Category Archives: Prose and Cons

I, me, me, mine

One word might come to mind as you read Sagebrush Empire, Jonathan P. Thomp­son’s fascinating analysis of the cultural and political battles in Utah’s San Juan County. That word is mine. Not mine as in uranium mining, but mine like … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

A calm, touching, and restorative book

If you went to Fenceline Cider in Mancos in late June to hear David Gessner talk about his new book from Torrey House Press, Quiet Desperation, Savage Delight, you would know that Gessner has an active, free-flowing, and very curious … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

A collection for those who love the Southwest

In the late spring of the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, as catastrophic drought warnings began looming across the western United States, I received in the mail an edited collection of poetry and prose written “to speak love to … Continue reading

Published in Breaking News, Prose and Cons

Houston and Irvine capture pandemic moods

It  began  as  a  nifty  idea  for  Orion  Magazine  in  late  March  of  2020  as  the  nation  entered  the  first  wave  of  stay-at-home  orders  in  re­sponse  to  the  growing  pandemic.  “Every  week  under  lockdown,  we  eavesdrop  on  cu­rious  pairs  of  … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

War and remembrance

It’s been written that the outlaw known as Billy the Kid was born Henry McCarty in New York City in 1859. Or maybe his real name was William H. Bonney, or Wil­liam Wright, or Joseph Antrim. He moved with his … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Take a visceral armchair cruise to Cape Horn

Now that pandemic-related restrictions are easing, travel is on the mind and here’s a book about one option that you may not have considered — a 16,000-mile sailing trip from Maine, down the Eastern Seaboard, across the Caribbean to the … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

A kayak-level view of change around the West

Confluence opens with a harrowing scene of Zak Podmore’s mother surviving a scary spill in the Colorado River in a hydraulic in the Big Drop rapids known as Satan’s Gut. “Directly downstream the Gut heaves in a gnashing pit of … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Bears Ears illuminated

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. Four Corners area … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

A perfect entry to the mystery genre

Midnight at the Barclay Hotel is the perfect gateway book for young readers to get their first taste of the mystery genre. This is listed as “middle grade” (eight to 12 years old or thereabouts) but even slightly older readers … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Bloody Native American fun

How is it I’m smiling so much as I think about 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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

‘Highly original’ stories a perfect summer read

If your first published short story appears in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, you probably know what you’re doing. And if that story has the audacious title of “Murder on the Orient Express” (and directly pays homage to the classic Agatha … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Three Colorado cozies offer welcome escapes

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. Denver author Cynthia’s Kuhn’s fifth Lila Maclean Academic Mystery, The Study of Secrets, finds effervescent … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Medhat’s second features Cortez (‘Milagro’)

Franz Kafka—the cop—is the “patron saint of lost causes.” He doesn’t have a good memory for faces (not handy when you’re an officer of the law). He was born in the month of “dreamers and idealists.” He can quote William … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

The risk of adventure parenting

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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Birds of a feather

When first we meet Gabriel Haynes, the narrator of Susan M. Gaines’ luminous sophomore novel, the year is 1999 and he is a recent college graduate with a cubicle-farm job, newly divorced parents, and an abiding passion for birding. That’s … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

An effortless switch from literary to mystery

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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Manifest destitute

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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

A trio of local voices

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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

He started it

In his introduction to Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures, Vol. 2, the second volume of his father’s unfinished or previously unpublished stories, novels, notes, and film and television treatments, editor and co-author Beau L’Amour writes, “[W]hat you see here was only … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

The last good cop

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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Local author unveils sensational World War II tale

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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Desert Solitaire

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 … Continue reading

Published in July 2019, Prose and Cons

Crouch’s novel launches June 13 in Durango

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 … Continue reading

Published in June 2019, Prose and Cons

Bye, bye Bernie

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) … Continue reading

Published in May 2019, Prose and Cons

A Scandinavian mystery worth lauding

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. Many of today’s … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Current events

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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

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

Will 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 Wasatch Front … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Mumbo gumbo

In 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 the Mystery … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons

Attorneys flow through ‘River of Secrets’

Among 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 every few … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons, Uncategorized

Desert duet

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 … Continue reading

Published in November 2018, Prose and Cons

Atmospheric mystery features fallible detective

There’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 Littlejohn’s series … Continue reading

Published in October 2018, Prose and Cons

The vapid and the dead

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 … Continue reading

Published in Prose and Cons, September 2018

A troubled pair in beautiful Montana

Montana’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 its eponymous … Continue reading

Published in August 2018, Prose and Cons

Wry spy

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 … Continue reading

Published in July 2018, Prose and Cons

An icy cool debut by a young Colorado author

I 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 have written … Continue reading

Published in June 2018, Prose and Cons

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

“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 – whom … Continue reading

Published in May 2018, Prose and Cons

A dark Texas under a high white sun

Dark, 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 appreciated the … Continue reading

Published in April 2018, Prose and Cons

The other side of the fence

When 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 Pluto-shaped bushes, … Continue reading

Published in March 2018, Prose and Cons

A local shines on the national literary stage

It’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 The Last … Continue reading

Published in February 2018, Prose and Cons

Beau knows Louis L’Amour

“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 written, “This … Continue reading

Published in January 2018, Prose and Cons