Tourney, Leonard D(on) 1942-
TOURNEY, Leonard D(on) 1942-
Born June 10, 1942 in Long Beach, CA; son of Leonard Raymond (a soldier) and Katherine McMillan (a homemaker) Tourney; married Martha Evelyn Barnard (a homemaker), April 6, 1966; children: Anne, Megan. Education: Brigham Young University, B.A., 1963; University of California at Santa Barbara, M.A., 1966, Ph.D., 1972. Religion: Latter-Day Saints (Mormon).
Western Illinois University, Macomb, instructor in English, 1966-68; University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, associate professor of English, 1970-85; University of California, Santa Barbara, lecturer in the writing program, 1985—. Military service: U.S. Naval Reserve, petty officer 3rd class; served in Southeast Asia aboard destroyer USS Ernest G. Small, 1964-66.
Modern Language Association of America, Spenser Society, Rhetoric Society of America.
Joseph Hall, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1979.
Time's Fool: A Mystery of Shakespeare, Forge (New York, NY), 2004.
"CONSTABLE STOCK" SERIES
The Players' Boy Is Dead, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1980.
Low Treason, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1982.
Familiar Spirits, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1984.
The Bartholomew Fair Murders, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1986.
Old Saxon Blood, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1988.
Knaves Templar, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1991.
Witness of Bones, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1992.
Frobisher's Savage, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1994.
Also contributor of scholarly articles to Studies in Philology, Papers on Language & Literature, Essays in Literature, and The Rhetoric Society Quarterly.
Leonard D. Tourney is a lecturer in the writing program at the University of California in Santa Barbara. A professional academic who has published many scholarly articles, Tourney is also a prolific writer of fiction. He once told CA: "I view my career as a teacher of English (Shakespeare, English language, writing) and my avocation as a fiction writer as highly compatible activities. I continue to do scholarship, but find myself spending more and more time on fiction." The fiction Tourney refers to is his popular "Constable Stock" mystery series which features a medieval couple, Matthew, a small town constable and clothier, and Joan Stock. The series is noted for its authentic Elizabethan detail as all the novels are set in the final few years of the reign of Elizabeth I. According to an essayist for the St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, "What Tourney does do very well indeed is to construct intricate and fascinating plots, which he then fills with characters that are usually well-drawn, lively, even appropriately raw and pungent.… His other excellences, especially his sharp and ingenious plotting, are likely to win over all but the most particular and critical readers."
The first installation of the "Constable Stock" series is The Players' Boy Is Dead. A fourteen-year-old boy who plays women in a strolling theater company is murdered on the estate of a lord who is also the local magistrate. Matthew Stock is ordered by the magistrate to find the killer but Stock soon finds himself in a dilemma; the murderer is the magistrate so how can Stock "bring justice to him who administers it?" Jean M. White from Bookworld found The Players' Boy Is Dead to be "a gorgeous period piece. Tourney weaves a rich tapestry of Elizabethan life." A reviewer from the New Yorker commended the novel, noting that Tourney "gives us just enough of sixteenth-century culture to establish appropriate tone, and the story he has to tell us is a good one."
Tourney's fourth book in the "Constable Stock" series is The Bartholomew Fair Murders. Queen Elizabeth decides to attend the St. Bartholomew Fair, a place full of "horrid smells, boozing, stalls, violent characters—and murders, which demand the attention of Matthew Stock," remarked Callendar. However, the queen's arrival depends upon Stock capturing Gabriel Stubs, a religious fanatic who declares himself to be a slayer of the ungodly and, with his gullible accomplice Rose, is killing people at the fair. Callendar continued, "Though the period is some 400 years removed, Bartholomew Fair is a traditional mystery, well worked out, expertly written and full of information about a great generation in England." The Toronto Globe & Mail's Margaret Cannon observed that the plot was slow paced and "muddy" but also called the book a "joyful recreation of Elizabethan life and times, replete with bear-baiting and sectarian religious snits."
The next book in Tourney's series, Old Saxon Blood, features the Stock couple traveling to London to receive a commission from Queen Elizabeth I. Matthew and Joan are placed as chief steward and housekeeper at a country castle where the lord knight has been murdered. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commended Tourney on the "colorful Elizabethan phrases and period detail [that] pepper the novel."
