Jump to these reviews: Island of Bones. Thicker than Water, Paint it Black, or Dead of Winter
"A Killing Rain"
(Reviewed by Judi Clark MAR 27, 2005)
What is it about P.J. Parrish and weather? The author's previous novel starts with a hurricane coming over the Sanibel/Captiva islands into Fort Meyers area; it's only a made up incident which had never really happened. And then it does happen for real. Now this new book features an extended cold snap in Florida, what locals call a killing rain. Not hard for me to imagine at the moment, since, guess what, as I’m reading this, there is an extended cold snap in Florida.
A Killing Rain is the book that I imagined would have followed Thicker Than Water. Where as Island of Bones was a verygood read (the plot is the best of the Florida location books), it felt like a non sequitor because there was no mention of the Defense Attorney that Louis Kincaid seemed to be falling in love with – or of her son, Benjamin. But it did introduce us to Mel Landeta, which was well worth it.
All three (Susan, her son Benjamin and Mel) are in this latest novel. After a year, of near misses and an arms length relationship (does that explain the gap in the previous novel?), Susan Outlaw is finally ready to try a relationship with Louis. Thus the book opens with Louis going over to her house expecting to take her to dinner at one of the classier spots, but realizes, a little late, that her intention is to cook up the anticipated steaks herself. She does have a kid after all. But Louis doesn’t mind, really, because he likes Benjamin a lot. So after Louis finally works things out in his mind that the two of them are worth the change in plans, it seems that Susan also has something else on her mind. She’s worried about what will happen to his relationship with Benjamin if she and Louis do not work out – will he abandon her son, like his father did? What she doesn't know is that Louis was raised as a foster child and knows the importance of adults sticking by you, so of course, he promises to be there for her son no matter what transpires between the two of them. And, this takes on quite a different commitment as the novel proceeds and the promise dictates Louis’s decisions right up until the end of the novel.
But now that they are on the otherside of that discussion, the steak dinner still does not proceed as planned. Of all people, the estranged Austin Outlaw shows up at Susan's door. He hasn’t been back in years and like always he wants to resume where he left off. Susan looks to Louis for support, Louis stays for dinner but he knows a messy situation when he sees one. Susan knows that Austen is only here temporarily as is his commitment, even though he trys to convince her to go back with him to Australia, the base of his export business. Susan naturally declines. Austen takes Benjamin for one last outing before his 6:00 flight in Miami. He never returns with Benjamin.
Susan calls Louis who in turn calls the Fort Meyers Chief of Police. Louis decides the best thing to do is to go to the Miami airport and see if he can’t determine if the two of them boarded a plane, because the obvious thing to believe is that the father kidnapped his son. But the airline tickets were never used. While in Miami, Louis decides to go check out the Miami address that is printed on Outlaw’s business card. When he does he finds that there is a recent murder being investigated and it has taken place in the Outlaw’s business office. It is a very bloody scene. Since Mel Landetta used to work in Miami, Louis calls him to get a contact in Miami homicide. Mel gives him the name of one Joe Frye, who turns out to be a woman.
Louis maintains his hope and belief that Benjamin Outlaw is alive despite the evidence that he is dealing with some very cruel killers. The Fort Meyers police find Outlaw’s car at the bottom of a lake. Joe Frye comes to Fort Meyers to work on her own investigation, as she has taken over the murder case that occurred at the Outlaw's Export business, and of course, helps Louis with finding the boy. Meanwhile, we are also privy to what the killers are up to – a couple of thugs who met in prison who have been hired to kill Outlaw for something he saw.
Parrish has a strong knack for creating intricate plots, which she does again here, basing the plot on a single mother's worse nightmare but also touching on the tragedy of human bondage and even homosexuality, and all the while exploring the corners of Louis Kincaid's heart. This time the adventures take us from Florida's West Coast, to the Everglades and Miami. Still it is a gruesome novel; but that apparently sells, so how is an author to be deterred from writing the scenes? Problem is it works; those scenes are regrettably hard to forget. I wonder if I am the only fan that is reading this series because of their location (love this area of Florida) rather than their gruesome plotting. Actually it is more than just location. This series has always been as much about character development, at least, Kincaid’s character, as it is a good mystery. In A Killing Rain, we once again see Kincaid make choices that are consistent with his past, but also show that he is growing as a person.
