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Roe, Caroline

ROE, Caroline

(Caroline Medora Sale Roe, Medora Sale)

PERSONAL: Born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada; married Harry Roe (a medievalist), March 6, 1970; children: Anne. Education: University of Toronto, B.A., Ph.D.

ADDRESSES: Home—243 Dewhust Blvd. N., Toronto, Ontario M4J 3K4, Canada. Agent—Bella Pomer Agency, 22 Shallmar Blvd., PH2, Toronto, Ontario, M5N 2Z8, Canada. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Novelist. Previously worked as a typist, translator, welfare case worker, teacher, and in advertising.

MEMBER: International Association of Crime Writers, Crime Writers of Canada (former president), Sisters in Crime (former president).

AWARDS, HONORS: Arthur Ellis Award for best first novel, Crime Writers of Canada, 1985, for Murder on the Run; Barry Award, 1999, for An Antidote for Avarice.

WRITINGS:

DETECTIVE NOVELS; AS MEDORA SALE

Murder on the Run, PaperJacks (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1985.

Murder in Focus, Scribner (New York, NY), 1989.

Murder in a Good Cause, Scribner (New York, NY), 1990.

Sleep of the Innocent, Scribner (New York, NY), 1991.

Pursued by Shadows, Scribner (New York, NY), 1992.

A Short Cut to Santa Fe, Scribner (New York, NY), 1994.

HISTORICAL MYSTERY NOVELS; AS CAROLINE ROE

Remedy for Treason, Berkley (New York, NY), 1998.

Cure for a Charlatan, Berkley (New York, NY), 1999.

An Antidote for Avarice, Berkeley (New York, NY), 1999.

Solace for a Sinner, Berkeley (New York, NY), 2000.

A Potion for a Widow, Berkeley (New York, NY), 2001.

A Draught for a Dead Man, Berkeley (New York, NY), 2002.

A Poultice for a Healer, Berkeley (New York, NY), 2003.

Consolation for an Exile, Berkeley (New York, NY), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: Caroline Roe is known to readers under two name variations: Medora Sale and Caroline Roe. Under the Medora Sale name, she has published a series of police procedural mysteries featuring Toronto homicide detective John Sanders and—from the second novel forward—architectural photographer Harriet Jeffries. Under the Caroline Roe name, she has published a series of historical mysteries featuring the blind Jewish physician Isaac of Girona, who lives in the fourteenth century.

The first book written as Medora Sale, Murder on the Run, won the Crime Writers of Canada award for best first novel. It finds Inspector Sanders and his partner Sergeant Dubinsky embroiled in a case involving a series of rape-homicides. The plot thickens with mob involvement, drug dealing, kidnapping, police corruption, and a possible copycat killer. A reviewer for Quill & Quire commented, "So much effort is required to keep track of the plethora of plots and the cast of characters that the enjoyment is sometimes spoiled." However, the reviewer praised the author's "eye for observing the current scene" and commended her as an author worth watching.

Inspector Sanders shows more emotional depth in Murder in Focus. The sullen Sanders, while reluctantly attending an anti-terrorist seminar in Ottawa, quite literally bumps into Jeffries. By chance she photographs two men who would rather not be photographed. Her room is ransacked and her and Sanders' lives are threatened. Eventually a plot to assassinate the visiting Austrian prime minister unfolds. Cut out of the loop by the local law enforcement agencies, Sanders and Jeffries investigate on their own. Critics of the novel found Sale's characterizations admirable. Sanders's burgeoning romance with Jeffries runs hot and cold in Murder in a Good Cause as he investigates the murder—by poisoning—of a German actress at her Toronto home during a social soiree. It turns out that Jeffries is avoiding Sanders because she is ambivalent about assisting his investigation due to her role as a witness to the murder as a guest of the soiree and confidant of the victim's daughter.

