Category Archives: Prose and Cons

The last good cop

Print this articleIn 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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Local author unveils sensational World War II tale

Print this articleDurangoan 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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Desert Solitaire

Print this articleThank 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 … Continue reading

Published in July 2019, Prose and Cons

Crouch’s novel launches June 13 in Durango

Print this articleEver 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 … Continue reading

Published in June 2019, Prose and Cons

Bye, bye Bernie

Print this articlePhilip 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. … Continue reading

Published in May 2019, Prose and Cons

A Scandinavian mystery worth lauding

Print this articleSwedish 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. Many … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Current events

Print this articleDenver 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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Will ‘Not of This Fold’ mean no longer of this flock?

Print this articleWill she or won’t she? As in, will bestselling mystery author and practicing Mormon Mette Ivie Harrison be excommunicated from the Mormon Church or won’t she? In the course of four Linda Wallheim Mormon Mysteries set along Utah’s … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Mumbo gumbo

Print this articleIn the sometimes insular world of crime fiction, James Lee Burke’s is a name spoken with reverence thanks to his 36 novels, his two Edgar Awards, and his status as a Grand Master Award recipient (in 2009) from … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Attorneys flow through ‘River of Secrets’

Print this articleAmong the many qualities of Roger Johns’ Wallace Hartman Mystery series, one of the most engaging is Johns’ generous use of law practitioners as characters, be they wise, murderous, or anything in between. A fresh lawyer-as-character pops up … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons, Uncategorized

Desert duet

Print this articleWhen 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 … Continue reading

Published in November 2018, Prose and Cons

Atmospheric mystery features fallible detective

Print this articleThere’s everything to like about Gemma Monroe, the young, conflicted police-detective protagonist of Denver author Emily Littlejohn’s headed-for-the- stars mystery series published by Minotaur Books, the mystery imprint of St. Martin’s Press. In Lost Lake, the third in … Continue reading

Published in October 2018, Prose and Cons

The vapid and the dead

Print this articleAmbition 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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons, September 2018

A troubled pair in beautiful Montana

Print this articleMontana’s Glacier National Park is a troubled place these days — almost as troubled as the characters in A Sharp Solitude, Christine Carbo’s fourth and latest mystery, set in the park’s shadow. Glacier faces the climate-change-driven loss of … Continue reading

Published in August 2018, Prose and Cons

Wry spy

Print this articleWhat’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 … Continue reading

Published in July 2018, Prose and Cons

An icy cool debut by a young Colorado author

Print this articleI approached Danya Kukafka’s effusively praised and wildly popular debut novel Girl in Snow with trepidation. I wanted very much to enjoy the book because Kukafka is a fellow Coloradan and, in her mid-twenties, is preposterously young to … Continue reading

Published in June 2018, Prose and Cons

An affair to remember: The Sparsholt Affair, by Alan Hollinghurst

Print this article“The evening when we first heard Sparsholt’s name seems the best place to start this little memoir.” That deceptively modest declaration begins The Sparsholt Affair, a novel of staggering depth and beauty from an author – Alan Hollinghurst … Continue reading

Published in May 2018, Prose and Cons

A dark Texas under a high white sun

Print this articleDark, darker, darkest. Despite its title, that’s the extent of the color palette in High White Sun, J. Todd Scott’s second crime thriller starring Chris Cherry, at 26 the unlikely sheriff of Big Bend County, Texas. Those who … Continue reading

Published in April 2018, Prose and Cons

The other side of the fence

Print this articleWhen Mike Muñoz was five and his father Victor was still around, Mike begged to visit Disneyland. Not just for the rides or the other attractions, but for the beautiful landscaping – “the big, perfectly-formed Donald Duck- and … Continue reading

Published in March 2018, Prose and Cons

A local shines on the national literary stage

Print this articleIt’s nigh impossible to make it as an author of adult literary fiction. Yet that’s the goal Four Corners writer Mandy Mikulencak set for herself in 2009. Nine years later, Mikulencak has succeeded, brilliantly, with the release of … Continue reading

Published in February 2018, Prose and Cons

Beau knows Louis L’Amour

Print this article“This book may drive you crazy.” So begins Beau L’Amour’s Introduction to Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures, Vol. 1, a 500-page compendium of his late father’s unfinished manuscripts, treatments, and notes. But in this, Beau misleads. Truer to have … Continue reading

Published in January 2018, Prose and Cons

Johnson mixes humor and intrigue in ‘Western Star’

Print this articleI can attest from experience that injecting humor into an otherwise serious tale of murderous intrigue isn’t easy. But Craig Johnson has been pulling off that enviable trick in his murder mysteries for well over a decade now, … Continue reading

Published in December 2017, Prose and Cons


Print this articleWe live in troubling times; nowhere more so than in the arena of women’s reproductive health. On his first day in office, President Trump signed a ban on federal money going to international aid groups that provide information … Continue reading

Published in November 2017, Prose and Cons

A fine Navajoland whodunnit

Print this articleDespite confronting the bodies of four murdered young people at the start of Katayoun Medhat’s The Quality of Mercy, readers know they’re in for an enjoyable — if dark — ride by the end of the first chapter … Continue reading