- Amazon readers rating: from 11 reviews
Read an excerpt from Killing Rain at the author's site(back to top)
"Island of Bones"
(Reviewed by Judi Clark AUG 13, 2004)
Bessie shook her head. "This place is built on skeletons, young man. Millions of humans, millions of sea animals dead and gone. Florida is just one big long island of bones."
Because this book opens with a rare Hurricane hitting the southwest coast of Florida, specifically hitting Sanibel/Captiva Island and Fort Meyers and since that exact same thing has just happened today for real, I decided that it was time I address this long overdue book review.
In Island of Bones, the fictional hurricane turns up two things, a baby's skull and a woman's body. We as the reader are given enough information about the woman's death to know that this is horrendously recent. But the baby's skull seems to be quite old. Louis Kincaid finds the skull on the beach right after the hurricane passes over and throughout the novel is quite possessive of the skull. Even going as far as to somehow identify this baby with the one that he selfishly let a college girlfriend abort.
But back to the murdered woman. Louis immediately reports the baby skull and when Police Chief Horton gets the word to him that they have some information on the skull, Kincaid borrows a vespar and makes his way into storm torn Fort Meyers. When he arrives Chief Horton is on his way to a crime scence and invites Kincaid to tag along. This is when he first meets the less-than-friendly Mel Landeta, the new chief of detectives from Miami. The woman's body is found tangled in some mangroves on Monkey Island. What is evident at first inspection is that she was shot in the back while running away barefooted and that she is wearing a white wedding ring. And even though they have no missing person's report to help identify her body, it's clear that some husband, somewhere, knows that his wife is missing.
With so little to go on and the hurricane wreaking havoc with any potential evidence this won't be an easy case for the police to solve, especially with an unidentified body. Louis becomes involved when Diane Woods seeks him out as a private investigator to help her with her dilemna. She believes she has evidence that her father might be the murderer; and worse, she thinks he may have killed another woman back in 1953, another unsolved murder. She doesn't want to go to the police unless she's positive; she just wants Louis to watch her father to see if it is true. "You understand that you're hiring me to investigate your father and that you might not like the result?" But Susan answers, "I have to know."
Obviously I don't want to give away any plot elements so suffice it say, the authors do not disappoint and have come up with yet another plot that really twists into quite an unexpected and interesting story. Thinking back on this novel, I am still very surprised from where it starts to where it ends. The authors are experts when it comes to bringing in history, and integrating the natural lay of the land (or water) into the plot. All of it plausible, feeling exactly like it could have happened as grim as this story is. And for me, the extra joy in reading these later books in the series is the location-- as I've said before I would love to be living in this part of Florida (even with risk of a Hurricane), so it is a vicarious experience for me to visit with Louis Kincaid.
Part of the charm of this or any series is seeing how our protagnist grows from one episode to the next. Certainly, Kincaid has his demons, though he's still only in his thirties. The ex-cop is now a licenced, fully sanctioned Private Investigator, whereas before he soufully struggled over making it is his official occupation. He seems to accept his fate and doesn't look back, much. He knew there was an opening for Chief Investigator, the one Landeta filled, but he didn't apply for it. As a faithful reader we know that Kincaid is a good cop but crossed a line in Thicker Than Water. He can't pretend that he didn't. When askedwhy didn't apply, all he says is, "I've gotten kind of used to working freelance, Chief." What is evident now is that Kincaid realizes that there is an advantage of being a P.I. over a law-abiding cop. There are certain things he can do that, well, a good cop can't. In this novel, Kincaid is less focused on his bi-racial profile. His personal conflict this time is focused on the new Chief investigator. Kincaid seems it o have it out for Mel Landeta, partially because he thinks Landeta has it out for him and probably moreso, because he thinks Landetta is not only arrogant but not willing to pull his weight, "a burnout playing it easy just to keep his job." Not exactly the mature thinking that I'd expcet of Kincaid. Yet, in another surprising twist, Kincaid learns this man's secret handicap and comes to his aid. It turns out that Mel Landetta is a very cool character one that I'm hoping that Kincaid pals up with in future novels.
