"A former beat cop, Clausen recreates a part of Seattle lost to
today's gentrification: the wet grime of First Avenue from Pike
Place Market to Pioneer Square. In this evocative first novel,
Officer Sam Wright kayaks to work and solves a haunting crime
involving an abandoned baby and the still-infamous Donut Shop.
This is the Seattle I moved to in 1980, and Lowen nails the
seediness of the city as it was then."
—Book Sense 76 Pick -Tammy Domike, Seattle Mystery Bookshop, Seattle, WA
"First Avenue has
an authenticity that only a real cop could convey. Sights,
sounds, smells, and–most of all–real emotion mark this novel as
a winner! Clausen is a natural, and I hope First Avenue is only
the first in a series. I loved this book!"
—Ann Rule, Author of The Stranger Beside Me
once in a great while, when you finish the last page of a book,
you take a deep breath and murmur, ‘perfect, absolutely
perfect.’ First Avenue is the novel you wish you were talented
enough to write. The plot builds with a measured pace to a tense
climax like a good piece of music. Clausen breathes life into
the characters and makes you care about them. The pace at which
the characters are introduced allows the reader to take them in.
The setting, Seattle, is evoked in palpable, realistic detail,
conveying the Pike Place Market area the way it used to be in
its bad old days."
—Mystery Books Newsletter, Cambridge, MA
"The true strengths of
this wonderful first book lie not only in the well-plotted story
and interesting characters but also in the quality of the
writing that evokes a vivid picture of Seattle, both beautiful
and seedy." Read the entire review -
Spotted Owl Award
—Friends of Mystery, for the best mystery
novel of 1999 by a Northwest author
moody as Seattle in the rain, and just as alluring. It’s a
skillful, memorable first novel."
—Stephen White, New York Times best selling author
"A thoughtful police drama, filled with
insight and empathy. More than a shoot-em-up, First Avenue
offers a glimpse at the human beings who can be found in the
shadows of skid row. Clausen is a fine writer with enough talent
and personal experience to keep us reading for many more books."
—John Straley, author of The Woman Who Married a Bear
"Seattle cop Sam Wright is a loner with a pretty
predictable life. He usually starts his days with a vigorous
kayaking jaunt, followed by shooting the breeze with the old
proprietor of a small coffee shop, before getting down to
police business. Sam's routine suddenly changes after he is
called to an old hotel where the body of a baby has been
found. What's particularly troublesome is that Sam knows he
saw the baby and its young mother just a few weeks earlier.
Sam chases down any lead that could provide clues to the
baby's death and the mother's disappearance, leading to
discovery of a sinister twist (that some cops may be
involved) that makes him all the more determined to find out
who's responsible. Clausen debuts with a strong effort: Sam
is a well-developed, intriguing protagonist whom readers
will root for, and the downtown Seattle ambiance, especially
the references to teenage gangs, is vivid."
"With wet cheeks and Band-Aids on three
fingernails, I finished reading Lowen Clausen’s recreation of
Seattle’s notorious peepshow district in the 70’s, First Avenue
(Watershed Books). It’s a quick, compelling, literate read about
a Seattle cop whose determination to solve a particularly
horrible crime entangles him in unsuspected mysteries and
secrets of his own life."
(Read Entire Review)
—Nick DiMartino, Footnotes
"First Avenue by former Seattle policeman Lowen Clausen, is a solid
debut marked by unfussy prose and straightforward plot lines:
Officer Sam Wright must deal with the death of an abandoned baby
and some suspicious goings-on at a doughnut shop, and a young
woman with a personal connection to Wright tentatively seeks him
out. The book's chief pleasure, however, lies in its evocation
of Seventies-era First Avenue. Longtime Seattleites will
remember the street in its bad old days, chockablock with porno
joints and suchlike; Clausen's sleazy doughnut shop, across from
the Market, is uncomfortably close to the real-life place that
scared me when I was a clueless youth. Sam Wright may be the
book's protagonist, but First Avenue is its uneasy star."
"Before I was two
chapters into this book I was remembering when I discovered
Michael Connelly 's first book, BLACK ECHO, and stayed up all
night reading. I get the same charge from this novel. A new police procedural is always cause for
celebration, especially when it's as well-done as Lowen
Clausen's debut novel. Officer Sam Wright, on the edge of
burnout, teams with his colleague Katherine Murphy to uncover
the story behind an abandoned baby found dead in a seedy First
Avenue hotel. Lowen Clausen spent 13 years as a beat cop in
Seattle before the days of Microsoft-era prosperity. His eye for
the details of the mean streets is compelling. It debuted late
last year in its hometown of Seattle, and by the end of the year
it was a runaway word-of-mouth bestseller. Stephen White says,
"FIRST AVENUE is as moody as Seattle in the rain, and just as
alluring. It's a skillful, memorable first novel." If you miss
this one, you'll be kicking yourself for the rest of the year."
—DISCOVERY BOOK OF THE MONTH - The Mystery Bookstore, Los Angeles, CA
"Clausen spent a dozen
years as a Seattle cop, working the beat his book covers.
Writers have to walk a fine line dealing with backgrounds their
readers don't know about; it's very easy to (1) not explain
enough, and leave readers mystified, or (2) explain too
painstakingly, and bore the readers to sleep. Clausen walks this
line very well, giving us a good look at the on-the-job life of
a cop, without going into unnecessary tedious detail. He makes
it very clear, as well, that cops are just people and cannot be
classified en masse as either bullies or angels."
—Verna Smith, Northwest Bookfest