Pearson, Ridley 1953- (Wendell Mccall, Joyce Reardon, Steven Rimbauer)

views updated

Pearson, Ridley 1953- (Wendell Mccall, Joyce Reardon, Steven Rimbauer)

PERSONAL:

Born March 13, 1953, in Glencove, NY; son of Robert G. (a writer) and Betsy (an artist;) Pearson; married second wife, Marcelle Marsh; children: Paige, Storey (daughters). Education: Attended University of Kansas, 1972, and Brown University, 1974.

ADDRESSES:

Office—St. Louis, MO. Agent—Albert Zuckerman, Writer's House, Inc, 21 W. 26th St, New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, novelist, and screenwriter. Worked variously as a songwriter for a touring bar band, a dishwasher, and a housekeeper in a hospital surgery suite; composer of orchestral score for documentary film Cattle Drive. Bass guitarist for Rock Bottom Remainders (literary garage band), with Dave Barry, Amy Tan, and Stephen King.

MEMBER:

Writers Guild of America.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Raymond Chandler Fulbright fellowship in detective fiction, Oxford University, 1990.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Never Look Back: A Novel of Espionage and Revenge, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1985.

Blood of the Albatross, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1986.

The Seizing of Yankee Green Mall, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1987.

Undercurrents, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1988.

Probable Cause, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1990.

Hard Fall, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1992, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

The Angel Maker, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1993, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

No Witnesses, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1994, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

Chain of Evidence, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1995.

Beyond Recognition, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.

The Pied Piper, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.

The First Victim, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1999.

Middle of Nowhere, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.

Parallel Lies, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

(As Joyce Reardon and Stephen Rimbauer) The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red, foreword by Stephen King, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

The Art of Deception, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.

The Body of Peter Hayes, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

The Body of David Hayes, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

Cut and Run, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.

Killer Weekend, Putnam (New York, NY), 2007.

CHILDREN/YOUNG ADULT BOOKS

(With Dave Barry) Peter and the Starcatchers (children's book; a prequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan), Disney Editions, 2004.

The Kingdom Keepers, Disney Editions (New York, NY), 2005.

(With Dave Barry) The Missing Mermaid: A Neverland Island Book, Disney Editions/Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2005.

(With Dave Barry) Peter and the Shadow Thieves (young adult), Disney Editions, 2006.

(With Dave Barry) Escape from the Carnivale: A Never Land Adventure Hyperion (new York, NY), 2006.

(With Dave Barry) Peter & the Secret of Rundoon, Disney Editions/Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2007.

(With Dave Barry) Cave of the Dark Wind: A Never Land Book, Disney Editions/Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2007.

OTHER

(With Stephen Crisman) Investigative Reports. Inside Alcoholics Anonymous, A&E Home Video (United States), 2000.

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (television miniseries; based on the book of the same title), American Broadcasting Corporation, 2003.

Author of screenplay adaptations of his novels Probable Cause and Undercurrents. Also author, under pseudonym Wendell McCall, of Aim for the Heart, St. Martin's Press. Contributor to the anthology Diagnosis: Terminal, edited by E. Paul Wilson, Forge (New York, NY), 1996.

ADAPTATIONS:

Angel Maker, No Witnesses, and Undercurrents, were optioned for film by Home Box Office; Hard Fall was optioned for film by Amadeo Ursini; film rights to Probable Cause were acquired by Ted Hartley of RKO; Peter and the Shadow Thieves, was optioned for film by Disney, 2006. Several books by Pearson have been adapted as audiobooks, including Parallel Lies, Brilliance, 2001, and Escape from the Carnivale: A Never Land Adventure Brilliance Audio 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Ridley Pearson writes police procedurals about serial killers that some critics consider masterpieces of taut plotting, fascinating forensic details, and enjoyable characters. Pearson's thrillers featuring detective Lou Boldt and police psychologist Daphne Matthews—whose on-again, off-again romance provides the series with a continuing subplot—are set in the author's former home town of Seattle, Washington. Although some deem the author's characterizations flat and his plots implausible, others find Pearson's novels impossible to put down. "Some procedurals stress forensic detail, while others emphasize the multidimensional humanity of the cops. Pearson does both, and the combination continues to be unbeatable," wrote Booklist contributor Bill Ott in his review of Pearson's Chain of Evidence.