Fortunately I did not get bogged down this time with any technical flaws, except that there was no deadly hurricane to hit Florida's west coast (or anywhere in Florida) in 1987 -- and there really hasn't been one since Donna in 1960, until Charlie hit today. But this I can forgive, fiction is allowed to do this. If I were to mouth a complaint it is that this novel lacks continuity with Thicker Than Water -- there is no mention of his budding relationship with Susan Outlaw and her son, and certainly no dinners with his former boss Sam Dodie. However, there is of reference to Walter Tatum and Kincaid's role in solving his murder as it occured in Paint it Black. I suspect that has more do to with the authors writing books simulataneously rather than sequentially and not due to carelessness. I did find it a bit distracting at first because I thought Kincaid was morning a baby lost between him and Susan. But that' probably just me. I did give up trying to find a connection as I was swept deeper into the mystery.
For sure, this is a grim mystery, but far different than most serial killer thrillers because the murders turn out not to be caused by a lone, deranged mind, but for a whole other set of reasons -- not more justified, but entirely more interesting and plausible. I am absolutely positive that this book will be nominated for at least one award, if not actually win it. This is a good series, and since it is still released as paperback originals, a very affordable read.
- Amazon readers rating: from 24 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Island of Bones at MostlyFiction.com(back to top)
"Thicker than Water"
(Reviewed by Judi Clark JAN 20, 2003)
"I believe a man has a right to be believed until the evidence proves that he shouldn't be."
After coming down to the Fort Myers area to help out with what turned into a high-profile serial killer case, which came to be known as "Paint it Black" like the Rolling Stone song, Louis Kincaid decided to stay in the southwest Florida area. As this book opens, he's living on Captiva Island and getting used to his new uniform -- khaki shorts, bright-colored T-shirts and flip-flops. Still unemployed, his rent is partly covered from doing security for Bransons on the Beach Cottages where he also lives; and, he pays bills by taking the odd private investigation job (deadbeat dads and cheating spouses), even though he doesn't have a P.I. license.
So when a guy approaches him during his dinner at the local hangout, at first he's annoyed (it is his 27th birthday), then at the thought of a paying case, interested, and then totally uninterested when the guy can only pay $500. With this kind of case, he can burn through that amount in a day. Ronnie Cade wants to hire Louis to investigate the homicide charges brought against his father, Jack Cade. Ronnie doesn't trust a court-appointed lawyer to care enough to save his father -- who just got out of jail and now faces murder charges for killing lawyer, Spencer Duvall. But that's nothing compared to the original charge that sent him to prison in the first place; Jack Cade pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of a teenage girl twenty years earlier.
As much as Kincaid wants nothing to do with this case, Ronnie's plea does rub his soft spot; he can't overlook the emotion when Ronnie Cade says he lost his father for twenty years and doesn't want to lose him again. So begins Kincaid's first job working on behalf of the criminally charged rather than for the prosecution. To do this he knows he has to stop thinking like a cop -- the only profession he's ever really wanted -- and start believing in the innocence of a man charged with a crime. And he is supposed to look past the previous conviction. Though, he's not able to do this without first asking Jack Cade if he killed the girl twenty years earlier. And even if Kincaid is to believe that Cade didn't kill the girl and didn't kill Spencer Duvall, Cade isn't an easy man to like or to want to defend. Jack Cade is caustic and there's something bothersome about the man and his eyes.
Nevertheless, as unpleasant as Louis finds this man (and eventually most all of the characters involved in this case), there are things that don't seem to add up. Like the fact that a rape and murder charge usually carries life imprisonment, if not, the death penalty. So how did Cade's lawyer get him such a light sentence and why would a man kill his lawyer for doing him this favor? Louis has a hunch that whatever happened twenty years earlier has a bearing on this case.
At about the same time that Louis decides that he will take the job, Jack Cade's public appointed lawyer, a black woman named Susan Outlaw, comes to the conclusion that if she's going to keep this case, she'll need help. She can't stop Ronnie Cade from hiring Louis, but she can keep better tabs on him if the investigator is under her employment, or so she believes. For Louis this is akin to making an agreement with the devil; he doesn't like dirt bags and he doesn't like defense lawyers. But by this time, the twenty-year-old murder of Kitty Jagger is starting to nag him and getting paid to investigate isn't all that bad of an idea. Though Susan Outlaw has doubts about Kincaid and his cop brain, she has done her homework on him and senses that this is a man that works "with a different kind of compass" who won't cross certain lines. Turns out she's both right and wrong.
