Chuck Greaves is the author of five novels, most recently Tom & Lucky, a WSJ “Best Books of 2015” selection and a finalist for the 2016 Harper Lee Prize. His novel Hard Twisted, an award winning work of historic fiction, is a long-time staff favorite.
Scott Graham is the author of nine fiction and non-fiction books, including the National Outdoor Book Award winning Extreme Kids and most recently Yosemite Fall, the fourth installment in the acclaimed National Park Mystery Series.
Bears Ears illuminated
November 2, 2020
Noted Four Corners archaeologist and former Cortez resident R.E. Burrillo has just released his first book, Behind the Bears Ears, a conversational, easily accessible exploration of the cultural and natural histories of the Southwest’s newest national monument...MORE.
Bloody Native American fun
September 11, 2020
How is it I’m smiling so much as I think about The Only the Good Indians, the novel I just finished reading?
It’s a horror novel after all, and horror novels freak me out.
It’s set on the troubled Blackfeet Reservation in November, at the bleak start of...MORE
Three Colorado cozies offer welcome escapes
July 1, 2020
Three just-released cozy mysteries by top notch Colorado authors offer a trio of exceptional reading escapes to those who like their diversions tinged with murder...MORE
The risk of adventure parenting
May 5, 2020
Memorials dedicated to young adults who died doing the sorts of adventure sports the Four Corners prides itself on — backcountry skiing, rock climbing, whitewater kayaking — are scattered across the region. Formal as well as informal, the memorials range from a sandstone bench along a river’s edge to a metal sculpture resembling...MORE
An effortless switch from literary to mystery
February 11, 2020
It’s not uncommon for authors of literary fiction to try their hands at the mystery genre. Many bomb out, some spectacularly, incapable of switching from the introspective nature of literary novels to the fast-paced, entertainment-oriented style of storytelling appreciated by most mystery readers.
Not all who make the attempt fail, however. Acclaimed East Coast literary novelist Liz Moore, for one, makes the switch effortlessly with Long Bright River...MORE
January 16, 2020
Readers of this column know that we seldom review nonfiction here, but that every so often a title comes along that invites an exception. Such was the case with reporter Steve Inskeep’s Imperfect Union: How Jessie and John Frémont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War. Not only did the book’s subtitle promise a fresh look at one of America’s iconic frontier figures, it hinted at the sort of inclusive scholarship so often missing in the Western literary canon....MORE.
A trio of local voices
December 5, 2019
I have the pleasure in this month’s column of introducing three new books by local authors. While firmly placed in the Four Corners, all three books — by Rhenna St. Clair, Vicky Ramakka, and Erica Soon Olsen — wrestle with the universal themes of personal growth and finding one’s place in a challenging world.
St. Clair’s Getting New Mexico (Pace Press) is a humorous fish-out-of-water tale. In return for continuing to receive the financial handouts to which he has long been accustomed, lifelong moocher and dedicated laze-about Aaron Schuyler accepts his banishment to Santa Fe, New Mexico, by his wealthy Manhattanite mother. Aaron’s mother hopes her son will learn some self-reliance while he’s all alone in what she perceives as the distant, backward Southwest. Instead, Aaron meets a cast of quirky New Mexicans who teach him what it means to be a part of something larger than himself....MORE
In the interests of full disclosure, I first met Craig Johnson, author of the popular Sheriff Walt Longmire mysteries on which the equally-popular Netflix TV series is based, in 2008 when he was a lecturer and I was a student at the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference in Albuquerque. Anyone who’s ever met Craig knows what an engaging speaker he is, and so can imagine how effective he would be as a writing instructor (which is very.) He at the time had just published his fourth novel in the series – Another Man’s Moccasins, winner of a 2009 Spur Award from the Western Writers of America – and being impressed with his presentation, I proceeded to devour them all, losing myself in the fictitious latitudes of Absaroka County, Wyo., and its endearing cast of colorful characters. MORE...
Durangoan Dan Guiet gave his father, Jean Claude Guiet, a computer as a birthday present 25 years ago and asked Jean Claude to record his life story on it. Jean Claude began to type, but only after giving explicit instructions that no one was to read his writings until after his death.
