Books by Lowell Cauffiel

TOSS by Boomer Esiason
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, currently a host on ABC's Monday Night Football, and novelist Lowell Cauffiel (Marker, 1997) team up for Esiason's debut as a (co-)novelist. Their focus is on rising star Derek Brody and his seamy, drug-ridden new team, the New York Stars, with whom he's just landed a $12 million contract. His big-time agent, Mike Scanlon, worries that Derek, who has a facial scar from a car accident, may not make a good impression with the press and thus jeopardize endorsement contracts with Nike and others. But Derek has greater worries than his antisocial, aggressive maladjustment: he plans to dominate the Stars (they haven't had a winning season in seven years) and only needs to get his hands on the ball. The press is down on him at once for his utter self-confidence (he was convicted of vehicular manslaughter after letting his drunken father die in a car crash), and he mistakes the club owner's daughter, Nicky, for a whore. His signing on has cost Glamour Boy Reggie Thompson, leading receiver in the twilight of his career, a million-buck yearly pay increase—and having Glamour Boy angry at him ain't good. When ex-NFL player Eric Smith and a pizza delivery boy are murdered, following a visit from Derek, the new player falls under suspicion, as he does when a dead prostitute, hidden in a locker, is discovered. More than the deaths, and aside from biz deals, the richest moments here come during games and in play strategies. Heavy on the melodrama, but in its way the most brutal study of football since Peter Gent's North Dallas Forty. Read full book review >
MARKER by Lowell Cauffiel
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 23, 1997

Cool, contrived, but smooth and by-the-numbers debut thriller pits a recovering alcoholic judge against a blackmailing ex-con. After three true-crime books (Forever and Five Days, 1992, etc.), Cauffiel applies Elmore Leonard's mano † mano formula on Leonard's home turf, Detroit. Forty-ish Wayne County Circuit Judge Nelson Connor, unnerved by the despair that haunts his inner-city courtroom and the chilly silences of his marriage, knocks back a few too many at a local dive, where his Wayne State college chum Jimmy Osborne, a good boy gone sleazy, gives him a vial of cocaine to prop up his spirits. Showing less wisdom than one would think possible, Connor not only accepts the drug but writes Osborne a check for the merchandise and stupidly pockets the vial. A few hours later, cops haul a seriously drunken Connor out of his car for reckless driving. They find the vial in Connor's car but agree to let him off lightly. Then Connor refuses to disqualify himself as Osborne's sentencing judge, hoping that no one will find out that they're buddies. All this provides grist for the grinding stone of Lawrence Gary, a maliciously cunning ex-con photographer who gets his hands on Connor's check, tries to blackmail the judge, and maneuvers himself into a tawdry affair with Connor's wife Katherine. Embraced by the treacly sweet camaraderie of a local AA chapter, Connor tries to hold Gary off until Gary actually kidnaps Katherine, forcing a climax involving pistols and fisticuffs on the dramatically scenic Mackinaw Straits Bridge. Cauffiel's crooks are standard issue and his formulaic plot offers few surprises, but his disillusioned, morally conflicted judge carries the show as he struggles to stay on the wagon while fighting for the ideals he used to cherish. Derivative, gear-grindingly slow in places, but strongly evocative of the mean-spirited, morally bankrupt placelessness of Motor City and environs. Read full book review >
FOREVER AND FIVE DAYS by Lowell Cauffiel
NON-FICTION
Released: March 1, 1992

A torpid retelling by Cauffiel (Masquerade, 1988) of a Grand Rapids serial-murder case that received extensive media attention and stimulated debate about nursing-home care for the aged. In the closing months of 1986, Cathy Wood and Gail Graham both worked as nurse's aides at the Alpine Manor nursing home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The two became lovers, their relationship marked by violence, jealousy, infidelity, sadomasochism, drink, and drugs. Wood seemed to be calling the shots in the affair, manipulating those around her with threats, lies, and physical assaults— although the author fails to explain her behavior satisfactorily. Then, in January 1987, one of the pair's elderly charges died, apparently of natural causes. Over the next few months, though, five more Alpine Manor patients passed away suddenly. The relationship between the two women fell apart—and soon both were bragging about having smothered six people. Wood's ex-husband eventually went to the police, and the bodies of some of the deceased were exhumed. There were indications of foul play; Wood and Graham were arrested. When the details of the murders came to light, gay activists were quick to disassociate themselves from the case, concerned that the violence might be ascribed to the pair's sexual orientation. During the trials, in fact, both the prosecution and the defense stated that the murders of which the two women were accused were not prompted by their lesbianism. Eventually, Wood plea-bargained her way into a reduced sentence, claiming that it was Graham who planned and carried out the killings. Cauffiel is skeptical of Wood's version. In any event, the two were found guilty and are now in prison. A potentially controversial narrative marred by excessive detailing that occasionally stalls the story and by superficial analysis of the psychology of the principals. (Sixteen pages of photographs—not seen.) Read full book review >