Reaves, Sam 1954–

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Reaves, Sam 1954–

(Dominic Martell)


Born 1954; married; children: one son, one daughter.


Home—Evanston, IL. E-mail—[email protected].


Mystery writer, teacher, and translator.


Mystery Writers of America (president of Midwest Chapter, 2001-03).


A Long, Cold Fall, Putnam (New York, NY), 1991.

Fear Will Do It, Putnam (New York, NY), 1992.

Bury It Deep, Putnam (New York, NY), 1993.

Get What's Coming, Putnam (New York, NY), 1995.

Dooley's Back, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2002.

Homicide 69, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2007.


Gitana, Orion (London, England), 2001.

Lying Crying Dying, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2002.

The Republic of the Night, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2002.


Although he has traveled throughout Latin America and the Middle East and lived for a time in Europe, Sam Reaves has spent most of his life in and around Chicago, where his "Cooper MacLeish" mysteries are set. Introduced in A Long, Cold Fall, "a solid first novel for those who like their tough guys philosophical," in the words of a Kirkus Reviews contributor, MacLeish is a Vietnam vet and cabdriver who must rescue the teenage son of an old flame after she apparently commits suicide. "The book's smashing start … establishes character and milieu with whiplash speed," according to Los Angeles Times reviewer Charles Champlin. Before long, MacLeish is caught up in a dangerous world trying to protect a sometimes sullen teenager, who may well be his own son, from determined and vicious killers. "Cooper doesn't have the stomach for violence. He just can't help attracting it. And that's about as good a definition of a hero as you get in this genre," concluded New York Times reviewer Marilyn Stasio.

Cooper MacLeish returns in Fear Will Do It, this time with a new girlfriend, Diana, who has kept a few secrets from MacLeish. When Tommy, an old acquaintance of hers, uses her in a dangerous plot to blackmail a local porn king, MacLeish, "an alluring blend of kinetic force and intellectual hesitation," according to Booklist reviewer Peter Robinson, once again finds himself drawn into a deadly game. Pretty soon, Tommy is dead, and Diana is in mortal peril. "Intricate plotting, careful characterization, and well-drawn surroundings add to the excitement," noted Library Journal reviewer Rex Klett. "Cooper manages to be both scared and tough. Excellent escapist fare," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "Reaves develops a story that is far more satisfying than its seamy, ordinary ingredients would indicate."

In Bury It Deep, friend and reporter Mel Moreland lands MacLeish in the middle of big trouble, this time in the form of thuggish teamsters and corrupt politicos. When Mel ignores a macabre warning—the murder of his cat—to stay away from a story he's pursuing, he enlists the help of a reluctant Cooper. Soon the two of them are pursuing leads and reluctant witnesses through the back alleys of Chicago, "the perfect setting for plot credibility," in the words of Library Journal reviewer Rex Klett. An assortment of high-priced lawyers, powerbrokers, and a mayoral candidate round out the unsavory cast of characters. "With so many sleazeballs running around loose, you'll be positively relieved by the bloody final holocaust," a Kirkus Reviews contributor concluded.

"Cooper's fourth adventure is as smooth and tough as all the others," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor about Get What's Coming. "The man's doing his bit to make the streets of Chicago a little safer—and a lot more interesting." This time out, MacLeish is married and working as a driver for a real-estate tycoon named Regis Swanson. It is a relatively safe job, despite Swanson's ties to some union heavies, at least until a drug dealer steals a million dollars from his employers, and throws the blame on Swanson's son Nate. When Nate is murdered, MacLeish decides to help his employer catch the killers, and he uncovers a tangled layer of corruption. "This tightly plotted tale offers sizzling dialogue," according to Booklist reviewer Wes Lukowsky. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called it the "best of Reaves's strong series about Chicago existential scholar-cabbie Cooper MacLeish."

