Jeff Mannix   

Jeff Mannix is the owner and operator of Santa Rita Ranch and Santa Rita Press in Durango, CO. Jeff has been writing performance art and book reviews, as well as feature articles, for more than 20 years. Murder Ink, now in the Durango Telegraph online, has been his column for the past 3 years.

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Check out Murder Ink in the Durango Telegraph the first Thursday of every month. The book reviewed by Jeff Mannix will be 15% off for the entire month


November Road: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062663849
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow - October 9th, 2018

Every once in a while, I get a hold of something that’s beyond compare, something so nearly perfect that the French in their fastidiousness for language have a word for it: nonpareil. There is such a book being released by William Morrow on Oct. 9. And as we’re nearing the end of the year, I have to say that November Road, by Lou Berney, will be among the few “Murder Ink” books vying for my “Book of the Year” pick. (Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke comes right to mind, as does IQ by Joe Ide).

Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone was heralded as the best crime novel of 2015, with the Edgar, Macavity, Anthony and Barry awards. November Road will match those accolades, no doubt, and quite possibly be the crowning performance transcending the crime fiction genre into mainstream literary fiction and prove once and for all that mysteries cannot just be relegated blithely to the unwashed. MORE...

Under a Dark Sky: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062560308
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - August 7th, 2018

Under a Dark Sky is what the sloganeers refer to as a “locked-room” murder mystery. It’s the type made famous by Agatha Christie, Anne Holt, Peter Lovesey, most of the French noir writers, and even Arthur Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes. The setting is inescapable for any number of characters, a murder occurs, and after frightened disbelief, everybody is suspect. A locked-room mystery is a puzzle, and with every puzzle, one false or imprecise clue is unforgivable and ruinous of the entire effort. It’s a risky venture and takes great confidence to attempt a locked-room mystery. Most mystery writers borrow some of the claustrophobic elements to create suspense, but few can make a locked-room mystery more engaging than tedious and predictable. And ultimately, most are boring. MORE...

A Stone's Throw: An Ellie Stone Mystery Cover Image
ISBN: 9781633884199
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Seventh Street Books - June 5th, 2018

In celebration of a horse called Justify and a 52-year-old jockey who were only the 13th pair since 1919 to win all three jewels of the Triple Crown, “Murder Ink” this month will feature another crafty longshot, A Stone’s Throw by veteran author James W. Ziskin.

This isn’t the first we’ve seen of a Ziskin entry in the “Murder Ink” stables. I’ve reviewed most of Ziskin’s six other Ellie Stone mysteries over the years.

As with Robin Yocum who was extolled in June’s “Murder Ink,” Ziskin is a top midlist author who writes flawlessly plotted narratives with Kodachrome-vivid characters at a length that doesn’t elicit a gasp. I especially look forward to the next Ziskin mystery because of his love for language – we both have an unhealthy adoration for the perfect sentence – and Ziskin nails it time after time. And, more germane to the reader, he has created a most charming character in the small-town newspaper reporter Ellie Stone. Percipient, wily, single and attractive, she is dedicated to uncovering the truth. She likes her scotch and admirers, and is manipulative and terrific. MORE...

A Perfect Shot Cover Image
ISBN: 9781633884175
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Seventh Street Books - April 17th, 2018

“Murder Ink” has had a remarkable history of picking the meteoric mysteries – the advance reader copies sent to book reviewers months before publication – but most of the good reading comes from the midlist novels in between. These are the bench players, with all the skills to make the big leagues, and the go-to position players who hold the team together and, on occasion, show a talent worthy of celebrity. Robin Yocum is such a midlist author of very finely crafted crime fiction for Seventh Street Books in Amherst, N.Y., one of the top crime fiction publishers with perhaps the best midlist in the business. Yocum’s A Brilliant Death was an Edgar Award finalist in 2017, and he has a host of notable mentions from various publications and organizations in his native Ohio. There he was a crime and investigative reporter for the Columbus Dispatch for a decade before opening his own public relations firm in his hometown of Westerville, Ohio. He’s not schmoozing the literati crowd in New York or working the cadre of literary agents for better position and bigger advances. He’s home in Ohio working a day job and writing at night and on the weekends, and apologizing for being a part-time husband and father. But he’s producing excellent work, and A Perfect Shot is yet another gem of a story well told. MORE...

The Shadow District: A Thriller (The Flovent and Thorson Thrillers #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250138170
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - May 2018

It’s been many years ago now that a friend at New York Review of Books challenged my snobbish dismissal of crime fiction as only worthy of simpletons and sent me Jar City by Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason.

Besides never missing new releases by the great living novelists like Richard Ford, Ian McEwan, Cormac McCarthy, JM Cotzee, etc., I have read nothing but crime fiction since 2006, always ferreting out the wheat from the chaff, finding true literature in the genre, and delighting at seeing truly fine novelists discover and try their hand at this plot-driven convention. MORE...