There is a lot I like about this series, but the thing that makes it stand out most to me is how the author is developing the Louis Kincaid character from one book to the next and how each time this plays into the plot. Louis is young and his past has influenced pretty much everything that he does. Truly the action that he took at the end of Dead of Winter has tainted his reputation with other cops -- and probably for good. Whereas in the previous novels, especially the last, the author plots around his biracial profile, and this duality is part of the plot motivation, in this novel, the author barely touches the race issue and instead works on how Kincaid thinks about the law. Up until now he believes that the cops are basically the good guys and defense lawyers are the scum. Though Susan Outlaw is quick to point out that Kincaid overlooks that cops aren't prosecutors -- meaning that cops aren't the whole picture when it comes to justice and the law. In a sense, Kincaid knows this, he's a pre-law student, so he isn't numb to the fact that a defense lawyer's job is to defend the law. So where does Kincaid fit into all of this these days? Obviously he's not wearing a cop's uniform, even though he still holds out hope that he will again. For now, he just knows he's a good investigator. And, as it turns out, Louis Kincaid is uniquely qualified to solve Spencer Duvall's murder because of his tendency to dwell on the past. In this case it's the original murder victim from twenty years earlier -- Kitty Jagger -- who motivates Kincaid to maneuver around the legal system to find out what happened then and now.
I highly recommend this series, starting with the first book right up until this one. If you've been keeping up with this series, let me tell you, Thicker than Water will not disappoint. I don't know how the author comes up with such credible misdirection and so many. Each time it really seems that Kincaid is onto the final truth since, as the title indicates, there is a family tie implicated, but this plot just keeps on twisting and evolving. In the end, Kincaid does something that is bound to affect him in all future novels and it will be interesting to see how his moral compass plays out in the next book. Obviously this is the kind of series that not only grabs you while reading the latest book, but also has your attention even before the next book is written. Louis Kincaid's character has always been one of integrity, but as he gets older and wiser, his integrity gets a bit more complicated. Certainly he's the kind of character worth rooting for as he makes his way in the world. I just hope he stays in Southwest Florida awhile longer; as far as living vicariously, Captiva Island is surely up there as one of the places I most would want to live.
- Amazon readers rating: from 10 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Thicker than Water at MostlyFiction.com(back to top)
"Paint it Black"
(Reviewed by Judi Clark FEB 21, 2002)
After the events that occurred at his last job in Loon Lake, Michigan (Dead of Winter), it's now March of 1986 and 26 year-old Louis Kincaid is once again out of a job. His old boss, Sam Dodie (Dark of the Moon), has retired to Florida and has gotten Louis a job as a private detective for an attorney defending a case in Sereno Key, near Fort Meyers. It doesn't take long for Louis to realize that Sam recommended him because he is black (actually, he's biracial) and the main suspects are Roberta Tatum, the wife of the man that was stabbed to death, and her brother. Roberta Tatum is an uncooperative black woman whom the attorney hopes will open up to Kincaid.
During his initial interview with Tatum, Kincaid's background does have some bearing on the conversation, because he does understand about what she's saying about her fights with her husband meaning nothing, so he feels that Roberta was not involved in the murder. However, Sheriff Wainwright, whom Kincaid meets right after, isn't ready to give up on his key suspects claiming that she fits a pattern and assumes she put her brother up to it. Wainwright offers to take Kincaid out to the murder site and then, by chance, off to arrest Roberta's brother. It's at this time that we start to see Kincaid's inner struggle; he is wrestling with the fact that he's not a cop, but despite being out of a uniform, can't help but react as one. He still carries impressions from his last job when he argued with his partner Jesse, and fully believed himself, that he was not just a cop, but a man first. But maybe Jesse was right and if so, Kincaid's in trouble because he can't apply for a job without telling them what went on up north.
The next day's newspaper contains an article about another murder; the victim is again a black man, but this one is an out-of-state businessman. Kincaid gives Wainwright a call and gets invited to the autopsy. So now Wainwright has two murders and a sparse number of suspects, and the South Florida NAACP is taking him to task for not treating these murders as hate crimes. Being short of staff and wanting to keep the case out of the hands of the politically motivated (and offensive) Sheriff Mobley, he decides to hire Kincaid as a "consultant" with some petty cash funds. To Kincaid's relief, no references are required. By the time the third murder occurs, Sheriff Wainwright concedes he needs real help; he knows that he's got a serial killer on his hands. He makes a call to his former employer, the FBI - where he worked before he took this "retirement" job, to see if an old friend can help out.
