Born in SC; married to a journalist.
Home—McLean, VA. Agent—Jacky Sach, BookEnds, LLC, 136 Long Hill Rd., Gillette, NJ 07933. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, novelist, and journalist. Worked as a reporter for newspapers, including the Spartanburg Herald, Spartanburg, SC, and the Baltimore Evening Sun, Baltimore, MD.
The Heat of the Moon, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2006.
Disturbing the Dead, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2007.
Mystery writer Sandra Parshall is a reporter and journalist who made her fiction debut with her novel The Heat of the Moon. Protagonist Rachel Goddard, a twenty-seven-year-old veterinarian, is content with her career at a clinic in McLean, Virginia, though her personal life is a bit more rocky. Her relationship with her mother and sister is not as strong as she would like, even though they all still share the same home. When a client rushes in with the family dog, struck by a car, Rachel finds herself comforting the owner's distraught younger daughter. The event brings back a vivid, traumatic memory from her own childhood that she believes has to do with the death of her father when she was very young. These haunting memories and flashbacks become more and more prominent, until Rachel has no choice but to look for answers. Her mother, however, is unwilling to talk about the matter, becoming hostile when pressed. She is encouraged to continue looking for answers by her boss, veterinarian Luke Campbell, with whom she shares a budding romantic relationship. As Rachel struggles against her cold, domineering mother and weak, submissive sister, answers slowly emerge that reveal a troubled past unlike anything she had ever imagined. "For a first novel, this book is surprisingly polished and accomplished—Parshall knows her stuff, and it shows," remarked Hank Wagner in a review for the MysteryScene Web site. Booklist contributor Jenny McLarin called it a "standout debut that effectively crosses subgenres." Other reviewers also had high praise for the novel. A reviewer writing for Spinetingler Online found it to be "stunning," "tightly written," and "breathtaking." A Publishers Weekly contributor remarked: "The fresh, mesmerizing plot will keep readers turning the pages to the very end."
Rachel returns in Parshall's next mystery, Disturbing the Dead, which was also well received by many reviewers, especially for the author's evocation of the local community. "The mystery is as rich as the atmosphere and draws readers deeper into the community as they read through the novel," noted Jennifer Monahan Winberry in a review for the Mystery Reader Web site. Barbara Bibel, in a review for Booklist, commented that the author "effectively captures the atmosphere of a closed rural community and weaves a compelling plot."
Disturbing the Dead revolves around the discovery of two skulls that sheriff Tom Bridger believes are the remains of women who went missing years ago. Tom's father, who was his predecessor as sheriff, was never able to solve the case. In the meantime, Rachel has offered refuge to Holly, a young girl seeking to escape her dysfunctional relatives and start a new life. Rachel and Tom also become involved with each other as Rachel faces the harassments of a mountain clan and Tom aggravates his boss, who does not seem to want Tom investigating the past disappearances.
In a review of Disturbing the Dead, a contributor to the Mysterious Reviews Web site wrote, "This is a good mystery. It stays suspenseful until the very end. The reader can associate with the characters and can feel the mountain breeze in the same way they do." Referring to the book as a "dark, suspenseful … novel," a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the book's two protagonists are "drawn into the center of a lethal, gothic drama."
Parshall told CA: "I have been making up stories and writing them down since I was a child printing words in pencil on a lined tablet. The ability to create an imaginary world has always seemed an irresistible form of magic to me. The starting point is usually in the real world, though—a person, a place, an event captures my attention and I build my own created world around that point of inspiration. I enjoy books that raise psychological or social questions, stories that stay with me long after I've turned the last page, and if I can produce a book that has that effect on readers, while also entertaining them, I will have succeeded as a writer."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2006, Jenny McLarin, review of The Heat of the Moon, p. 32; January 1, 2007, Barbara Bibel, review of Disturbing the Dead, p. 65.
Publishers Weekly, April 10, 2006, review of The Heat of the Moon, p. 49; November 27, 2006, review of Disturbing the Dead, p. 34.
BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (July 31, 2008), Mary Ann Smyth, review of Disturbing the Dead.
Mysterious Musings,http://juliabuckley.blogspot.com/ (August 17, 2006), Julia Buckley, interview with Sandra Parshall.
Mysterious Reviews,http://www.mysteriousreviews.com/ (July 31, 2008), review of Disturbing the Dead.
Mystery Reader,http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (July 31, 2008), Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of Disturbing the Dead.
Mystery Scene,http://www.mysteryscenemag.com/ (December 19, 2006), Hank Wagner, review of The Heat of the Moon.
Reviewingtheevidence.com,http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (July 31, 2008), J.B. Thompson, review of Disturbing the Dead.
Sandra Parshall Home Page,http://www.sandraparshall.com (November 30, 2006).
Spinetingler Online,http://www.spinetinglermag.com/ (December 19, 2006), Andrea Maloney, review of The Heat of the Moon.