Carolyn Hougan, 63, a novelist who wrote under her own name as well as the pseudonym "John Case" for thrillers written with her husband, died of cancer Feb. 25 at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville.
Ms. Hougan wrote "Shooting in the Dark" (1984), "The Romeo Flag" (1989) and "Blood Relative" (1992). She teamed up with her writer-husband, Jim Hougan, to pen a series of thrillers of which the best known is "The Genesis Code" (1997), a bestseller about Vatican intrigue. Their latest novel, "Ghost Dancer" (2007), has been nominated for the Dashiell Hammett Award for the best literary crime novel.
Upon the reissue of her first novel, "Shooting in the Dark," the Chicago Tribune said it was "shamefully neglected" and called it "a veritable Faberge egg full of treasures and delights." As the distaff half of John Case, she also co-wrote "The First Horseman" (1998), "The Syndrome" in 2001 ("an awfully dull name for a highly entertaining thriller," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said), "The Eighth Day" (2002) and "The Murder Artist" (2004).
She was born in New Iberia, La., and attended Ohio's Western College for Women. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin, where she met her husband in a philosophy seminar titled "Freedom, Fate & Choice."
The couple moved abroad, living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Mykonos, Greece; and London. As a former researcher, photographer, cocktail waitress, school bus driver and at-home mother, she was aptly experienced to begin writing novels.
In an interview with Karen Dionne on the Web site Backspace, Ms. Hougan joked that it was "brutal" writing with her husband. He wrote the first sentence of "The Genesis Code" and, she said, "I dreamed the last sentence, and it was beautiful, because it just tied everything up. We knew where we were going, but that was the perfect ending."
They lived in Alexandria and Washington from about 1980 until last August, when they moved full time to their home in Charlottesville. Ms. Hougan enjoyed gardening, sailing and spending summers in Phippsburg, Maine.
Survivors, in addition to her husband, include two children, Daisy Hougan of Clifton and Matt Hougan of Bar Harbor, Maine; her mother, Elisabeth Johnson of Bath, Maine; two brothers; a sister; and two grandchildren.