In Sleep of the Innocent Sanders and Jeffries are vacationing on Martha's Vineyard, and the first part of the novel focuses on Toronto police sergeant Rob Lucas's investigation of the shooting death of a corporate chair. Lucas questions a young woman who had been to the man's apartment. Subsequent to the questioning, two men ransack her apartment and she flees. Lucas installs her in a motel but her life is again threatened. Realizing that someone is leaking his police reports, Lucas goes undercover with the woman to protect her and falls in love with her. Sanders returns from his vacation to a new assignment—to locate Lucas and his new lover before the killers do. Jean M. White wrote in the Washington Post Book World that "it's not that easy to blend a serious love story with a taut thriller, but Medora Sale pulls off the feat with style." Of the romantic pairings in the novel, White wrote that Sanders and Jeffries "are two mature human beings working out a sometimes prickly romance to accommodate each partner's need for independence and space. They watch the madcap romance of the younger lovers without envy because they have their own happiness."

The fifth installment of the series, Pursued by Shadows, places John Sanders and Harriet Jeffries in the center of the action again. Jeffries's former boyfriend Guy is implicated in a London homicide involving a stolen artifact. He turns up in Toronto and attacks Jeffries, whom he believes is aiding another woman in keeping the artifact from him. Guy ends up murdered and the other woman goes into hiding, leaving a sticky caper to be solved by Sanders and Jeffries. Sarah Harvey wrote of Pursued by Shadows in Quill & Quire, and commented that the plot was "intriguing" and Sanders and Jeffries "appealing protagonists."

Sanders and Jeffries are again on vacation in A Short Cut to Santa Fe. Their romantic getaway turns into a busman's holiday when they become enmeshed in a kidnapping scheme run amuck. Moxie and teamwork eventually see them through. As was the case in the earlier mysteries, critics praised the romance and charm of the novel. Emily Melton commented in a review for Booklist that the author "combines an ingenious plot, engaging characters, and subtle humor and light romance."

Following A Short Cut to Santa Fe, Roe began a new series under the name Caroline Roe. Remedy for Treason is set in fourteenth-century Spain in the years following the Black Death and features as a protagonist a blind, Jewish physician named Isaac of Girona. Isaac is assisted in the novel by his daughters Rebecca and Raquel as he treats an aristocratic young woman whose apparent illness may not be natural. As the plot unfolds, a woman is found dead and a plot of treason is uncovered. Isaac, who Margaret Cannon of Toronto's Globe and Mail noted as being able to move within all levels of society due to his healing skills, is perfectly placed to serve as a medieval detective. Cannon praised the book, writing, "It is intelligent, beautifully written and superbly researched." She added that Roe provides the readers with "genuinely interesting characters" and that the setting, which has Christians, Jews, and Muslims living "in uneasy alliance," is ideal for further "intriguing plots." Cannon added that though Roe's former sleuth, Harriet Jeffries, had been a favorite character, "Isaac and Spain are where Roe/Sale's talents are best spent."

In An Antidote for Avarice Isaac has become the personal physician for Bishop Berenguer. When the bishop must travel to a church council meeting in another city, he orders Isaac and his family to accompany him and his extensive entourage on the journey. Along the way, the travellers encounter a dying friar who delivers a blood-soaked message to the bishop, a young man who is lying injured by the side of the road and suffering the effects of a recent torture, and a group of thugs who seek to rob the religious party. The bishop must also decipher several mysterious messages that may relate to a threatened war. "This book," Judith Flavell wrote in her review for the Mystery Reader Web site "contains a wealth of fine historical details and flavor and it takes a fair amount of work to sort through all the facts and the many characters and figure out how they all fit into the puzzle." Writing for the Drood Review of Mystery, Jeanne M. Jacobson found that "the mystery is historically fascinating, with scenes and the characters vividly drawn."

The legendary Holy Grail is the focus of the mystery in Solace for a Sinner. A stranger comes to Girona and claims to have the priceless relic, enticing the merchants of the town to bid for it. When one of the merchants is found murdered and robbed of the life savings he was prepared to pay for the Holy Grail, Isaac is drawn into the case, endangering his own life and that of his family. Solace for a Sinner, Jennifer Monahan Winberry remarked in her review on the Mystery Reader Web site, "is a solid mystery in an unusual setting that will be popular with fans of the Middle Ages."