For the sixth novel of the "Constable Stock" series, the Stocks, after the investigation at the country castle, are asked by the queen's adviser, Robert Cecil, to stay in London in service to the queen. In Knaves Templar, three law students have died in unconvincingly suicidal circumstances. Matthew is sent to the Middle Temple of the Inns of Court to investigate, posing as a prospective student's father. Joan is banned from entering the grounds because of her sex so she disguises herself as a young man and tracks the students. And it is Joan who, upon entering a notorious riverside tavern, sets the tale in motion. The Los Angeles Times Book Review's Charles Champlin found that "the Stocks are as warmly likable a couple as can be found in all crime fiction. Tourney's plotting is expert." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted that "Tourney skillfully interjects observations that have contemporary relevance, about the morality of lawyers and the souls of women."
Witness of Bones is the seventh book in the series. In this novel, the Stocks are called back to London by Cecil to investigate a Catholic martyr who has supposedly risen from the grave and, Cecil fears, may be leading a papist political insurrection. Before long, Matthew is framed and imprisoned for the murder of a minister and Joan is forced to solve the mystery on her own. Champlin called Witness of Bones "quite possibly the best in his series about Matthew Stock … the intrigues are engrossing, and as always the Stocks are a wonderfully attractive pair." A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the book as "far superior to the usual intrigue-behind-court-walls saga," noting that "Tourney neither belabors nor neglects his setting, and although his puzzle's solution isn't very gripping, the Stocks make wonderful guides to a world quite different from our own, yet sometimes shockingly familiar."
Tourney's 1994 "Constable Stock" novel is Forbisher's Savage. Adam Nemo is a servant accused of killing his employers and their two children; the other suspect in the crime is that employer's deaf and dumb son, Nicholas. The Stocks are given custody of the defenseless pair and the hunt for the real killers begin. A critic for Publishers Weekly wrote that "fraud, vigilantes and a chase by a posse in a snowstorm move the story along smartly."
In 2004 Tourney released a new historical mystery set in the Elizabethan age, Time's Fool: A Mystery of Shakespeare. After a meeting with the Dark Lady of his romantic sonnets, William Shakespeare finds that his old lover now suffers from syphilis and threatens to tell his wife about their long-ago relationship. When the Dark Lady dies in a suspicious fire, and one of Shakespeare's proteges is found dead, the famous bard is suspected of murder. With the help of his wife, Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare must solve the mystery and clear his name. Harriet Klausner, reviewing the novel for AllReaders.com, found that Shakespeare "comes across as a fascinating, multifaceted figure." The critic for Publishers Weekly described Time's Fool as both "literate and entertaining" and believed that "Shakespeare fans will delight in this witty caper."
Tourney once told CA: "I take great pains with the period detail, sometimes beyond all reason; but my greatest concern is with the validity of motives, depth of characterization, and what I like to call the atmospheric resuscitiation of the Elizabethan age. Of course I like to tell a good story too, but perhaps that goes without saying."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Bookworld, December 21, 1980, Jean M. White, review of The Players' Boy Is Dead.
Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), July 5, 1986, Margaret Cannon, review of The Players' Boy Is Dead.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2004, review of Time's Fool, p. 426.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, March 10, 1991, Charles Champlin, review of Knaves Templar, p.7; October 11, 1992, Charles Champlin, review of Witness of Bones, p. 13.
New Yorker, January 19, 1981, review of The Players' Boy Is Dead, p. 115.
New York Times Book Review, January 11, 1981, New-gate Callendar, review of The Players' Boy Is Dead, p. 22; August 31, 1986, Newgate Callendar, review of The Bartholomew Fair Murders, p.14; September 18, 1988, Marilyn Stasio, review of Old Saxon Blood, p. 46; March 10, 1991, Marilyn Stasio, review of Knaves Templar, p. 21.
Publishers Weekly, October 10, 1980, review of The Players' Boy Is Dead, p. 69; May 23, 1986, review of The Bartholomew Fair Murders, p. 92; June 17, 1988, review of Old Saxon Blood, p. 60.; January 11, 1991, review of Knaves Templar, p. 93; August 31, 1992, review of Witness of Bones, p. 67; October 3, 1994, review of Frobisher's Savage, p. 55; May 3, 2004, review of Time's Fool, p. 174.
University of California Santa Barbara Writing Program Web site,http://www.writing.ucsb.edu/ (September 17, 2003), Leonard Tourney Faculty page.*