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Scott, Justin (J.S. Blazer, Alexander Cole, Paul Garrison)

Scott, Justin (J.S. Blazer, Alexander Cole, Paul Garrison)

PERSONAL:

Born in New York, NY; son of Alexander Leslie (a writer) and Lily K. (a writer) Scott; married Amber Edwards (a filmmaker). Education: Earned B.A. and M.A. degrees.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Newtown, CT. Agent—Henry Morrison, Inc., Box 235, Bedford Hills, NY 10507. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Previously worked a variety of jobs, including driving boats and trucks, building Fire Island beach houses, tending bar in a Hell's Kitchen saloon, and editing an electronic engineering journal.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination, Mystery Writers of America, 1973, for best first novel of the year, for Many Happy Returns, and for short story "An Eye for a Tooth."

WRITINGS:

Many Happy Returns, McKay (New York, NY), 1973.

(As J.S. Blazer) Deal Me Out, Bobbs-Merrill (New York, NY), 1973.

Treasure for Treasure, McKay (New York, NY), 1974.

(As J.S. Blazer) Lend a Hand, Bobbs-Merrill (New York, NY), 1975.

The Turning, Dell (New York, NY), 1978.

The Shipkiller (novel), Dial (New York, NY), 1978.

Normandie Triangle (novel), Arbor House (New York, NY), 1981.

A Pride of Royals, Arbor House (New York, NY), 1983.

Rampage (novel), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1986.

The Widow of Desire, Bantam (New York, NY), 1989, republished as The Cossack's Bride, Grafton (London, England), 1989.

The Nine Dragons: A Novel of Hong Kong 1997, Bantam (New York, NY), 1991.

The Empty Eye of the Sea, HarperCollins UK (London, England), 1993.

Treasure Island: A Modern Novel, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Has also written books under the pseudonym Alexander Cole, including The Auction. Contributor to anthologies, including Beastly Tales by Mystery Writers of America, edited by Sara Peretsky, Wynwood Press (New York, NY), 1989; The Adams Round Table, Longmeadow, c. 1992; Justice in Manhattan, Longmeadow (Stamford, CT), 1994; Murder on the Run, Berkeley PrimeCrime (Berkeley, CA), 1998; Murder Among Friends, Berkeley PrimeCrime, 2000; and Murder in the Family, Berkeley PrimeCrime, 2002.

"BEN ABBOTT" DETECTIVE SERIES

Hardscape (novel), Viking (New York, NY), 1994.

Stonedust, Viking (New York, NY), 1995.

Frostline, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2003.

McMansion, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2006.

Mausoleum, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2007.

AS PAUL GARRISON

Fire and Ice, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Red Sky at Morning, Avon Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Buried at Sea, Morrow (New York, NY), 2002.

Sea Hunter, Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.

The Ripple Effect, Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS:

Justin Scott once told CA: "The advantage of being born into a family of writers is that the people you love and admire agree that writing fiction is a reasonable, even respectable, way to earn a living. If there's a disadvantage, it's that because fewer people write for a living in twentieth-century America than carve gargoyles, children of writers grow up a little disconnected from the real world that writers are supposed to write about."

Scott's first book, a humorous crime novel titled Many Happy Returns, fared well with critics and received a nomination from the Mystery Writers of America for best first novel of the year in 1973. Although Scott's subsequent comic novels have been similarly well received, he observed a decline in the market for humorous fiction and began writing thrillers instead. His first thriller, The Turning, is a psychological chiller about a fanatical religious cult that takes over a small town in the Adirondacks.

The Turning was followed by Scott's best-selling novel, The Shipkiller. It is the story of a modern-day Captain Ahab who sets out to destroy an immense oil tanker that had capsized his sailboat, killing his wife and leaving him for dead. After arming his thirty-eight-foot sloop with an antitank missile, Scott's protagonist relentlessly pursues the monster ship through the Atlantic Ocean and the Persian Gulf, seeking to avenge his wife's death. Like his other books, The Shipkiller has proven popular with critics, who note that Scott's careful research and skillful writing resulted in an authentically detailed and exciting suspense novel.

