Wesson, Marianne 1948-

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Wesson, Marianne 1948-

(Mimi Wesson)


Born September 14, 1948, in Houston, TX; daughter of Lawrence M. (a certified public accountant) and Julia Lorena (a homemaker) Wesson; married Joel W. Cantrick, June 23, 1973 (divorced, July, 1979); married David Mastbaum, December 27, 1989 (marriage ended); married Ben Herr; children: (first marriage) Benjamin. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Vassar College, A.B., 1970; University of Texas, J.D., 1973; passed bar exams: Texas, 1974, Colorado, 1977. Politics: Democrat. Hobbies and other interests: Running, skiing, raising fish, water gardening, films, motorcycling.


Office—University of Colorado School of Law, P.O. Box 401, Boulder, CO 80303. Agent—Jed Mattes Literary Agency, Inc., 2095 Broadway, New York, NY 10023. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, novelist, educator, radio broadcaster, rancher, and attorney. U.S. District Court, TX, law clerk, 1973-75; admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th District, 1976; State of Texas, Austin, TX, assistant attorney general, 1976; University of Colorado, Boulder, associate professor, 1976-80, acting associate vice president for academic affairs, 1989-90, professor of law, 1990—, president's teaching scholar, 1992—, interim dean, 1995-96, Wolf-Nichol Fellow, Senior Scholar, Women's Studies Program; admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th District, 1980; Office of the U.S. Attorney, Denver, CO, assistant U.S. Attorney, 1980-82; admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, 1999. National Conference of Bar Examiners, member of test development committee for multistate bar exam, 1978; Colorado Supreme Court, Denver, member of committee on rules of criminal procedure, 1982-88, member of Colorado Supreme Court grievance committee, 1989-95; legal correspondent, National Public Radio, 1998—. Frequent guest on radio and television networks, including NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, and Court TV.


American Bar Association, American Law Institute, Association of American Law Schools (chair of section on law and psychiatry, 1987), Society of American Law Teachers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Authors Guild.


Samuel E. Zeigler Foundation fellow, 1978-79; Mary Lathrop Award for outstanding woman lawyer, Colorado Women's Bar Association, 1996; W.H. Smith Fresh Talent Award, 1998.



Crime and Defenses in Colorado, Harrison (Norcross, GA), 1989.


Render up the Body: A Novel of Suspense, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

A Suggestion of Death, Headline Fiction (London, England), 1999, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Chilling Effect, University Press of Colorado (Boulder, CO), 2004.

Render up the Body: A Novel of Suspense has been translated into German, Dutch, Norwegian, French, Hebrew and Latvian.

Contributor of articles to feminist and legal publications, including New Mexico Law Review, DePaul Law Journal, Tulsa Law Journal, Women's Review of Books, and University of Colorado Law Journal.

American Journal of Criminal Law, editor-in-chief, beginning 1972; Frontiers: Journal of Women's Studies, board of editors, 1988-90; Texas Women's Law Journal, member of board of advisors, 1991—.


Author and lawyer Marianne Wesson used her legal expertise to create a debut novel that has drawn favorable attention from critics and has been translated into a number of languages. Before serving as a law professor at the University of Colorado, Wesson worked as a federal prosecutor and a trial lawyer. Like her protagonist, Wesson has defended a death-row inmate before a state Supreme Court. Render up the Body: A Novel of Suspense (a rough translation of the Latin legal term habeas corpus) is the story of Lucinda "Cinda" Hayes, a lawyer who goes from a position in the District Attorney's office to head a rape center in Boulder, Colorado. Cinda's old teacher, now a state Supreme Court Justice, puts pressure on her to represent a death row inmate who is appealing charges of raping and murdering his drug-addicted girlfriend. Cinda has to struggle with her feelings about the death penalty, which she opposes, and her feelings about rape—she does not wish to contribute to what she feels is society's "trivialization" of the crime—before she decides to take the case.

A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Render up the Body an "intricately layered legal thriller" and looked forward to more fiction from Wesson. While suggesting that Wesson had tried a little too hard to cover all of society's politically correct bases by including gay and lesbian characters and "other good souls trying to buck a sinister white bread establishment," the reviewer remarked that Wesson goes one step beyond the obvious in her treatment of what could be cliche situations. This reviewer termed Render up the Body engaging, "strongly plotted," and "told with style," noting that it is a good addition to the legal/thriller genre.

Cinda Hayes returns for a second adventure in A Suggestion of Death. While trying to drum up some business for her and law partner Tory Meadows's flagging law firm, Cinda appears on a radio call-in show. There, she receives a call from a frail and timid young woman who, Cinda discovers, is Mariah McKay, the estranged daughter of Harrison McKay, a candidate for state senator. Mariah believes that her father molested her as a child, but her memories of any incidents are vague and nonspecific at best. The woman wants redress for the damage her father caused her, but the statute of limitations is running out on any crimes that might have been committed. Cinda must confront her skepticism on recovered memories. Worse, Cinda must overcome her distaste for the neo-Nazi group that Mariah lives with, even as she ponders the mystery and strange appeal of the group's self-appointed common-law judge, Pike Sayers. Cinda ignores pointed warnings to back off from the case, and by the story's end, tragedy will inevitably enfold the scene. Jenny McLarin, writing in Booklist, called the novel a "first-rate character study and a perceptive look at life in Boulder," CO. A Publishers Weekly critic named A Suggestion of Death a "searingly intelligent legal thriller," remarking that Wesson "writes with a rare blend of fearlessness, insight, and wit." Library Journal contributor Michele Leber determined that Wesson's novel stands as a "first-rate legal thriller." The Publishers Weekly writer concluded that Wesson is "now clearly on the short list of the best practitioners of the genre."

The third novel in the "Lucinda Hayes" series, Chilling Effect, "questions the limits of First Amendment protection," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Child murderer Leonard Fitzgerald, who killed a young girl after repeated viewings of a child-porn snuff film, has been declared criminally insane and locked away in an institution. The girl's mother, however, still desires revenge, and decides to sue the snuff film's producers to hold them criminally liable for the behavior incited by their product. Cinda agrees to take the case, suing the producers for compensation for loss. To win, she must prove that Fitzgerald's viewing of the movie caused him to commit murder, and that the film's producers should have known that their movie would cause a death. As Cinda and her law partners descend into the world of pornography, they begin to understand that the first amendment is not so easily challenged.



Booklist, December 15, 1999, Jenny McLarin, review of A Suggestion of Death, p. 760.

Library Journal, December, 1999, Michele Leber, review of A Suggestion of Death, p. 189; September 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Chilling Effect, p. 122.

Publishers Weekly, December 8, 1997, review of Render up the Body: A Novel of Suspense, p. 56; November 22, 1999, review of A Suggestion of Death, p. 41; August 9, 2004, review of Chilling Effect, p. 235.

Wichita Eagle, April 5, 2006, "Professors Will Exhume Body to Solve Mystery."


Marianne Wesson Home Page,http://www.wessonbooks.com (December 10, 2006).

National Public Radio Web site,http://www.npr.org/ (December 10, 2006), biography of Marianne Wesson.

New Mystery Reader,http://www.newmysteryreader.com/ (December 10, 2006), Stephanie Padilla, interview with Marianne Wesson.

Renaissance Online Magazine,http://www.renaissancemag.com/ (January 2, 2007), Graham Brack, "Marianne Wesson Writes Well, but Writes too Much," review of A Suggestion of Death.

University of Colorado Law School,http://lawweb.colorado.edu/ (December 10, 2006), bibliography of Marianne Wesson.

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