Jonathan Louis Valin was born on November 23, 1948, in Cincinnati, where he has spent most of his life. His parents were Sigmund Valin and Marcella Fink Valin. Valin married poet Katherine Brockhaus in 1971. He was educated at the University of Chicago, where he received a masters of arts in 1974. Following two years as a lecturer in English at the University of Cincinnati (1974-1976), he pursued doctoral studies and taught creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis (1976-1979).
After winning the 1978 Norma Lowry Memorial Fund Prize for his short story, “Replay,” Valin became a full-time writer. He published his first two mystery novels—The Lime Pit and Final Notice—in 1980. Both books, like all of Valin’s novels, concerned former police officer turned private detective Harry Stoner. Modeled on such hard-boiled private eyes as Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and Lew Archer, Stoner is based in Cincinnati. More than simply a wisecracking tough guy, Stoner is a sensitive music-loving loner who typically takes on cases involving missing persons or suspicious deaths, often becoming entangled in middle-class family relationships that have fragmented.
The Stoner novels, thanks to their action-packed, often violent plots, complex characters, and well-drawn settings in and around Cincinnati, gained a loyal readership. Valin responded by adding to the series on a regular basis, releasing Dead Letter (1981),...
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