Mary-Ann Tirone Smith
Author of She's Not There
Release date of January 15, 2003!
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.; ISBN: 0805072233
FBI Agent Poppy Rice is taking a vacation with her lover Joe on the beautiful and isolated Block Island when she discovers a body of a teenage girl. The gruesomely contorted body is that of an overweight girl from the nearby camp for overweight teens. Unable to keep herself away from a baffling new case, she soon becomes involved against her better judgment. As another overweight teen dies, and the list of suspects grow, she must uncover the secrets of this small island if she wants to avoid even more victims.
Another hit from Smith, this book absolutely soars. All the elements of a good mystery are here in abundance: rapid-paced plotting, genuinely interesting characters, unbridled suspense, and of course, the super climatic ending. Poppy Rice is as engaging as they come with her sharp wit, and even sharper mind. She’s also compassionate, sincere, and basically an authentic portrait of someone we’d all like to know. Also of interest is the physical geographical setting, Block Island. A secondary character in itself, the psychological aspects inherent in this type of setting are fascinating and it was wonderful to consider the impact of this on such deliciously rendered illicit events. The supporting cast of characters was also flawlessly drawn, with each one being attention-grabbing in their own right. All in all, this superb mystery from this extraordinarily talented author is one that comes highly recommended, and we eagerly wait for the next.
An Interview with Mary-Ann:
1. Block Island is very important to the entire plot of your book. What was your inspiration for this particular setting?
about 45 minutes from the ferry to Block Island that departs out of
CT. Whenever I can, I get on that ferry and spend some time on this most
magnificent gem of a place. It reminds me of Ireland as often as it transports
me to a bit of New England history. Inspired by the many traditional mysteries
where the characters are--for all intents and purposes--trapped in an idyllic
setting with evil lurking, I decided Block Island would make a perfect setting.
I've been very pleased with the result.
2. Poppy Rice is such an engaging and original character, and we’re glad to see her return, but wondered what inspired you to start a series such as this, as opposed to stand-alone novels like your previous books?
Poppy Rice was a
secondary character in AN AMERICAN KILLING. My editor, agent and I decided
she'd be a great high-end, female sleuth--refreshing since she doesn't come with
residual angst and whose driving joy is serving justice. I thought long and
hard about trying a mystery series, and in the end decided, why not?
(Especially since Poppy wasn't letting me sleep nights, whispering in my ear,
"You don't really think you're through with me, do you?") The mystery is a
difficult and challenging genre but I was able to adapt the genre's constraints
to my own style and enjoy the thrill of the puzzle.
3. Tell us a little of your writing schedule, mornings, afternoons, ect?
When I'm creating a
first draft--pulling a book out of thin air--I write from about six AM until the
beads of blood forming on my forehead begin to flow into my eyes. I usually
last an hour and a half and I'm wrung out. I have a cup of Darjeerling and then
I write other stuff--I've been working on memoir for years--book reviews,
essays, etc. Also, I research and fact-check. When I'm revising, I start at
six and go until my stomach is growling so loudly I have to stop. Since I live
on Long Island Sound, I go off and spend my non-writing time walking, kayaking,
swimming, fishing and mostly, thinking, the main work of a writer.
4. When did you first begin to write?
I learned to read and
soon after began to write. As a child, I'd staple a sheaf of papers together
and try to write a book. I'd last through three pages. That's because a writer
needs to live before she can write. I wrote a short story in high school that
eventually became my first novel, THE BOOK OF PHOEBE. (Phoebe was another
character who wouldn't let me be.)
5. Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite writers
(chronologically!) are Homer, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Pepys, Robert Louis
Stevenson, Pietro di Donato, Faulkner, Agatha Christie (and all those English
mystery writers of yore), Paul Gallico, Ring Lardner, F. Scott Fitzgerald,
Steinbeck, Dreiser, Havelock Ellis, John Dos Passos, Joseph Heller, John Irving,
the author of V whose name just fled my head, Pearl Buck, PD James, Umberto Ecco,
Alice McDermott, Martin Cruz Smith, Paul Auster.
6. Any advice for those looking to publish?
Write, write, write,
read, read, read, write, write, write. When you finish a manuscript, learn the
art of the query, and send those letters off to every agent in town.
7. What do you find most difficult about writing?
Having to stop
because of the blood in my eyes, or the level of hunger.
8. Any hints as to what Poppy is up to in her next adventure?
Having barely survived Block Island, Poppy is off to Boston where a body has washed up in the harbor exhibiting certain characteristics of another body that washed up thirty years earlier on Inishmoor, the largest of the Aran Islands. Understanding the connection will lead to finding a killer.
And if you haven't yet read it, you will love Poppy Rice's first mystery, Love Her Madly
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.; ISBN: 0805066489
Mary-Ann's first novel, Love Her Madly, introduced FBI agent Poppy Rice. An intelligently written thriller that incorporates themes of politics, religion, and justice. Poppy Rice, a smart and independent woman, finds herself caught up in events concerning a woman about to be executed in the state of Texas. Has justice been served? The further Poppy searches, the more questions she has regarding this baffling case. The first in the series of Poppy Rice novels, this is a sure winner for the intelligent reader.
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith is the author of six previous novels, including Love Her Madly, the first of the Poppy Rice mysteries, chich was chosen as a People magazine Page-Turner of the Week. She has lived all her life in Connecticut except for the two years she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon. She is currently at work on the third Poppy Rice mystery. For more information, please visit her website at www.tironesmith.com.