Waking Lions Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316395410
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - February 27th, 2018

We’ve all come across a precious object or an unforgettable sight or a love or feeling that calls up genuine awe and gets stored in our chest of valuables never to be forgotten or besmirched or stolen. And we’ve all read books, or perhaps only one book, that we’ll never forget and that may have even shaped a big or tiny piece of who we’ve become. I have at least a few dozen books that have left such impressions upon me, with some prying out the writer when I was young and others reaching into unrealized passions.

Now comes another magnificent book that will never be forgotten and has in one swoop reenergized in me the fascination of the written word and my dedication to the magic of language. Waking Lions by Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen has set her country abuzz and has been awarded Israeli’s top Sapir Prize for best debut fiction, the Wingate Literary Prize, and has been translated and soaked up in 14 languages, appearing in English only a month ago. MORE...

In a Lonely Place Cover Image
By Dorothy B. Hughes, Megan Abbott (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781681371474
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: NYRB Classics - August 15th, 2017

We need to slow this down a wee bit before we blow pistons through the block with the high octane “Murder Ink” fuel of the past six months. You’ve been reading the latest and the best in crime fiction: James Lee Burke’s crafty Robicheaux; Tom Perry’s amazing The Bomb Maker; Jenny Rogneby’s delightfully surprising Leona; Attica Locke’s new heights with Bluebird, Bluebird; Richard Lange’s crafty The Smack; and Denise Mina’s way-out-there The Long Drop. So put away the blood pressure meds for March and treat yourself to two books reissued by the publishing arm of the New York Review of Books – the world’s leading literary periodical. Feel your pulse slow, your mind clear and your pride swell with the knowledge that you are reading what attracted many great modern novelists and discerning readers such as yourself to noir fiction in the first place.  MORE...


Robicheaux: A Novel (Dave Robicheaux ) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501176845
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - January 2nd, 2018

The big news in fiction publishing for 2018 is the Simon & Schuster January release of a new book by America’s best known and unarguably most skilled crime fiction writer, James Lee Burke. His new book, Robicheaux, is a long-awaited return to the atmospheric New Iberia/New Orleans domain of all things that lie then bite or sting to kill. MORE...



The Bomb Maker Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802127488
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mysterious Press - January 2nd, 2018

Every critic reviewing crime fiction this month will likely fall prey to the massive publicity blitz for A.J. Finn’s debut novel, The Woman in the Window. The publicity department of William Morrow/HarperCollins boasts that The Woman in the Window is the most widely acquired debut novel of all time prior to publication. It has been sold in 38 territories around the world (that’s a lot of strange languages), with Oscar winner Scott Rudin pre-empting the film rights for Fox and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts contracted to do the movie script. MORE...

Leona: The Die Is Cast: A Leona Lindberg Thriller Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590518823
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Other Press - August 2017

Leona: The Die is Cast by Jenny Rogneby is one terrific book, so why haven’t we heard more about it? Released in August 2017, Leona is the debut novel from Swedish author Jenny Rogneby. Born in Ethiopia, she was adopted when she was a year old to a couple in the northern reaches of Sweden. Published by off-the-grid, avant-garde Other Press in New York City, it is the first in a three-book deal, Leona should garner an award or two from the mystery writers’ guilds. I will even go so far as to say it can absolutely take its place alongside Gone Girl, Girl on the Train and even any of Steig Larsson’s Girl with a Dragon Tattoo triad. MORE...

My Sister's Bones: A Novel of Suspense Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062661968
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - July 11th, 2017

My Sister’s Bones is foremost and fiercely a suspense drama that can run with the big dogs. Ellwood isn’t teaching or focusing on the forensics or haranguing over unrecognized or under-served PTSD casualties. Instead, she populates a drama with caricatures of damaged people with hollow cores and fragile crusts that pull on the reader to stay up way past bedtime.

She delves into what crazy meant before it lost its meaning as a wisecrack. MORE...


Bluebird, Bluebird (A Highway 59 Mystery #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316363273
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mulholland Books - August 28th, 2018

Fall brings a rush of new book releases for some peculiar reason. I’m bleary-eyed separating the wheat from the chaff, and if I were limited to bringing only one book to you it would be Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke and from eagle-eyed Mulholland Books. But in this column, I feel it necessary to point out a few other stunning new releases and sacrifice my fun cobbling together remarkable wordsmithing. A novel is more or less a year in the making, and by unfortunate coincidence Bluebird, Blue-bird arrives now to memorialize the omnipresent prejudices we’ve been so disconcertedly witnessing over that period of time. The book follows black Texas Ranger Darren Mathews, a former law student following an uncle into the elite, primarily white law enforcement agency. Ignobly assigned to his  East Texas Highway 59 off ramp hometown of Lark to investigate the murders of a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman, we have a slow drip of gasoline pooling. If you know the South, you know how much trouble can heat up when a six-point star on a khaki shirt covering a black torso shows up in a rural fiefdom. But as poignant as this story is, it’s Locke’s elegiac writing and her characters that make this book unforgettable, even beautiful. Locke’s feelings of being black are so fervent it makes Bluebird, Bluebird a work of literature that will make you cry and read slowly to delay the ending. MORE...

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