Pearson, Ridley 1953- (Wendell McCall, Steven Rimbauer)
Pearson, Ridley 1953- (Wendell McCall, Steven Rimbauer)
Born March 13, 1953, in Glencove, NY; son of Robert G. (a writer) and Betsy (an artist) Pearson; married second wife, Marcelle Marsh; children: Paige, Storey (daughters). Education: Attended University of Kansas, 1972, and Brown University, 1974.
Home—Sun Valley, ID. Office—P.O. Box 715, Boise, ID 83701. Agent—Albert Zuckerman, Writer's House, Inc., 21 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10010.
Novelist and screenwriter. Worked variously as a songwriter for a touring bar band, a dishwasher, and a housekeeper in a hospital surgery suite; composer of orchestral score for documentary film Cattle Drive. Bass guitarist for Rock Bottom Remainders (literary garage band), with Dave Barry, Amy Tan, and Stephen King.
Writers Guild of America.
Raymond Chandler Fulbright fellowship in detective fiction, Oxford University, 1990.
Never Look Back: A Novel of Espionage and Revenge, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1985.
Blood of the Albatross, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1986.
The Seizing of the Yankee Green Mall, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1987.
Undercurrents, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1988.
Probable Cause, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1990.
Hard Fall, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1992.
The Angel Maker, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1993.
No Witnesses, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1994.
Chain of Evidence, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1995.
Beyond Recognition, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.
The Pied Piper, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.
The First Victim, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1999.
Middle of Nowhere, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.
Parallel Lies, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.
(As Steven Rimbauer) The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red (also see below), foreword by Stephen King, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.
The Art of Deception, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.
The Body of David Hayes, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.
Cut and Run, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.
Killer Weekend, Putnam's (New York, NY), 2007.
"NEVERLAND ISLAND" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN
(With Dave Barry) Peter and the Starcatchers (inspired by Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie), illustrated by Greg Call, Hyperion/Disney Editions (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Dave Barry) The Missing Mermaid, Hyperion/Disney Editions (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Dave Barry) Escape from the Carnivale, illustrated by Greg Call, Hyperion/Disney Editions (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Dave Barry) Peter and the Shadow Thieves, illustrated by Greg Call, Hyperion/Disney Editions (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Dave Barry) Cave of the Dark Wind, Hyperion/Disney Editions (New York, NY), 2007.
(With Dave Barry) Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, Hyperion/Disney Editions (New York, NY), 2007.
The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (television miniseries; based on the book of the same title), American Broadcasting Corp., 2003.
The Kingdom Keepers (middle-grade novel), Hyperion/Disney Editions (New York, NY), 2005.
Author of screenplay adaptations of his novels Probable Cause and Undercurrents. Also author, under pseudonym Wendell McCall, of novel Aim for the Heart, St. Martin's Press. Work included in anthology Diagnosis: Terminal, edited by E. Paul Wilson, Forge (New York, NY), 1996.
Angel Maker, No Witnesses, and Undercurrents, were optioned for film by Home Box Office; Hard Fall was optioned for film by Amadeo Ursini; film rights to Probable Cause were acquired by Ted Hartley of RKO; Peter and the Shadow Thieves, was optioned for film by Disney, 2006. Several books by Pearson have been adapted as audiobooks by Brilliance Audio, including Parallel Lies, 2001; Peter and the Shadow Thieves, 2006; and Escape from the Carnivale, read by Jim Dale, 2006.
Although Ridley Pearson is best known to adult readers for the police procedurals he has been writing since the mid-1980s, he has also gained a following among younger readers through the middle-grade adventure novel The Kingdom Keepers, as well as through the fantasy fiction he writes in collaboration with humorist Dave Barry for the "Never Land Adventure" series. Inspired by the world created in Peter Pan—the 1953 Disney film more than the play by well-known nineteenth-century English writer J.M. Barrie—the "Never Land Adventure" books focus on a group of children living on Mollusk Island, where adventures and fantasy collide. Featuring familiar characters such as Peter Pan, the orphaned Lost Boys, Captain Hook, and Tinker Bell as well as introducing Molly Astor, Black Stache the pirate, Lord Ombra, Little Scallop the mermaid, and the Starcatchers, the series includes Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, and Escape from the Carnivale.
