Spencer, Sally 1949–

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Spencer, Sally 1949–

(Alan Rustage, James Garcia Woods)

PERSONAL: Born 1949, in Cheshire, England.

ADDRESSES: Home—Spain. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Severn House Publishers, 9-15 High St., Sutton, Surrey SM1 1DF, England. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer. Formerly a school teacher in England and Iran.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

The Morgan Horse, J.A. Allen (London, England), 1994.

A Picnic in Eden, Orion (London, England), 1995.

The Silent Land, Severn House (Sutton, England), 1996.

The Paradise Job, Severn House (Sutton, England), 1999.

"MARSTON" TRILOGY

Salt of the Earth, Orion (London, England), 1993.

Up Our Street, Orion (London, England), 1994.

Those Golden Days, Orion (London, England), 1996.

"LONDON" SERIES

Old Father Thames, Orion (London, England), 1995.

South of the River, Orion (London, England), 1997.

"INSPECTOR WOODEND" SERIES

The Salton Killings, Severn House (Sutton, England), 1998.

Murder at Swann's Lake, Severn House (Sutton, England), 1999.

The Dark Lady, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2000.

Death of a Cave Dweller, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2000.

The Golden Mile to Murder, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2001.

Dead on Cue, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2001.

Death of an Innocent, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2002.

The Red Herring, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2002.

The Enemy Within, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2003.

A Death Left Hanging, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2003.

The Witch Maker, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2004.

The Butcher Beyond, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2004.

Dying in the Dark, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2005.

Also author of series title Stone Killer, 2005.

"INSPECTOR BLACKSTONE" SERIES; AS ALAN RUSTAGE

A Rendezvous with Death, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2003.

Blackstone and the Tiger, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2003.

Blackstone and the Golden Egg, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2004.

Blackstone and the Firebug, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2004.

"INSPECTTOR RUIZ" SERIES; AS JAMES GARCIA WOODS

The General's Dog, Robert Hale (London, England), 1999.

A Murder of No Consequence, Robert Hale (London, England), 1999.

The Fifth Column, 2002.

ADAPTATIONS: The Silent Land has been adapted for audiocassette by Magna.

SIDELIGHTS: Sally Spencer is a prolific mystery and crime novelist who also writes under the pseudonyms Alan Rustage and James Garcia Woods. Writing as herself, Spencer is the author of a number of novels featuring Inspector Woodend that are set in the 1960s. The first in the series, The Salton Killings, revolves around a serial killer who is committing murders in the small village of Salton. Inspector Woodend from Scotland Yard is called in to help. Working with his partner, Detective Sergeant Rutter, Woodend has a horrifying confrontation with the killer as he solves the case. John Rowen, writing in Booklist, commented that the author's "epilogue is a real stunner, promising more from a very talented writer." In Murder at Swann's Lake, an ex-criminal who is now a club owner is murdered, and Woodend begins to suspect that the murder may not have anything to do with the victim's criminal past but rather his current family life. In Death of a Cave Dweller, Woodend and Rutter are looking for the killer of a guitarist in a new hit rock band in Liverpool. Booklist contributor John Rowen noted that the author's "characters are diverse, intriguing, and believable; her plots never fail to surprise; and the procedural details are grittily realistic."

The Dark Lady features Woodend on the case of a German who is murdered near an English manor for reasons that may have something to do with World War II, which ended sixteen years earlier. In a review for Library Journal, Rex E. Klett called the book "a very successful British procedural." Rowen, writing in Booklist, commented: "Excellent work from a too-little-known author."

The Golden Mile to Murder finds Woodend assigned to a case in the hinterlands of England after getting on the wrong side of his superiors because of his efforts on a sensitive case. This time he is trying to solve the murder of a local detective. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the book "does carry a jolly good sting in its tail that should give the reader a shiver or two." In Dead on Cue, Woodend tries to solve the murder of a television actor. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that "Woodend's steady but unsentimental determination make Spencer's low-key latest a model puzzler."

In The Red Herring, Woodend is investigating the murder of a history teacher and the subsequent kidnapping of a student. He battles with his own regret at not being able to rescue another kidnap victim years before. "Spencer's finest hour: a tightly plotted puzzler with surprises at every turn," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Death of an Innocent finds Woodend in trouble with his superiors and suspended for suspected bribery as he works on the case of a man and woman murdered by a cold-hearted killer. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted: "Title notwithstanding, there's more than enough guilt to go around in Spencer's chilling ninth." Woodend works on a thirty-year-old case to clear the name of a woman who was hanged for murder in A Death Left Hanging. Emily Melton, writing in Booklist, commented that the novel contains "a richly layered plot, complex and engaging characters, and a shocking conclusion."

