Books by Wendy Hornsby

NUMBER 7, RUE JACOB by Wendy Hornsby
Released: April 7, 2018

"The chase across Europe is serviceable, but the motivating intrigue back in Paris is a major letdown, as if Hornsby (Disturbing the Dark, 2016, etc.) had grafted the cloak-and-dagger intrigue onto the not very mysterious story she really wanted to tell of her series heroine's impending nuptials."
The improbably plush property that investigative filmmaker Maggie MacGowen has inherited a share of in the 6th arrondisement turns out to come with more than its share of criminal baggage. Read full book review >
NINE SONS by Wendy Hornsby
Released: April 15, 2002

" In her introduction, Hornsby complains that her life and public face have been far more genteel than she'd like. Surely this collection's best stories, which manage to be both brutal and genteel, will bruise her reputation just a bit."
Hornsby's complete short fiction—eleven stories and one nonfiction article, "Wendy Goes to the Morgue"—makes for a slight volume with distinct peaks and valleys linked by a marked preference for suave understatement. Her best-known creation, documentarist Maggie McGowen (A Hard Light, 1997, etc.), is absent, but Maggie's boyfriend Mike Flint, late of the LAPD, appears in one of three new stories, "Essential Things," whose mystery is upstaged by his buying and rebuilding a retirement home. A second new story, "The Sky Shall Always Be Blue," echoes Shirley Jackson's "The Possibility of Evil" in giving a condo busybody her comeuppance. (The unseen third, "Why Vanessa Jumped," is available only in the limited-edition hardcover.) Of the reprints, two stories coauthored with Hornsby's daughter Alyson are shivery, noncriminal anecdotes of a child's imaginary friend and a family's coming to terms with their late father and grandfather; the others are all worth closer attention. "The Naked Giant" and "New Moon and Rattlesnakes" are elegantly foreshortened tales of women's revenge; "High Heels in the Headliner" recounts a romance writer's absurd, tragic infatuation with a tough cop; and "Ghost Caper" is a truly chilling tale of a mischievous West Hollywood prowler. But Hornsby never outclassed her eponymous debut, a quietly devastating Depression idyll that won an Edgar in 1992. Read full book review >
A HARD LIGHT by Wendy Hornsby
Released: Aug. 18, 1997

Documentarist Maggie MacGowen has just decided to turn her latest film, a study of Los Angeles kids gone wrong, from another pro forma denunciation of the uncaring system that failed the kids to an unsparing look at the teens who tortured and killed Pedro Alvaro, the gardener who, flush with his paycheck, tried to pick up a pair of teenaged welfare mothers. It's a big change and a big commitment, and she doesn't need the unsettling news that she's just had a cash offer on the house she once shared with her magnetic, untrustworthy husband Scotty back in San Francisco. The time is right to sell the house, since Maggie's dancing daughter Casey is getting ready to move out, and Maggie's squeeze, Mike Flint of the LAPD, is only 67 days from the new horizons of retirement. But the sale doesn't feel quite right, maybe because Scotty pops up and appeals to Maggie to sell it to him, maybe because some of Scotty's most suspicious old friends from Vietnam have been making news themselves. Khanh Nguyen has just been robbed by her cousin (though he never reported a robbery to the police, and the undocumented, accused Bao Ngo has vanished without leaving footprints on a single database), and Minh Tam, the cousin she sent Maggie looking for after the robbery, has disappeared too. What's going on here will be obvious to everybody but Maggie, who's understandably distracted by all those domestic shakeups. What's meant to be the main mystery in Maggie's fifth case (77th Street Requiem, 1995, etc.) is shoveled mostly into the last few chapters, completely upstaged by the calmly horrific series of confessions documenting the Pedro Alvaro killing. Read full book review >
77TH STREET REQUIEM by Wendy Hornsby
Released: Oct. 10, 1995

Filmmaker/sleuth Maggie MacGowen (Bad Intent, 1994, etc.) has a new projecta network documentary on the 20-year-old unsolved murder of Roy Frady, a cop with the 77th precinct of LAPD. Maggie has been living for some time with LAPD's Mike Flint, who, back then, made a tight foursome with police buddies Roy, Hector Melendez, and Doug Senecalspending time in the same bars, having sex with the same whorish women, etc. Maggie is intrigued by a possible connection to the short-lived Symbionese Liberation Army, of Patty Hearst fame, rumored to be holed up in LA at the time, with FBI agent Chuck Kellenburger in watchful pursuit. That was then. Right now strange things are happening as Maggie goes about the business of talking to those close to or on the fringes of the old murder: Hector Melendez dies in a seemingly unrelated crime; Michelle Tarbetta former topless dancer, scheduled for an interview, is found stabbed to death; JoAnn Chin, another of Roy's women, has had her face smashed; and someone set fire to Maggie's home office in the middle of the night. That incident puts Maggie on a circuitous trail that finally closes the book on Roy Frady's murder. Despite an overload of plot twists and sleazy sex, plus weakly constructed motivation, this is strong stuff. Hornsby's tension- filled, offbeat world will hold the reader to the end. Read full book review >
BAD INTENT by Wendy Hornsby
Released: Aug. 1, 1994

High-voltage independent filmmaker Maggie MacGowen (Midnight Baby, 1993, etc.) has left her San Francisco home base and, along with teenaged daughter Casey, joined forces with her policeman lover, Mike Flint, in Los Angeles. She arrives just as District Attorney Baron Marovich is reviving a 15-year-old murder case in an attempt to capture the black vote in his reelection campaign—run by sleazy veteran politico Roddy O'Leary. Charles Conklin, a black career criminal, was arrested in 1979 for the murder of a policeman. The case was investigated by Flint and his then partner Jerry Kelsey. The eyewitness testimony of two children convicted Conklin. Now Marovich claims the trial was tainted with coerced evidence and wants Conklin released. MacGowen, already at work with devoted cameraman Guido Patrini on a documentary about project housing in LA, gathers evidence about the old killing even as new ones erupt and she herself is driven to violence. Attention-grabbing, fast-paced entertainment: a story bristling with energy, striking characters, plot twists, filmmaking lore, sexy interludes, and a happy, if inconclusive, finale. With her pushy ways and foul mouth, MacGowen is a heroine for the '90s. (Author tour) Read full book review >
MIDNIGHT BABY by Wendy Hornsby
Released: June 15, 1993

Photographer/documentary-filmmaker Maggie MacGowen (Telling Lies—not reviewed), divorced mother of teenaged daughter Casey, is caught up in the short life of 14-year-old Hillary Ramsdale, found murdered soon after Maggie met her—homeless, frightened, and known only as ``Pisces''—on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Maggie, on an L.A. assignment from her home base in San Francisco, attaches herself to the investigation headed by sometime lover LAPD detective Mike Flint. Together, the two track the bizarre background of the young victim through the yacht-and-country-club world of Randall and Elizabeth Ramsdale, whose lives are somehow entwined with those of restaurant owner George Metrano and his wife Leslie, who still mourns the disappearance of a baby daughter years before. Randall Ramsdale hasn't been seen for a while. When his body surfaces, it becomes apparent that danger lurks for everyone connected with the investigation. Impetus and suspense then begin to dissipate in a plethora of fussy plot complications and the graphic detail of Maggie and Mike's sex life. Smartly written, vividly populated, mostly engrossing entertainment that could have been even better with a touch of restraint. Read full book review >