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Saulnier, Beth 1969- (Elizabeth Bloom)

Saulnier, Beth 1969- (Elizabeth Bloom)

PERSONAL:

Born September 23, 1969, in North Adams, MA; daughter of Wilfred (a history teacher) and Elizabeth (a paralegal) Saulnier; married David Andrew Bloom (in senior management), August 10, 2003. Education: Vassar College, B.A., 1990; attended graduate school at Cornell University.

ADDRESSES:

Home—New York, NY.

CAREER:

Cornell Magazine, contributing editor, former associate editor and staff writer; Weill Cornell Medical College magazine, editor; Ithaca Journal, former movie reviewer and columnist. Former cohost of Take Two (movie review show), Channel 13, Ithaca, NY; currently a freelance writer. Has worked as a reporter and editor on newspapers in MA and NY.

MEMBER:

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (board of directors, Tompkins County, NY, chapter).

AWARDS, HONORS:

Associated Press Award, for newspaper column "Saulnier on Cinema."

WRITINGS:

"ALEX BERNIER" MYSTERY SERIES

Reliable Sources, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Distemper, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2000.

The Fourth Wall, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Bad Seed, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Ecstasy, Mysterious Press/Warner Books (New York, NY), 2003.

OTHER

(As Elizabeth Bloom) See Isabelle Run, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 2005.

(As Elizabeth Bloom) The Mortician's Daughter, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Also author of column "Saulnier on Cinema," for the Ithaca Journal.

SIDELIGHTS:

Mystery writer Beth Saulnier spent more than twelve years in the "crunchy-intellectual town of Ithaca, New York," where she was a newspaper and television journalist, she commented on her Home Page. It was in Ithaca that she wrote more than five hundred of her "Saulnier on Cinema" movie review columns for the Ithaca Journal, for which she won an Associated Press Award; she also hosted a weekly movie review program called "Take Two" on Ithaca's Channel 13. She gave up those jobs, as well as her position as associate editor and staff writer on Cornell Magazine, when she got married in 2003 and moved to New York City to concentrate on her fiction and magazine-writing career.

Saulnier's popular "Alex Bernier" mystery series debuted with 1999's Reliable Sources. The heroine, Alex Bernier, a young reporter for the upstate Gabriel, New York, newspaper, Gabriel Monitor, is devastated to discover that her boyfriend, Adam Ellroy, has turned up at the bottom of North Creek Gorge; he is another in a string of apparent suicides linked to local Benson University. She is not convinced that Adam, a police reporter, would have leapt to his own death, and suspects someone angered by his controversial reporting. Her own investigation, aided by Monitor coworkers, uncovers a decades-old scandal on campus and sets her up to be the next "suicide" found at the bottom of the gorge. Saulnier "intersperses the witty dialogue and Gen-X narrative with Monitor staff articles, adding credibility and charm to Alex's" investigation, a Publishers Weekly reviewer commented.

The sequel, 2000's Distemper, picks up a year later and finds Alex pursuing her journalism career but still in mourning over Adam's death. Alex becomes embroiled in another mystery when naked female corpses with unexplained scrapes on their hands and knees are found one after the other in the local hills. The victims' dogs, however, cannot be located. At first, Alex investigates as a journalist, but when her roommate becomes a victim, too, she dives deeper into the case, becoming a target herself. Romance flares again when Alex falls for the lead police investigator. "Although the denouement falls just a touch flat, Saulnier's energetic prose provides such pleasure that readers aren't likely to mind," a Publishers Weekly critic commented. "If ever a mystery novel about serial mutilation could be called delightful, this one could," the reviewer concluded.

The third "Alex Bernier" mystery, The Fourth Wall, involves Alex in the investigation of a body found bricked up in the basement of a historic theater, which has been at the center of a debate to save the building. The victim turns out to be a young actress who disappeared in 1926, and the suspects include "a duplicitous former child star, a cadre of Martha Stewart-esque academic wives with nasty secrets, and a vicious mob boss," noted a writer in a description of the book on the Time Warner Bookmark Web site.