In Normandie Triangle, Scott adds a fictional plot to a historical event. The Normandie was a French luxury liner confined to New York harbor during World War II. When the United States entered the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Normandie was appropriated by the military and refitted to be a troop carrier, during which process the stately vessel caught fire and sank to the bottom of the harbor. In Scott's version, the ship is sabotaged by a German spy, who intends to hide a miniature submarine in the sunken liner until conditions are right for a torpedo attack that would paralyze the entire harbor. An American naval architect discovers the plot and gathers a team of searchers to track down the saboteur. In the New York Times Book Review, Elisabeth Jakab pointed out that, despite "an excess of confusing detail, most of it nautical," Normandie Triangle is a fascinating novel: "the detailed description of places and events is extraordinarily good."

Rampage is the story of Christopher Taggart, a New York City developer with a secret mission. He plots to create his own personal Mafia to destroy the New York Mafia that killed his father. In his way, aside from the mob itself, are Christopher's brother, an attorney on the side of law and order, and the object of Christopher's affection, a beautiful woman whose father happens to be a Mafia leader. New York Times Book Review contributor Edward Zuckerman found the plot predictable, but added that "Mr. Scott can write an exciting scene and … a snappy line."

Scott once told CA: "Rampage is my ninth published novel, though I've written fifteen or so. I've resisted repeating myself, so I sit down to each new novel an amateur. I believe variety helps a young writer grow, even at the sacrifice of brand name recognition, which is increasingly important in the marketplace. Commercial publishing demands competing qualities of a novelist: familiarity and originality. To convince a publisher to support your work, your novels should fit a recognizable market slot, yet you, the author, must remain unique. When in doubt, I turn to the advice of the singer Tony Bennett: ‘To be different, be yourself.’"

Scott's "Ben Abbott" detective series combines detection with humor. In the first book of the series, Hardscape, we meet an amiable real estate agent who investigates mysteries on the side. Ben Abbott defaulted to real estate after a fast-paced career as a Wall Street trader landed him in Leavenworth Prison, convicted of insider trading. He returned to the family business in Newbury, Connecticut, to build a quieter and more conventional life. Marilyn Stasio described Ben in the New York Times Book Review as "a likable guy of sound mind and decent character … with a shrewd sense of his limitations." Ben unwittingly falls into a murder mystery when he agrees to videotape an unfaithful wife for a divorce case and the woman's lover is later found shot in the head. A Publishers Weekly contributor called Hardscape "a tightly knit, continually engrossing mystery." Emily Melton, writing in Booklist recommended the novel for its descriptions, plots, and characterizations. She called Hardscape "a top-notch mystery," but added, "it's the subtle but absolutely sidesplitting humor that makes this book such a delight."

Ben Abbott's second adventure is the subject of Stonedust, "another literate, witty and absorbing mystery," according to a critic in Publishers Weekly. Ben is drawn into this mystery after the fact, when a boyhood friend is found on a rustic covered bridge, dead from a heroin overdose. Ben refuses to believe that his friend Reg was a drug user, so he must investigate Reg's high-class, ambitious, and sometimes wild friends. In a New York Times Book Review assessment of Stonedust, Stasio appreciated the "unexpected and wholly delicious tartness" of Ben Abbott's "sardonic views on his self-important neighbors." Booklist contributor Ron Antonucci called Stonedust "a refreshingly fun, involving mystery."

In his third Ben Abbott mystery, Frostline, Scott places Ben in the middle of a heated dispute between two neighbors over a piece of property. Ben is working for Harry King, one of the landowners, when Dicky Butler, the violent son of the other landowner, is found dead in a pond on King's property. Ben sets out to find out if his employer or someone else is responsible. "The book contains many … surprises, all well-turned," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor.

McMansion features Ben working on the case of an environmentalist accused of murdering a real estate developer. Hired by an attorney to look into the environmentalist's past, Ben soon finds that many other people wished the developer dead. Barbara Bibel, writing in Booklist, noted: "The salesman-sleuth premise works surprisingly well in this appealing series."

Scott has also written several seafaring thrillers under the pseudonym of Paul Garrison. In Fire and Ice, the author tells the story of Michael Stone, whose wife, Sarah, and daughter, Ronnie, are kidnapped by terrorists sailing a natural-gas carrier and planning to blow up a city. Stranded on an island, Michael begins planning to save his family. Harold N. Boyer, writing in the Library Journal, noted that the "technical detail is excellent, and the geography bespeaks a familiarity with places mentioned."

