The landscape of Northern New Mexico, with its vast array of colorful characters and hidden secrets, offers endless inspiration for the mystery writers who call the area home. Below are a handful of authors who live in the area (plus one who doesn’t) and whose books you can find in our Mystery/Crime section. Enjoy!
Christie’s Lizard Tales series is a testament to her love of Santa Fe’s past. Set in the late 18th century, the trilogy is immaculately researched, touching on various aspects of the history of the area. The first book, The King’s Lizard, won the 2007 NM Press Women’s Zia Award which honors outstanding New Mexican woman authors. Christie’s blend of Santa Fe history, folklore and mystery narrative make for a can’t-put-down historical thriller.
Anne Hillerman proudly maintains the traditions and high standards set by her father, Tony, and does so with her own distinct voice. She has published works of nonfiction (cookbooks, photography, etc.) in addition to a wide array of journalistic pieces. Anne’s first mystery novel, The Spider Woman’s Daughter, won the 2014 Spur Award for Best First Novel, and she continues the Hillerman legacy with her fifth mystery due in spring 2021.
J. Michael Orenduff
Archaeology, check. High stakes burglary, check. Witty, intelligent writing, most definitely check. Orenduff, who served as president of NMSU, retired from academia to pursue his dream and write the philosophically inspired Pot Thief Mysteries. The series is widely praised for its blend of humor and intelligence, and has won numerous awards since the first book, The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras was published.
The one exception to the local spotlight, Johnson gets on the list because his Sheriff Walt Longmire crime/mystery series became the Netflix show ‘Longmire’, which was filmed in Santa Fe and around Northern New Mexico. During filming, the cast, crew and Johnson himself ingratiated and involved themselves in the local community. Start your journey to Absaroka County with Sheriff Longmire in Johnson’s first novel, The Cold Dish.
Michael McGarrity has been publishing his Kevin Kerney series since the 1990s. In fact, he created a literary landscape so expansive that it spawned a separate-but-not prequel trilogy, The American West Trilogy, that focuses on how Kevin's family settled in the area. Read the prequel trilogy to gain familiarity with the Kerney dynasty in New Mexico, and then start the contemporary crime-solving with police-lifer Kevin in McGarrity’s first mystery, Tularosa.
FYI: The latest (14th) Kerney mystery, Head Wounds, will be on our bookshelves November 10th!
Local fixture Douglas Preston shows up on a lot of shelves and spans multiple genres. The Agent Pendergast series, co-authored with Lincoln Child, has been a fan favorite since the first thrilling novel Relic came out in 1995. The latest installment, Crooked River, finds Pendergast crossing the globe in hopes of solving another complex, cruel criminal.
David Morrell has worn many hats in his decades of work in the literary world. After a time, he stepped away from academia to fully focus on his writing and has produced a staggering volume of lauded works. Starting with Murder as a Fine Art, Morrell’s latest mystery series is set in 1800s Victorian London. The books are brilliantly researched and transportive, and further solidify Morrell’s standing as one of the best mystery writers the genre has ever seen.
Reviews by Joel
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