 8, 1995, review of Motion to Suppress, p. 285; July 8, 1996, review of Invasion of Privacy, p. 75; July 7, 1997, review of Obstruction of Justice, p. 50; May 4, 1998, review of Breach of Promise, p. 202; May 24, 1999, review of Acts of Malice, p. 63; July 10, 2000, review of Move to Strike, p. 43; June 11, 2001, review of Writ of Execution, p. 57; June 10, 2002, review of Unfit to Practice, p. 40; June 14, 2004, review of Unlucky in Law, p. 43; June 13, 2005, review of Case of Lies, p. 32; November 21, 2005, review of Sinister Shorts, p. 29; September 18, 2006, review of Keeper of the Keys, p. 35.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (July 16, 2004), interview with Pamela and Mary O'Shaughnessy; (July 8, 2005), interview with Pamela and Mary O'Shaughnessy.
Decatur Daily Online,http://www.decaturdaily.com/ (March 26, 2006), Judy Counts, review of Sinister Shorts; (November 19, 2006), Judy Counts, review of Keeper of the Keys.
Perri O'Shaughnessy Home Page,http://www.perrio.com (December 31, 2006).
Readers Read,http://www.readersread.com/ (August, 2003), "Interview with Perri O'Shaughnessy."
ReadersRoom Coffee Chats,http://www.readersroom.com/coffee.html/ (December 31, 2006), "Bestselling Author Perri O'Shaughnessy" (interview).