Siler, Jenny 1971-
SILER, Jenny 1971-
ADDRESSES: Agent—SobelWeber Associates, 146 East 19th St., New York, NY 1003.
CAREER: Writer. Worked variously as a forklift driver, furniture mover, grape picker, salmon grader, tutor of deaf students, waitress, sketch model, and bartender.
AWARDS, HONORS: Easy Money was named a 1999 Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times.
Easy Money, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1999.
Iced, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2001.
Shot, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2002.
ADAPTATIONS: Easy Money was adapted for audiocassette, NewStar, 1999.
SIDELIGHTS: Jenny Siler told Margaret Lanstaff in a Publishers Weekly interview that she wrote her debut novel, Easy Money, because she was tired of bartending. The protagonist is Alison Kerry, a young woman who runs drugs and handles whatever other jobs come through the pipeline to her father, who operates out of Key West, Florida. Marilyn Stasio reviewed Easy Money in the New York Times Book Review, saying that "once in a blue moon, a new writer speaks up in a voice that gets your attention like a rifle shot." Stasio said Siler "has that kind of voice: clean, direct and a little dangerous."
As the story begins, Alison is completing a deal in Seattle when she learns of her father's death. Her contact slips a computer disk containing information about war crimes into her pocket and is then drowned in Puget Sound. Allie, who has no knowledge of what is on the disk, is set up to take the blame for the murder. She flees across the country and makes stops in Colorado, Montana, Texas, and New York as she heads toward the Keys. Coverups of CIA-sanctioned killings propel the action, and Siler based one character on that agency's former director, William Colby.
Whitney Rose Anderson reviewed Easy Money for Mystery Reader online, commenting that "Siler's powerful prose is both beautifully poetic and unbearably cynical. In fact, the novel seeps with a dark pessimism that continues even until the final page."
Darwin, a cross-dressing veteran in Easy Money reappears in Siler's second novel, Iced. In a Bookreporter.com interview the novelist said that in her second book she again based characters on real people. One character evolved from the person of Lucy Red Crow, a native woman who was involved in a sensational murder in Missoula, Montana, where Siler was raised, and to where she returned as an adult. Clay Bennett's background is influenced by the experiences of an actual Air Force officer who crashed his plane in California during the 1950s. At that time McCarthyism was at its height, and the man was accused of selling the plane China or the Soviet Union when it couldn't be found. These charges were eventually dropped, but the man's life was changed forever, and after he died a group of Boy Scouts discovered the plane.
The protagonist of Iced is Meg Gardner, who has been released from prison in the southwest and is intent on making an honest living as a repo woman back home in Missoula. Her job is made easier when travel agent Clay Bennett, the owner of the Jeep she is to repossess, is found dead after a drunken brawl. When the vehicle is parked in front of Meg's home, she is visited by a Russian man and a tattooed woman, both of whom want the maps from a briefcase left on the back seat. Meg learns that Clay had been searching for the missing plane he had gone down with decades earlier in the Montana wilderness.
Harriet Klausner wrote in BookBrowser that Siler "has a lyrical style that allows readers to use their senses to vividly understand the local terrain and climate." Bookreporter.com's Jamie Engle wrote that "Siler further develops her distinctive voice in Iced, combining harsh reality, beautiful prose, hard-edged protagonists, and an eclectic cast of secondary characters." Library Journal's Karen Anderson called Iced "a wild ride, and Meg is a gutsy heroine, a tough ex-con and a loner who bends the law as she maintains her own code of justice."
There are two female protagonists in Shot, Siler's story of covert drug-industry experimentation and coverup. Carl Greene, a biotech executive, dies in a car accident, and his wife, Lucy learns that Carl had made an appointment to meet with Kevin, a friend and journalist, later the same day. Her house is burglarized, first by Darcy Williams, who is being coerced by the warden of the prison from which she has just been released, and where her sister is still incarcerated, and next by the thief who successfully removes all of Carl's files. The women team up when they discover they are both seeking the same thing, and in doing so, they and Kevin must remain one step ahead of the assassin who would prevent them from learning about biological testing that had been performed at the prison years before, and which may have been responsible for the death of Lucy's baby.
A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Siler "handles the hard-boiled writing style with a natural grace, never sounding forced or stagy." "As the suspense builds and the body count rises, the complex storyline takes us deeper and deeper into the shadowy and secretive world of biological warfare and government coverups," wrote Rashmi Srinivas for Curled up with a Good Book online.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 1998, Jenny McLarin, review of Easy Money, p. 573; November 1, 2000, Connie Fletcher, review of Iced, p. 521; July, 2002, Carrie Bissey, review of Shot, p. 1828.
Library Journal, November 15, 1998, Dawn L. Anderson, review of Easy Money, p. 92; October 15, 1999, Catherine Swenson, review of Easy Money (audio), p. 121; November 1, 2000, Karen Anderson, review of Iced, p. 137; July, 2002, Nanci Milone Hil, review of Shot, p. 123.
New York Times Book Review, January 24, 1999, Marilyn Stasio, review of Easy Money, p. 24; January 14, 2001, Marilyn Stasio, review of Iced, p. 24.
Publishers Weekly, August 3, 1998, Margaret Lanstaff, "Jenny Siler," p. 56; October 19, 1998, review of Easy Money, p. 53; November 13, 2000, review of Iced, p. 84; July 15, 2002, review of Shot, p. 53.
Wall Street Journal, February 19, 1999, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, review of Easy Money, p. W8.
BookBrowser,http://www.bookbrowser.com/ (November 10, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of Iced.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (October 22, 2002), Bruce Tierney, review of Shot.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (October 22, 2002), Jamie Engle, review of Iced, Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum, review of Shot, interview with Siler.
Curled up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (October 22, 2002), Sharon Schulz-Elsing, review of Iced, Rashmi Srinivas, review of Shot.
Denver Post Online,http://www.denverpost.com/ (September 1, 2002), Robin Vidimos, review of Shot.
Mostly Fiction,http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (October 22, 2002), reviews of Iced and Shot.
Mystery Reader,http://www.mysteryreader.com/ (October 22, 2002), Whitney Rose Anderson, review of Easy Money.