Pearson and Barry set the stage for their fantasy series in Peter and the Starcatchers, which finds Peter at the head of a band of orphans enslaved by pirate captain Black Stache aboard the pirate ship Never Land. When the ship wrecks near a small island, the boys gain their freedom and find themselves allied with a secret society called the Starcatchers. Working with apprentice starcatcher Mary Astor, Peter and the boys hope to beat an evil band of Others in locating a lost trunk of star-stuff, a magical material that gives those who possess it happiness, braininess, and the power of flight. Crocodiles, mermaids, jungle-dwelling natives, and other creatures all figure in the authors' series opener. Describing the novel as "compulsively readable," a Kirkus Reviews writer added that Peter and the Starchasers will draw even reluctant readers in with its "never-a-dull-moment plot." In School Library Journal, Margaret A. Chang deemed the novel a "smoothly written page-turner [that] just might send readers back to [Barrie's] … original." The "real lure is the richly drawn characters," wrote Booklist critic Ilene Cooper, noting that the book's villainous characters "exhibit just the right amount of swagger and smirk." In Publishers Weekly a critic concluded that "Peter Pan fans will find much to like in [Pearson and Barry's] … what-if scenario."
In Peter and the Shadow Thieves the Others come in search of the magic stardust. Led by the evil nonhuman, soul-stealing Lord Ombra, the Others intend to gain possession of this magic dust so that Lord Ombra can channel its power and rule the world. Tracking Molly and the Starcatchers to London, Ombra's ship quickly sails off in pursuit. Now Peter, Tinkerbell, and their friends must find the stardust first, and send it back into the heavens before Ombra achieves his evil goal. According to School Library Journal contributor Eva Mitnick, Peter and the Shadow Thieves is "filled with enough rollicking, death-defying adventure to satisfy anyone," and the novel's "breathless chases," set in a world of "Dickensian squalor," results in "scenes that are rich in color." Writing that Pearson and Barry "do not disappoint" in their second novel for young readers, Booklist reviewer GraceAnne A. DeCandido went on to note that Peter and the Shadow Thieves "sustain[s] the … lively pace" through "short chapters packed with action and well-chosen details."
As Pearson and Barry have expanded their collaboration, they have also expanded their audience to younger readers in books such as Escape from the Carnivale. Geared for preteen readers, this novel focuses on Little Scallop and her friends Aqua and Surf, as they venture beyond the safety of their island coral reef in search of pearls. When Surf is captured by the crew of the ship Carnivale, Lost Boy James must marshal his dolphin friends to free the mermaid from the ruthless pirate band. The characters in Escape from the Carnivale return in several other "Never Land Adventure" novels, among them Cave of the Dark Wind.
Pearson's first series of forensic thrillers for adults, which include Chain of Evidence, The Angel Maker, Beyond Recognition, and The Body of David Hayes, is set in the Pacific northwest. Based in Seattle, Washing-
ton, recurring series characters detective Lou Boldt and police psychologist Daphne Matthews follow the highly technical trails of evidence that Pearson's criminals leave behind, resulting in books that have won the author an enduring readership. In addition to catapulting readers into the detective's hunt for serial killers and other murderers, the novels focus on the on-again, off-again romance between Pearson's two sleuths. "Some procedurals stress forensic detail, while others emphasize the multidimensional humanity of the cops," wrote Bill Ott in his Booklist review of Chain of Evidence. "Pearson does both," Ott concluded, "and the combination continues to be unbeatable." Pearson "makes complicated, potentially disgusting facts almost entertaining," maintained a Publishers Weekly contributor in a review of The Angel Maker, the critic adding that the author's "engaging forensic detail … and brisk prose will have readers racing to the cliffhanger climax."
Critics have consistently praised Pearson for his ability to create taut plots that incorporate the latest in forensic technology. In No Witnesses a serial killer bent on exacting revenge against a food company begins poisoning the company's products, faxing extortion notes, and using ATM's to retrieve ransom money, thereby leaving no physical trace for Detective Boldt to track. "Pearson's grasp of investigative technology is truly impressive," noted Marilyn Stasio in a New York Times review of the novel, while Ott found "the combination of meticulous investigative detail and excruciating, screw-tightening suspense … utterly riveting."
