Archive for Saturday, July 6, 2002

Mystery writer dies after fall

July 6, 2002

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— Author and columnist Mark McGarrity, who wrote mysteries under the name Bartholomew Gill featuring the witty, shrewd Irish detective Peter McGarr, died Thursday when he fell from a stairway. He was 58.

McGarrity, who was also an outdoors columnist for The Star-Ledger of Newark, wrote more than a dozen McGarr mysteries most recently "The Death of an Irish Sinner."

"The contradictions Gill manages to unearth in one small, placid patch of Irish ground are simply astonishing," The New York Times wrote in 2000 about "The Death of an Irish Lover."

Other titles included "McGarr on the Cliffs of Moher," "Death on a Cold, Wild River" and "The Death of a Joyce Scholar," which was nominated for the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Though he was born and raised in Holyoke, Mass., McGarrity's works drew on his Irish heritage and his knowledge of the country's history. He had earned a master's degree in literature from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, after graduating from Brown University in 1966.

He joined the Star-Ledger staff in 1996 as a feature writer and began writing the outdoors column in 2000.

"Mark was a man of many parts," said Star-Ledger editor Jim Willse. "He was a naturalist, a scholar and a writer of hugely popular mysteries. He also was an absolutely delightful guy to be around. It won't be the same newspaper without him."

His apartment had a clear view of tree-lined Pocohontas Lake, and he often went to a wooden picnic table there and wrote for hours on his laptop computer.

The fall from a stairway that killed McGarrity was ruled accidental. Authorities said he might have misplaced his keys and tried to reach through a window to get into his second-floor apartment. His body was found shortly after midnight by his landlord's daughter, a police spokesman said.

McGarrity is survived by former wife Margaret and his 14-year-old daughter, Madeleine.

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