Shubin, Seymour 1921–
Shubin, Seymour 1921–
Born September 14, 1921, in Philadelphia, PA; son of Isadore and Ida Shubin; married Gloria Amet, 1957; children: Neil, Jennifer. Education: Temple University, B.S., 1943.
Home—Wynnewood, PA. Office—309 Paoli Pointe Dr., Paoli, PA 19301.
Triangle Publications, editor, 1943-48; Official Detective Stories magazine, Philadelphia, PA, managing editor, 1944-47; writer, 1948—; Psychiatric Reporter, Philadelphia, managing editor, 1964-66; J.B. Lippincott Publishing Co., Philadelphia, managing editor, 1966-69.
PEN, American Center, Mystery Writers of America.
Edgar Allan Poe special award, Mystery Writers of America, 1983; special citation for fiction, Athenaeum of Philadelphia, 1984.
Anyone's My Name, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1953, reprinted, Creative Arts Book Co. (Berkeley, CA), 1998.
Manta, Ernest Benn, 1958.
Wellville, U.S.A., Chilton (Philadelphia, PA), 1961.
The Captain, Stein and Day (New York, NY), 1982, reprinted, Creative Arts Book Co. (Berkeley, CA), 1999.
Holy Secrets, 1984.
Voices, Stein and Day (New York, NY), 1985.
Never Quite Dead, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.
Tell Me You Love Me, Berkley (New York, NY), 1993.
Remember Me Always, Berkley (New York, NY), 1994.
Fury's Children, Write Way Publishing (Aurora, CO), 1997.
The Man from Enterprise: The Story of John B. Amos, Founder of AFLAC, Mercer University Press (Macon, GA), 1998.
My Face among Strangers, Write Way Publishing (Aurora, CO), 1999.
The Good and the Dead, Write Way Publishing (Aurora, CO), 2000.
A Matter of Fear, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2002.
The Man from Yesterday, 2005.
Witness to Myself, Dorchester (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor of fiction and articles to periodicals, including Saturday Evening Post, Argosy, Cavalier, Triangle Publications, Bluebook, Reader's Digest, Redbook, Story, National Observer, Psychiatric Reporter, Science Digest, Today, and American Weekly.
Seymour Shubin's first novel, Anyone's My Name, appeared on best-seller lists when it was first published in 1953 and continues to intrigue readers today. Because of its focus on capital punishment and police brutality, the critically acclaimed novel has been used in university criminology courses throughout the United States. The book, which centers on Paul Simons, a writer for a popular true-crime magazine who takes on the behavior of the very killers he writes about, ventures inside the mind of a murderer. Shubin, who wrote for a true detective magazine early in his career, told Phillip Tomasso III in the Charlotte Austin Review Ltd., "I'm almost in awe of the thin line that separates most of us from the criminal, particularly the crime-of-passion killer. We see this every day in the news, where people who've never committed a crime before are suddenly being led in shackles out of their homes. So a big part of my effort in writing about crime goes into looking into the humanity of the criminal as well as the evil." In a review published on the BookBrowser Web site, Harriet Klausner wrote that, "unlike many of the books and movies of [the 1950s] … it feels as if it has been written from today's headlines. Readers have the rare opportunity to see what makes a killer tick before, during, and after the fatal event."
In The Captain, Shubin focuses on the abuse of the elderly in retirement homes. When former captain of detectives Walter Hughes's children send him to a retirement home, he is enraged to discover the abuse many residents suffer at the hands of the nurses. Fed up with the maltreatment, Hughes uses his gun to seek revenge, sending detectives and police on a search for a serial killer. In a review of the book on the Books 'n' Bytes Web site, Klausner wrote: "The story line is crisp and exciting as the Captain takes things into his own hands to revenge abuse and neglect even as no one suspects he is capable of being the killer."
Fury's Children, Shubin's work that takes issue with corporate downsizing and the ripple effect it has on employees and their families, features nineteen-year-old Terri and her boyfriend Danny. When Terri's father is laid off from a job that he has worked for twenty-one years, Terri and Danny go on a murder rampage, beginning with the CEO of her father's company. When another CEO is discovered dead, "the press and the public turn the as-yet-unknown murderers into quasi-heroes," wrote Rex E. Klett in Library Journal. After Terri's mother turns to Rick Broder, a popular psychology reporter, for help, the writer finds himself in danger. "Tight prose and a tense plot, smoothly told, recommend this novel," wrote Klett. "Fury's Children is a mood piece that relies more heavily on the introspective thoughts of the characters than the actions they take," noted Klausner on the Under the Covers Web site. Klausner concluded: "Seymour Shubin delivers a chilling novel of psychological suspense, made even more frightening by the fact that the perpetrator wears the mask of sanity that fools everyone."
