Schorr, Mark 1953- (Scott Ellis, Mark Scott Schorr)
Schorr, Mark 1953- (Scott Ellis, Mark Scott Schorr)
Born September 6, 1953, in New York, NY; son of Bernard (an accountant) and Vera (a homemaker) Schorr; married Sima Epstein (a nurse), May 15, 1973; children: Emily Michelle, Benjamin Adam. Education: Attended State University of New York at Binghamton; Lewis and Clark College, M.A., 1993. Hobbies and other interests: T'ai chi, hiking, kayaking.
Agent—Michael Carlisle, William Morris Agency, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Los Angeles, CA, reporter, 1980-82; KNXT-TV, Los Angeles, producer in investigations unit, 1983; University of California, Los Angeles, instructor in journalism, 1983—; psychotherapist, 1993—. Worked variously as a bookstore manager, nightclub bouncer, private investigator, photographer, and international courier.
American Counseling Association, Mystery Writers of America (member of regional board of directors), Association of Former Intelligence Officers, National Intelligence Study Center, Oregon Group Psychotherapy Association (board member, 1996—).
Journalism awards from Associated Press and Valley Press Club, both 1982, both for a series on drug dealing; nominated for Edgar Allan Poe Award of the Mystery Writers of America, 1983, for Red Diamond, Private Eye.
(Editor) Wendell the Book, Cantwell, 1977.
Red Diamond, Private Eye, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1983.
Ace of Diamonds, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1984.
Diamond Rock, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1985.
Bully!, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1985.
(As Scott Ellis) The Borzoi Control, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1986.
Overkill, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Seize the Dragon, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Blindside, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1989.
An Eye for an Eye, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1989.
Gunpowder, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Borderline, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including New York, Esquire, Argosy, and American Lawyer.
Mark Schorr's first three novels feature a private detective named Red Diamond. A hero in the Sam Spade school, Diamond is hard-bitten and seems cast straight from old-time pulp fiction—which indeed he is, since he's the alter ego of a mild-mannered New York City cabby named Simon Jaffe. Schorr's tongue-in-cheek parodies featuring Red Diamond have drawn praise for their innovative style and their comic examination of the private eye mythos. "Red Diamond, Private Eye broke new ground in many ways," observed George Kelley in the St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers. "It allowed Schorr to create a tough talking, macho private eye typical of the 1940s, but having to deal with the psychological problems of the 1980s. It showed readers that maybe what the 1980s needed was a few more guys like Red Diamond to take care of business." Booklist reviewer Connie Fletcher praised Red Diamond for his "hilarious, time-warped results," noting that his stories pack "a Walter Mitty punch."
Diamond's adventures have been likened to the whimsical quest of Don Quixote, and reviewers credit the author's sense of humor for the success of what is both a parody and an affectionate tribute to the pulp writers of decades past. To quote Kelley: "What Schorr has done is to use the Clark Kent/Superman, David Banner/Incredible Hulk model and apply it to private-eye fiction. Take an average guy and give him superpowers. But what makes the Simon Jaffe/Red Diamond combination work is the sophistication and feeling Schorr gives his characters. Jaffe is a wimp, but he is also a good guy, a father who loves his kids, and a husband who loves his shrewish wife. Red Diamond is brutal but he is a good guy too—he's always willing to help the defenseless, the little people who can't defend themselves from the bullies and thugs."
After completing three Red Diamond novels, Schorr took his imagination into other spheres, including spy fiction and political thrillers. Bully! is a mystery featuring none other than President Theodore Roosevelt. The Borzoi Control, which appeared under the pseudonym Scott Ellis, is a novel about geopolitical spying, as is Overkill.
Borderline is the first volume in a new mystery series, featuring Brian Hansen, a psychologist who works in a mental health clinic in Portland, Maine, while also battling his own addition and his issues as a Vietnam veteran. When one of his patients commits suicide, Brian is suspicious of the cause as the woman had appeared to be hopeful for her future, so he sets out to discover the truth. His investigation criss-crosses with an ongoing police investigation of a local serial killer. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found some of the plot twists a bit fantastical, but concluded that "Hansen is a complex, compelling amateur sleuth." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews remarked that "Schorr … crafts an ingenious plot, full of clever twists and surprises, though his prose rarely rises above cliches or his characters above stereotypes."
Schorr told CA: "My first job was as a photographer for a string of weekly newspapers. My responsibilities included writing the captions. The captions became longer and longer, and the photographs became fewer. Soon I had metamorphosed into a reporter.
"When I was growing up in Brooklyn, I had a passing familiarity with street life. As a reporter, I focused on organized crime and criminal conspiracies. Naturally, the characters I met and the scams I was told about come in handy as background for the novels I write.
"Along the way, I held low-level film production jobs in New York, worked as a bouncer at Studio 54, was a licensed private investigator for six months, and managed a bookstore. I have studied Japanese philosophy and language. This interest was sparked early when I went to judo school as a boy. I recently returned from a trip to Japan, and I have plans for another trip to Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China. I studied fencing for one novel, scuba diving for another. One of the advantages of being a writer is that it allows you to explore whatever areas intrigue you—all in the name of research.
"I enjoy reading private eye fiction for the strong moral code that private eyes (at least in fiction) adhere to. The limitation is that generally the private detective novel is focused on an individual's crime or crimes, i.e. blackmail, kidnapping, murder. I've switched genres recently to spy fiction, since that allows scenarios with more geopolitical issues, as well as multiple viewpoints and exotic locales."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, May 15, 1984, Connie Fletcher, review of Ace of Diamonds, p. 1296.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1984, review of Ace of Diamonds, pp. 328-329; June 16, 2006, review of Borderline, p. 605.
Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2006, review of Borderline, p. 139.
Washington Post, August 19, 1985, Basco Eszeki, review of Diamond Rock, p. D3.