Slater, Susan 1942-

views updated

Slater, Susan 1942-


Born 1942.


Writer. Has worked for a government contractor, and as a human resources director, creative writing instructor, corporate trainer, technical editor, and human resource manager. Has also taught English as second language (ESL) and English as a foreign language (EFL) in Mexico and Central America.


Flash Flood (mystery novel), Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2003.

Five o'Clock Shadow (mystery novel), Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2004.


The Pumpkin Seed Massacre, Intrigue Press (Angel Fire, NM), 1999.

Yellow Lies, Intrigue Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2000.

Thunderbird, Intrigue Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2002.

Work represented in anthologies, including Crooks, Crimes, and Christmas, Worldwide Library, 2003.


Susan Slater is a writer and author of the "Ben Pecos" mystery series. The series features a young Tewa Pueblo Indian who is a psychologist and medical investigator working on a Pueblo Indian reservation. In the first novel in the series, The Pumpkin Seed Massacre, Ben investigates a mysterious and deadly epidemic. Although a Pueblo by birth, Ben knows little about his people's ways, which is hindering him in his investigation since he thinks that something in the Pueblo folk practices may be causing the epidemic. Booklist critic John Rowen observed that Slater's debut features a "brisk pace, well-rendered New Mexico landscape, and challenging plot." Susan A. Zappia wrote in the Library Journal that the author "successfully taps into the complex issues facing Native American communities in this dynamic mystery."

Yellow Lies finds Ben Pecos and his fiancée, Julie Conlin, dealing with a corpse that mysteriously appears at Ben's boardinghouse. It turns out that Hawiuh artist and con man Salvador Zuni previously found the body in the trunk of his car, from which it later disappeared. Rowen, writing again in Booklist, noted that the novel features "dry humor; crackling suspense; and a surprise ending." According to Rita Ratacheck on, Slater has produced "a good story and a mystic atmosphere sprinkled with tribal rituals and unanswered questions."

Thunderbird features policeman Tommy Spottedhorse and Ben Pecos working on a case involving UFO sightings and mutilated livestock. When Tommy's love interest, Brenda Begay, disappears, the investigation turns more serious as Tommy traces the UFO sightings to an army stealth airplane crash. Writing in Booklist, Jenny McLarin remarked that the author "effectively develops the mystery elements of her story." In a review in the Library Journal, Rex Klett praised the novel for its "suspenseful narrative and colorful glimpses of Native American life."

Slater has also written other mystery novels, including Flash Flood, which features private investigator Dan Mahoney working for an insurance company on an investigation into the deaths of three prize-winning cattle. The cattle belonged to Billy Roland Edklund, who wants the insurance company to pay compensation in the area of six figures. The apparently simple case turns complicated with the death of an ex-con and his girlfriend. Dan, meanwhile, has affair with Professor Elaine Linden; although Dan wants to quickly end the affair, he is badgered by the FBI to continue the relationship as part of an investigation they are conducting. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the mystery a "lively, surprising, overstuffed case." A Publishers Weekly critic commented that "Dan Mahoney is an appealingly resilient character."

In Five o'Clock Shadow Pauly Caton witnesses her husband's death in a ballooning accident in the New Mexico desert. Strangely, she also sees a small naked boy running from the crash site and finds another man at the site who has been shot in the head. An autopsy of her husband reveals that he had a vasectomy. Pauly, who had been discussing having children, was unaware of her husband's operation. As she investigates her husband's past, she discovers that he is not the man she thought he was and may even have been a pedophile. "From the book's devastating opening to its chilling climax, readers will be captivated by Slater's fresh, gutsy heroine," asserted a Publishers Weekly contributor.

Slater told CA: "Reading is what first got me interested in writing. I try to learn from every writer I read. There is such talent out there. For example, Craig Johnson's beginnings and endings are inspiring!

"I treat writing like any job … nine to five daily, weekends off. Vacations only if I earn them!

"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is that writing is very, very hard work; but somehow frustratingly rewarding—I can't imagine doing anything else! But I did think that each book would get easier!"

When asked which of her books is her favorite, Slater said: "Can a ‘mother’ really play favorites? Well, if I have to … I like the ‘Ben Pecos’ series because it's nicely crafted, and Flash Flood as a stand alone because I made a convoluted plot make sense!

"I would like to think that the ‘Ben Pecos’ series will introduce readers to the beauty and mystique of the Southwest. I live in a rich part of the United States. Other than that, I just want to entertain—provide a good read and maybe be a little thought provoking."



Booklist, September 1, 1999, John Rowen, review of The Pumpkin Seed Massacre, p. 73; August, 2000, John Rowen, review of Yellow Lies, p. 2122; January 1, 2002, Jenny McLarin, review of Thunderbird, p. 820; February 15, 2004, Jenny McLarin, review of Five o'Clock Shadow, p. 1044.

Bookwatch, April 1, 2004, review of Five o'Clock Shadow, p. 10.

Drood Review of Mystery, January 1, 2002, review of Thunderbird, p. 11.

Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2002, review of Flash Flood, p. 1661.

Library Journal, September 1, 1999, Susan A. Zappia, review of The Pumpkin Seed Massacre, p. 237; January, 2002, Rex Klett, review of Thunderbird, p. 157; January, 2003, Rex E. Klett, review of Flash Flood, p. 162.

Publishers Weekly, September 27, 1999, review of The Pumpkin Seed Massacre, p. 77; July 31, 2000, review of Yellow Lies, p. 76; January 14, 2002, review of Thunderbird, p. 44; December 9, 2002, review of Flash Flood, p. 66; January 19, 2004, review of Five o'Clock Shadow, p. 57.


Books 'n' Bytes, (September 26, 2004), Harriet Klausner, reviews of The Pumpkin Seed Massacre, Yellow Lies, Flash Flood, and Five o'Clock Shadow.

Crescent Blues Book Views, (April 24, 2007), Ceridwen Lewin, review of Five o'Clock Shadow., (April 24, 2007), Rita Ratacheck, review of Yellow Lies.

Mystery Reader, (September 26, 2004), Judith Flavell, review of Flash Flood.

Susan Slater Home Page, (April 24, 2007).