Palmer, Shirley (Nell Brien)

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PALMER, Shirley (Nell Brien)

PERSONAL: Born in London, England; immigrated to United States; married; husband's name, Dan (an architect); children: one son.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Mira Books, P.O. Box 5190, Buffalo, NY 14240.

CAREER: Novelist. Worked for British delegation to the United Nations, New York, NY, for British Consulate General, and in public relations.


(As Nell Brien) Veiled Journey, Mira (Buffalo, NY), 1999.

(As Nell Brien) Lioness, Mira (Buffalo, NY), 2000.

Danger Zone, Mira (Buffalo, NY), 2002.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Trade, a novel about the fastest-growing illegal activity in the world, the $12 billion-a-year slave trade of women and children.

SIDELIGHTS: Shirley Palmer was born in London and moved to New York to work at the United Nations. After she married her American architect husband, Dan, they moved to Los Angeles, but during the 1980s he received an offer to work on a project in Saudi Arabia. He accepted and during the five years they lived there, Palmer turned to the writing she had never had time for, first under her mother's maiden name of Nell Brien.

A Veiled Journey reflects the Middle Eastern culture Palmer experienced in Saudi Arabia. Her protagonist, Liz Ryan, is a Los Angeles plastic surgeon with a personal link to the country, who in 1990 accepts a position there in preparation for the coming war with Iraq and who uses the opportunity to explore her heritage. She falls in love with a handsome Americanized Saudi prince who showers her with jewels, and although he truly cares for her, it seems unlikely that a marriage between them could work. Most difficult for Liz is accepting the rules under which women in the Islamic culture live. She finds them nearly impossible at the hospital where she can make life-and-death decisions, including one where she has the choice of repairing the hymen of a girl who will be killed when her husband-to-be learns she is not a virgin.

Lesley Dunlap reviewed the novel for Romance Reader online and noted that although she found it in the romance section of her bookstore, it is actually "a suspense novel unlike many others in that genre." Dunlap called Liz "thoroughly American in her attitudes even as she tries to find a balance within the constraints of another culture. The dilemmas that she faces require courage and dedication and have no simple solution. . . . From the gripping prologue to the satisfying conclusion, the plot of A Veiled Journey never lets you down. The tension and energy of this story accelerate right up to the final climax."

Lioness is set in Kenya, where Cat Stanton seeks an answer to the mystery that surrounds her brother's death. After Joel, her twin and an architect, left Los Angeles to look for a site for a new hotel in Africa, Cat was told that he was killed in a wildlife stampede. In Nairobi, she meets with frustration from officials, and even Dan Campbell, whose father owns the safari company that had taken Joel into the jungle, resists escorting her, because they don't deal with women. Cat, who is in Kenya under the pretense of continuing her brother's work, soon finds her own life in jeopardy as she comes up against poachers, well-armed natives, and a host of other threats. She and Dan become physically attracted, but Dan has his own agenda.

Dunlap also reviewed Palmer's second book, saying that "the strongest element of this contemporary romantic suspense is the unusual Kenyan setting. . . . There are sections in this multi-layered story that are so gripping that it's nearly impossible to put the book down."

A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "Cat's pursuit seems single-minded, but Brien adds depth to Cat by incorporating flashbacks to her childhood and memories of an abusive father."

Danger Zone is Palmer's first book under her own name. This one features Maggie Cady and her former policeman husband, Sam, who now flies helicopters. The Cadys live with their four-year-old son, Jimmy in New Orleans. Life is good, in spite of Maggie's paranoia about home security. While she is away, their house is broken into, the dog killed, and Jimmy taken. Maggie leaves a note for Sam, telling him that she will find Jimmy and not to follow her.

Sam does follow, however, and finds his wife caught up in an intrigue that involves the Mafia, an Irish gang, and the FBI. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that the author "dishes out the violence with gusto. . . . Even if Palmer arrives at a familiar (and foreseeable) conclusion, getting there is half the fun."

A Kirkus Reviews writer called the novel "admirably paced and plotted, with the kind of guns-a-poppin' denouement that begs for transfer to the big screen."



Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2002, review of DangerZone, p. 1169.

Publishers Weekly, September 13, 1999, review of AVeiled Journey, p. 79; August 21, 2000, review of Lioness, p. 54; September 2, 2002, review of Danger Zone, p. 55.


All about Romance, (December 10, 2002), Robin Nixon Uncapher, review of Lioness; Jane Jorgenson, review of Danger Zone.

BookBrowser, (July 3, 1999), Harriet Klausner, review of A Veiled Journey; (September 9, 2002) Harriet Klausner, review of Danger Zone.

Romance Reader, (October 28, 2002), Lesley Dunlap, reviews of A Veiled Journey and Lioness.

Shirley Palmer Web site, (February 26, 2003).

Writers Write, (October-November, 2002), Claire E. White, "A Conversation with Shirley Palmer."*

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Palmer, Shirley (Nell Brien)

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