Pearson's 1986 novel Blood of the Albatross features spies, F.B.I. agents, a naive sailor, and a mysterious woman, all stock figures in crime novels. Accordingly, Newgate Callendar commented in the New York Times: "There is nothing new here, but the writing is ebullient, the author has a good time with the conventions, and so should the reader." By the time The Angel Maker, was published, nearly ten years later, Pearson had become a celebrated writer of forensic thrillers whose recurring characters Boldt and Matthews and the often highly technical trails of evidence that wind through his work were now celebrated by some reviewers. "Pearson's engaging forensic detail—he makes complicated, potentially disgusting facts almost entertaining—and brisk prose will have readers racing to the cliffhanger climax," noted a critic for Publishers Weekly in a review of The Angel Maker.

Reviewers of more recent Pearson procedurals have continued to praise the author's ability to incorporate the latest technological aids to detective work without slowing down the action in his taut plots. In No Witnesses a serial killer bent on exacting revenge against a food company begins poisoning the company's products, faxing extortion notes, and using ATM's to retrieve ransom money, thereby leaving no physical trace for Detective Boldt to track down. "Mr. Pearson's grasp of investigative technology is truly impressive," noted Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times Book Review, quipping: "O brave new world, Mr. Pearson has your PIN." Booklist contributor Ott found Pearson's shift from forensic thriller to techno-thriller well executed. "As in past Boldt-Matthews adventures … the combination of meticulous investigative detail and excruciating, screw-tightening suspense is utterly riveting," Ott enthused in his review of No Witnesses.

Boldt and Matthews return in Beyond Recognition, a thriller about a serial killer who disposes of his victims' bodies with rocket fuel, which burn so hot it leaves almost no trace behind. "Moving from one punchy scene to the next, this fuse-burning suspense tale is wonderful reading for a wide audience," noted Molly Gorman in Library Journal. Although a Publishers Weekly contributor complained that Beyond Recognition is not up to the standard of earlier Boldt-Matthews procedurals, Booklist contributor Ott again praised Pearson's ability to "never stop playing the reader's emotions," creating a rhythm to his plot that builds excitement to a fever pitch. "You have to be a bit of a masochist to give in to a Pearson plot, but when you do, it hurts so good," Ott wrote.

Pearson brings the suspense home to Detective Boldt in The Pied Piper, in which the detective's own daughter is kidnapped after Boldt begins to get close to identifying a serial kidnapper. "The plot begins simply and becomes wonderfully complex," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor, who recommended the book even to first-time Pearson readers "who may be tempted to pick up earlier novels to see whether they're all this good." The eighth novel in the series, The Art of Deception continues Boldt's adventures, as the detective investigates a pair of suspicious deaths that ultimately point to a murderer who may not be finished yet. With the help of forensic pathologist Matthews—who finds herself with an unwanted admirer in the person of a local deputy sheriff—Boldt follows the trail of both murderers only to find them intersect in a novel that a Kirkus Reviews contributor cited as "on top of the summer's pile of procedurals" due to Pearson's "handsome command of detail and breathless pace." Calling the novel's "atmospheric descriptions of Seattle … dead-on," Library Journal contributor Jeff Ayers dubbed The Art of Deception "hands-down one of the best thrillers of the year." In Booklist, Bill Ott also commended Pearson's setting, noting that the novelist's "detail-rich treatment goes well beyond the typical cliches of dark passages and abandoned storefronts" and praising the "Boldt and Matthews" novels as among "the mystery genre's greatest pleasures."

Pearson shifts the scene from Seattle to Connecticut and leaves Detective Boldt behind in Chain of Evidence. In this novel Detective Joe Dartelli suspects that a series of suicides may actually be murders committed by his former mentor, forensic specialist Walter Zeller, a troubled man seemingly intent on exacting revenge for the murder of his own wife years before. Although a contributor to Publishers Weekly declared Pearson's plot unbelievable and his characters "generic, if appealing," this reviewer also stated: "What Pearson does better than any other current thriller writer is forensic detail," and Chain of Evidence "stands as one of the best novels yet by this author."

New York Times Book Review contributor Stasio remarked upon Pearson's facility with incorporating gadgets and difficult technical or medical information into his plots, but bemoaned the fact that this ability does not carry through to his characterizations: "For someone who can be so lucid about complicated technical subjects like DNA mapping, Mr. Pearson has his problems writing about life-forms," Stasio noted in a review of Chain of Evidence.