Jean Claude died in 2013 at age 89. Only then did Dan become privy to his father’s story, one of the most sensational true tales ever to come out of World War II. MORE...
Thank goodness New York publishing, unlike Hollywood filmmaking, hasn’t entirely succumbed to the bland congruity of blockbuster titles, series retreads, and the same old, same old. Thank goodness a trip to your local bookstore can still yield daring works by diverse new voices; quirky and beautiful novels that defy convention and expand the boundaries of traditional storytelling. MORE...
Ever wondered what it takes to write bestselling novels that get turned into blockbuster Hollywood films and television series?
You can find out firsthand from local author Blake Crouch, who divides his time these days between his Durango hometown and Los Angeles, where he oversees his many ongoing film and television projects. MORE...
Philip Kerr died young – too young – in March of 2018. He was the author of more than 40 books, works of both fiction and nonfiction that include his Children of the Lamp middle-grade novels (as P. B. Kerr) and his popular Scott Mason thrillers. But it will be for his Bernie Gunther series of historical detective novels that Kerr, a Scotsman by birth, will forever be remembered, and lionized, as one of the greats of the crime fiction genre. MORE...
Swedish author Helene Tursten has gone against type over the last decade to create the highly praised Detective Inspector Embla Nystrom mysteries, including her latest installment in the series, Hunting Game, just released in the United States. MORE...
Denver author Peter Heller is a master storyteller, and that talent is on full display in The River, his third novel since bursting onto the world literary scene in 2012 with his New York Times-bestselling debut, The Dog Stars.
Jack and Wynn have been best buddies since their first meeting during freshman orientation at Dartmouth. Wynn is a Vermont farm boy, hulking but sensitive, as likely lost in a book as in the hardwood forests of his native New England. Jack is a Colorado ranch kid to whom, in Wynn’s telling, “sleeping under the stars, cooking on a fire, were as natural as breathing.” Both love the outdoors – flyfishing, camping, and especially whitewater – and it’s in pursuit of these passions that we first encounter the boys on a late August canoe trip down the Maskwa River in northern Canada." ... Read MORE
Once hailed as “America’s best novelist” by the Denver Post, Burke has the rugged good looks and vagabond past that invite comparisons to Jack London or Louis L’Amour. His books have been widely translated and adapted for both film and television, his protagonists portrayed by the likes of Alec Baldwin (Heaven’s Prisoners) and Tommy Lee Jones (In the Electric Mist). A Texas native turned Montana rancher, Burke’s series characters include Louisiana sheriff Dave Robicheaux (21 novels), Texas Ranger Hackberry Holland (three novels) and Texas attorney Billy Bob Holland (four novels). MORE....
When writers and editors speak of “voice” in the context of fiction, they refer to stylistic qualities of attitude and personality an author employs to engage the reader, as conveyed through tone and word choice. A unique and powerful voice – think of Mattie Ross recounting her childhood travails in Charles Portis’ True Grit – can turn an otherwise mundane story into a riveting page-turner. A dull or flaccid voice, in contrast, can render even an international spy thriller into a soporific slog.
That brings us to Jonathan Lethem’s latest installment in an authorial oeuvre that includes The Fortress of Solitude, his 2003 New York Times bestseller, and Motherless Brooklyn, winner of the 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award, because with The Feral Detective, Lethem’s 11th novel, he demonstrates just how effectively a potent voice can combine with an engaging story to produce masterful fiction. MORE...
Ambition is a commendable attribute in a debut novelist, as is the courage to take chances, stretching the boundaries of your chosen genre. Combine the two, and the potential for literary transcendence is manifest. So too, alas, is the potential for a very messy splatter.
Just when you thought you’d read all there was to read in the realm of crime fiction, along comes The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton’s dizzying thought experiment in how to bring a fresh perspective – or multiple perspectives – to the venerable trope of the British locked-room murder mystery. MORE...
What’s the recipe for a great summer novel? Page-turning suspense, for starters, and a plucky heroine for whom to root. Lyrical writing is a bonus, as are reversed roles and upended expectations. Mix in a Cold War setting and radical politics, garnish with an exotic locale and a dash of sexual frisson, and the result is a frosty cocktail guaranteed to quench even the most parched reader’s thirst for a satisfying dog-days diversion. MORE...