(Lynn Abercrombie, Ruth Birmingham)
PERSONAL: Married; wife's name Patty; children: Jake. Education: Haverford College, 1985. Hobbies and other interests: Martial arts, blues guitar, harmonica.
ADDRESSES: Home—Atlanta, GA.
CAREER: Writer, editor, and lawyer. Former corporate attorney; editor, The Mystery Zone, an Internet magazine.
MEMBER: Mystery Writers of America (board of directors), Sisters in Crime (Atlanta chapter; past president).
AWARDS, HONORS: Edgar Award nomination, Mystery Writers of America, for Atlanta Graves; Edgar Award and Shamus Award, both for Fulton County Blues.
Cry for Justice, Avon (New York, NY), 1996.
(With William J. Coughlin) Proof of Intent, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Club Dread, Sleuth Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
Fake ID: A Novel, Sleuth Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Robert T. Sorrells) Scratch: A Novelization, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2006.
The Silent Room, Dutton Childrens Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Static: A Novelization, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2006.
Ten Rules: A Novelization, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals; also author of scripts for National Public Radio programs, including The Three Governors.
AS RUTH BIRMINGHAM
Atlanta Graves, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Fulton County Blues, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Sweet Georgia, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Blue Plate Special, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Feet of Clay, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Also author of Power of Attorney, Will to Murder, and Cold Trail.
AS LYNN ABERCROMBIE
The Body Box, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Also author of Blind Fear, c. 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Walter Sorrells, a martial-arts-practicing, blues-guitar-playing, Edgar Award-winning author of legal thrillers also writes under the pseudonyms of Ruth Birmingham and Lynn Abercrombie.
Writing as Birmingham, Sorrells has created the "Sunny Childs" mystery series, which debuted with Atlanta Graves. Prior to writing the "Sunny Childs" mysteries, Sorrells broke into the mystery field in 1995 with the legal thriller Power of Attorney. He was then teaching English in Japan and had never lived in Atlanta, the thriller's locale. However, he and his wife Patty later moved to Atlanta, and Sorrells worked as a paralegal and journalist while his wife earned her masters in business administration at Emory University. As soon as his wife earned her degree, Sorrells quit his day job and set out with the goal of publishing a novel within two years. Atlanta Graves, featuring Sunny Childs, rolled of the presses twenty months after Sorrell began.
The plot finds the intrepid female private-eye running the Atlanta-based Peachtree Investigations firm for her seldom-seen boss, Gunnar Brushurd. Sunny's workday is complicated with problems both external—her "perp" is shot while she is investigating a stolen-painting case—and internal. It seems that Gunnar has left the firm deeply in debt, and the creditors have given Sunny four days to avoid bankruptcy. Sunny "is an appealing lead—tough, funny, likable, insecure, and smart," noted David Pitt in a Booklist review.
In Fulton County Blues, Sunny Childs investigates the death of her late father's friend, a Vietnam veteran. Even her mother will not talk about the experiences of the soldiers, and Sunny's sleuthing eventually turns up stories of wartime horror. One comrade-in-arms, in particular, is reluctant to have any unpleasant stories surfacing: He is in line to be the next director of the CIA. While the stories of Sunny's father are "quite terrible and hard to comprehend," wrote Mystery Reader Web site contributor Martha Moore, "the author makes his plight believable and his character is richer when we discover he wasn't perfect. Sunny learns some things about the dark side of human nature, but she also discovers the meaning of family."
Sunny Childs returns in Feet of Clay, in which the private detective sets out to find out why her cousin Lee-Lee has been arrested on her way to interview a convicted murderer for her documentary on capital punishment. After getting Lee-Lee out on bail, Sunny and her cousin soon start investigating the murderer's conviction and come to the conclusion that he may not be guilty after all. "A fun and feisty adventure, as refreshing as a glass of sweet tea on a muggy Georgia afternoon," wrote Jenn McClarin in Booklist.
Sorrells has penned several books under his own name, including Proof of Intent, in which the author resurrects the character of Charley Sloan, an alcoholic defense attorney created by the late mystery writer William J. Couglin. In Sorrells' tale, Sloan defends a novelist accused of his wife's murder. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "This comeback of a popular series should rally old fans, who won't be disappointed." In his novel The Silent Room, Sorrells tells of Oz, a fifteen-year-old boy who, through a series of letters to his deceased father, recounts his troubles with his mother's new boyfriend. The boyfriend eventually becomes his abusive step-father and arranges for Oz to be sent off to a prison-like institution for boys in the Okefenokee Swamp. At the institution, Oz learns that it is more sinister than it seems. Beth Gallego, writing in the School Library Journal, noted that "the protagonist is a compelling narrator." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote: "This one's a thriller that really thrills."
In the novel Fake ID: A Novel, Sorrells presents a mystery about teenage Chass looking for her mother, who has disappeared. Chass, however, only has six days to find her before she is sent to foster care. Miranda Doyle, writing in the School Library Journal, noted that the novel will "keep mystery fans guessing until the last satisfying pages." Kliatt contributor Claire Rosser wrote: "A suspenseful, tight plot and interesting characters make this ideal YA popular literature." In the sequel to Fake ID, titled Club Dread, Chass and her mother have been reunited and are living in San Francisco when Chass sees a fellow musician killed in a drive-by shooting, leading her to become involved in a secret society. Writing in the School Library Journal, Doyle called the novel "a well-crafted story that's filled with sympathetic, colorful characters."
In Static: A Novelization, a plane crashes and the pilot and three of the surviving teenagers on board head into the jungle looking for help, while seven others remain behind and begin to battle among themselves for control and survival. School Library Journal contributor Lynn Evarts wrote that "reluctant readers will be comfortable with the format and writing style."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 1998, David Pitt, review of Atlanta Graves, p. 987; March 1, 2006, Jenny McLarin, review of Feet of Clay, p. 70.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2002, review of Proof of Intent, p. 1249; February 15, 2006, review of Feet of Clay, p. 162; February 20, 2006, review of Feet of Clay, p. 138; May 1, 2006, review of The Silent Room, p. 467.
Kliatt, July, 2005, Claire Rosser, review of Fake ID: A Novel, p. 16; March, 2006, Claire Rosser, review of Club Dread, p. 17.
Publishers Weekly, June 10, 1996, review of Cry for Justice, p. 96; October 28, 2002, review of Proof of Intent, p. 51.
School Library Journal, June, 2005, Miranda Doyle, review of Fake ID, p. 170; March, 2006, Lynn Evarts, reviews of Static and Club Dread, p. 230; July, 2006, Beth Gallego, review of The Silent Room, p. 113.
Mystery Reader, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (March 20, 2001), Martha Moore, review of Fulton County Blues.
Walter Sorrells Home Page, http://www.waltersorrells.com (October 27, 2006).