James Lee Burke of New Orleans and Montana

I first heard about James Lee Burke in a newspaper article mentioning that he would be appearing at our local Montana Festival of the Book, here in Missoula.  Then I noticed that he lived just across the Bitterroot River from me, outside of town.

I purchased one of his novels that was set in the Bitterroot Valley, and was immediately HOOKED!  I next read one of his Dave Robicheaux novels set in New Orleans.  Wow!  Hooked again!

Burke has published 29 novels and I have read 23 of them.  He won Edgar Awards as the best mystery novel for Black Cherry Blues and for Cimarron Rose I have a couple of recent releases on my Kindle right now, including Crusader's Cross, The Glass Rainbow, and Pegasus Descending.

He has three series of detective novels, each centered around a separate protagonist.  I think most anyone could enjoy dipping into a Burke novel.  They are beautifully descriptive, although the violence can be graphic.  I have found that I am usually wrong when I guess how one of his novels will turn out.  Good Stuff.

Look for novels about Dave Robicheaux, Billy Bob Holland, and Hackberry Holland.  All are very entertaining, but the Robicheau novels feature the more complex plots and the most complete story line, including other family members.

Of the novels set in Montana, I especially enjoyed Bitterroot and In the Moon of Red Ponies.

Sue Grafton, Kinsey Millhone and the Alphabet Detective Series

"T" is for Trespass.  "U" is for Undertow.  And is all began with "A" is for Alibi.

Sue Grafton
Sue Grafton's detective heroine is Kinsey Millhone, and her private investigator stories take place in and around the fictional city of Santa Teresa, California, which is based on the city of Santa Barbara, where Grafton lives, in nearby Montecito.

I've spent some time in Santa Barbara and in Montecito.  A more beautiful setting I could not imagine.  Grafton's novels have covered the period from 1983 to 1987, but have actually been written over the past twenty-seven years.  "U" is for Undertow is on my "waiting to be read" bookshelf right now.  She plans to write until the letter "Z" is for Zero, and then end the series.   Kinsey Millhone is a likable character, divorced and somewhat frustrated with her love life, but content to share her life with friends, including a fascinating 80-plus year-old man who is her landlord. (One of my favorite characters in her books.)

If you've never read the Alphabet series featuring Kinsey Millhone, I would recommend beginning with "A" is for Alibi and read them in order.  "B" is for Burglar, "C" is for Corpse, and so on.  The stories have continuity within the context of Kinsey Millhone's life, and if you start by reading the recent novels you will have deprived yourself of MOST of the back story that makes her character so interesting.

C.J. Box, The Joe Pickett Author

For the past eleven years, since 2001, C.J. Box has been writing the Joe Pickett series, about a Wyoming Game Warden.  C. J. Box is a Wyoming native and current resident.

There have been eleven Joe Pickett novels, among them, Open Season (2001), Nowhere to Run (2010), and Cold Wind (March 2011).

His novel Blue Heaven, which is not a Joe Pickett novel, won the Edgar Award as Best Mystery Novel of 2008.

He also has a C.J. Box website

Lincoln Child, Serial Horror

Three of Lincoln Child's best collaborations with Douglas Preston are, in my opinion, Gideon's Sword, Relic, Riptide, and  Still Life With Crows.

Lincoln Child
With Preston, Child has co-authored TEN novels featuring FBI serial killer hunter Aloysius Pendergast.  I was first introduced to this series when I read Still Life With Crows, which I still consider one of their best works.

I am not certain whether Lincoln Child is the better writer of the two, but something in the chemistry between their respective styles has really clicked in, and the work they produce together is the best work of either author that I have read.  And they do create the most wonderfully interesting characters.  Of course, that is just this reader's opinion.

Douglas Preston,Techno-Thriller Man

I've long enjoyed the Douglas Preston novels.  Here is one author who can immediately capture your attention and hold it.  Never mind that the novels are often longer than some other authors write, this is an exciting way to spend a lazy summer weekend.  The Codex, Tyrannosaur Canyon, and Blasphemy are linked by the Broadbent family characters and introduces Wyman Ford, a retired CIA analyst who is now in the process of becoming a monk.  In 2010 Preston published Impact, a novel that continues the Wyman Ford character's adventures.

Although Douglas Preston has enjoyed some success as an individual author, his collaborations with author Lincoln Child has resulted in greater visibility and popularity.