A friend of horrormeister Stephen King, Pearson "conspired" with King in a literary hoax in 2002. Following the television airing of King's Rose Red, about a haunted mansion built on a Native American burial ground by the wealthy Rimbauer family in the early twentieth century, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red appeared on bookstore shelves. With an introduction by King, the book was purported to be the work of Steven Rimbauer, based on the diary of his late aunt, with editorial commentary by Joyce Reardon, Ph.D, an expert in the paranormal. Only after this book was dramatized as an ABC miniseries was Reardon announced as the actual author and perpetrator of the hoax. As a novel, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer presents the backdrop to King's book, and focuses on the writer's marriage to a wealthy oil magnate who will not pay heed to Ellen's concerns about the otherworldly occurrences in their luxurious new home. Noting that the fictional Diary "stands well on its own," a Book Haven contributor commended Pearson's adoption of a diary format, which "gives readers a voyeuristic thrill."

In his 2000 thriller, Middle of Nowhere, Pearson sets Seattle police lieutenant Boldt along with forensic specialist Daphine Matthews on the case of a series of robbery assaults while dealing with the departments internal conflict, understaffing due to the "blue flu," and a romance between Boldt and Matthews. In addition, police officers who are still working have been assaulted, leading Boldt to suspect that perhaps his fellow officers who are on strike are involved. Bill Ott, writing in Booklist, noted that the author "moves the ground from under his readers' feet more skillfully and more believably than any of his fellow writers." Library Journal contributor Molly Gorman wrote that "Boldt's invigorating pursuit leads to a truly electrifying denouement."

Parallel Lies features disgraced cop Peter Tyler, who was kicked out of the Washington, DC, homicide department after catching a man swinging a baby against a wall and then beating him to death. Not only did he lose his job, Tyler also lost his wife. Now working for the National Transportation Safety Board, Tyler begins an investigation of what happened in a St. Louis railroad boxcar spattered with blood. Before long, Tyler is suspecting his employers of deceit, especially concerning a man they claim has been causing train derailments. Although Booklist contributor Bill Ott found the book not quite as good as the thrillers featuring Boldt, he went on to note: "Lesser Pearson remains near the top of the genre."

The Body of David Hayes was called "breathlessly exciting stuff" by a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Boldt is back in a case involving his wife Liz and a computer hacker who once seduced Liz and ransack the bank where she works of seventeen million dollars. Authorities never found the money, Hayes is out of jail asking Liz for help, and a group of blackmailers is targeting the Boldts. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "wisely eschews the sentimentalism as he builds to a climactic finale in which Boldt cleverly manipulates friend and foe alike to save Liz."

Cut and Run features U.S. Marshall Roland Larson guarding Hope Stevens as part of the U.S. Witness Protection Program. Set to testify against the Romero crime family, Hope has been the target of several murder attempts. Roland and Hope fall in love, and Hope asks Larson to join her in her new life but is suddenly spirited away by the Protection Program. Five years later, the two meet again. Hope, however, now has a young five-year-old daughter named Penny and is out of the program but still the target of the Romeros. An MBR Bookwatch contributor noted the novel's "brilliant characterizations, the fast paced storyline and the romantic sizzle between two protagonists." Another reviewer writing in Publishers Weekly commented that "even fans accustomed to Pearson's heart-pounding pacing will find themselves short of breath."

Pearson sets the stage in Sun Valley, Idaho, for his thriller Killer Weekend, the first of a new series featuring rural Sheriff Walt Fleming. The character is based on the author's real-life friend and sheriff Walt Felming. "You could mistake him for a simple local sheriff but he … is a very knowledgeable detective," the author is quoted as saying in an Kirkus Reviews article. During a high-powered business conference, the fictional Sheriff Fleming is investigating threats made to Elizabeth Shaler, who is announcing her candidacy for presidency and was saved from an attacker by Fleming several years earlier. Jeff Ayers, writing in Library Journal, called Killer Weekend "a brilliant and fascinating adult thriller."

Pearson has also written several children/young adult books in collaboration with humor writer Dave Barry. Peter and the Starcatchers, written with Barry, is a prequel to J.M. Barrie's classic Peter Pan and focuses on the origins of the classic's main characters. In the novel, Peter and his friends are sent to be servants of an evil king of Rungoon. On their way, however, their ship is attacked by pirates, leading Peter and the others to an uncharted magical island where nefarious characters search for the magical "starstuff." "This smoothly written page-turner just might send readers back to the original," wrote Margaret A. Chang in the School Library Journal. Deirdre Root, writing in Kliatt, called the novel "a rollicking good adventure."