In My Face among Strangers, a seemingly harmless newspaper advertisement is the catalyst for a murder. When they graduated from college, Matt Kern and his buddy Vic Caprutti placed a picture of Matt—with Vic's name and the caption "I will send you my picture for $3.00"—in the newspaper as a prank. Fast forward three years when Matt and his wife return home to find their house trashed. The young couple soon learns that Vic has disappeared, leaving behind his family. Matt begins reviewing the information they collected from their prank, thinking that Vic's disappearance is somehow connected. When Vic's body is found, Matt knows he is next. Klausner, in a review on the Under the Covers Web site, called My Face among Strangers "a strange, but intriguing tale that readers will enjoy due to its mounting suspense." Klausner remarked: "It is the simple story line that grows in tension until the reader feels [he or she] cannot cope with any more, only to realize that Seymour Shubin propels the audience further into his grip."
Shubin's next book, The Good and the Dead, focuses on Ben Newman, a true-crime writer who becomes tangled in a mystery of his own. Ben's sister-in-law is murdered, and his brother is the prime suspect. Ben returns home for the funeral and is shocked in the coming weeks when several of his grade-school pals are the victims of fatal "accidents." As it becomes apparent that a murderer is on a spree, Ben realizes that he must try to stop the killer. Under the Covers Web site reviewer Holly E. Price commented, "Shubin does a great job of laying out an enjoyable book," and Klausner noted in a review on the Books 'n' Bytes Web site: "No one will complete the novel feeling dissatisfied except with the fact that there [are] no more pages to read."
A Matter of Fear finds Tom Loberg, recently laid off from a public relations position at a pharmaceutical company, accepting a job with a medical publishing company. Tom soon realizes that his new job and his new boss, Sam Glennie, are quite dull and gloomy. When Sam's body is discovered floating in the Pawtoni River, everyone assumes he has committed suicide. But when Tom goes through Sam's files, he begins to think that perhaps Sam was murdered. Then Tom's old company suddenly wants him to come back to work and does everything in its power to persuade him to do so. Tom continues to ask questions and soon uncovers dangerous secrets. While a Kirkus Reviews critic called A Matter of Fear "predictable from the get-go," other reviewers expressed positive sentiments. In a review on the BookBrowser Web site, Klausner remarked that "readers will like the stubborn high morality of the hero." Booklist critic Jenny McLarin commented: "Shubin's terse prose lends a noirlike quality to this engaging suspense tale set in the early 1970s." McLarin concluded: "A first-rate story, sharp dialogue, and a compelling lead character make this a standout."
The Man from Yesterday, Shubin's next novel, was published in 2005. The story's protagonist is former police lieutenant Jack Lehman, still referred to by his buddies as "the lieutenant." Lehman, now seventy-three years old, is losing his memory. An informant calls him and gives him a tip regarding a large robbery, but Lehman's memory fails him and he forgets the details. The local police, and even Lehman's wife and family, don't believe Lehman's vague story. Lehman goes to his only supporter, a journalist named Colin Ryan, and the two attempt to piece an investigation together. Even after having been retired for fifteen years, Lehman finds that he's still a good detective, and he begins to regain his mental acuity, even as he puts his life in danger over the course of the investigation. Reviewers found that Lehman is a compelling character. Indeed, "this unusual and remarkably moving mystery boasts an unlikely but compelling premise and a brilliantly drawn protagonist," commented Jenny McLarin in Booklist. Seconding this opinion, a Publishers Weekly critic stated that "Lehman is the only character who emerges with any clarity." Mystery Scene magazine contributor Hank Wagner also discussed the novel's protagonist. Wagner observed: "Lehman is a character who will win the hearts and the minds of readers, who can't help but root for this tough, determined underdog."
