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Roby, Kinley E. 1929–

Roby, Kinley E. 1929–

PERSONAL:

Born August 2, 1929, in Westbrook, ME; son of George and Margaret Roby; married Mary Linn (a writer and editor); children: Linn Roby-Mueller, Kinley Christopher Roby. Education: University of Maine, B.A., 1951, M.Ed., 1956; Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D., 1970.

ADDRESSES:

Home—FL.

CAREER:

Northeastern University, Boston, MA, professor of English (retired).

WRITINGS:

A Writer at War: Arnold Bennett, 1914-1918 Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1972.

The King, the Press, and the People: A Study of Edward VII, Barrie & Jenkins (London, England), 1975.

Joyce Cary, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1984.

(Editor) Critical Essays on T.S. Eliot: The Sweeney Motif, G.K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1985.

"HARRY BROCK" MYSTERY SERIES

Death in a Hammock, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2003.

Now Comes Death: A Harry Brock Mystery, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2005.

Two in the Churchyard Lie: A Harry Brock Mystery, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2007.

Fear Death by Water: A Harry Brock Mystery, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2008.

SIDELIGHTS:

Former Northeastern University English professor Kinley E. Roby has reinvented himself as a mystery writer with the publication of the "Harry Brock" mystery series, which includes Death in a Hammock, Now Comes Death: A Harry Brock Mystery, Two in the Churchyard Lie: A Harry Brock Mystery, and Fear Death by Water: A Harry Brock Mystery. Like Roby, Harry Brock is a New Englander transplanted to southwestern Florida. Harry is a former game warden from Maine who had to leave his old job after he shot and killed a poacher. Now divorced and estranged from his wife and children, he is an established part-time private investigator. The result, declared Barbara Bibel in Booklist, is "a lesser-known but very satisfying series set in South Florida's hotbed of crime fiction."

Death in a Hammock opens on the southwestern Florida island of Bartram's Hammock where Harry is suddenly confronted by the angry ex-wife of one of his neighbors. Katherine Trachey demands that he lead her and her two small children to the home of her estranged husband, Willard. When they arrive at Willard's cabin, however, they discover him murdered and his cabin trashed. Soon, Harry is caught up in a tangle of relationships that include the two main suspects in the murder—conservationist Luis Mendoza, his client; and Katherine, who he has feelings for. The result, declared Jennifer Monahan Winberry in a review for Mystery Reader, is a "slow moving mystery that picks up the pace a bit toward the end, but never really builds momentum. With all the different aspects of the investigation," she added, the plot "gets a little murky from time to time." Booklist contributor Jenny McLarin wrote that the novel is saturated with the "atmosphere of the island, the flora and fauna [and] the insular nature of human relationships there." Midwest Book Review contributor Harriet Klausner called Death in a Hammock an "enjoyable investigative mystery that starts slow, but once it picks up speed, it never decelerates." Klausner concluded that readers will "take pleasure in … Roby's first-rate tale."

In Now Comes Death, Harry is married to a pregnant Katherine and is investigating the death of vagrant Truly Brown. Truly was apparently the heir to a fortune, and Harry is soon caught in another web of troubled relationships—including his wife, who threatens to leave him if he does not find a different occupation. "Everything about Roby's second ‘Harry Brock’ mystery is so appealing," stated McLarin in another Booklist review, "that choosing the best element is truly daunting." "The personal aspects" of the story, wrote Klausner in Best Reviews, "enhance a strong murder investigation that leaves the audience with a fine all around novel."

In Two in the Churchyard Lie, Harry is called to investigate when workers retrieve an old Chevrolet Malibu from a canal in southern Florida. In the driver's seat is a skeleton, identified as the remains of the late John "Bunny" Roberts, a mentally impaired man who disappeared four years ago. John's sister Martha wants Harry to defend her late brother's reputation. She insists that he did not commit suicide, but was murdered—a handgun was found in the car with his body, and his skull still has a bullet in it. Complicating the Harry's situation, Katherine has left him, and another of Martha's brothers, explained a Kirkus Reviews contributor, "works for a large sand and gravel company that's about to destroy a rare colony of butterflies recently discovered by Harry's neighbor." "Although the three subplots at times seems too much," Klausner wrote in another contribution to the Midwest Book Review, "Harry shoulders them all leading to a fine mystery."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 2003, Jenny McLarin, review of Death in a Hammock, p. 1750; August 1, 2005, Jenny McLarin, review of Now Comes Death: A Harry Brock Mystery, p. 2000; September 1, 2007, Barbara Bibel, review of Two in the Churchyard Lie: A Harry Brock Mystery, p. 65.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2007, review of Two in the Churchyard Lie.

Midwest Book Review, June, 2003, Harriet Klausner, review of Death in a Hammock; November, 2007, Harriet Klausner, Two in the Churchyard Lie.

ONLINE

Best Reviews,http://thebestreviews.com/ (August 5, 2008), Harriet Klausner, "A Fabulous Who-Done-It," review of Now Comes Death.

Mystery Reader,http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (August 5, 2008), Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of Death in a Hammock.

Romance Review Today,http://www.romrevtoday.com/ (August 5, 2008), Diana Risso, review of Two in the Churchyard Lie.

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