To Wainwright's disappointment, (but to our delight) the FBI sends rookie Agent Farentino from Miami. Not that Wainwright has taken the time to find out, but she's fully qualified as the new type of agent that works for the FBI's recently created Behavioral Science Unit, what she calls a forensic psychologist, otherwise known as a profiler.
Serial killer thrillers are not my favorite type of plot, though I realize that I'm clearly in the minority. As much as I like a good detective series, I dislike being directly in the mind of the killer. If I hadn't liked the previous Louis Kincaid novel as much as I did, I'm not sure that I would have continued with this novel past the first chapter. But then again, the second chapter takes us straight to Southwest, Florida, the place I really want to be. Oh, does this sentence make my eyes squint: "They were crossing a large open bay, and the confluence of water and sky was sudden and startling, like being injected into a sparkling, bright blue." That said I stuck with it because I like the Louis Kincaid character. He has a dogged personality whether working on the case or trying to make sense of his life, but ever mindful of the senior authority. As in the previous novel, the author cleverly has the plot twist back on the very thing that brings Kincaid to Florida, his race. So for a serial killer plot, it's pretty good and very smart.
Setting the novel in 1986 is key to elements of the plot. It's at about this time that the FBI created profilers and old timers were still having a hard time with women taking on more professional positions. However, the dangers in writing a novel that takes place in the near past is that it is easier to slip up. Some of the math and dates bothered me. FBI agent Farentino says her parents never married yet were together for 35 years. I can accept that. However, she then explains that the reasons they didn't get married was a sixties thing and they died when she was a senior in college. Well that doesn't add up if the book takes place in 1986; it means her parents started to live together in the late forties. The other thing that is wrong is the calendar dates. The serial killings take place on Tuesdays. While investigating Louis ask where someone was on Tuesday, March 1st. However, March 1, 1986 is actually a Saturday. Later there's a reference to Tuesday March 14. March 14, 1986 is actually a Friday. Anyhow, this does not get in the way of the plot, but an editor should have caught this before it went to print.
Even if I'm a little pickier with this book, as a whole I recommend the series and this novel; the plot twists are good and Kincaid's personal growth is just as compelling. P.J. Parrish has developed Louis Kincaid as a bit of a soul searcher. With his biracial heritage and having grown up as a foster child, he's at a loss as to where he belongs. While all the signs are there that he should just stay in Florida, he keeps thinking that he's going back to Michigan. Not only does it turn out that FBI Agent Sarentino is good at her job, she also helps teach him a thing or two about making your own place. I'm relieved to see that the author has decided to let Kincaid stay in Florida for awhile; I really do want Louis to find a place to stay as much as I want to keep revisiting this part of Florida.
- Amazon readers rating: from 15 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Paint it Black at MostlyFiction.com(back to top)
"Dead of Winter"
(Reviewed by Judi Clark JAN 01, 2001)"Gens una sumus."
It's 1984 and the Detroit Police Department is downsizing. Louis Kincaid took an official leave of absence when he returned to his birthplace in Mississippi to be with his dying mother, but that apparently didn't guarantee that he'd get his job back. The same day that he receives his rejection letter from the Detroit Police Department, he sees a classified ad for a police officer position in the predominately white tourist town of Loon Lake, Michigan. Needing a job, he drives up to apply before the 5pm deadline. While waiting for his interview he learns that the job is to replace a recently lost officer, Thomas Pryce, and that the Chief is very anxious to fill the job.
So after a fifteen minute interview, Kincaid is hired and is sworn in on December 20th. He's a little uncomfortable that he might have been hired because he's black, like Pryce. But then again there are a few other uncanny similarities, like he's the same uniform size and also takes three sugars in his coffee. As he's riding with his training officer, Jesse Harrison, he finds out that Pryce was the department's Investigator, like Kincaid was in his previous job. Kincaid takes these signs as just another reason that Loon Lake feels right and could be the place that he decides to call home. What's more, after only a few days of living there he has a chance meeting with a woman and it looks like he might have found someone special to with whom to get romantically involved.