Bad Seed, Alex's first appearance in hardcover, finds her covering protests at Benson University by kids in vegetable costumes, who are decrying genetically engineered food as a conference on that topic gets under way. When the agriculture building explodes, Alex barely escapes serious injury, and when the university's leading plant researcher is found beaten to death, the stakes increase. Meanwhile, fellow reporter Jake Madison seems to have tried to drink and drug himself to death after a failed romance. Alex finds connections between these events that suggest someone is going to great lengths to uphold his or her beliefs. "A funny, smart, refreshingly human heroine and a strong sense of place should make this one a hit," commented Carrie Bissey in Booklist. "Alex, a better dresser than Stephanie Plum and maybe a tad funnier, is delightful," remarked a Kirkus Reviews critic. And Rex Klett, writing in Library Journal, called the book "a memorable read."

Ecstasy, the fifth "Alex Bernier" mystery, addresses issues related to the dangers of illicit drugs. After grudgingly agreeing to cover the Melting Rock Music Festival, an annual Woodstock-like event in upstate New York, Alex Bernier interviews a group of high school kids who are repeat attendees. A short time later, the boys of the group begin dying, victims of tainted LSD. Alex, along with her police detective boyfriend, penetrate the peace-and-love veneer of the festival to discover who would want to commit multiple murders and why. Bissey, in another Booklist review, called Ecstasy a "well-plotted, entertaining read." Saulnier "captures the filth, the crowds, the drug haze, the goofiness, and the rapture of a mini-Woodstock/Monterrey," commented a Kirkus Reviews critic. Klett, writing in another Library Journal review, remarked favorably on the "super plotting, believable characterization, and seamless prose" in the book.

Saulnier also writes under her married name, Elizabeth Bloom. Under that name she has introduced a new character, Isabelle Leonard, with See Isabelle Run. The book follows spunky Isabelle after her fiancé decides to leave her at the alter, when instead of crying or running off to hide, she decides to kick up her heels to dance on the table at what would have been her wedding reception, but instead turns into one big party. The spur-of-the-moment act lands Isabelle in the newspaper, and ultimately a job working for a major magazine. However, when her new boss dies, Isabelle finds she wasn't the first at the company to meet an untimely end. Booklist reviewer Jenny McLarin called the book "a first-rate flight of fancy." Shelley Mosley, writing for Library Journal, praised the book, citing "a lively plot, witty dialog, feisty heroine, and idiosyncratic secondary characters."

The follow-up to See Isabelle Run, The Mortician's Daughter, introduces readers to Ginny Lavoie, a New York cop who has been suspended and decides to use her time off to help her friend whose son has been brutally murdered in their home town in Massachusetts. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews called the book "fast, sharp and literate," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked on the New England setting, stating that "an excellent sense of place serves the story well."

In a transcript of a chat session on the Time Warner Bookmark Web site, Saulnier said that the character of Alex Bernier "is based pretty tightly on myself. Alex is, basically, me, except that she is much, much braver, and with a much better sex life." Saulnier endured more than 150 rejections before getting the first "Alex Bernier" mystery published, she remarked on her home page. To aspiring writers, she said, "My advice would be to set aside vast blocks of time if you can, and just write." She added, "Don't agonize over it; just write!"

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2002, Carrie Bissey, review of Bad Seed, p. 820; February 1, 2003, Carrie Bissey, review of Ecstasy, p. 975; January 1, 2005, Jenny McLarin, review of See Isabelle Run, p. 825.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2001, review of Bad Seed, p. 1726; January 1, 2003, review of Ecstasy, pp. 30-31; June 15, 2006, review of The Mortician's Daughter, p. 602.

Library Journal, January, 2002, Rex Klett, review of Bad Seed, p. 157; March 1, 2003, Rex Klett, review of Ecstasy, p. 122; January 1, 2005, Shelley Mosley, review of See Isabelle Run, p. 85.

Publishers Weekly, October 11, 1999, review of Reliable Sources, p. 73; May 8, 2000, review of Distemper, p. 209; January 14, 2003, review of Bad Seed, p. 44; February 17, 2003, review of Ecstasy, p. 61; June 19, 2006, review of The Mortician's Daughter, p. 43.

ONLINE

Beth Saulnier Home Page,http://www.bethsaulnier.com (April 5, 2004).

MurderExpress.net,http://www.murderexpress.net/ (April 5, 2004), biography of Beth Saulnier.

Time Warner Bookmark,http://www.twbookmark.com/ (February 8, 2001), transcript of online chat with Beth Saulnier.

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