Beyond Recognition finds a serial killer disposing of victims' bodies with rocket fuel, which burns so hot it leaves almost no trace behind. Pearson brings the suspense home to Detective Boldt in The Pied Piper, as the detective's own daughter is kidnapped when Boldt gets too close to identifying a serial kidnapper, while The Art of Deception follows Boldt's investigation of a pair of suspicious deaths that ultimately point to a murderer who may not be finished yet. In The Body of David Hayes when a former beau of Liz Boldt seeks the detective's wife's help in resolving a fraud conviction the past romantic relationship threatens both Lou's current investigation and his marriage. "Moving from one
punchy scene to the next, this fuse-burning suspense tale is wonderful reading for a wide audience," noted Molly Gorman in a Library Journal review of Beyond Recognition, and Library Journal contributor Jeff Ayers praised The Art of Deception for "atmospheric descriptions of Seattle … [that are] dead-on." Ott also commended Pearson's setting, noting that the novelist's "detail-rich treatment goes well beyond the typical clichés of dark passages and abandoned storefronts" and praising the "Boldt and Matthews" novels as among "the mystery genre's greatest pleasures." Noting Pearson's focus on "the sinews that hold together a long-term marriage" in The Body of David Hayes, Ott maintained that the novel "adds depth and resonance to the ongoing series."
In addition to his "Boldt-Matthews" series, Pearson has also written several standalone novels. He moves his setting to his adopted home town of Sun Valley, Idaho in the novel Killer Weekend. Here, in the proposed first novel in a new series, the author introduces Sheriff Walt Fleming as he battles the chaos that erupts in his resort community during an annual conference of celebrities and powerbrokers. Reviewing this novel in Booklist, Allison Block recalled Pearson's long and successful career, commending the author for his "cleverly interwoven plots and crisp, economical prose."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, August, 1994, Bill Ott, review of No Witnesses, p. 1993; September 1, 1995, Bill Ott, review of Chain of Evidence, p. 6; December 15, 1996, Bill Ott, review of Beyond Recognition, p. 693; May 1, 2001, review of Parallel Lies, p. 1638; June 1, 2002, Bill Ott, review of The Art of Deception, p. 1646; February 1, 2004, Bill Ott, review of The Body of David Hayes, p. 933; September 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 121; June 1, 2006, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Peter and the Shadow Thieves, p. 66; February 15, 2007, Allison Block, review of Killer Weekend, p. 4.
Entertainment Weekly, October 27, 1995, Tom De Haven, review of Chain of Evidence, p. 83; April 9, 2004, Adam B. Vary, review of The Body of David Hayes, p. 93.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2002, review of The Art of Deception, p. 911; February 1, 2004, review of The Body of David Hayes, p. 105; August 1, 2004, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 737; August 15, 2005, review of The Kingdom Keepers, p. 919; June 1, 2006, review of Peter and the Shadow Thieves, p. 568; August 1, 2006, review of Escape from the Carnivale, p. 789.
Library Journal, January, 1997, p. 149; May 1, 1998, p. 156; July, 2002, Jeff Ayers, review of The Art of Deception, p. 122.
New York Times, October 56, 1986, section 7, p. 28; August 1, 1993; November 20, 1994; October 22, 1995.
Publishers Weekly, February 8, 1993, review of The Angel Makers, p. 74; August 15, 1994, review of No Witnesses, p. 85; September 18, 1995, review of Chain of Evidence, p. 11; June 3, 1996, review of Diagnosis: Terminal, p. 62; December 16, 1996, review of Beyond Recognition, p. 42; July 13, 1998, review of The Pied Piper, p. 63; July 1, 2002, review of The Art of Deception, p. 53; July 8, 2002, Dena Croog, "‘Limbauer’ Author Unmasked," p. 18; February 23, 2004, review of The Body of David Hayes, p. 46; August 23, 2004, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 55; March 14, 2005, review of Cut and Run, p. 46; October 10, 2005, review of The Kingdom Keepers, p. 62; May 7, 2007, Bridget Kinsella, "Ridley Pearson Gets Real in Sun Valley," p. 37; May 14, 2007, review of Killer Weekend, p. 32.
School Library Journal, October, 2004, Margaret A. Chang, review of Peter and the Starcatchers, p. 154; January, 2006, Mara Alpert, review of The Kingdom Keepers, p. 142; August, 2006, Eva Mitnick, review of Peter and the Shadow Thieves, p. 64; January, 2007, B. Allison Gray, review of Escape from the Carnivale, p. 68.
Book Haven,http://www.thebookhaven.homestead.com/ (August 28, 2003), Amy Carother, review of The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red.
Ridley Pearson Home Page,www.ridleypearson.com (August 27, 2007).