In Peter and the Shadow Thieves Pearson and Barry introduce the nonhuman Lord Ombra and a host of other villains who come to Mollusk Island (Never Land) looking for starstuff, which has been hidden in England. When Lord Ombra heads off to find it, Peter, Tinker Bell, and Peter's friend Molly set out to stop him. School Library Journal contributor Eva Mitnick noted that it is "when the action switches to London that the plot really starts to sizzle." GraceAnne A. DeCandido, writing in Booklist, noted: "Readers will relish the chance to further explore the backstory of a favorite childhood tale."

Escape from the Carnivale: A Never Land Adventure does not feature Peter Pan but a host of other Neverland characters, including Little Scallop and her mermaid friends Aqua and Surf, who is captured to be in a side show, setting his friends off on a rescue mission. Peter & the Secret of Rundoon finds savage invaders on Mollusk Island and Lord Ombra seeking to destroy the universe by sending it back in time before it was created. "Kudos to Barry and Pearson for a funny, clever, melodramatic romp," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor.

Pearson is also the sole author of The Kingdom Keepers, which finds five teenagers working as Holographic Hosts at the Magic Kingdom of Disney World. While the teens' images are everywhere instructing tourists on attractions, something begins to go wrong when they start having strange dreams. Ultimately, the teens find themselves in a real-life adventure involving many of the Magic Kingdom's characters as they travel through Disney World after closing hours. School Library Journal contributor Mara Alpert commented that "the illicit thrill of seeing all the things you don't normally get to see … makes this a must-read for serious Disney fans."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Libraries, May 1992, review of Hard Fall, p. 416.

Arkansas Lawyer, April 1992, Trisha Henry, review of Hard Fall, p. 30.

Book, July 2001, Randy Michael Signor, review of Parallel Lies, p. 69.

Booklist, August, 1994, Bill Ott, review of No Witnesses, p. 1993; September 1, 1995, review of Chain of Evidence, p. 6; December 15, 1996, review of Beyond Recognition, p. 693; May 15, 1999, Bill Ott, review of The First Victim, p. 1643; April 1, 2000, Bill Ott, review of Middle of Nowhere, p. 1413; May 1, 2000, Bill Ott, review of Middle of Nowhere, p. 1591; May 1, 2001, Bill Ott, review of Parallel Lies, p. 1638; June 1, 2002, Bill Ott, review of The Art of Deception, p. 1646; February 1, 2004, Bill Ott, review of The Body of David Hayes, p. 933; September 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 121; February 15, 2005, Bill Ott, review of Cut andRun, p. 1037; June 1, 2006, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Peter and the Shadow Thieves, p. 66; February 15, 2007, Allison Block, review of Killer Weekend, p. 4.

Books, August 18, 2007, Dave Barry, review of Peter and the Shadow Thieves, p. 6.

Center for Children's Books Bulletin, November, 2004, Deborah Stevenson, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 113.

Chronicle, February, 2005, Don D'Ammassa, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 32.

Contra Costa Times, November 8, 2004, "The Peter Pan Story Never Gets Old."

Drood Review of Mystery, May-June, 2004, review of The Body of David Hayes, p. 13.

Entertainment Weekly, February 21, 1992, Gene Lyons, review of Hard Fall, p. 48; October 27, 1995, review of Chain of Evidence, p. 83; April 9, 2004, Adam B. Vary, review of The Body of David Hayes, p. 93.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2002, review of The Art of Deception, p. 911; February 1, 2004, review of The Body of David Hayes, p. 105; August 1, 2004, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 737; August 15, 2005, review of The Kingdom Keepers, p. 919; June 1, 2006, review of Peter and the Shadow Thieves, p. 568; August 1, 2006, review of Escape from the Carnivale: A Never Land Adventure, p. 780; February 1, 2007, review of Killer Weekend, p. 10; September 15, 2007, review of Peter & the Secret of Rundoon.

Kliatt, September, 2006, Deirdre Root, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 30.

Library Journal, June 1, 1987, Jean B. Palmer, review of The Seizing of Yankee Green Mall, p. 130; January, 1997, Molly Gorman, review of Beyond Recognition, p. 149; May 1, 1998, review of Beyond Recognition, p. 156; July, 1999, Molly Gorman, review of The First Victim, p. 135; May 15, 2000, Molly Gorman, review of Middle of Nowhere, p. 126; May 1, 2001, Jeff Ayers, review of Parallel Lies, p. 128; July, 2002, Jeff Ayers, review of The Art of Deception, p. 122; March 1, 2004, Robert Conroy, review of The Body of David Hayes, p. 109; May 1, 2007, Jeff Ayers, review of Killer Weekend, p. 74.

