Schutz, Benjamin M. 1949- (Benjamin Merrill Schutz)
Schutz, Benjamin M. 1949- (Benjamin Merrill Schutz)
Born May 28, 1949, in Washington, DC; son of Melvin (an advertising executive) and Rhoda (a corporate comptroller) Schutz; married JoAnne Christine Lindenberger (a clinical psychologist), April 27, 1975; children: Jakob Christopher, Jesse Michael. Education: Lafayette College, B.A., 1971; Catholic University of America, Ph.D., 1977. Hobbies and other interests: Architectural history and coaching youth soccer.
Office—5417C Backlick Rd., Springfield, VA 22151.
Mount Vernon Community Mental Health Center, Alexandria, VA, clinical psychologist, 1977-80; Springfield Psychotherapy and Consultation Center, Springfield, VA, clinical forensic psychologist, 1979-94; First Gemini Enterprises Ltd., president and forensic psychologist, 1995—.
Professional Academy of Custody Evaluators, American Board of Forensic Examiners, American Psychological Association, Private Eye Writers of America.
Shamus Award, 1988, for A Tax in Blood; Edgar Award and Shamus Award, 1993, for short story "Mary, Mary, Shut the Door."
"LEO HAGGERTY" SERIES; DETECTIVE NOVELS
All the Old Bargains, Bluejay Books (New York, NY), 1985.
A Tax in Blood, Tom Doherty (New York, NY), 1987.
The Things We Do for Love, Scribner's (New York, NY), 1989.
A Fistful of Empty, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.
Mexico Is Forever, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994.
Legal Liability in Psychotherapy, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 1982.
(With others) Solomon's Sword: A Practical Guide to Conducting Child Custody Evaluations, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 1989.
The Mongol Reply (novel), Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2004.
Mary, Mary, Shut the Door: And Other Stories, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2005.
Benjamin M. Schutz once told CA: "I write largely to work out my thoughts and feelings on issues that are important to me. My professional writing focuses on the application of research to improve forensic practice. My detective novels are an attempt to meld the hard-boiled realism of Hammert with the human concerns about life and loss and violence and redemption of Ross MacDonald. I draw on my experiences as a clinical forensic psychologist when I write my novels."
Schutz's novels, starring hard-boiled Washington, DC, sleuth Leo Haggerty, employ the author's clinical training in psychology in presenting the criminal mind. In his debut novel, Embrace the Wolf, Haggerty is introduced as a seasoned detective in his mid-thirties who is "young enough to function, old enough to know," as Armchair Detective critic Bert Eccles described him. Hired to stop a distraught father from meting out personal justice to a psychopath who kidnapped his daughters five years earlier, Haggerty follows the trail to North Carolina. To his credit, said Eccles, the author portrays his detective not as a standard-issue tough guy, but "as a decent man pragmatically concerned with impending middle age in a world in which violence is just a truckstop away."
In the second installment of the series, All the Old Bargains, Haggerty takes on the case of a missing teenager, Miranda, who has been sexually abused by her father in a tale called "competent, even if it is derivative" by Jeffrey Gamso in Armchair Detective. Washington Post Book World contributor Jean White cited Schutz's eye for detail and his mastery of the detective genre's "tight-lipped narration and fast-paced action with exploding violence."
The award-winning A Tax in Blood finds Haggerty taking on a South American terrorist organization. The use of mind control by the villains reminded some reviewers of the movie thriller The Manchurian Candidate; White, in another Washington Post Book World review, called this plot device "horribly credible" in Schutz's hands. Still, overall critical reaction to the novel ranged from "mediocre" by Wes Lukowsky in Booklist to "another fine tale" by a Library Journal contributor.
Taking on his last "field" case before settling down to a desk job, Haggerty agrees to act as bodyguard to menaced pop-star Jane Doe in The Things We Do for Love. "As it turns out, Haggerty doesn't know what he's getting into," remarked White in the Washington Post Book World. The story's action was noted by some critics, with a Virginia Quarterly Review writer wishing the author had packed some "emotional punch" hinted at by the characters. Still, Schutz delivers the goods in his action-packed climax, which Publishers Weekly critic Sybil Steinberg said will keep "harrowing the reader's nerves, right up to the story's last split second." White commended the author for bringing a dose of career reality to Haggerty, who must decide whether to give up his practice to join a large detective firm: "Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe never faced that dilemma."
Haggerty faces a different kind of dilemma in his fifth outing, A Fistful of Empty, in which a psychopath has invaded his home, raped his live-in love Samantha, and murdered his best friend, all while seeking a computer disk that Haggerty obtained while bringing in a bail jumper. Forced back to the streets, the sleuth must deal with his vengeful impulses in order to solve the case. "Strongly and narrowly focused," wrote Rex Klett in Library Journal, this thriller "runs swiftly and smoothly to a touching conclusion."
