P. J. Parrish is the pen name for Kelly and Kristy Montee
- Heart of Ice (2013)
- Claw Back (2012) novella
- The Killing Song (2011)
- The Little Death (2010)
- South of Hell (Louis Kincaid Mysteries) (2008)
- A Thousand Bones (2007)
- An Unquiet Grave (Louis Kincaid Mysteries) (2006)
- The Killing Rain (2005)
- Island of Bones (2004)
- Thicker Than Water (2003)
- Winter of the Night (2002)
- Paint It Black (2002)
- Dark of the Moon (2001)
- Dead of Winter (1999)
by Whitney Staggers (SHS) 2001
It will surprise many readers to learn that P. J.. Parrish is not a male author but is instead two sisters by the name of Kelly Montee and Kristy Montee. What a surprise! The reason for this pen name is the fact that their books are classified as hard-boiled novels. Their publisher thought they would be marketed better if people thought the books were written by a male author. Kelly explains that the name P. J. comes from a trip that the two took to Europe together (Parrish). “We suggested P. J. Paris to our agent, who altered it slightly to P. J. Parrish…. So in reality, P.J. stands for absolutely nothing,” says Kelly.
Kris and Kelly were both born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Now, however, Kelly lives in the northern part of Mississippi, and Kristy lives in Florida (About the Author). Kris and Kelly’s parents are Albert and Beverly Montee, who were both born and raised in Michigan (Parrish). There are three girls in the Montee family, Kris, Kelly, and a younger sister Laurie, who also resides in Florida. Kris and Kelly’s father was an engineer, and their mother worked in the Food and Beverage Industry when she wasn’t a stay at home mother. Kris and Kelly enjoyed writing endless stories throughout their childhood. In addition, Kelly loved to draw, sketch and take pictures. She was also very sports oriented, playing softball, girls basketball. They were both editors of their high school newspapers and were very active in the yearbook staff (Parrish).
After graduating from Northern Michigan University, Kelly moved to Arizona and then later moved to Laughlin, Nevada. Kelly has two daughters, one son, and three grandchildren. Seven years ago she moved to Philadelphia, Mississippi, where she is the manager of a Native American casino. Kelly has basically done everything from tending the bar to dealing out blackjack. She has a great interest in law enforcement, so she is taking two courses in criminology (About the Author). Kelly says, “It was Mississippi’s rich sense of history and beautiful scenery that partially inspired our first book.”
Kris did the exact opposite of Kelly and enrolled in Eastern Michigan University. There Kristy got her teaching degree but decided not to teach but instead to go into journalism. She was the feature editor for the Southfield and Birmingham Eccentric newspaper chain in a suburban in Detroit. In 1973, she moved to Detroit, Michigan, and began a career in reporting and editing for a company called Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale Florida. At Sun Sentinel she was also the dance critic for many years because she had a great passion for ballet. She left journalism in 1985 and decided to write full-time. Kris has been a professional writer all her adult life,– in the newspaper business and in women’s contemporary fiction. With the romance market declining, she wanted to try suspense, so she joined forces with her sister Kelly. Presently she lives in Fort Lauderdale with her husband Daniel Nichols, who also works with the Sentinel, and their wonderful seven cats. Kristy’s hobbies include gardening, spending and excessive amount of time with her seven cats and learning the the piano (About the Author).
P.J. Parrish is now a New York Times bestselling author of ten Louis Kincaid and Joe Frye thrillers (see list above). The books have appeared on both the New York Times and USA Today best seller lists. The sisters’ novels have now received eleven major crime-fiction awards including an Edgar Award nomination, two Shamus awards, and one Anthony and one International Thriller competition. The books are now being published not only in the US but also in Europe and Asia.
According to Author PJ. Parrish’s web page, their short stories have also appeared in many anthologies, including two published by Mystery Writers of America. In addition, stories have appeared in Detroit Noir and in Ellery Queen Magazine. Recently, they also contributed an essay to a special edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s works which is edited by Michael Connelly.
A Review of Dark of the Moon
by Whitney Staggers (SHS)
Dark of the Moon is an exciting and thrilling novel by P.J. Parrish that will keep the reader turning the page. This mystery will keep you coming back for more. The story is filled with intrigue and edge-of-the-seat suspense. Throughout the book Parrish has your attention and never lets it go.
Dark of the Moon is about a man named Detective Louis Kincaid, who is originally from Blackpool, Mississippi, but moves to Michigan and then moves back to Mississippi to fulfill his duty at the police department in Blackpool, a small town in Mississippi. This town exhibits racism and hate towards Louis because he is trying to determine the death by a lynching of a young black male. Louis is hired by Dodie, a typical redneck sheriff in Blackpool. When the skeleton of a young teen aged black boy is found, Dodie permits Louis to start an investigation.
P. J. Parrish (two sisters writing under one name) has a very interesting writing style. They have a unique way of making you want more. With every page comes more desire to find out what will happen next. The descriptions make you think and feel you are in the book and that the events are happening to you, and you find yourself wondering how and when you will get out of the given scenarios.
I liked the book very much because I really enjoy reading mysteries. P. J. Parrish makes me sit on the edge of my seat with complete anticipation of what is going to happen next in this thrilling novel. I felt like I was actually part of this sleepy Southern town and could actually feel the racism in it. I could actually see the remains of the murdered boy and wanted nothing more than find out how Louis would uncap the investigation.