Published in October 2017, Prose and Cons

Gothic ramblings

Print this articleRace, like a flaming cross at a Klan rally, stands at the center of Sing, Unburied, Sing, casting shadows on all that transpires. The novel, Jesmyn Ward’s third and the first since her National Book Award-winning Salvage the … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons, September 2017

Rose invents a new genre with ‘Thief’ (Prose and Cons)

Print this articleAugustus Rose may have invented a new genre with his debut novel, The Readymade Thief, released Aug. 1 by Viking Press. Let’s call Rose’s creation a Young Adult novel for adults; rather than a YA novel, Rose has … Continue reading

Published in August 2017, Prose and Cons

Worth the weight (Prose and Cons)

Print this articleThere are many authors whose virtuosity inspires me to be a better writer. There are but a few, however, whose talent is so prodigious, so dispiritingly outsized, as to make me want to throw up my hands and … Continue reading

Published in July 2017, Prose and Cons

Grann’s ‘Killers’ chronicles murders of the Osage Indians (Prose and Cons)

Print this articleResidents of the Four Corners region generally understand the debt they owe the Utes, Navajos, Apaches and other Native Americans who inhabited the area before them. David Grann’s latest nonfiction bestseller, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage … Continue reading

Published in June 2017, Prose and Cons

Start spreading the News (Prose and Cons)

Print this articleThe year is 1870, and across the State of Texas, Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels from town to town performing live readings from newspapers to paying audiences eager to learn the news of the world. Seventy-two and widowed, … Continue reading

Published in May 2017, Prose and Cons

Anne Hillerman sings in ‘Song of the Lion’ (Prose and Cons)

Print this articleBy rights, it shouldn’t work. But it does. Beloved mystery author Tony Hillerman’s bestselling series, which featured Navajo Nation cops Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, ended with Hillerman’s death in 2008. Or so his devoted readers thought. There … Continue reading

Published in April 2017, Prose and Cons

Deadly dozen (Prose and Cons)

Print this articleThe cliché that certain crime novels “transcend the genre” is as shopworn as the genre itself can sometimes be. But there’s no disputing that a new generation of crime novelists, many of them women, are rewriting the rules … Continue reading

Published in March 2017, Prose and Cons

Winter’s Tales (Prose and Cons)

Print this articleNorse mythology permeates our Western culture, from the seven days of the Gregorian calendar (four of which are named for the Norse gods Tyr, Odin, Thor, and Frigg) to the symbolism of Biblical Christianity (Odin, the all-father of … Continue reading

Published in January 2017, Prose and Cons

Exploring the changing face of the Western world Prose and Cons

Print this articleAmid this year’s pre-holiday blizzard of book releases, British author Zadie Smith’s Swing Time stands out. Eagerly anticipated by her legions of fans, Swing Time is Smith’s first novel in four years, following 2012’s experimental NW. As a … Continue reading

Published in December 2016, Prose and Cons

Time in a bottle (Prose and Cons)

Print this articleIn their 2011 memoir We Wanted to be Writers, authors Eric Olsen and Glenn Schaeffer recount their experiences (in “Life, Love, and Literature”) at the storied Iowa Writers’ Workshop while arguing that their mid-1970s MFA classmates – a … Continue reading

Published in November 2016, Prose and Cons

Another sparkling mystery from Tana French Prose and Cons

Print this articleMost mystery-series authors write a book a year at the behest of their publishers. But since the success a decade ago of her acclaimed Dublin Murder Squad debut In the Woods, Tana French has written and released a … Continue reading

Published in October 2016, Prose and Cons

If you remember the ’60s. . . (Prose and Cons)

Print this articleSamuel Anderson, the guileless protagonist of The Nix, Nathan Hill’s sprawling debut novel, is a Chicago college professor with a past that’s as murky to him as his future. Samuel, whose mother abandoned him at age 11, medicates … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons, September 2016

O’Nan’s latest is slender but powerful Prose and Cons

Print this articleIf the fine American fiction writer Stewart O’Nan is any indication, authors who adhere too strictly to writing only what interests them—and, they presumably hope, their readers—may well do so at their professional peril. O’Nan counts among his … Continue reading

Published in August 2016, Prose and Cons

An epic chopping spree (Prose and Cons)

Print this articleAnnie Proulx is perhaps best known for her 1993 bestseller The Shipping News, which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Or is it for her 1997 short story “Brokeback Mountain,” which brought … Continue reading

Published in July 2016, Prose and Cons

‘Cutting’ local water (Prose and Cons)

Print this articleWith their futuristic, otherworldly settings, science fiction novels aren’t generally meant to strike close to home. For residents of the Four Corners area, however, acclaimed western Colorado author Paolo Bacigalupi’s best-selling, green sci-fi novel, The Water Knife, does … Continue reading

Published in June 2016, Prose and Cons

Futuristic ‘Zero K’ has style and substance (Prose and Cons)

Print this articleIt has long been my observation that the three incubatory professions most overrepresented in the pantheon of great American authors are journalism, law, and advertising. The reason, I suspect, is that each involves a reductive writing process – … Continue reading

Published in May 2016, Prose and Cons