Meg Gardiner

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Meg Gardiner
Meg Gardiner 2017.jpg
Gardiner at the 2017 Texas book Festival.
Born (1957-05-15) May 15, 1957 (age 61)
Oklahoma, United States
Occupation Novelist
Alma mater Stanford University (B.A.) &
Stanford Law School (J.D.)
Period2002 - present
GenreCrime Thriller fiction
SpousePaul Shreve
Children3 children

Meg Gardiner (born May 15, 1957) is an American thriller writer and author of fourteen published books. Her best-known books are the Evan Delaney novels, first published in 2002. In June 2008, she published the first novel in a new series, featuring forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett. More recently she has published three stand-alone novels—Ransom River (June 2012), The Shadow Tracer (June 2013), and Phantom Instinct (June 2014)—and two novels in a new series, Unsub (2017) and Into the Black Nowhere (2018).

Thriller (genre) genre of literature, film, and television programming

Thriller is a broad genre of literature, film and television, having numerous, often overlapping subgenres. Thrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Successful examples of thrillers are the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

Writer person who uses written words to communicate ideas and to produce works of literature

A writer is a person who uses written words in various styles and techniques to communicate their ideas. Writers produce various forms of literary art and creative writing such as novels, short stories, poetry, plays, screenplays, and essays as well as various reports and news articles that may be of interest to the public. Writers' texts are published across a range of media. Skilled writers who are able to use language to express ideas well, often contribute significantly to the cultural content of a society.


Her first novel, China Lake, received the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original novel upon its publication in the United States in 2008. [1] Her first Jo Beckett novel, The Dirty Secrets Club, won the 2009 The Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice award for Best Procedural Novel. [2] Her ninth novel, The Nightmare Thief, won the 2012 Audie Award for Thriller/Suspense Audiobook of the Year. [3]

The Edgar Allan Poe Awards, named after Edgar Allan Poe, are presented every year by the Mystery Writers of America, based in New York City. They honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, film, and theater published or produced in the previous year.


Gardiner was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Santa Barbara, California. She currently lives with her husband, Paul Shreve, in Austin, Texas. She has two sons- Mark and Nathaniel and a daughter- Katherine. Gardiner has said: "I write thrillers.... I used to practice law. I taught writing at the University of California. Of course, there's more — and because the Internet can fact-check you, faster than you can type 'Sarah Palin', I'm going to come clean: It's true that I used to be a mime. But only before mimes became annoying. And yes, I did go in costume to the Star Trek exhibition in Hyde Park. But I did not wear the Ferengi ears. [4]

Santa Barbara, California City in California, United States

Santa Barbara is a coastal city in and the county seat of Santa Barbara County in the U.S. state of California. Situated on a south-facing section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara's climate is often described as Mediterranean, and the city has been promoted as the "American Riviera". As of 2014, the city had an estimated population of 91,196, up from 88,410 in 2010, making it the second most populous city in the county after Santa Maria. The contiguous urban area, which includes the cities of Goleta and Carpinteria, along with the unincorporated regions of Isla Vista, Montecito, Mission Canyon, Hope Ranch, Summerland, and others, has an approximate population of 220,000. The population of the entire county in 2010 was 423,895.

Austin, Texas Capital of Texas

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2017 estimate, Austin had a population of 950,715 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,115,827 as of July 1, 2017. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.

Law System of rules and guidelines, generally backed by governmental authority

Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

Gardiner is the daughter of English professor Frank C. Gardiner and Sally (née Love) Gardiner. Meg attended Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, a community just north of Santa Barbara, graduating in June 1975. [5]

Dos Pueblos High School

Dos Pueblos High School is a public high school located in Goleta, California, northwest of Santa Barbara. Located adjacent to the foothills on the edge of the Goleta Valley in an area known as El Encanto Heights, it serves a student body of approximately 2,300 in grades 9-12.

Goleta, California City in California in the United States

Goleta is a city in southern Santa Barbara County, California, USA. It was incorporated as a city in 2002, after a long period as the largest unincorporated populated area in the county. As of the 2000 census, the census-designated place had a total population of 55,204; however, a significant portion of the census territory of 2000 did not incorporate into the new city. The population was 29,888 at the 2010 census. It is known for being near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus, although the CDP of Isla Vista is closer to the campus.

Following graduation, she attended Stanford University, where she attained her Bachelor's degree in Economics and lettered in track. She went on to graduate from Stanford Law School and to practice law in Los Angeles, before returning to Santa Barbara to teach legal research and writing at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She lived in Surrey, near London, until 2013, when she moved to Austin. [ citation needed ]

Stanford University private research university located in Stanford, California, United States

Leland Stanford Junior University is a private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is known for its academic strength, wealth, proximity to Silicon Valley, and ranking as one of the world's top universities.

Stanford Law School graduate school of Stanford University, California, U.S

Stanford Law School is a professional graduate school of Stanford University, located in Silicon Valley near Palo Alto, California. Established in 1893, Stanford Law has been ranked one of the top three law schools in the country, with Yale Law School and Harvard Law School, every year since 1992. Since 2016, Stanford Law has been ranked 2nd. Stanford Law is consistently regarded as one of the most prestigious law schools in the world.

University of California, Santa Barbara public university near Goleta, California, United States and part of the University of California system

The University of California, Santa Barbara is a public research university in Santa Barbara, California. It is one of the 10 campuses of the University of California system. Tracing its roots back to 1891 as an independent teachers' college, UCSB joined the University of California system in 1944 and is the third-oldest general-education campus in the system.

