- Smoke and Mirrors (2008)
- The Last Day (2008)
- Upside Down (2005)
- Too Far Gone (2006)
- Side by Side (2005)
- Inside Out (2005)
- The Last Family (1996)
- As Nasty as They Wanna Be (1993)
John Ramsey Miller was born in Greenville, Mississippi, in 1949. He lived in Starkville, Mississippi, and attended grades four through grade nine in Starkville. He also attended primary schools in West Point and Cleveland, Mississippi. He graduated in 1968 from high school. His father was the minister of the First United Methodist Church in the 1960’s. Later his father, Rush Glenn Miller, was pastor and then Pastor Emeritus of the University Methodist Church in Oxford, Mississippi, until his death on Oct. 3, 2007. His mother, Dr. Gene Ramsey Miller, PhD, was a history professor. Ramsey has two brothers (Rush Glenn Miller, Jr., and Stephen Clark Miller), and a sister Grace Long Minyard.
He studied art at Delta State University and then went to Southern Illinois University in 1970, where he majored in photography.
Miller worked as a graphic designer and still photographer at a network TV affiliate station in 1972 in Mississippi, but he lost that job after he tried to help a friend protect Martha Mitchell from the press during the Watergate Scandal. He later was able to interview Martha Mitchell and the film was aired on The Dick Cavett Show. In 1976 he moved to Nashville where he took photos of country music stars for album covers and magazines.
Miller married Susan Dedmon in 1975, and in 1978 a son, Christian McCarty Miller, was born. The family moved to New Orleans in 1980, where Miller had a commercial photography studio. Another son, Rush Lane Miller, was born in 1981. In 1984, Miller partnered with Nathan Hoffman to create the Hoffman/Miller Advertising agency. A third son, Adam Ramsey Miller, was born in 1984.
In 1989, Miller moved to Miami, Florida, where he worked as a freelance copywriter and wrote articles for the Miami Herald. He also wrote, in 1990, a non-fiction work about 2 Live Crew and the obscenity trials and a screenplay, Nothing Quite So Evil, written in 1991, was sold to a studio.
Finally, in 1992 Miller began to write fiction. He and his family had moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1994 Bantam bought The Last Family and it became a Literary Guild Main Selection. It has now been published in twelve languages and became number 16 on the New York Times bestsellers list. Between 1998 and 2004 John wrote Inside Out, Upside Down and Side By Side. By 2008 he had written Too Far Gone, Smoke & Mirrors, and The Last Day.
In 2007, John and his wife Susan moved near Gold Hill, North Carolina. He has said, “I will always be a Mississippian by birth and at heart.”
A Review of The Last Family
by Abigail Laughlin (SHS) 1997
John Ramsey Miller’s novel The Last Family begins chillingly, with the cold, calculated murder of a child, and from that point on, the tension never lets up as the reader follows former Drug Enforcement Agency operative Paul Masterson through a deadly game of hide and seek with a madman.
Six years before, Paul was the star of a special strike force, until he was set up by a renegade colleague and nearly killed in a drug bust gone awry. Although he survived, Paul was left crippled, both physically and emotionally. Unable to cope with his handicaps and the deaths of his two young protégés, he retreated from his wife and his two children into the Montana wilderness. He lived like a hermit, never making contact with anyone from his former life.
Then Paul was brought back to the DEA to stop Martin Fletcher, the man who set Paul up six years before. Carefully, systematically, Fletcher has stalked and slain the families of his former associates, until at last he came to his final target—Paul Masterson’s estranged wife, his teenage daughter, and his young son: the last family. Paul and his group of specially chosen agents must use his family as bait for the elusive Fletcher, and it’s a race against time to see if Paul can catch the madman before the enemies he is unaware of take him from within.
The Last Family was backed strongly by Bantam books, who promoted it by offering twenty-five dollars to booksellers who picked up free copies from Bantam if they didn’t believe it was the best thriller of the summer. Said Irwyn Applebaum, the president of Bantam, “I figured if I talked long enough and hard enough, we could make something happen with this book.” (PW). It’s worth it, too. Filled with suspense, surprises, double dealings, and sparks of dry wit, it more than fulfills the expectations that the publicity hype has created. Not only is the main plot of the story truly thrilling, but Paul’s struggle to regain his confidence in himself and his relationship with his family is fascinating. But it is the characters that really make the story, especially Paul Masterson and Martin Fletcher.
As the story opens, Paul is a crippled, beaten wreck of a man. He has lost an eye and a large part of the mobility of one hand, and is subject to epileptic seizures and fits of rage; this portrayal of him earned The Last Family a nomination for the Nevermore “Hole-in-One (Lung)” Award (Nevermore). He is haunted by the fouled bust that cost his protégés their lives. When he is called back to the DEA, he must conquer his fears and his guilt, and he must cope with the knowledge that he is using his family as bait for a killer who has never been caught. Furthermore, he battles to restore his relationship with his wife and children, who no longer trust him or even really know him.
In contrast, Martin Fletcher is supremely self-assured, and rightfully so. Demonically clever, and completely without conscience, he skillfully and uncaringly manipulates people, from the women and children he murders to his own mother. He uses the DEA team’s own equipment against them, and seems a step ahead of them all the time—even taunting the agents who watch over the Mastersons. He plans and executes his revenge against his former colleagues carefully, keeping them from learning his identity until he chooses to reveal it, stealing his way into their homes and lives to destroy them unexpectedly. He is the epitome of the espionage-thriller villain, a man to give the reader nightmares.
The Last Family is a must-read, a good thriller, and an excellent psychodrama. John Ramsey Miller keeps the reader guessing until the end and gives a superb look into the mind of both a madman and a tortured hero.
- John Ramsey Miller’s website
- Miller’s comments on The Writing Life.
- “1997 Nevermore Awards Gala Roasts Writers.” The Nevermore Awards. Online. Internet. 25 Nov. 1997.
- “Bantam Backing Thriller to the Hilt.” PW 1996 ABA Show Daily. Online. Internet. 25 Nov. 1997.