Zito, Chuck 1959–
Zito, Chuck 1959–
Born January 8, 1959, in Johnstown, PA. Education: Attended Pennsylvania State University for two years; Carnegie-Mellon University, B.F.A.
A Habit for Death ("Nicky D'Amico" mystery series), Midnight Ink (Woodbury, MN), 2006.
Ice in His Veins ("Nicky D'Amico" mystery series), Midnight Ink (Woodbury, MN), 2007.
Also author of the column "A New York Minute" for America Online.
Chuck Zito has years of experience in theater, an environment within which he has set his series starring Nicky D'Amico. Nicky makes his debut in A Habit for Death, in which the gay stage manager leaves New York to work on a production at a Catholic college run by nuns in rural Pennsylvania, Zito's home state. He thinks that being part of the St. Gilbert Summer Music Theatre Festival will be a welcome respite from the stress and heat of the New York summer, but that turns out not to be the case. Nicky is soon attracted to David, a member of the chorus, but the show, the plot of which revolves around a serial-killer nun, takes up most of his time. Violence against the actual nuns begins with Sister Sally dropping dead during rehearsal, followed by several others being run down by a man on a bicycle.
In a Booklist review, Jenny McLarin described this first outing as a "laugh-out-loud romp." "The panache of theater director Zito's debut augurs well for a lively series," attested a Kirkus Reviews contributor. The novel "is wonderfully thought out, and the reader is immediately drawn to Nicky's plight," wrote Midwest Book Review contributor Shelley Glodowski. "The dreadful play implodes, there is more murder and mayhem, and Nicky's fantasy continues to elude him and us. An excellent first effort!" "Zito's background in theatre is clearly an asset—he has a great ear for dialogue and the ability to set believable scenes both in the theatre and out," declared Mary Elizabeth Devine, writing for Mystery Scene. "A Habit for Death is a delightful novel," concluded Alan Paul Curtis in a Who-Dunnit.com review, "written with all the wit and repartee that the gay community has made famous, and this book is something to be enjoyed by any fan of either the theatre or murder-mystery field, whether they be gay or straight."
Zito's second Nicky D'Amico mystery, Ice in His Veins, reported Drewey Wayne Gunn in Lambda Book Report, "makes a great advance over his debut in A Habit for Death. It is more assured, often fiendishly clever in its use of details. It strains less hard to be witty, and it offers the reader deeper insight into its amateur sleuth and first person narrator." Nicky and his friends are in the middle of creating an all-male production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, complete with a famous drag queen enacting the role of Titania. Then Alex Isola, the actor playing Puck, turns up in an alley with his head smashed in and an icicle piercing his throat. Nicky concludes that one of the company has to be the murderer. Since most of them are his friends from college, he's faced with a difficult decision. "An insider's look at theatrical production," opined a Kirkus Reviews contributor, "and a nail-biting mystery for likable Nicky."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2006, Jenny McLarin, review of A Habit for Death, p. 75.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2006, review of A Habit for Death, p. 116; May 1, 2007, review of Ice in His Veins.
Lambda Book Report, June 22, 2007, Drewey Wayne Gunn, review of Ice in His Veins, p. 12.
Midwest Book Review, April, 2007, Shelley Glodowski, review of A Habit for Death.
Mystery Scene, spring, 2006, Mary Elizabeth Devine, review of A Habit for Death.
Chuck Zito Home Page, http://www.chuckzito-online.com (June 17, 2008).
Mystery Scene, http://www.mysteryscenemag.com/ (June 17, 2008), Mary Elizabeth Devine, review of A Habit for Death.
Who-Dunnit.com, http://www.who-dunnit.com/ (June 17, 2008), Alan Paul Curtis, review of A Habit for Death.