Reviewed by Jennifer Nelson
There’s little that can compare to a good whodunnit. Our 2022 mystery books by Colorado authors will leave you on the edge of your seat.
By Manuel Ramos
When 17-year-old Matias Montoya goes missing from his eastern Colorado hometown, private investigator Gus Corral knows he needs to help look for his cousin. Mat has disappeared temporarily in the past when he needed to get out of town, but he was never gone this long. So, ignoring the lingering effects of his own recent head injury from a private investigator case gone wrong, Gus leaves Denver in hopes of not only finding Mat but also resetting his own life. But Gus’ troubled past and the small-town preference for privacy leave Gus wondering if he’ll ever find Mat.
Could the disappearance be connected with a disagreement with his own father, a run-in with the local con man, racial divides in the town or even a devastating breakup with a girlfriend? Or perhaps something even more troubling?
Become immersed in Gus’ detective work woven into an intriguing mystery by award-winning Denverite Manuel Ramos, who keeps the Mile High Noir series alive in this newest installment, Angels in the Wind.
By Scott Graham
Archaeologist Chuck Bender never imagined he’d have to deal with a possible murderer when he signed up for a white water rafting expedition. It had been years since he traversed any rapids — and he hated to leave his new family — but the pull of the water and excitement of the ride convinced him. Plus, he and his brother-in-law, Clarence Ortega, hope to further talks among politicians, businesspeople and field experts regarding the use of the ever-dwindling water in the Southwest.
The group in eight boats enjoy the scenery and adventures of the river until things began to go wrong only three days into the trip when there is a murder.
With six previous national park mysteries under his belt, Durango author Scott Graham knocks another one out of the park with this captivating tale that weaves a fictional plot with the real conflicts over water allocation.
By Jodi Bowersox
Tiffany Morrow knew what was real and what was only a hideous figment of her imagination — at least she thought she could decipher that now. After what was an unimaginably terrifying experience in the Amazon jungle when she was not on her medications, Tiffany found a way to cope with the glowing demon horses in her mind. Just as important, though, she also managed to remember significant information she had discovered before she was kidnapped for sex trafficking. Now the problem is knowing who to trust — if anyone.
From one moment to the next, Red Rabbit on the Run is full of nonstop action, a good dose of romance, and unforeseeable plot twists. This is the third book in the Anonymous Series by Colorado Springs author Jodi Bowersox.
By Sheri Cobb South
John Pickett’s advertisement for his private inquiry business has gone unanswered for many weeks now, so he accepts the best work he can at the only place that will hire him: an importing firm where he is a junior clerk. But when his wife Julia shows up with a potential client, John quits on the spot.
The client wants John to investigate an opium rehab center and extract a young woman who is supposedly being held against her will. But that’s just the beginning.
The John Pickett Mystery series, which is set in the Regency era in England, is an edge-of-your-seat who-done-it written by Loveland resident Sheri Cobb South.
By J.v.L Bell
Life in 1865 Colorado Territory is certainly not easy but Millie would surely choose her simple, quiet cabin over the crude and rambunctious mining town known as Buckskin Joe. It seems ever since she and her family left Idaho Springs to help her husband’s supposedly innocent uncle clear his name, trouble has followed them.
This engaging story has everything — mystery, suspense, humor, romance, duels to the death, a trained bear who plays tricks on locals, plenty of well-researched Colorado mining history — to keep the pages turning.
By Kate Lansing
Valentine’s Day weekend was not supposed to be like this for winemaker Parker. A nice ski weekend with her boyfriend, Reid, and the acquisition of a new client for her mulled wine? Yes. But murder and mayhem? No. Yet not one day into her trip and Parker finds herself the sole witness to the resort owner’s death. And that is only the beginning of the misadventures they encounter.
But perhaps Parker should have read the writing on the wall when their vacation began with a snowstorm on I-70 that made them late for her meeting with the wine director. Or when, on their arrival to the ski resort, a fancy BMW speeds by and literally runs them into a snowbank. However, Parker is determined to make it a good weekend, despite the fact that she still mourns her Aunt Laura, whose fondness for the Valentine holiday makes the day especially painful now.
Given how the weekend is going, could Parker brave her fears, find a way to honor her aunt and the romantic holiday, solve the murder without becoming a victim herself, and oh yeah—enjoy time with her handsome boyfriend? Written with the perfect balance of crafty mystery and lighthearted romance, the charming novel Mulled to Death is a wonderful breezy read that you won’t be able to put down.
By Cynthia Kuhn
The day of the murder mystery dinner party went smoothly for Emma, albeit filled with what Tabitha deemed “urgent” text messages of her ever-evolving plans for the evening. Emma knew the pressure was on—it was her first real event as a planner and she needed not only the money but the success of it to bolster the Starlit Bookshop’s business.
