Pickens, Cathy 1959(?)–
Pickens, Cathy 1959(?)–
[A pseudonym] (S. Catherine Anderson)
Born c. 1959, in Walhalla, SC. Education: Earned law degree.
Office—Cathy Pickens, P.O. Box 12178, Charlotte, NC 28220. E-mail—[email protected]
Queens University, Charlotte, NC, professor of business administration; also served as university provost for five years. Formerly partner in a law firm. Member of board of directors, Forensic Medicine Program. Has also worked as a typist, a clog-dancing coach, and a church organist and choir director.
South Carolina Bar Association, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller-writers.
Malice Domestic Award for Best New Traditional Mystery, St. Martin's Press, 2003, for Southern Fried.
Charleston Mysteries: Ghostly Haunts in the Holy City (travel guide), History Press (Charleston, SC), 2007.
"SOUTHERN FRIED" MYSTERIES
Southern Fried (mystery novel), St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2004.
Done Gone Wrong, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2005.
Hog Wild, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Hush My Mouth, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2008
Cathy Pickens is the pseudonym of S. Catherine Anderson, an attorney and professor of business administration whose longtime desire to write mystery novels became a reality with the 2004 publication of Southern Fried. Drawing on her experience in civil litigation at a law firm where she had been a partner, as well as on her background growing up in Walhalla, South Carolina, Anderson created a southern female attorney, Avery Andrews, as the heroine of her first book. After being fired from her law firm in a big city, Andrews returns to her home in Dacus, South Carolina, to set up a private practice. It does not take long for her to become involved in local issues, ranging from environmental pollution at Garnet Mills, to the murder of a woman who had been missing for years. Sprinkled into this mix are colorful characters such as a local historian, who wants Andrews to defend the honor of a Confederate soldier whom he feels has been slandered, and a love-smitten man named Donlee who fakes his own death and the death of others to get Andrews's attention. Although a Kirkus Reviews contributor remarked that the "plotting is slack and predictable," the critic enjoyed the "tart atmosphere" of the tale. Many other critics had high praise for Anderson's debut, with Library Journal reviewer Rex Klett lauding the "gossipy humor, colorful characters, and Southern ethos." A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded that the novel marks a "strong start [that] augurs well for future books in the series."
Andrews appears again in Done Gone Wrong, published in 2005. In this "richly atmospheric" mystery, as a Publishers Weekly reviewer described it, a high-powered lawyer coaxes Andrews to help him with a case involving a heavy-machinery operator, who killed himself and several coworkers. The shootings may have been triggered by a prescription medicine the man was taking, so the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the drug has high stakes in the case. The tale of Andrew's attempt to protect her own life as she unravels the case is "finely crafted," concluded the reviewer. Hog Wild is the third Avery Andrews mystery, with the title being drawn from the search for a missing pet pig. The story also takes in a widow whose late husband requested a tombstone that implicates her in his death, threatening letters, a real-estate project that endangers wetlands, and a corpse discovered on the building site. A Kirkus Reviews writer found the mystery somewhat weak, but added that nevertheless, readers would be drawn in by "the quirky characters, laden with southern charm."
Anderson published her first book with a pseudonym because she was uncertain how the university at which she taught would react to her writing a mystery novel. She stated on her Web site that she has always enjoyed mysteries for the intellectual stimulation they offer, as well as their entertainment value. As for her audience, she said, "I hope readers enjoy a good laugh, the welcome embrace of people they'll enjoy seeing again, and a puzzle that intrigues and satisfies. I'd also like to introduce them to my part of the country, which has often been awkwardly stereotyped by movies and television."
Pickens told CA: "First, mysteries should entertain. I like mysteries that introduce people I, as a reader, want to visit and puzzles that are interesting to solve. I love to visit unusual or unfamiliar locales—or places that I know and enjoy. I want to learn something new, about a profession, an issue, a culture; I want a sense that I've gotten a glimpse behind the curtain or into the inner sanctum.
"I love South Carolina in all her quirkiness, and I love the Southern Appalachians, with its distinct culture. Both are threatened by the inexorable march of time and change; I want the mysteries to preserve, with humor and grace, some small part of what I love about those places and people."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2004, review of Southern Fried, p. 157; January 15, 2007, review of Hog Wild, p. 55.
Library Journal, February 1, 2004, Rex Klett, review of Southern Fried, p. 127.
Publishers Weekly, March 15, 2004, review of Southern Fried, p. 58; September 26, 2005, review of Done Gone Wrong, p. 66; January 22, 2007, review of Hog Wild, p. 167.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), April 18, 2004, Dick Adler, "Mysterious Happenings, from Spain to S. Carolina," p. 6.
Cathy Pickens Home Page,http://www.cathypickens.com (September 18, 2007).
Julia Spencer Fleming Web site,http://www.juliaspencerfleming.com/ (April 8, 2007), interview with Cathy Pickens.