Writing career

Writing is her "third career ... In earlier incarnations, I practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California, Santa Barbara. After living in California most of my life, in the early 1990s, I moved with my family to the United Kingdom", said Gardiner. [ citation needed ]

It was during her freedom in those early years in the UK that she wrote her first novel, completing a task she'd set for herself a decade earlier. "I always wanted to write a novel. And it was time to put up or shut up." [6]

Her first novel, China Lake, was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2002. Since then, Gardiner has written full-time and published eleven additional titles. "It's a job I'm immensely lucky to have." [7]

Gardiner says that she writes crime fiction because it "gets to the heart of the human condition. It's about people facing a severe danger, or confronting an evil that has invaded their world. It's also fun. I get to slingshot readers into situations they would hate to face in real life. A kid in danger? Bring it on. Sadistic killers? Here, have another helping. My book gave you nightmares? Thank you, that's wonderful." [8]

She likes thriller fiction "because it grabs readers, takes them on a menacing ride to places they'd hate to go in real life and returns them safely, feeling thrilled. And especially because crime writing is about morality: finding justice, restoring order out of chaos." [9]

As the daughter of an English professor, "I was obviously in a home where books and reading and writing mattered," Gardiner told the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper. [5] At Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California, she reported for the Charger Account, the school paper, but her father urged caution to his budding writer. "He said I could write novels after college and be another novelist who waits on tables or I could become a lawyer who writes novels." She heeded his warning, but later left the law behind and began writing. "I decided I didn't want to argue for a living", she said. Instead, as the title of her blog "Lying for a Living" implies, she now lies for a living. [ citation needed ]

Gardiner on writing

Gardiner says that she tries, in her writing, "to explore the boundary between morality and wrongdoing. When is it justified to go outside the law to right a wrong? When can you use ruthless violence to defend somebody you love?" She considers no subject to be taboo. "No subject should be off-limits. That road leads to timidity and repression. However, I think certain approaches to subjects are repulsive. Gratuitous, protracted, explicit violence is sometimes offered as a feast, and portrayed with such lurid and eager detail that it becomes almost pornographic. But we should argue about such approaches, not forbid them." [9]

She credits her training as an attorney as part of the foundation for her writing skills. "The intellectual rigor prepared me for a lot of things. The grounding in legal knowledge has been helpful in practice, in teaching, and in being a writer. I learned not to write in legalese. I learned how to tell a story and take a position." [6]

Gardiner on Evan Delaney

Gardiner has described Evan Delaney as a woman who is "spirited, quick-witted, and fights hard for the people she loves . . . She thinks the world is tragic and so you'd better laugh whenever you can. Pour her a glass of Jack Daniel's and ask her about finding that FBI agent hogtied to her bed, stripped and ranting. Just don't get on her bad side, because she may have a heat-seeking missile stashed in her car." [9]

Asked whether the character is autobiographical, Gardiner has said, "Evan is me with the brakes off. She says and does things I would never have the chutzpah to say or do myself. We share a background as lawyers, Californians, and tomboys. And we share a sense of humor, though hers is darker than mine. However, I live a calm life compared to Evan. I've never had to defend myself with a ferret." [10]

Gardiner on Jo Beckett

The lead character in Gardiner's second series, Jo Beckett, MD, is a forensic psychiatrist from San Francisco. Interviewed by Poe's Deadly Daughters, Gardiner explained Beckett's role in this way: "Jo calls herself a deadshrinker. She analyzes the dead for the police. She's the last resort in baffling cases. When the cops and the medical examiner can't determine the manner of a victim's death, they turn to Jo to perform a psychological autopsy and figure out whether it was accident, suicide, or murder." [11]

Gardiner has summarized Beckett's work in this way: "Jo doesn't pick up gory bits of trace evidence with tweezers. She digs into people's passions, obsessions and secrets to find out what killed them. Her territory is the psyche and the human heart." [12]

Book Reviews

Both of Gardiner's series and all of her stand-alone novels have received positive reviews. In his Entertainment Weekly column, Stephen King said "I need to tell you about Meg Gardiner, who simply must be part of the Big Plan. And if you love great thrillers, you'll want to listen." [13] King called the Evan Delaney novels "simply put, the finest crime-suspense series I've come across in the last twenty years." [14]

Kirkus Reviews named The Shadow Tracer one of its Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2013. [15] About Phantom Instinct, the Associated Press wrote: "'Phantom Instinct' is simply a fantastic story, told at breakneck speed. Gardiner is one of the best thriller writers around, and this is arguably her best work of this summer's best reads." [16]


To date, Gardiner has written fourteen published novels, including five in the Evan Delaney series, four in the Jo Beckett series, two in the Unsub series, and three standalone works.

Evan Delaney novels

  1. China Lake (2002)
  2. Mission Canyon (2003)
  3. Jericho Point (2004)
  4. Crosscut (2005)
  5. Kill Chain (2006)

Jo Beckett novels

  1. The Dirty Secrets Club (2008)
  2. The Memory Collector (June 2009)
  3. The Liar's Lullaby (June 2010)
  4. The Nightmare Thief (June 2011)

Unsub novels

  1. Unsub (2017)
  2. Into the Black Nowhere (2018)

Other novels

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