But, of course, the event had to be for Tabitha, her high-school nemesis who clearly still held the same disdain for her she had held since their teens. But the mountain bookstore was Emma’s life, her sister’s life—and had been her parents’—and she had come back to town to make sure it survived. She was determined for the mystery dinner to go off without a hitch. A real-life murder was certainly not in the plans.
But when Tabitha’s husband is found dead during the dinner, Emma and her Aunt Nora somehow become prime suspects. It takes all Emma has to stay calm and focus on finding who really turned the elegant mystery dinner into a death sentence. Not only that, but the fate of the bookstore now really hangs in the balance. Can Emma pull off one more event for a well-known community member on Halloween night—without anyone losing a life—to perhaps still save the bookstore? Or will the murderer strike again and ruin everything?
How to Book a Murder, written by Colorado award-winning author Cynthia Kuhn, is the first of the Starlit Bookshop Mystery series, and it sets the stage for a fabulously intelligent who-dun-it group of stories.
By Blake Crouch
Logan Ramsay’s day began like so many others: he kisses his wife and daughter goodbye and hops on the hyperloop to travel from D.C. to his next assignment. Today, he is in Denver with the Gene Protection Agency, apprehending a suspect and carrying out a raid on another unauthorized and therefore illegal biogenetics lab. It all seemed routine, until it isn’t.
When Logan wakes the first time, his hospital isolation room and the doctors’ hazmat suits tell him nearly all he needs to know—his body is in serious trouble from whatever is in that genetics lab. But the next few times he wakes begin to be increasingly more troubling. He knows something is happening to his body, his genomes, his brain. What is he becoming—or more troubling, who is he becoming? He soon realizes his circumstances are clearly linked to his dark family past and horrifyingly a part of something much bigger than himself. Logan must find answers and figure out how to keep the parts of his old self that he needs while harnessing these new abilities to protect the part of humanity that makes us human.
In a thrilling, tense tale that is part sci-fi and part dystopian future, New York Times Bestselling Author Blake Crouch offers another fast-paced novel that delves into what makes the heart of humanity tick.
By Ann Payton
Being the new science lab coordinator seems like a dream job for Maci Lindentree—it’s fascinating and she needs the money to pay school loans. Yes, the atmosphere is a bit chaotic as she tries to keep lab equipment and materials organized and also prepare for the experiments the professors request for their classes. But she thrives in the challenge and enjoys the people in her department.
But things quickly begin to go awry after she stumbles upon a man with a life-threatening head injury left behind a dumpster—and then is asked to keep quiet about it by the dean of arts and sciences. She is clearly shaken by the traumatic experience but tries to continue working diligently. Soon, though, other problems surface. Expensive items from the labs begin to disappear, while other items apparently are ordered using her own request form and signature—but she has no recollection of ordering them. Can Maci figure out what is going on without losing her job—or something even worse?
Follow Maci’s misadventures as she struggles to maintain and run the lab despite obstacles at nearly every path. Can she find answers to set things, right?
The first novel in the Lab Rat series, Mile High Lab Rat starts off with a bang and continues straight through the end. Interestingly, the series is fiction but is drawn from author Ann Payton’s personal experiences in a Colorado college science lab.
By Connie Senior
Caleb wasn’t necessarily thrilled to be back in his hometown of Bar Harbor, Maine, and it certainly felt awkward and painful to see his childhood friend Sophia. Time had passed and he had experienced many things since he had been home. Being there brought back tough memories, including the tragic death of his and Sophia’s friend Toby. But Fintonclyde, the man who had raised Caleb since he had been turned into a werewolf, had asked him to come home because trouble was brewing around town. A strange illness, coupled with suspicions of vampires preying on local tourists, were cause for alarm. Fintonclyde thought Caleb’s experience during his last six years in the Romanian Transylvanian Alps learning how to hunt vampires with his werewolf pack were what was needed to protect the town.
While Caleb’s time in Romania had taught him about being a werewolf and how to defeat vampires, he had also endured loss there, including the death of his mentor and many pack members. His grief is raw; will he be able to put his tragedies behind him and figure out what is happening to the local citizens? Does he know how to get rid of the vampires? And with a gang of werewolf bikers in town along with nosy government agents, Caleb has a plethora of people to try to navigate as he solves the town’s problems.
This unique, engaging storyline, a sequel to Denverite Connie Senior’s first werewolf novel, is woven into a coming-of-age fantasy in The Wolf’s Den.
Jennifer Nelson, once the editorial assistant at CCL, loves nothing more than curling up with a good book. She treasures sharing her love of reading with her children in their Texas home.