Witness to Myself was published a year after the release of The Man from Yesterday. In this story, Shubin again features a protagonist with a faulty memory, although, in this case, the cause is likely blackouts, rather than the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Alan Benning, a lawyer in Philadelphia, has a volatile temper, and he's afraid he may have killed a young girl in Cape Cod when he was a teenager, though he can't remember exactly what happened. As Benning begins to delve into his past, he meets a new love interest, Anna. The more Benning uncovers, the more it seems as if someone is trying to kill him. A cold-case detective, Mack McKinney, is also on Benning's trail regarding the possible murder. Reviewers commented on the book's suspenseful build-up, and Booklist writer Keir Graff was no exception. For instance, Graff stated that the book is "a strong study of crime and character" that "starts slow but raises the stakes with … expert subtlety." However, a Publishers Weekly critic had a different take. The critic felt that "eschewing the normal pleasures of the crime novel—suspense, mystery and intrigue—Shubin favors character study." Mystery Book Spot contributor Henway, in a review of Witness to Myself, was impressed by the novel, stating: "Throughout, this quick story is elegantly written and tight. The pages absolutely fly, and any of the characters are complex enough to serve as counterbalance to Alan."
In many of his novels, Shubin chooses a theme based on his own interests. From police brutality to the death penalty, elderly abuse, and corruption in a pharmaceuticals company, Shubin weaves stories with a message. Shubin told Tomasso: "Basically I don't want simply to write a mystery, but a novel that has a great deal of suspense and a sense of mystery to it. So, I'm not so much interested in writing a who-dunnit, but a ‘how-dunnit’—and will he ‘dunnit’ again." Shubin continued: "I want the characters to be so real that even when the villain is killed, there's the sense of a human being, though perhaps a twisted and dangerous one, having been killed. I also want the books to say something—but without saying it out loud."
In the interview with Tomasso, Shubin offered this advice to struggling writers: "Don't be hard on yourself in the writing of a first draft. Try to write without looking back, and without editing, even if it means forgetting names and places. Once you have reached a point that feels like an ending, that's the time to go back and change and mold and do whatever you feel it needs. So many beginning and older writers freeze themselves in the middle of the work by being too self-critical too early."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 1, 1988, review of Never Quite Dead, p. 618; October 1, 2002, Jenny McLarin, review of A Matter of Fear, p. 305; December 15, 2005, Jenny McLarin, review of The Man from Yesterday, p. 29; March 1, 2006, Keir Graff, review of Witness to Myself, p. 74.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1982, review of The Captain, p. 1119; August 15, 1985, review of Voices, p. 817; November 1, 1988, review of Never Quite Dead, p. 1570; September 1, 2002, review of A Matter of Fear, pp. 1270-1271.
Library Journal, May 1, 1997, Rex E. Klett, review of Fury's Children, p. 143; March 1, 1998, Michael Rogers, review of Anyone's My Name, p. 132; January 1, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of My Face among Strangers, p. 164.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, December 11, 1988, review of Never Quite Dead, p. 10.
Mystery Scene, winter, 2006, Hank Wagner, review of The Man from Yesterday.
New York Times Book Review, August 20, 1989, review of Never Quite Dead, p. 21; August 20, 1989, "In Short; Fiction"; December 11, 2005, "Sex and Violet," p. 33.
Philadelphia Inquirer, July 19, 2006, "Seymour Shubin's Tough Guys Have to Grapple with Introspection."
Publishers Weekly, October 15, 1982, review of The Captain, p. 46; May 25, 1984, review of Holy Secrets, p. 57; September 13, 1985, review of Voices, p. 123; October 14, 1988, review of Never Quite Dead, p. 51; January 18, 1999, review of My Face among Strangers, p. 332; October 24, 2005, review of The Man from Yesterday, p. 43; February 27, 2006, review of Witness to Myself, p. 39.
West Coast Review of Books, January, 1986, review of Voices, p. 19.
BookBrowser, http://www.bookbrowser.com/ (May 30, 1998), Harriet Klausner, review of Anyone's My Name; (September 15, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of A Matter of Fear.
Books 'n' Bytes,http://www.booksnbytes.com/ (April 22, 2004), Harriet Klausner, reviews of The Good and the Dead and The Captain.
Mercer University Press Web site,http://www.mupress.org/ (January 16, 2003), description of The Man from Enterprise: The Biography of John Amos.
Mystery Book Spot,http://www.mysterybookspot.com/ (May 4, 2006), Henway, review of Witness to Myself.
ReviewingtheEvidence.com,http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (January 16, 2003), review of Anyone's My Name.
Under the Covers, http://www.silcom.com/~manatee/ (May 8, 1997), Harriet Klausner, review of Fury's Children; (January 3, 1999), Harriet Klausner, review of My Face among Strangers; (December 25, 2001), Holly E. Price, review of The Good and the Dead.