Mystery Authors You May Have Missed
Ayelet Waldman


Born in Jerusalem and the second youngest of six children, Ayelet Waldman moved to northern New Jersey in sixth grade after briefly living in Montreal and Rhode Island. Lonely and unhappy, she spent her time in the school library hiding from bullies so she could eat lunch and read in peace. With no friends, her identity as an inner misfit was born. She finally gained some confidence after her parents sent her to live on a kibbutz in Israel for a year. After returning to the U.S., Waldman studied psychology and government at Wesleyan University. Inspired by a “purely unemployable” boyfriend, she decided to go to Harvard Law School and discovered that she loved law. Following her graduation, she moved to New York and met her future husband, Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon, on a blind date and was engaged three weeks later. They eventually moved to California, where she worked as a federal public defender in Los Angeles until after her first child was born. While she would have been a lawyer for life if she had not had children, Waldman and Chabon now happily live in Berkeley with their four children.

What she writes: Ayelet Waldman began her novel career with the “Mommy-Track” mystery series starring Juliet Applebaum, a former public defender who (like Waldman) left the profession she loved to be a stay-at-home mom. Boredom and chaos ensues at home where her Hollywood screenwriter husband sleeps by day and writes by night, providing minimal relief for stressed out Juliet. With mother and child both craving more age-appropriate stimulation, Juliet looks into preschool options. Nursery Crimes, published in 2000 and the first of seven novels in this series thus far, features a snooty nursery school director who rejects Juliet’s daughter along with the daughter of a volatile Hollywood studio head. When the director is murdered soon after, Juliet, a little antsy being out of the workforce, suddenly finds herself investigating the principal’s murder. Waldman injects a lot of parenting and Hollywood humor throughout each of her books while allowing the reader to solve the mysteries alongside Juliet.

While acknowledging her passion for writing and broadening her horizons, Waldman has written two additional novels that have received critical acclaim, Daughter’s Keeper and Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. Additionally, she has contributed to several anthologies, has a regular column on, and has written a number of personal essays that have appeared in a wide variety of periodicals, including The New York Times, ELLE magazine, and The Guardian. Waldman also keeps herself busy maintaining a booklog on her website including a brief commentary on the vast number of books she has recently read.


List of works
Mommy-Track Mystery Series
  Nursery Crimes (2000) Murder Plays House (2004)
  The Big Nap (2001) The Cradle Robbers (2005)
  A Playdate with Death (2002) Bye-Bye, Black Sheep (2006)
  Death Gets a Time Out (2003)  
Other novels
  Daughter's Keeper (2003)  
  Love and Other Impossible Pursuits (2006) -- CD
Anthology contributions
  McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories (2004)
  Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race, and Themselves (2005)
  The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to Guilt (2005)
  America’s Prisons: Opposing Viewpoints (2006)
  I Married My Mother-in-Law and Other Tales of In-Laws We Can’t Live With – and Can’t Live Without (2006)


While her writing is very popular, Ayelet Waldman has not yet received any awards. Her critically acclaimed novel Daughter’s Keeper was, however, a finalist for the 2003 Northern California Book Award. On the big and little screen front, her writing won her an appearance on Oprah after the popular television host read Waldman’s very controversial essay “Motherlove” in Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race, and Themselves. Additionally, the Mommy-Track mystery series is currently in development at Lifetime Television and Love and Other Impossible Pursuits has been optioned by Disney for Touchstone Films.

What the critics say
"Delightful...filled with quirky, engaging characters, sharp wit, and vivid prose. I predict a successful future for this unique, highly likable sleuth." — Judith Kelman, author of After the Fall
"Ayelet Waldman has given birth to a fresh new franchise with her Mommy-Track Mysteries. Juliet Applebaum is smart, fearless, and completely candid about life as a full-time mom with a penchant for part-time detective work. Kinsey Millhone would approve." — Sue Grafton
"Waldman skillfully unravels the intertwined relationships between all these characters to reveal a cunning murder plot ... Waldman has an excellent ear for the snappy comeback, especially when delivered by a five-year-old." — Publishers Weekly
"Waldman derives humorous mileage from Juliet's 'epicurean' cravings, wardrobe dilemmas, night-owl husband, and obvious delight in adventure." — Library Journal


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