Cover image for Desert Autumn
Desert Autumn
Craft, Michael, 1950-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, [2001]

Physical Description:
343 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Claire Gray Mystery".
Geographic Term:
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Claire Gray is a much traveled, highly regarded and very successful theatrical director who, in the prime of her career, accepts an offer to head the Theatre Department at Desert Arts College near Palm Springs, California. Funded by enigmatic billionaire, Desert Arts College is a new college with a state of the art facility and a prestigious faculty recruited for its inaugural year. But Claire's start is not particularly auspicious - newly arrived and before the school year has even begun, Claire stumbles across a dead body.

The dead body is the wife of a fellow faculty member, whom Claire agreed to drive home from the airport when he came in from a recruiting trip. Since no good dead goes unpunished, Claire is now on the edges of a homicide investigation. Even though she has a million things to do before the semester starts, Claire just can't seem to leave the murder case alone. Drawing upon her theatrical expertise, including a keen understanding of human nature, plotting, and motivation, Claire sets out to untangle the mystery surrounding the brutal murder. There is, however, a murderer on the loose and if Claire isn't careful and lucky, her debut as a sleuth might well be her final act.

Author Notes

Michael Craft is the author of seven published novels, including Boy Toy , the most recent in the Mark Manning mystery series. Craft spends part of the year in the Palm Springs area of California and lives in southeastern Wisconsin, where he is at work on his next Claire Gray mystery.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Departing from his series featuring Wisconsin newspaperman Mark Manning, Craft introduces Claire Gray, amateur sleuth, a happily single, 54-year-old New York theater director relocated to California to head the drama department at brand new Desert Arts College, the brainchild of a wealthy computer whiz. She has barely settled in when she and sculptor Paul Huron discover the half-naked body of Huron's wife, Jodie. Before you can say "Scene II," Claire is unofficially assisting the police detective heading the investigation, who appreciates her keen powers of observation. Questions abound: Did Paul and Jodie really have the perfect marriage, or does the gentleman protest too much? Did Jodie entertain a gentleman caller the morning she was murdered? Whose expensive cuff link was found at the scene of the crime--in the bed? And what of the housekeeper, Oralia, who sees more than she lets on? Claire persists, delighting with her intelligence, wit, and unabashed lust for a studly hunk half her age. Go, Claire! --Whitney Scott

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a change of pace from his previous five mysteries featuring gay amateur detective Mike Manning (Boy Toy, etc.), Craft introduces a new protagonist, Claire Gray, in what should prove to be a successful series. Claire, a well-known New York theater director, has accepted the offer of D. Glenn Yeats, computer giant and multimillionaire, to be the theater department chair at Desert Arts College, which Yeats has built in California's Sonoran Desert. Soon after her arrival, Claire picks up a colleague from the airport and, returning to his home, is with him when he discovers the murdered body of his wife. At the behest of Det. Larry Knoll, Clare joins in the investigation. As she uncovers truths about the victim, the suspects and even herself, she is led into personal danger and to the final conclusion, which may be obvious to some readers. Intuitive and imaginative, Claire is a refreshing and complex sleuth, who at age 54 is still trying to work out her relationship with her mother and is a little too easily led into a sexual liaison with a student who is half her age. Interesting secondary characters, such as Glenn Yeats, Larry's brother Grant and Claire's friend Kiki, enhance the story and offer glimpses into the world of artists and of the very rich who inhabit this area of California. But it is the vivid details of autumn in the desert, from the sunrises to the sunsets, that will create a longing for more. (Dec. 10) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved