Home—Sacramento, CA. E-mail—[email protected]
Author and public servant. Member of child abduction and kidnapped child recovery team; Office of the District Attorney, Sacramento County, CA, Supervising Criminal Investigator.
Best First Private-Eye Mystery Contest winner, St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writers of America, 2002, for The Sterling Inheritance.
"MIDNIGHT INVESTIGATIONS" SERIES
The Sterling Inheritance, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Sorcerer's Circle, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Michael Siverling's debut novel, The Sterling Inheritance, introduces the unlikely mother-son private investigator duo of Victoria and Jason Wilder. The confident and self-assured Victoria, a former police detective, runs the Midnight Detective Agency, where she keeps a busy slate of investigations going while providing work for her retiree buddies from the police force. Jason works for his mom part time. He is quite good at gumshoe work—and is, in some ways, carrying on the family tradition, since his father was also a police officer. The affectionately intrusive Victoria and the reluctant but brilliant Jason enjoy a genuinely loving, if sometimes high-strung, relationship.
When an unidentified man is found brutally murdered outside an old movie theater, police suspect the theater's co-owner, Anthony Sterling, of the deed. Sterling, however, is missing, and his beautiful Russian wife Katerina engages the Midnight Agency to find him. Jason finds him easily enough, even disarms him when he pulls a gun, but ends up in custody when the police arrive. Victoria's contacts on the force help clear up the problem. The nervous Sterling insists he engaged in gunplay because someone was out to kill him—justifiable paranoia, it seems, as he is later found murdered. Jason takes on the investigation.
At first, Jason eyes a number of Sterling's Russian business associates as possible suspects, but other members of the Sterling clan think the murderer lies elsewhere. Anthony's father, Malcolm, insists that his rebellious daughter, Jenny—Anthony's sister—is the culprit. As his investigation progresses, Jason finds himself more and more attracted to Jenny and her daughter Angelique. He also becomes willing to believe her version of events and her interpretation of the way things work in the Sterling family empire. That is, until Victoria steps in to keep the investigation—and her wayward son—on track.
Library Journal reviewer Rex E. Klett remarked that Siverling "uses the standard PI setup, dialog, and characterization with alacrity and panache" in the novel. "The tart narrative … has an appealing retro feel and clever solution," noted a Kirkus Reviews critic. Harriet Klausner, in a review of The Sterling Inheritance for AllReaders.com, commented that "readers will enjoy this urban Noir with a host of delightful characters." A Publishers Weekly reviewer detected overtones of Raymond Chandler in the novel, but observed that Siverling "adds enough clever modern touches, especially in the relationship between Victoria and Jason, to make this look like the start of a promising series."
The Sorcerer's Circle, Siverling's next effort, reunites readers with Victoria and Jason Wilder. At the start of the book, Jason turns away a man who seeks his aid at closing time one night because he believes he is going to be killed, only for the man to turn up dead later, leaving Jason feeling guilty and Victoria intent on discovering what happened. When the mayor adds his own request for the team to look into the murder, they begin to investigate the link between the dead man, apparently an occultist and a con man, and the mayor's daughter, who might be the next target. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews called the book "arch, implausible and irritating." However, Kim Reis, in a contribution for the Armchair Interviews Web site, remarked: "The humor and snappy dialogue add a light touch to a serious crime and the plot will keep you guessing until the very end."
Siverling told CA: "I've always loved stories and I used to enjoy writing stories and satires for my friends. I also made the mistake of saying that one day I'd write a novel. And when I turned forty, I decided it was way past time I put my statements into action.
"For me, I always fall back to the stories I loved growing up. It just so happened that in the 1960s there was a revival of pulp adventure stories from the 1930s and 40s being republished. So if anyone is to get the blame for my becoming a writer, you can blame my sister, Barbara, who bought me The Weird Adventures of the Shadow one Christmas.
"I just hope to write an entertaining story. If I can take a reader with me into the world I've written, and it's a good experience for them, then that is the best that I can hope for."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2004, review of The Sterling Inheritance, p. 425; October 1, 2006, review of The Sorcerer's Circle, p. 993.
Library Journal, June 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of The Sterling Inheritance, p. 106.
Publishers Weekly, May 17, 2004, review of The Sterling Inheritance, p. 36.
AllReaders.com,http://www.allreaders.com/ (November 18, 2004), Harriet Klausner, review of The Sterling Inheritance.
Armchair Interviews,http://www.armchairinterviews.com/ (June 8, 2007), Kim Reis, review of The Sorcerer's Circle.