Louis Kincaid was more than happy to leave his hometown that had always made him feel somewhat outcast but not all the warnings in the world could have prepared him for the reactions of the townspeople on his return for the investigation. It is up to Kincaid to uncover the mysteries that have taken place in Black Pool, and he is determined to do it. Having been abandoned by his white father he never knew and neglected by his black mother, it is kind of hard for Louis to come back to this small town. The reaction he gets from the racist locals make his job even harder.
The picture P. J.. Parrish paints of the secretive, sleepy town gives the reader a dark feeling, much of which comes from the racism in this book. I personally recommend this book. It is interesting, thrilling, intense, andit i s great! There are no real drawbacks to it unless you have a real problem reading about racism. If you like mysteries, this is definitely the book for you. You follow every turn of the shadowy killer, and you unravel the murder every step of the way with Kincaid.
BY Whitney Staggers (SHS)
Who is P. J. Parrish?
P.J. Parrish is made up of two sisters, Kristy and Kelly . I am Kelly and will answer for the both of us.
Where in Mississippi were you born?
Unfortunately I was not born in Mississippi. I am a transplant from Nevada and was born in Michigan. I have been in Mississippi seven years. Although I was not born here, it was Mississippi’s rich sense of history and beautiful scenery that partially inspired our first book.
What are your parents’ names, and where were they from?
Our parents were Albert and Beverly Montee. They were also born and raised in Michigan.
What were some of your hobbies as a child?
I wrote endless stories about high school kids and some humorous poetry. I loved to draw, sketch and take photos. I was also very sports orientated, played girls basketball, softball, etc. Both Kris and I.
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
There were three girls in our family, in this order: Kris, myself (Kelly) and a younger sister Laurie, who also resides in Florida.
Where did you attend college?
Kelly went to Northern Michigan. Kris attended Eastern Michigan University.
What does P.J. stand for?
The publishing industry is a very competitive business, and it is difficult nowadays to break in. You will see that the top five authors in our genre, mystery, have not changed much in the last five years. (Grisham, James Patterson, John Sandford, and a few others.) Publishers have also learned that marketing is often more important than good writing or a good story. Since our books would be classified as hard-boiled (gritty, violent and sometimes dark), the publisher felt we might be better marketed as a male author. In fact, they first assumed we were a male. But since they didn’t actually want to deceive the readers, they settled upon fictious initials. We had recently made a trip to Europe together, and we suggested P.J. Paris to our agent, who altered it slightly to P.J. Parrish. So in reality, P.J. stands for absolutely nothing.
What has inspired you to be a writer?
In creative people, there seems to be a need to constantly pour out your feelings or passions onto something more tangible, like a canvas or a typewriter. It’s difficult to explain, but writers are usually compelled to write, just as artists will doodle in the absence of paper. For many, it is comparable to need to the eat. It can often be a grueling, exhausting, and frustrating experience, especially if s also a craft–a skill or talent that must be honed, refined and perfected. It’s hard work. But it’s extremely satisfying. And those that are lucky enough to be able to make a living at it should be grateful, for they are living their dream.
Who are you favorite authors and why?
Kelly prefers the faster reads, like Sidney Sheldon, Sanford, and sometimes even Grisham. Kris leans toward the more literary authors like Thomas Cook, Joyce Carol Oates, and a great, but not so well author named James Sallis. But we both would recommend that (although it is fine to have favorites) readers should occasionally take a chance on lesser known names. Some of the best stories and talented writers do not make the book store displays or carry ads in USA Today. There are some real gems out there.
Where do you reside now?
Kelly lives in Northern Mississippi. Kris lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
What were your parents’ occupations?
Father was an engineer; mother worked in the Food and Beverage industry for a while and was also a stay at home Mom.
When are both your birthdays?
Kris is a Scorpio-born in November and I am a Capricorn. Sorry–no years, Whitney.
Has anyone influenced your writing?
We would both like to say that although other authors help mold our style and voice, writers usually get their first boost of confidence from a parent, relative –in our case, a teacher. Many thanks to Miss Gentry and Mrs. Diane Stribley in Michigan for giving us the encouragement to pursue our dreams.
What are some of your hobbies?
Kelly’s time is taken up by her grandchildren and fixing up an addition in her new home. Kris likes to garden, go to the ballet, take piano lessons and spends an excessive amount of time with her seven cats. Both of us like to travel, read and watch old movies.
Have you won any type of awards?
No, not yet, but that would be the nicest compliment anyone could give us, after, of course, the wonderful e-mails we get from our readers. Readers offer massive encouragement and validation to a writer’s work and we love getting them. It is so satisfying to know your work has touched someone else.
Are you working on another book?
Yes, we have a contract for two more Louis books. The third, PAINT IT BLACK (about a serial killer who paints his victims black), is finished and will be on the shelves in January of 2002. Since publishers like to stay on a schedule, the fourth will probably come out January of 2003. Both #3 and #4 take place in Florida, as we have moved Louis to Ft. Myers for what will probably be his career. But since we plan his life out well ahead of time, we have plans for him to revisit Michigan to see his foster parents, and possibly visit the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where his brother and sister live. (You will read a little bit more about them in Paint It Black.)
- FAQ answered by the sisters.
- This is a helpful web site with reviews and info about some of P.J. Parrish’s books, including Dead of Winter.
- P.J. Parrish’s author information page is definitely a good way to learn more about the author.
- Parrish, P.J. “About the Author.” <http://www.pjparrish.com> (13 April 2001).
- Parrish, P.J. Dark of the Moon. New York: Kensington, 1999.
- Parrish, P.J. “Re: Interview.” Email. 17 April 2001.