In 2002, Reaves introduced a new hero to the streets of Chicago in Dooley's Back. Frank Dooley is a police officer who fled Chicago after killing the man who raped and murdered his wife, but got off on a technicality. When Dooley returns, he finds that his victim's case remains unsolved and his sympathetic former colleagues seem content to leave it that way. Soon, he finds himself on the track of another killer, this time a mobster named Spanos who has murdered Dooley's old partner, Roy Ferguson. Determined to get the killer, but without repeating his previous vigilantism, Dooley sets out to trap Spanos into a confession that will put him away. For a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "neither alienated ex-copper Frank Dooley nor his adventures matches Reaves's previous efforts." A Kirkus Reviews contributor found that "Canny noirist Reaves … keeps the action lean and mean until that far-fetched, impossibly elaborate sting turns it soft and fuzzy at the end." Deadly Pleasures reviewer Russ Isabella was considerably more impressed: "Lean and mean prose, a story fueled by adrenaline and desperation to set things right, fine writing, perfect pacing-this one has everything to feed the need for the rush of a great read."

Dooley makes a return appearance in Homicide 69, a crime thriller set in Chicago in 1969. The veteran homicide detective becomes suspicious after his investigation into the savage torture-murder of Sally Kotowski, the former girlfriend of a mobster, leads to an all-too-quick confession. Against the wishes of his superiors, Dooley continues digging into the case, finding himself entangled in a web of deceit. "A vivid cast, a flawed but compelling protagonist and, for good measure, a wry and poignant love story," wrote a critic in Kirkus Reviews.

Reaves has also written a number of works of international intrigue under the pseudonym Dominic Martell. Lying Crying Dying centers on Pascual Rose, a former terrorist who turned in his compatriots to the Central Intelligence Agency and now lives under his assumed identity in Barcelona. When Rose's former lover, Katixa, appears, carrying a suitcase full of stolen money, she convinces him to run away with her. Once on the run, Rose learns that Katixa has double-crossed him, placing his life in grave danger. "This is a superbly crafted story, with plenty of action, danger, and suspense," Booklist contributor Emily Melton stated.

In The Republic of the Night, the sequel to Lying Crying Dying, Rose agrees to help a French intelligence group identify Daoud Najjar, a Syrian terrorist who is in Paris to sell weapons to an Algerian military official. When the plan backfires, Rose flees to Zurich with Djemila Yacine, an exiled Algerian reporter who has earned his trust. The Republic of the Night "is spy fiction of the highest order," remarked Booklist critic Michele Leber, who also praised the novel's "atmospheric backgrounds" and "splendidly complex protagonist." Jo Ann Vicarel, writing in Library Journal, remarked that "the pace is fast, the plot believable, and the storytelling engaging."



Antigonish Review, September 22, 1998, review of Lying Crying Dying, p. 150.

Booklist, February 15, 1992, Peter Robinson, review of Fear Will Do It, p. 1091; March 15, 1995, Wes Lukowsky, review of Get What's Coming, p. 1312; January 1, 2002, Emily Melton, review of Lying Crying Dying, p. 819; February 1, 2003, Michele Leber, review of The Republic of Night, p. 976.

Drood Review of Mystery, July 1, 2002, review of Lying Crying Dying, p. 9.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 1990, review of A Long, Cold Fall, p. 1643; January 15, 1992, review of Fear Will Do It, p. 80; June 15, 1993, review of Bury It Deep, p. 755; March 15, 1995, review of Get What's Coming, p. 347; August 1, 2002, review of Dooley's Back, p. 1082; December 1, 2002, review of The Republic of Night, p. 1722; November 1, 2006, review of Homicide 69, p. 1105.

Library Journal, March 1, 1992, Rex Klett, review of Fear Will Do It, p. 123; August, 1993, Rex Klett, review of Bury It Deep, p. 158; February 1, 2003, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of The Republic of Night, p. 118.

Los Angeles Times, February 10, 1991, Charles Champlin, review of A Long, Cold Fall, p. 9.

New York Times, February 24, 1991, Marilyn Stasio, review of A Long, Cold Fall, p. 31.

Publishers Weekly, January 27, 1992, review of Fear Will Do It, p. 91; February 27, 1995, review of Get What's Coming, p. 89; August 5, 2002, review of Dooley's Back, p. 55; January 7, 2002, review of Lying Crying Dying, p. 47; October 16, 2006, review of Homicide 69, p. 32.


Deadly Pleasures Online, (December 10, 2002), Russ Isabella, review of Dooley's Back.

Dominic Martell Web site, (July 1, 2007).

Sam Reaves Home Page, (July 1, 2007).