A Poison for a Widow finds Isaac's young assistant Yusuf, a ward of the king, being sent away from Girona for his own safety. He goes with a band of men led by Oliver de Centelles to join the king in Sardina. While Yusuf is gone, Isaac treats a man wounded in a knife attack who later dies of his injuries. Seeking to locate the dead man's wife, Isaac finds that his investigation leads him to Yusuf's group and puts the young man and his party in danger. "The setting and atmosphere are both exceedingly authentic," according to Winberry. Harriet Klausner, in a review on the Best Reviews Web site, called A Potion for a Widow "a colorful and appealing historical mystery."

In A Draught for a Dead Man Isaac journeys to the city of Perpignan to attend the wedding of a doctor friend's brother. He also goes to help the friend attend to a knight who has been badly injured in an attack. Keeping a Christian patient in the Jewish ghetto is a dangerous crime, especially since the injured knight is falsely accused of heresy. To protect his friend and insure a peaceful wedding, Isaac must discover who attacked the knight and why. Christine Jeffords, in a review on the Best Reviews Web site, praised the book's "flashes of wry humor and moments of beautiful description." Klausner called Isaac "a credible and likable character." "The ending," a critic for Publishers Weekly concluded, "will leave readers feeling as warmly content as the members of the joyous wedding party."

Roe's next two titles, A Poultice for a Healer and Consolation for an Exile continue the Isaac of Girona series. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called A Poultice for a Healer "another intricately plotted tale."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Heising, Willetta L., Detecting Women 2: Reader's Guide and Checklist for Mystery Series Written by Women, Purple Moon Press (Dearborn, MI), 1996.

PERIODICALS

Armchair Detective, fall, 1986, p. 432; fall, 1990, p. 422; fall, 1994, p. 487.

Belles Lettres, fall, 1990, p. 51; fall, 1994, p. 67.

Booklist, July, 1994, Emily Melton, review of A Short Cut to Santa Fe, p. 1927.

Books in Canada, November, 1990, p. 46; September, 1991, p. 48; November, 1992, p. 51; summer, 1994, p. 51.

Drood Review of Mystery, March, 2001, review of Solace for a Sinner, p. 4.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), April 25, 1998, Margaret Cannon, review of Remedy for Treason; December 8, 2001, review of A Potion for a Widow, p. D30.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1989, p. 801; August 1, 1990, p. 1048; June 1, 1991, p. 698; August 15, 1992, p. 1021; May 1, 1994, p. 593; October 1, 2002, review of A Draught for a Dead Man, p. 1431; October 1, 2003, review of A Poultice for a Healer, p. 1203.

Kliatt, May, 1999, review of Cure for a Charlatan, p. 21; March, 2001, review of Solace for a Sinner, p. 21.

Library Journal, September 1, 1990, p. 260; June 15, 1994, p. 97.

Maclean's, October 15, 1990, p. 86.

Publishers Weekly, March 7, 1986, p. 90; June 2, 1989, p. 70; July 6, 1990, p. 61; May 31, 1991, p. 63; August 31, 1992, p. 66; June 13, 1994, p. 53; October 21, 2002, review of A Draught for a Dead Man, p. 58; October 27, 2003, review of A Poultice for a Healer, p. 47; October 4, 2004, review of Consolation for an Exile, p. 73.

Quill & Quire, July, 1986, review of Murder on the Run, p. 60; September, 1989, p. 66; June, 1991, p. 37; December, 1992, Sarah Harvey, review of Pursued by Shadows, p. 15.

School Library Journal, January, 1995, p. 146.

Washington Post Book World, July 21, 1991, Jean M. White, review of Sleep of the Innocent, p. 6.

Wilson Library Bulletin, November, 1990, p. 131.

ONLINE

Best Reviews, http://www.thebestreviews.com/ (November 2, 2001), Harriet Klausner, review of A Potion for a Widow; (October 2, 2002), Christine Jeffords, review of A Draught for a Dead Man; (October 15, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of A Draught for a Dead Man.

Crime Writers of Canada, http://www.crimewriterscanada.com/ (March 19, 2003), biography of Caroline Roe.

Drood Review of Mystery, http://www.mysterynet.com/ (March 19, 2003), Jeanne M. Jacobson, review of An Antidote for Avarice.

Mystery Reader, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (March 19, 2003), Judith Flavell, review of An Antidote for Avarice, Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of A Potion for a Widow, and Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of Solace for a Sinner.

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