The Enemy Within features Woodend on the trail of a murderer who hides his victims in the bonfires used to celebrate Great Britain's Guy Fawkes Night. "Spencer's careful balance of menace from without and within makes her latest a standout," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor. The Witch Maker is a story about the murder of a person who makes witch effigies for burning as part of an historical reenactment. Emily Melton, writing in Booklist, called the effort "a first-rate addition to an entertaining series." In The Butcher Beyond, Woodend goes on vacation with his wife to Spain, only to witness a man thrown off a balcony, leading him to investigate a case that may involve a global conspiracy. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote: "Whether he's sipping una cerveza or downing a pint of best bitter, dogged Woodend's a treat for fans of truth-and-justice detection." Dying in the Dark details Woodend's investigation of a raped and murdered secretary, but the investigation is hindered when his colleague Rutter is suspected of killing his own wife. Booklist contributor Melton commented that the author "writes deftly and skillfully, offering up intriguingly multidimensional characters and a cleverly constructed plot."

In her novel The Paradise Job, Spencer leaves Woodend behind to tell the story of Frank Mason. Harried by his wife and mistress, Mason wants to escape his life by running off to Scotland. He plans a bank heist to get the money to fund his new life. John Rowen, writing in Booklist, found that the "characters are well developed," and that "the story moves at a good pace." Writing as Alan Rustage, Spencer has also penned several mysteries featuring Scotland Yard detective Sam Blackstone. These stories are set in Victorian England. In A Rendezvous with Death, Blackstone is on the murder case of the Honorable Charles Montcliffe, who had his throat cut during the Queen Victoria's Jubilee celebration. Rex Klett, writing in the Library Journal, noted that the novel "features a nicely captured Victorian ethos, solid prose, and winning subplot diversions." In Blackstone and the Golden Egg Blackstone is on the trail of whoever killed the person guarding a Fabergé egg owned by the Prince of Wales. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the author "has several pleasing surprises in store" for readers. Blackstone and the Firebug relates Blackstone's efforts to track down a blackmailing firebug, all the while trying to keep from getting fired by his boss Sir Roderick Todd. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that "politics as usual … keeps Rustage's, or Spencer's, latest transgendered entry simmering nicely."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 1998, John Rowen, review of The Salton Killings, p. 1977; March 1, 2000, John Rowen, review of The Paradise Job, p. 1199; June 1, 2000, John Rowen, review of Death of a Cave Dweller, p. 1865; January 1, 2001, John Rowen, review of The Dark Lady, p. 926; July, 2001, John Rowen, review of The Golden Mile to Murder, p. 1989; January 1, 2002, John Rowen, review of Dead on Cue, p. 820; May 1, 2003, Emily Melton, review of A Death Left Hanging, p. 1554; May 1, 2004, Emily Melton, review of The Witch Maker, p. 1519; October 1, 2004, Emily Melton, review of The Butcher Beyond, p. 315; March 15, 2005, Emily Melton, review of Dying in the Dark, p. 1271.

Coventry Evening Telegraph, February 19, 2000, Sandra Jury, review of Old Father Thames, p. 16.

Kirkus Review, July 1, 1998, review of The Salton Killings, p. 936; June 15, 1999, review of Murder at Swann's Lake, p. 924; June 1, 2000, review of Death of a Cave Dweller, p. 756; November 15, 2000, review of The Dark Lady, p. 1580; December 1, 2001, review of Dead on Cue, p. 2001; May 15, 2002, review of The Red Herring, p. 710; December 1, 2002, review of Death of an Innocent, p. 1739; May 15, 2003, review of A Death Left Hanging, p. 720; September 1, 2003, review of A Rendezvous with Death, p. 1105; November 15, 2003, review of The Enemy Within, p. 1343; May 1, 2004, review of The Witch Maker, p. 426; December 1, 2004, review of The Butcher Beyond, p. 1123; February 15, 2005, review of Blackstone and the Golden Egg, p. 203; May 1, 2005, review of Dying in the Dark, p. 515; July 15, 2005, review of Blackstone and the Firebug, p. 769.

Library Journal, January 1, 2001, Rex Klett, review of The Dark Lady, p. 162; August, 2001, Rex Klett, review of The Golden Mile to Murder, p. 169; January, 2003, Rex E. Klett, review of Death of an Innocent, p. 164; October 1, 2003, Rex Klett, review of A Rendezvous with Death, p. 120; December, 2003, Rex Klett, review of The Enemy Within, p. 172; June 1, 2004, Rex Klett, review of The Witch Maker, p. 108; January 1, 2005, Rex Klett, review of The Butcher Beyond, p. 85.

Publishers Weekly, June 22, 1998, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Salton Killings, p. 88; June 28, 1999, review of The Salton Killings, p. 59; December 18, 2000, Jeff Zaleski, review of The Dark Lady, p. 59; July 16, 2001, review of The Golden Mile to Murder, p. 161; January 14, 2002, review of Dead on Cue, p. 43; June 17, 2002, review of The Red Herring, p. 46; June 30, 2003, p. 61.

ONLINE

Alan Rustage Home Page, http://www.alanrustage.com (October 17, 2005).

Allison & Busby Web site, http://www.allisonbusby.ltd.uk/ (September 23, 2004).

James Garcia Woods Home Page, http://www.jamesgarciawoods.com (October 17, 2005).

Mystery Reader, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (January 27, 2002), Jane Davis, review of Dead on Cue.

Sally Spencer Home Page, http://www.sallyspencer.com (September 16, 2004).

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