Benjamin Schutz, 58; Psychologist And Author

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Benjamin M. Schutz, 58, a forensic and clinical psychologist and award-winning mystery writer, died after a heart attack Jan. 17 at Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge.

Dr. Schutz was a native Washingtonian and practiced out of his home in Woodbridge in partnership with his wife, who is also a psychologist. Nationally recognized for his child custody evaluation expertise, he wrote two professional books, "Solomon's Sword" (1989) and "Legal Liability in Psychotherapy" (1982), as well as seven mysteries and numerous short stories.

He won the prestigious Edgar Allen Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America for best story in 1993. He also won three Shamus Awards from the Private Eye Writers of America in 1985, 1987 and 1992. Many of his books featured Washington-based private detective Leo Haggerty.

"If my dad could have had enough commercial success to transfer to writing private eye fiction full time, he would have," said a son, Dr. Jakob C.L. Schutz of St. Louis.

Dr. Schutz grew up in the Washington area and graduated from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda and from Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. He received a doctorate in clinical psychology from Catholic University in 1977.

He published his first novel, "All the Old Bargains" in 1985, followed by "Embrace the Wolf" (1985), "Tax in Blood" (1987), "A Fistful of Empty" (1991), "Mexico Is Forever" (1994), "Mongol Reply" (2004) and "Mary, Mary, Shut the Door and Other Stories" (2005).

The Orlando Sentinel said that in "A Fistful of Empty," Dr. Schutz "raises some very real questions about the hard-boiled myth (of fictional detectives), and paints a realistic portrait of a man who might very well be devoured by violence, both from without and within. This is Schutz's finest work." The Chicago Sun-Times called "Mongol Reply" a "powerful, emotionally charged work . . . a fascinating exploration of just how bad a bad custody battle can be. At times it is almost painful to read, as Schutz shows how the system can devastate the lives of the meek and innocent."

Dr. Schutz was a member of the Mid-Atlantic Cold Case Homicide Investigators Association, the Mystery Writers of America, the American College of Forensic Examiners, the American Psychological Association and the Society for Personality Assessment.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 32 years, Dr. JoAnne Lindenberger of Woodbridge; another son, Jesse Lindenberger-Schutz of New York; and two brothers, Dr. Mark Schutz of Bethesda and Adam Schutz of Arlington.

-- Patricia Sullivan

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