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Shelton, Connie 1951–

Shelton, Connie 1951–

(Connie Lee Shelton)

PERSONAL: Born November 9, 1951, in Albuquerque, NM; daughter of Harold E. and Marilyn June Tidenberg; married Carl Daniel Shelton, July 24, 1993; children: Stephanie J. Quigley, Brandon S. March.

ADDRESSES: Home—Angel Fire, NM. Office—Columbine Publishing Group Inc, P.O. Box 416, Angel Fire, NM, 87710-0456. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Intrigue Press, 923 Williamson St., Madison, WI 53703.

CAREER: Writer. Pitney Bowes, Albuquerque, NM, collections supervisor, 1971–72; The March Company, Albuquerque, partner, 1974–90; Columbine Publishing Group, Angel Fire, NM, president, 1994.

MEMBER: Angel Fire Search and Rescue (secretary, 1995), Moreno Valley Arts Council (secretary, treasurer, 1995–96), Mystery Writers of America Rocky Mountain chapter (treasurer, 1998–2005), Small Publishers Association of America (director, 1998), Moreno Valley Writers Guild (board of directors, president, 1995–), Sisters in Crime, Publishers Marketing Association.

WRITINGS:

Deadly Gamble, Intrigue Press (Angel Fire, NM), 1995.

Publish Your Own Novel, Columbine Publishing Group (Angel Fire, NM), 1996.

Vacations Can Be Murder, Intrigue Press (Angel Fire, NM), 1996.

Partnerships Can Kill, Intrigue Press (Angel Fire, NM), 1997.

Small Towns Can Be Murder, Intrigue Press (Angel Fire, NM), 1998.

Memories Can Be Murder, Intrigue Press (Angel Fire, NM), 1999.

Honeymoons Can Be Murder, Intrigue Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2001.

Reunions Can Be Murder, Intrigue Press (Denver, CO), 2002.

Competition Can Be Murder: A Charlie Parker Mystery, Intrigue Press (Denver, CO), 2004.

Balloons Can Be Murder: A Charlie Parker Mystery, Intrigue Press (Boulder, CO), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Connie Shelton was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and uses that area as the backdrop for her series of mysteries starring Charlie Parker, a combination certified public accountant and investigator. Shelton developed Parker in response to a longtime desire to create a female character with a man's name, similar to the detectives in mysteries by such successful writers as Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky. In her original incarnation, Parker was a tough private investigator, similar to the heroines of those other authors' books, but Shelton eventually tamed the character into a softer, more vulnerable person, more in keeping with her own personal style. Although she created her other characters to be entirely original, or exhibiting traits of a variety of people she knows, Shelton admits that the character of Elsa Higgins is based strongly on her own grandmother. She attempts to keep the setting as accurate as possible, however, which sometimes proves difficult as she has since moved out of Albuquerque and only visits occasionally.

Shelton uses real-life experiences to inspire the plots of her mysteries, tapping into everything from a vacation in the Scottish highlands to her license as a hot-air balloon pilot and the miscarriages of two of her friends. In Deadly Gamble, Shelton's debut mystery, Parker, who normally leaves the investigating to her brother Ron, is forced to tackle a case on her own when he goes out of town. Stuart Miller, in a review for Booklist, dubbed Shelton's effort a "well-plotted debut mystery with a nice surprise ending and some excellent characterizations."

Vacations Can Be Murder takes Parker out of her home town and off to Hawaii, where she finds a dead body on the coast while taking a helicopter tour of Kauai. A contributor for Publishers Weekly enjoyed the narration but concluded that "this lightweight caper never quite gels into an engrossing mystery."

Returning from her trip to Hawaii, Parker is immediately embroiled in another mystery in Partnerships Can Kill. A high school friend approaches Parker when the friend's business partner suddenly dies, putting their previously successful restaurant into jeopardy. Although the man's death is ruled a suicide, Parker's friend asks her to look into things more closely, both due to her personal suspicions and because she cannot collect on their business insurance policy if the suicide verdict stands. In a review for Publishers Weekly, a contributor found that "Charlie is as methodical in her search for the killer as Shelton is in constructing this routine whodunit." Rex E. Klett, writing for Library Journal, called Shelton's effort "down-to-earth."

In Small Towns Can Be Murder, Parker finds herself looking into the death of a woman following a miscarriage, the circumstances made suspicious by the possibility that the woman suffered from spousal abuse. A contributor for Publishers Weekly found the novel offered "little mystery or suspense," while Mary Frances Wilkins, in a review for Booklist, remarked that the book is "low key and grounded in daily life."

Charlie Parker has married her boyfriend, Drake, by the start of Honeymoons Can Be Murder, and she and her new husband are visiting Taos, New Mexico. In a trip that is part vacation and part work, Drake, a pilot, flies heli-skiers up to remote peaks. A friend of Drake's is accused of murder, and Parker sets out to discover the real killer. John Rowen, reviewing for Booklist, wrote that "the mystery here makes good use of the switched-identity gambit," and a reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the book a "solid effort."

Balloons Can Be Murder: A Charlie Parker Mystery incorporates the annual hot-air balloon festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with Shelton's own expertise as a balloon pilot. This mystery involves a new client of Parker and her brother, Rachel Fairfield. She is attempting to set a new altitude record but is receiving threatening notes to discourage her, followed by attempts on her life. Rex E. Klett, writing for Library Journal, called Shelton's work "a colorful addition to the series."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 15, 1995, Stuart Miller, review of Deadly Gamble, p. 900; April 15, 1998, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Small Towns Can Be Murder, p. 1394; September 15, 1999, John Rowen, review of Memories Can Be Murder, p. 238; January 1, 2001, John Rowen, review of Honeymoons Can Be Murder, p. 926; March 15, 2004, Jenny McLarin, review of Competition Can Be Murder: A Charlie Parker Mystery, p. 1273.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2005, review of Balloons Can Be Murder: A Charlie Parker Mystery, p. 1004.

Library Journal, May 1, 1997, Rex E. Klett, review of Partnerships Can Kill, p. 144; April 1, 1998, Rex E. Klett, review of Small Towns Can Be Murder, p. 129; December, 2002, Rex E. Klett, review of Reunions Can Be Murder, p. 183; November 1, 2005, Rex E. Klett, review of Balloons Can Be Murder, p. 56.

Publishers Weekly, September 11, 1995, review of Vacations Can Be Murder, p. 78; February 24, 1997, review of Partnerships Can Kill, p. 66; April 6, 1998, review of Small Towns Can Be Murder, p. 63; January 29, 2001, "February Publications," review of Honeymoons Can Be Murder, p. 69.

ONLINE

Connie Shelton Home Page, http://www.connieshelton.com (February 4, 2006).

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