Parry, Richard 1942- (Richard Gittings Parry)

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Parry, Richard 1942- (Richard Gittings Parry)

PERSONAL:

Born July 6, 1942, in Chicago, IL; son of Norman Gittings (a general surgeon) and Lillian (a registered nurse) Parry; married Katherine Sue Peck (a medical technologist), June 12, 1965; children: David, Matthew. Education: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, M.D., 1966. Politics: Independent. Religion: Congregationalist. Hobbies and other interests: Painting, sailing.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Sun City, AZ. Agent—David Hale Smith, DHS Literary Inc., 2528 Elm St., Ste. 350, Dallas, TX 75226. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, began as intern in surgery, became junior resident, 1966-68; Boston City Hospital, Boston, MA, resident in surgery, 1968-72; Harvard University, Medical School, Cambridge, MA, resident in plastic and reconstructive surgery, 1974-76; Lahey Clinic, Boston, MA, plastic and reconstructive surgeon, 1976-78; physician in private practice, Fairbanks, AK, 1978-97. Military service: U.S. Navy, surgeon, 1972-74; became lieutenant commander.

MEMBER:

American Cancer Society (president of Alaska division, 1987-88), Alaska State Medical Association (president, 1983-84), Fairbanks Medical Association (president, 1982-83), Phi Beta Pi, Alpha Omega Alpha.

WRITINGS:

Ice Warrior (novel), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Venom Virus (novel), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1993.

The Winter Wolf: Wyatt Earp in Alaska (first novel of a trilogy), Forge (New York, NY), 1996.

The Wolf's Cub (second novel of a trilogy), Forge (New York, NY), 1997.

The Wolf's Pack (third novel of a trilogy), Forge (New York, NY), 1998.

That Fateful Lightning: A Novel of Ulysses S. Grant, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2000.

Trial by Ice: The True Story of Murder and Survival on the 1871 Polaris Expedition, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Also author of several medical texts. Contributor to professional and medical journals, including American Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Alaska Journal of Medicine.

SIDELIGHTS:

A retired plastic surgeon, Richard Parry lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, in a log home with his wife, Kathie, for twenty years. His first novel, appropriately set in Alaska, is about Rick Benson, a plastic surgeon, former Navy SEAL, and Vietnam veteran who becomes embroiled in a mystery. In the book Ice Warrior, Benson's half-Vietnamese daughter, May, is kidnapped by enemies seeking the information encoded in a tattoo behind the girl's ear. In his search for and rescue of May, a search that follows the Iditerod dog-sled race, Benson draws upon his considerable, wide-ranging skills to outwit foreign agents and double agents of the Central Intelligence Agency and also survive the harsh Alaskan environment. Irwin I. Getz described this book in Kliatt as a "fast-moving thriller" with "lots of surprising twists." Ice Warrior also includes a generous serving of information about Eskimo traditions, Getz noted.

Another of Parry's novels, The Winter Wolf: Wyatt Earp in Alaska, launches the author's three-part series, which addresses Wyatt Earp's adventures and life in that state following his departure from Tombstone, Arizona. Melding fiction with actual events and historical figures, The Winter Wolf is based on the fact that the famous ex-marshal and his wife moved to Alaska to seek their fortune during the Gold Rush. This installment, deemed "well-told," and a "good yarn" by Wes Lukowsky in Booklist, presents to readers a fictitious son who is unknown to Earp. Born to a former dance-hall girl abandoned by Wyatt, son Nathan sets out at age sixteen to kill his father in order to collect the $20,000 willed to him a decade earlier by his vengeful mother for this purpose. The Winter Wolf details tenderfoot Nathan's adventures as he hooks up with an experienced gunslinger, Newton Jim Riley, who agrees to help in exchange for money and reading lessons. Nathan is befriended along the way, beginning at a Denver orphanage and moving across the Southwest, by other characters he helps rescue. He also fathers a son before finally catching up with Wyatt.

The Winter Wolf also describes how Wyatt—now in his fifties, fallen on hard times, and forced to take on law enforcement jobs—is haunted by the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral and the knowledge that some old enemies may not be left as far back in his past as he would prefer. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called The Winter Wolf a "fast-moving, appealingly offbeat western" and commended Parry's skillful evocation of the era and locale. The eventual encounter between father and son "packs genuine emotional wallop," this reviewer added. "Diverting tall tales told in appropriately mock-heroic fashion" was how a contributor to Kirkus Reviews labeled the work, also noting that readers would look forward to Nathan's return in the sequel, which appeared as The Wolf's Cub.

In That Fateful Lightning: A Novel of Ulysses S. Grant, Parry tells the story of Grant's life as he reflects upon his accomplishments and failures during his waning days. Grant, knowing that he is dying of throat cancer, works feverishly to finish his memoirs in the hope that money from the book will help support his family after his death. As he does so, he reviews his failures in business and politics, as well as his successes on the battlefield and bouts with alcoholism. Critics have given the novel mixed reviews, feeling that Parry glossed over some important areas while overemphasizing others. "Parry somewhat overstates Grant's sense of divine mission while understating his alarming tendency to battlefield overconfidence," pointed out John Edwards in Library Journal. However, Edwards also observed that the author "successfully captures" the aging Grant's attempts to come to terms with his life. A Publishers Weekly contributor concluded: "The author's obvious affection for his subject gives this novel an overly sympathetic bias, but that affection also allows him to illuminate Grant's elusive human side."

Parry blends real-life adventure and murder mystery in Trial by Ice: The True Story of Murder and Survival on the 1871 Polaris Expedition, an account of the ill-fated expedition led by Captain Charles Francis Hall and commissioned by President Grant and the U.S. Congress to find the North Pole and the Northwest Passage. During a harrowing seven months at sea, conflict brews among the officers and crew until Captain Hall dies suspiciously and the crew is left to suffer through an Arctic winter fighting off starvation and madness. Citing Parry's "extensive research and excellent storytelling skills," Booklist reviewer Gavin Quinn also noted that Parry "uses the journals and testimony of the men … [to portray] a vivid picture of the loyalties and personal differences among the members." The Polaris expedition may have become a little-known event in American history, but as Stanley Itkin observed in Library Journal, Parry "has brought the story to light again with this riveting account."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 1996, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Winter Wolf: Wyatt Earp in Alaska, p. 323; June 1, 2000, Gilbert Taylor, review of That Fateful Lightning: A Novel of Ulysses S. Grant, p. 1853; January 1, 2001, Gavin Quinn, review of Trial by Ice: The True Story of Murder and Survival on the 1871 Polaris Expedition, p. 908.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1996, review of The Winter Wolf, p. 1180; September 1, 1997, review of The Wolf's Cub, p. 1333; September 1, 1998, review of The Wolf's Pack, p. 1233.

Kliatt, April, 1991, Irwin I. Getz, review of Ice Warrior, p. 12.

Library Journal, May 1, 2000, John Edwards, review of That Fateful Lightning, p. 154; February 1, 2001, Stanley L. Itkin, review of Trial by Ice, p. 108.

Publishers Weekly, September 9, 1996, review of The Winter Wolf, p. 66; September 22, 1997, review of The Wolf's Cub, p. 71; September 28, 1998, review of The Wolf's Pack, p. 70; May 1, 2000, review of That Fateful Lightning; December 11, 2000, review of Trial by Ice, p. 74.