Character Bios

KEN KNOLL

A mid-level architect at BPW Architects, Ken is forty-two years old and the main character in The Accused Architect. He’s currently single, and was married and divorced in his twenties. He has no kids. His mother died six years ago; his father lives in the Detroit area. Ken’s sister Karen has a Detroit radio show focused on politics and pop culture. Ken is not a detective, but he likes reading murder mysteries. When things go bad, he uses what he’s learned from his favorite authors: Lawrence Sanders, and his character Archie McNally’s “discreet inquiries,” and Sue Grafton and her private detective Kinsey Millhone.

In The Accused Architect, Ken’s had a bad experience dating a co-worker, and is hesitant to start something with Gwen, his supervisor, but he is attracted to her. Meanwhile, he’s dating Mary, and it’s not going very well.

He’s doing his bit for social conscience by renovating run down houses in one of Detroit’s suburbs, one at a time. He lives in them while working to make them beautiful. He sells them and moves to the next house. This practice causes an argument with his girlfriend Mary when he suddenly gives up his newly renovated house—on Christmas Day—to an old school friend, and moves into his next remodel project.

“When Edison first came to me about moving the body, I was livid! That character has no common sense. But I feel at least partially responsible, since I hired him and I’m the one that sent him to the construction site to begin with.”

 

SHIRLEY HANSON

Investigative reporter Shirley Hanson shows up at the scene in Civic Center Corpse. Ken describes her as his “nemesis” because if an incident that happened when they attended college together. Now she makes a living uncovering unseemly practices in the design and construction field. Despite his distaste for her ethics, Ken finds himself attracted to Shirley.

 

KRISTEN BLUME

In Civic Center Corpse, Hollywood actress Kristen Blume is in town, filming a movie, and shows up suddenly at the scene where the “Neumann Auditorium” sign crushed the building’s donor, Jerome Neumann. Kristen and Ken hit it off right away, and Ken is pleased to have a little romance blossoming.

 

GWEN HILLSDALE

In The Accused Architect, Gwen is an associate at BPW Architects. She and Ken started at the firm roughly the same time, eight years ago. They spent many evenings working together, and quickly became friends. Her husband was killed in an auto accident four years ago, leaving her to care for her two boys alone.

“Ken’s a great guy, sure, and we have some laughs. Could there be more? Maybe. Sometimes I think so . . . But Robert is so handsome and charming. I’m taken with his quick wit and his polish, though I do take exception to some of his business decisions.”

 

EDISON EDWARDS

With his frizzy hair, fat lips, and portly body, Edison is not attractive in the conventional sense. But somehow the women are charmed by him and he has more high profile girlfriends than Ken, or anyone, would suspect.

“I tried to do the right thing, really I did, and it turned into a real mess. I’m glad Ken offered to help me.”

 

WALLY JOHNSON

He’s the firm’s most abrasive project manager, but he gets things done. With six kids, he has a handful at home. Somehow he manages to balance his work and home life. And he has point-blank advice for Ken:

“Get yourself a real place, and stop living in a construction zone. Women don’t like to put up with all that shit. There’s beautiful houses all over town. A single guy like you, you should have a grand old place, with a big country kitchen that opens into a greatroom. One of those humongous stone fireplaces, and a doorwall that leads onto a redwood deck overlooking a landscaped yard, with a little waterfall spilling over a stone wall into a lily pond.”

 

ROBERT WESTRICK

He’s an enigma. Handsome, polished, and successful, yet he has a blind side in dealing with his employees. At fifty-eight, he’s the youngest principal at BPW Architects.

“Business comes first. Success in this field is no mystery. It comes down to two things: clients want service, and they hire people they like. All our competitors offer construction drawings and technical expertise. Service is king. Relationships are gold. Employees that understand this and make it happen will go far in the company.”

 

MARY

In The Accused Architect, Ken and Mary had been dating for a while and their relationship was serious enough to meet her family for Christmas dinner. The Christmas incident made her angry at Ken. As Edison plunges Ken into searching for a dead man, he’s simultaneously trying to get back in Mary’s good graces.

“How could he dump me and my family at Christmas? Moving out of the lovely home he put together, back into a mess pit? Please.”

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