In Red Sky at Morning, the author features a Red Chinese submarine commander who is planning to have his flotilla of submarines and 10,000 troops storm Manhattan for a geopolitical goal. Tug boat captain Ken Hughes, taken captive when his boat is sunk by the Chinese, must somehow thwart the commander's plan. "Those ordering action and ammo get a swirling cacophony of both," wrote Gilbert Taylor in Booklist. Library Journal contributor Robert Conroy called Red Sky at Morning "exciting, escapist fun."

Buried at Sea, Scott's third book writing as Garrison, features Jim Leighton, a personal trainer, and his boss and sailing companion, Will Sparks. During a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Will finds himself being tracked by nefarious and dangerous competitors who want the secret to one of the gadgets Will's company has developed. The story revolves around the chase, personal secrets of Jim and Will, and Jim eventually getting over his seasickness and becoming an accomplished sailor. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted the novel's "clever climax in which he [Jim] learns, quite literally, to swim with the sharks." A reviewer in Publishers Weekly commented that the author's "portrait of an angry sea is fully alive, from nights of star-filled beauty to tornado like waterspouts and hazardous ice floes."

In the Sea Hunter, charter boat captain David Hope finds himself mixed up in a complicated set of circumstances involving the failed computer guidance system of a submarine, a woman filmmaker who has David help her steal equipment from her cheating husband, and a killer dolphin as big as a killer whale. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that, "when it comes to high-seas action, Garrison is at the crest of the wave."

In his fifth book written as Garrison, The Ripple Effect, the author has teenager Morgan Page take center stage as she sails the Pacific Ocean in search of her missing father. Although her father was believed killed in the World Trade Center bombing, he actually used the event to fake his death and hide from federal investigators looking into arms dealing. "The male protagonists take a backseat to the colorful female characters … [including] two feisty lesbian nuns, a ruthless mercenary, and … a psychopathic femme fatale," wrote Michael Gannon in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called The Ripple Effect a "satisfying effort from a high talent."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 15, 1994, Emily Melton, review of Hardscape, p. 903; January 15, 1995, Ron Antonucci, review of Stone Dust, p. 900; January 1, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of Fire and Ice, p. 743; December 1, 1999, Gilbert Taylor, review of Red Sky at Morning, p. 660; December 15, 2003, Michael Gannon, review of The Ripple Effect, p. 731; October 1, 2006, Barbara Bibel, review of McMansion, p. 42.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2001, review of Buried at Sea, p. 1703; December 1, 2002, review of Sea Hunter, p. 1717; November 1, 2003, review of The Ripple Effect, p. 1288; October 1, 2006, review of McMansion, p. 993.

Library Journal, March 1, 1998, Harold N. Boyer, review of Fire and Ice, p. 126; February 1, 2000, Robert Conroy, review of Red Sky at Morning, p. 116; January, 2004, Robert Conroy, review of The Ripple Effect, p. 155.

New York Times Book Review, November 29, 1981, Elisabeth Jakab, review of Normandie Triangle, pp. 7-12; August 31, 1986, Edward Zuckerman, review of Rampage, pp. 7-12; March 6, 1994, Marilyn Stasio, review of Hardscape, p. 25; March 5, 1995, Marilyn Stasio, review of Stonedust, p. 20.

People, March 23, 1998, J.D. Reed, review of Fire and Ice, p. 39.

Publishers Weekly, September 12, 1977; March 29, 1991, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Nine Dragons: A Novel of Hong Kong 1997, p. 78; August 31, 1992, review of The Adams Round Table, p. 67; November 15, 1993, review of Hardscape, p. 72; September 19, 1994, review of Justice in Manhattan, p. 54; October 17, 1994, review of Treasure Island: A Modern Novel, p. 62; December 19, 1994, review of Stonedust, p. 48; January 12, 1998, review of Fire and Ice, p. 42; January 31, 2000, review of Red Sky at Morning, p. 81; November 26, 2001, review of Buried at Sea, p. 36; December 16, 2002, review of Sea Hunter, p. 48; August 25, 2003, review of Frostline, p. 43; November 17, 2003, review of The Ripple Effect, p. 41; October 9, 2006, review of McMansion, p. 39.

ONLINE

Blogcritics.org,http://blogcritics.org/ (January 29, 2007), review of McMansion.

Justin Scott Home Page,http://www.seastoriesbypaulgarrison.com/justinscott.html (May 8, 2007).

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