- Equivocal Death (2001)
- The Anniversary (2003)
- The Darkest Night (work-in-progress)
By Caitlyn Smylie (SHS)
Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Amy Gutman spent her growing up years in Indianapolis, Indiana. From there, she went to Boston, Massachusetts to attend Harvard. Her degree in journalism was put to use soon after she graduated magna cum laude when she moved to Washington D.C. and took a job with the Wilson Quarterly. After just a year there, she moved her talent to Nashville’s Tennessean, where she spent two years before going to Mississippi. While in Mississippi, Gutman first worked in Greenwood, and then Jackson, where she became Capitol Correspondent for a number of Mississippi papers.
She was persuaded to take a break from journalism to work in Mississippi’s educational system by the state’s higher education commissioner. She became the founding director of the Mississippi Teacher Corps, which is a nationally-acclaimed program that recruits outstanding college graduates to teach in rural Mississippi schools. Following her three successful years in the state of Mississippi, Gutman decided to return to Harvard to obtain a law degree. After passing the bar, she worked at two law firms in Manhattan before quitting in order to make time to write (“Industry Interview: Amy Gutman”). That decision turned out to be a wise choice. Now Amy divides her time between Massachusetts and New York City, where she is a member of the Bar Association’s Lawyers in Transition Committee.
Gutman had previously tried her hand at writing but gave up, dissatisfied with the results. Once she left the law practice, however, she forced herself to utilize her experience in journalism and forced herself to write. The result was her first novel, Equivocal Death, which is about Harvard Law School grad Kate Paine, who works at the Manhattan offices of Samson & Mills, the nation’s most powerful law firm. The novel received wonderful reviews and was soon followed by The Anniversary, another work which has been well received.. A fairly-new writer on the scene, Gutman’s work is eliciting predictions of a great future in the business. She is currently working on another novel tentatively titled The Darkest Night.
To date, no new novels have been published. Gutman currently works in alumni relations for Harvard Law School.
A Review of The Anniversary
by Caitlyn Smylie (SHS)
The Anniversary is a psychological suspense by Amy Gutman which tells the story of three women whose lives were changed more than a decade ago by their connection to a dangerous serial killer. On the fifth anniversary of his execution, each woman receives a note assuring them that someone remembers what they have tried so hard to leave behind. The note is a catalyst for a series of events that will have you jumping at every little sound you hear. Every page brings a new twist that makes the book harder to put down and the end leaves you awaiting another great novel from Gutman.
The characters of the novel realistically represent people from all walks of life from various settings. Aside from their past link to a murderer, the three women, a single mother, a lawyer, and a true-crime writer, could be anyone. Their situation makes you consider the chilling possibilities of what you don’t know about a person when you get involved with him or her. The ex-girlfriend’s reflection on her denial of her lover’s mysterious behavior previous to his capture especially brings to mind the excuses many females of my acquaintance have made while trying to maintain a disastrous relationship with their significant other.
The Anniversary constantly switches point of view between the three women, the author of the notes, and a select few other characters. These changes serve to keep the readers guessing as to who the true culprit is. At times, Gutman will have you convinced you have solved the mystery, and then she will twist the story in a completely different direction. The real solution is only revealed in the end.
The background for the flashbacks is Nashville, Tennessee, where the author began her writing career in journalism. Gutman masterfully draws on her years in the South to create brilliant imagery with her descriptive settings. She uses her northern experience to make believable scenes for the women’s lives now. The settings in the novel include a small college town, New York City, and a tiny Maine island, all beautifully and realistically depicted.
While it is a wonderful suspense novel, The Anniversary does contain some sensitive subjects. As it is about a serial killer, there is some frighteningly violent content. Also, some of the sections are sexually explicit, which could be offensive to some readers. Personally, I enjoyed the novel. The exciting plot quickly drew me in, and I instantly sympathized with the women’s plight, a feeling I came to reconsider once I read more about the actions that had gotten the women into their situations. However, Gutman did an excellent job of re-establishing and expanding that sympathy by making them easy to relate to. I particularly liked how the many surprises kept me alert and on the edge of my seat. It is an excellent work of fiction, worthy of a second reading while anxiously awaiting Gutman’s next masterpiece.
Interview with Amy Gutman (2003)
by Caitlyn Smylie (SHS)
How did you go about getting you book published?
I was lucky enough to meet best-selling writer Nelson DeMille at a reading in New York, and he was kind enough to introduce me to his agent who later became my agent. Once I’d written my first book Equivocal Death, I gave it to him, and he took it from there
Who are your favorite authors?
In the suspense genre, some of the writers who’ve influenced me are Mary Higgins-Clark, Jeffery Deaver and John Grisham.
Did you base this book on an actual case?
The seed of the idea for THE ANNIVERSARY came from The Phantom Prince, a memoir written by the one-time girlfriend of serial killer Ted Bundy.
Did you get any of your characters from people you know?
All of my characters contain aspects of myself. I’m also inspired by what I read and probably by my friends–it’s hard to tease out and untangle all the different sources that I draw on.
How do you think living in Mississippi and the South influenced your writing?
My career in journalism–I was a newspaper reporter in Greenwood, MS and in Nashville, TN–helped me learn to sit down and write. I also draw on my own life while I lived in the South. For example, much of the backstory of THE ANNIVERSARY takes place in Tennessee and places I know well from my time there appear in flashback scenes.
What advice do you have for future writers?
Focus on the process, make sure you have plenty of support from friends, family, or even clubs, and set small goals.
Are you currently working on another book?
Yes, another suspense novel with a working title, The Darkest Night.
- “Amy Gutman.” Photograph. Jerry Bauer.http://www.bok.bonnier.se/foton/wwfoton/gutman.htm
- “Amy Gutman.” Time Warner Bookmark. 2003.http://www.twbookmark.com/authors/56/2036/
- “Biography.” Amy Gutman. http://www.amygutman.com/ed/bio.htm
- “Industry Interview: Amy Gutman.” FictionAddiction.Net.http://interviews.fictionaddiction.net/amygutman.html
- Gutman, Amy.E-mail interview. 17 December 2003.
- Gutman, Amy. The Anniversary. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2003.