Mike Bowen, a trial lawyer practicing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is the author of sixteen published mysteries, beginning in 1989 with Badger Game, the first story in the Thomas and Sandy series that also includes Fielder’s Choice (1991) and Act of Faith (1993). Service Dress Blues (2010), Shoot the Lawyer Twice (2008), Putting Lipstick on a Pig (2006), Unforced Error (2004) and Screenscam (2002), feature another plucky couple, Rep and Melissa Pennyworth. Retired foreign service officer Richard Michaelson and Washington bookstore owner Marjorie Randolph tackle puzzle mysteries in Collateral Damage (1999), Worst Case Scenario (1996), Corruptly Procured (1994), Faithfully Executed (1992) and Washington Deceased (1990); and Gregg Hildebrandt and Abbey Cannon did the trick in The Fourth Glorious Mystery (2000). Writing under the pseudonym Hillary Bell Locke, Bowen has also produced two action/adventure mysteries: Jail Coach (2012), featuring Loss Prevention Specialist Jay Davidovich, and But Remember Their Names (2011), starring aspiring attorney Cynthia Jakubek.
Bowen is also the author of Can’t Miss (Harper & Row 1987), a novel about the first woman to play major league baseball, and of Hillary! How America’s First Woman President Won the White House (2003), a satirical and preemptive account of the 2004 presidential election which was published the year before that election actually happened and turned out to be far more interesting than the campaign that actually took place (not that that bar was particularly high). Finally, Bowen’s courtroom adversaries have suggested from time to time that some of his briefs belong in the fiction category.
Bowen has been a member and moderator of panels at several Bouchercons (national conventions of murder mystery readers and writers) and has made presentations at numerous other mystery-related events. A number of his observations are cited in Jon L. Breen’s book Novel Verdicts: A Guide to Courtroom Fiction (Scarecrow Press 2d Ed. 1999). He wrote the entry on The American Legal System for the Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing (1999), and has several times served on panels screening entries for the Edgar Awards (given by the Mystery Writers of America) and the Hammett Prize (awarded by the International Association of Crime Writers).
Bowen graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1976. While at Harvard, he served on the Board of Editors of the Harvard Law Review, and was a member of the winning team and was named the best oralist in the Ames Competition (moot court).
It was during Bowen’s tenure on the Review that its Board of Editors elected Susan Estrich president of the publication. Estrich was the first woman to be chosen for that position in the 90-year history of the Review. Bowen’s greatest distinction as far as Harvard Law School is concerned, however, is that he is one of the few people who attended that institution during the 1970′s without feeling called upon to write a book about it.
Before going to Harvard, Bowen graduated summa cum laude from Rockhurst College (now Rockhurst University), a Jesuit university in Kansas City, Missouri. He received a bachelor’s degree in History.
Bowen was one of the counsel representing the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club in that team’s successful effort to prevent construction of a maximum security prison across the street from Milwaukee County Stadium. In addition to disputes involving major league baseball teams, Bowen has represented parties in many types of commercial litigation, particularly distribution disputes. He has participated in several cases leading to published decisions of intense interest to the six people in the Western Hemisphere who care about the latter topic. An opponent of the death penalty, he has represented one death row inmate on a pro bono basis.
Bowen is co-author of a treatise on the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law, which was published in the summer of 1988 by the State Bar of Wisconsin and is now in its fourth edition. He has previously published “Discovery in Patent Interference Proceedings,” which appears in 89 Harvard Law Review 573 (1975) and is every bit as fascinating as its title suggests. He is also one of the authors of Passing By: The United States and Genocide in Burundi 1972, a study co-authored with Kay Freeman and Gary Marshall, under the supervision of Dr. Roger Morris, and published in 1973 by the Humanitarian Policy Studies Project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Bowen was a student intern with that project during the semester that began in January, 1973. This was before “intern” became a double entendre in Washington.) In addition, Bowen has published several pieces of personal and political commentary in various newspapers and periodicals.
Bowen served as president of the Council for Wisconsin Writers for several years, until he asked the organization to find a successor before he became drunk with power. He has been involved in a variety of community activities, including the Landlord/Tenant and Family Law Hotlines organized by the Milwaukee Young Lawyers Association. He has received recognition for the provision of pro bono legal services to indigent parties in civil cases.
Bowen reads French, albeit laboriously. He doesn’t speak the language well enough to communicate with people who do, but he can impress those who are entirely unfamiliar with it.
Bowen lives with his wife, Sara Armbruster Bowen (also a Harvard Law School graduate), in Fox Point, a suburb of Milwaukee. Their five children include two graduates of the United States Naval Academy, a lawyer now practicing in Washington, D.C., a volunteer with Teach for America, and a student at Harvey Mudd University.