Sunday, August 1, 2010

Barbara D'Amato

What do the Hancock Building, Lake Michigan, Water Tower Place, the El, and Holy Name Cathedral have in common?  All are places in Chicago that award-winning writer Barbara D'Amato has used to create a vivid backdrop in some of her mystery and suspense novels. I discovered D'Amato's work in the 1980s, and I've been reading her novels and short stories ever since. She's a first-class genre writer who creates engaging, multi-dimensional characters and embroils them in perfectly crafted plots. Long before characters like Stephanie Plum , there was Cat Marsala, a tough, gritty, yet very likeable investigative journalist who chronically finds herself in the midst of trouble, and Chicago Patrol Cop, Suze Figueroa.  These two, female protagonists headline several D'Amato books.

D'Amato has been able to chart a long, productive career (to date, 16+ novels and numerous short stories), because she writes big, bold, unforgettable scenes and takes on contemporary topics of interest with amazing expertise and authenticity. Check out the diversity of issues she's covered in her books:

International Adoption (White Male Infant)
Autism (Death Of A Thousand Cuts)
Child Abduction (Help Me Please)
Computer and Internet Crime (Killer.App)
Drug Legalization (Hardball)
Yachting (Hard Tack)
The Lottery (Hard Luck)
Christmas Tree Farming (Hard Christmas)
The Gourmet Food Industry (Hard Evidence)
Prostitution (Hard Women)
Spousal Abuse (Hard Bargain)
The Wizard of Oz Festival (Hard Road)
Trauma in the ER (Hard Case)
Ghosts and the Paranormal (Crimes by Moonlight - a brand new MWA anthology that features a new story by D'Amato)

And of course, there are also D'Amato's award-winning police procedural novels: Authorized Personnel Only (winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award from Mystery Writers of America) and Good Cop, Bad Cop (winner of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award).

If you're looking for a page-turner for the beach this summer, try her latest, Foolproof, which D'Amato co-authored with Jeanne M. Dams and Mark Richard Zubro. Be sure you lather on your sunscreen or better yet, curl up with the book in the shade as once you crack the cover, you're bound to get completely wrapped up in this political, post-9/11 thriller about Cyber-Terrorism that might otherwise give you a scorching sunburn!