His new boss is a bit unconventional for a police department Chief. He plays chess, quotes literature and other sources to explain his philosophy and generally seems to value intelligence. Kincaid thinks that perhaps one reason Chief Gibralter hired him is that he has a college degree. At any rate, Gibralter has made it clear that he runs a good, clean operation with topnotch officers who work as a tight unit. The department lives by his Latin motto, Gens una sumus - "we are one family." Kincaid figures that despite the oddities, the Chief has the right intentions and it seems his coworkers like working for Gibralter, even if he's ready to suspend for the slightest infraction of his rules such as showing up with less than a spit and shine uniform or calling the Chief by his first name.
Louis is assigned to ride with Jesse until he is "broken in." On his first day out, Louis learns how Pryce died - point blank by a shotgun in his own home in the middle of the night left dying with a "calling card" from his killer. Technically the case is still open, but the department's investigation has stalled. That evening, Kincaid gets to thinking and goes in to talk to the Chief (who routinely stays well into the evening shift since he doesn't delegate). Gibralter gives him lead on the investigation, but orders him to basically do this on his own time. To assuage Jesse's hurt feelings, since he had been wanting lead, and because he really needs help since he's a stranger in town, Louis asks Jesse to assist.
Louis Kincaid is still learning how to deal with the twists and quirks of his new boss and partner when another body is found. This time it is a retired police officer, apparently killed by the same M.O. Ironically, it seems that in this rustic resort town, it is the police who live in fear, not its residents. As the winter days go by, Kincaid is beginning to get the picture that this town, his job, and even his romance may not be all as they initially appeared. But as long as their is a killer out there, no amount of personal frustration is going to prevent him from doing his job.
Dead of Winter is an exceptional police procedural focusing on the chain of command and the departmental relationships as much as the murder investigation, until the two become so interdependent that they are the plot. One of the things that I enjoyed in this novel is the way the author depicts Kincaid's work relationships. We are given enough of his past that we know how much this job means to him, and like him we are trying our best to understand the actions of his boss. Kincaid also has to deal with an often irrational partner. But despite Jesse's temper flare ups, there is something about him that we come to like.
Part of any mystery novel, is the trickery the author uses to steer us away and towards the real killer. In Dead of Winter, it's this same kind of trickery that is used as Kincaid makes his way through learning his new job and getting to know his coworkers while feeling the pressure of the investigation. Too me, this demonstrates an extraordinarily writing skill. To build good characters is one thing; to play with these characters on an emotional level is quite another. But then to build a plot around this interplay, that is what had me glued to this novel until the last page.
It's also interesting that the author has chosen to the set this series in the early 1980s rather than current day. Perhaps because the story is partially about race, it is better to set the novel seventeen years earlier. But I suspect that it is to alleviate the author from keeping abreast with the latest technology used in police departments, allowing the writer and audience to concentrate on the story rather than whiz bang gadgets. It's also fun to realize that in the not too distant past a CD player was considered leading edge technology.
I recommend this novel, especially on these cold winter nights. In Loon Lake it snows a lot during the dead of winter. This book is best read in a cozy room, under the warmth of some blankets and preferably with a fire. But don't worry if you are not set up with this type of environment, the imagery in the novel will provide it for you.
- Amazon readers rating: from 27 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Dead of Winter at author's site
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
Louis Kincaid Series:
- Dark of the Moon (April 1999)
- Dead of the Winter (January 2001)
- Paint it Black (January 2002)
- Thicker Than Water (January 2003)
- Island of Bones (January 2004)
- A Killing Rain (February 2005) *
- An Unquiet Grave (February 2006)
*Introduces Joe Frye
Joe Frye and Louis Kincaid Series:
- The Killing Song (July 2011)
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- P. J. Parrish official Web site
- Over My Dead Body Interview with P.J. Parrish
- Over My Dead Body review of Dark of the Moon
- Crescent Blues review of Island of Bones
- Bookman/Bookwoman review of Island of Bones
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About the Author:
P.J. Parrish is a pseudonym for two sisters: Kelly Nichols (left) and Kristy Montee (right).
Montee lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Before Dark of the Moon, she had been a dance critic and a newspaper editor at the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida. Also, under the name of Kristy Daniels, she authored four contemporary women's novels.
Nichols lives in Philadelphia, Mississippi and has been in the in the casino business, first as a blackjack dealer and then as a personnel manager.
Somewhat based on their combined history they claim that P.J. Parrish has worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, arts reviewer, blackjack dealer and personnel director in a Mississippi casino. Parrish resides in South Haven, Mississippi and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and is married with three children, three grandchildren and seven cats.