With Mexico Is Forever, the worlds of politics and pornography collide as Haggerty follows a porn movie queen and uncovers layers of her personae that could jeopardize her life. A Publishers Weekly writer hailed this entry, noting that an "open-ended, hero-tied-to-the-railroad-tracks finale should leave readers impatient for Haggerty's next outing."
In Mongol Reply Schutz introduces Morgan Reece, a child psychologist assigned to a child custody case. Former professional football player Tom Tully is willing to destroy his ex-wife, Serena, by any means with the help of his unscrupulous lawyer. He begins by locking her out of the house, taking the kids, and leaving her without any financial resources, all of which are severe blows to her increasing instability. At Reece's urging, Lou Carlson, a retired domestic relations lawyer, offers to defend her pro bono. Reece himself is recovering from the death of his daughter and his divorce and is questioning the meaning of his work and life. A Publishers Weekly contributor concluded: "Schutz's gut-wrenching story plays out with all the inevitability of a Greek tragedy." Writing in Booklist, Lukowsky advised: "Do not miss this book; it's one of the best suspense novels of the year."
Mary, Mary, Shut the Door: And Other Stories contains three tales, including the title story, that feature Leo Haggerty. "The State versus Adam Shelley" is the story of a modern-day Frankenstein. "Whatever It Takes" features two process server brothers, and the story's sequel, "Til Death Do Us Part," which is also the one new story in the collection, tells of a male Bostonian who marries another man in Provincetown. Forensic psychologists Matthias Waldman and Ransom Triplett appear in two stories, "Expert Opinion" and "Not Enough Monkeys." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that these stories "show that an expert private-eye writer doesn't need a whole novel to get tough."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Journal of Family Therapy, winter, 1990, Victor DeFazio, review of Solomon's Sword: A Practical Guide to Conducting Child Custody Evaluations, p. 398.
Armchair Detective, fall, 1986, Jeffrey Gamso, review of All the Old Bargains, p. 435; summer, 1987, Bert Eccles, review of Embrace the Wolf, pp. 300-301; fall, 1991, Martin Friedenthal, review of A Fistful of Empty, p. 487.
Booklist, September 15, 1987, Wes Lukowsky, review of A Tax in Blood, p. 112; January 1, 1991, Wes Lukowsky, review of A Fistful of Empty, p. 910; March 1, 1994, Elliott Swanson, review of Mexico Is Forever, p. 1184; October 1, 2004, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Mongol Reply, p. 314.
Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, March, 1984, Joseph Bloom, review of Legal Liability in Psychotherapy, p. 104.
Journal of Psychiatry and Law, summer, 1983, Marshall Kapp, review of Legal Liability in Psychotherapy, pp. 215-218; fall-winter, 1990, Moisy Shopper, review of Solomon's Sword, pp. 459-463.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1987, review of A Tax in Blood, p. 1355; December, 15, 1988, review of The Things We Do for Love, p. 1778; January 1, 1991, review of A Fistful of Empty, pp. 21-22; October 15, 2005, review of Mary, Mary, Shut the Door: And Other Stories, p. 1111.
Library Journal, February 1, 1982, review of Legal Liability in Psychotherapy, p. 270; October 1, 1987, review of A Tax in Blood, p. 111; February 1, 1989, Rex Klett, review of The Things We Do for Love, p. 84; January, 1991, Rex Klett, review of A Fistful of Empty, p. 159; March 1, 1994, Rex Klett, review of Mexico Is Forever, p. 123; November 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of The Mongol Reply, p. 62.
New York Times Book Review, February 9, 1986, review of All the Old Bargains, p. 27.
Publishers Weekly, March 8, 1985, Sybil Steinberg, review of Embrace the Wolf, p. 86; September 11, 1987, Sybil Steinberg, review of A Tax in Blood, p. 83; December 16, 1988, review of The Things We Do for Love, p. 71; March 28, 1994, review of Mexico Is Forever, p. 86; September 20, 2004, review of The Mongol Reply, p. 49.
School Library Journal, September, 1986, Erin Hayden, review of All the Old Bargains, p. 154.
Virginia Quarterly Review, summer, 1989, review of The Things We Do for Love, p. 93.
Washington Post Book World, December 15, 1985, Jean White, review of All the Old Bargains, p. 6; October 18, 1987, Jean White, review of A Tax in Blood, p. 8; February 19, 1989, Jean White, review of The Things We Do for Love, p. 8.
Wilson Library Bulletin, March, 1985, Kathleen Maio, review of Embrace the Wolf, p. 486.