Library Media Connection, February, 2007, Kathleen McBroom, review of Escape from the Carnivale, p. 61, and Amy Hart, review of Peter and the Shadow Thieves, p. 62.

Los Angeles Times, September 29, 1985, Nick B. Williams, review of Never Look Back: A Novel of Espionage and Revenge, p. 7.

Magpies, November, 2006, "And the Other Pan," p. 14.

MBR Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of Cut and Run.

New York Times, October 5, 1986, Newgate Callendar, review of Blood of the Albatross, p. 28; August 1, 1993, Charles Salzberg, review of The Angel Maker, p. 18; November 20, 1994, review of No Witnesses, p. 44; October 22, 1995, review of Chain of Evidence, p. 35.

New York Times Book Review, November 20, 1994, Marilyn Stasio, review of No Witnesses, p. 44; November 14, 2004, "Next Stop, Neverland," p. 23; April 10, 2005, "Hit Man," p. 35; October 22, 1995, Marilyn Stasio, review of Chain of Evidence, p. 35; December 3, 2006, "Hook, Brine and Tinker," p. 68.

People, January 27, 1992, Lorenzo Carcaterra, review of Hard Fall, p. 27.

Playboy, December, 1995, review of Chain of Evidence, p. 35.

Publishers Weekly, April 12, 1985, Sybil Steinberg, review of Never Look Back, p. 87; May 8, 1987, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Seizing of Yankee Green Mall, p. 62; March 18, 1988, Sybil Steinberg, review of Undercurrents, p. 72; January 20, 1989, review of Undercurrents, p. 144; January 12, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Probable Cause, p. 47; March 2, 1990, review of Probable Cause, p. 61; October 4, 1991, review of Hard Fall, p. 79; January 6, 1992, review of Hard Fall, p. 46; January 6, 1992, "Ridley Pearson: The Mild-mannered Thriller Writer Lets out His ‘Dark Side’ in His Fiction," p. 46; February 8, 1993, "The Angel Maker," p. 74; April 5, 1993, "The Angel Maker," p. 28; June 19, 1995, Paul Nathan, "Cop Psychologist Role" (article about movie based on author's book), p. 17; September 18, 1995, review of Chain of Evidence, p. 115; June 3, 1996, "Diagnosis: Terminal," p. 62; December 16, 1996, review of Beyond Recognition, p. 42; July 13, 1998, review of The Pied Piper,p. 63; May 17, 1999, review of The First Victim, p. 54; May 1, 2000, review of Middle of Nowhere, p. 49; June 11, 2001, review of Parallel Lies, p. 55; July 1, 2002, review of The Art of Deception, p. 53; July 8, 2002, Dena Croog, "‘Limbauer’ Author Unmasked," p. 18; February 23, 2004, review of The Body of David Hayes, p. 46; August 23, 2004, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 55; March 14, 2005, review of Cut and Run, p. 46; October 10, 2005, review of The Kingdom Keepers, p. 62; May 7, 2007, "Ridley Pearson: Gets Real in Sun Valley," p. 37; May 14, 2007, review of Killer Weekend, p. 32.

Reading Today, June 1, 2005, "Barry, Pearson Leave 'em Laughing," p. 13, and "Birth of a Prequel: An Interview with Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson," p. 14.

School Librarian, summer, 2006, Fiona Lowe, review of Peter and the Starcatchers.

School Library Journal, October, 2004, Margaret A. Chang, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 154; January, 2006, Mara Alpert, review of The Kingdom Keepers, p. 142; August, 2006, Eva Mitnick, review of Peter and the Shadow Thieves, p. 113.

Storyworks, October, 2006, Blaise Suhr, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 6.

Tribune Books, March 27, 1988, review of Undercurrents, p. 6; April 16, 1989, review of Undercurrents, p. 9; March 4, 1990, review of Probable Cause, p. 6; January 19, 1992, review of Hard Fall, p. 7.

USA Today, September 2, 2004, "Peter Pan's Early Years," p. 1.

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2004, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 399; February, 2006, Kim Carter, review of The Kingdom Keepers, p. 503.

Writer's Digest, August, 2001, "Ridley Pearson," p. 34.

ONLINE

Book Haven,http://www.thebookhaven.homestead.com/ (August 28, 2003), Amy Carother, review of The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red.

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (November 18, 2007), biography of author.

Ridley Pearson Home Page,http://www.ridleypearson.com (November 18, 2007).

About this article

Pearson, Ridley 1953- (Wendell Mccall, Joyce Reardon, Steven Rimbauer)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article