About Books: Fall 2019
Fall Back Down When I Die
By Joe Wilkins
Poet and memoirist Joe Wilkins turns his pen to fiction with his debut novel, set in eastern Montana. Early on, he writes “The moon came up whistle thin. A tooth, a claw, the leanest blade.” Split Rock Review notes that this quality of language permeates the novel, and “is symbolic of the stunning, haunting and complex story that Wilkins weaves.”
Orphaned and destitute ranch hand Wendell Newman finds himself having to care for the traumatized, 6-year-old son of his incarcerated cousin. A murder and subsequent manhunt put the two in grave danger as Wendell tries to protect the child while avoiding the same violent end that claimed his father a decade earlier.
“Following in the literary roots of Montanans Jim Harrison and Rick Bass, Wilkins packs a lot of story and stylistic wallop into this gripping, outstanding novel,” writes Kirkus in a starred review.
A Montana native, Wilkins is the author of three poetry collections; his most recent, When We Were Birds, won the 2017 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals, and his memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers: Growing up on the Big Dry, won a New Writers Award in 2014 from the Great Lakes Colleges Association. He now directs the creative writing program at Linfield College in Oregon.
Sweeney on the Rocks
By Allen Morris Jones
Ted Sweeney, an affable everyman in a small Montana town, comes home to find a corpse tidily arranged in his favorite recliner, his “old pal of a piece of furniture.”
Sweeney can’t help but admire the efficiency of the work, the slice deep across the guy’s throat. Somebody knew what they were doing.
He dumps the body into the Yellowstone River without attracting attention. But over the next few days, as the corpse tumbles its way downstream, Sweeney’s complicated circumstances gradually start rolling into the unflattering light. His is a story that includes the waning days of Italian wise guys in Brooklyn, the rise of the Russian mafia, and his own reluctant retreat into the witness protection program. Throw in a bag of uncut diamonds, an ex-wife turned sheriff, a beloved mentor who might or might not be dead, and a former mistress cashing in favors, and Jones has delivered “a unique and tasty treat for crime-fiction fans.” (Booklist)
Although it’s his first foray in the crime genre, Jones is also the author of two novels, Last Year’s River and A Bloom of Bones, and wrote Montana for Kids: The Story of Our State.
You, Me and Mr. Blue Sky
By Craig Lancaster and Elisa Lorello
Novelists Craig Lancaster and Elisa Lorello are partners in fact and now in fiction, with the release of their co-authored romantic comedy, You, Me and Mr. Blue Sky.
Jo-Jo Middlebury is done with love. Linus Travers wants one more shot at it. Mr. Blue Sky, their 1970s-loving guardian angel, offers perspective on both when he’s not diving into reruns of “Happy Days” and “Barney Miller.”
Lancaster is the author of nine books of fiction, including the bestselling series featuring the character Edward Stanton (600 Hours of Edward, Edward Adrift, Edward Unspooled) as well as a collection of short stories. His work has been recognized by the Montana Book Awards, the High Plains Book Awards, the Utah Book Awards, the Independent Publisher Book Awards and others. Lorello has taught rhetoric and writing at the college level for more than 10 years. She is the author of 11 novels, including the bestselling Faking It. She has been featured in Montana Quarterly and Rachael Ray Every Day magazines, and in Jane Friedman’s blog series 5 On.
“Honest, heartwarming, and wickedly funny, this is one love story you won’t want to miss,” writes Karen McQuestion, author of Hello, Love.
Chai Another Day
By Leslie Budewitz
Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother’s house hunt, and a fisherman who’s set his hook for her in Bigfork author Leslie Budewitz’s latest mystery.
As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee’s vintage home decor shop that ends in murder.
Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Reece investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend – and Pepper herself.
According to New York Times-bestselling mystery author Kate Carlisle, the latest Spice Shop installment “has everything I love in a cozy mystery: a smart, gutsy protagonist determined to find the answers; a savory setting steeped in history; an abundance of mouth-watering food, drink, and spices; a truly delightful doggy; and best of all, an expertly seasoned murder plot that had me guessing – and grinning – to the very end.”
The award-winning author and attorney also writes the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in a little burg that mysteriously resembles her hometown of Bigfork.
By Robert Hughes
Dirty Money is the second of Livingston author Robert Hughes’s Brian and Darcy McKay mystery novels, following his debut, Bone Mountain. In the new novel, college student Darcy and her uncle, ex-FBI agent Brian McKay, risk their lives as they investigate the murder of Darcy’s boyfriend in the office of a corrupt Chicago mega-company. A string of killings by a greedy and twisted cabal of corporate gangsters at Belcoe, Inc. ensues.
The McKays trace the evidence to Belcoe’s spectacular Montana ranch, where they face off against a squad of goons, a homicidal cop, a malevolent corporate bigwig and a runaway fire.
Arthur Plotnik, author of The Elements of Expression, describes Dirty Money as fraught with “a taut plot, meaty details and stone-scary heavies.”
Hughes is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, and his short stories of crime and mystery have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. As a financial professional in Chicago, he investigated white-collar crime, bringing several embezzlers to justice.