The best mystery books featuring rogue women who spend lots of time outdoors

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a small, rural, mountain community in Colorado, which is where I learned to love the outdoors. I explored every inch of “my mountain” with my dog, Blueberry. I skied by age three, and my father taught me to fish, shoot a rifle and drive a Jeep before I turned twelve. And I loved to read. To my good fortune, a small stone house at the bottom of our hill housed the public library. The librarian was my best friend. My favorites were mysteries, suspense, and thrillers with strong female characters, which is how I came to be a mystery writer and a founding member of the Rogue Women Writers.

I wrote...

A Parliament of Owls

By Chris Goff,

Book cover of A Parliament of Owls

What is my book about?

While leading a birding tour of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent Angela Dimato spots more than burrowing owls among the prairie dog mounds. The body of a soccer mom is sprawled among the burrows. Her investigation takes a nasty turn when the woman is identified as the leader of a group petitioning for the eradication of the prairie dog town. As Angela follows the twists to unearth the killer, her greatest wish is to tap the wisdom of her only witnesses—the black-tailed prairie dogs and A Parliament of Owls.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Blood on the Tracks

Chris Goff Why did I love this book?

Barb Nickless came out with a debut novel to die for. I think it’s absolutely the best debut I’ve ever read. Then she followed it up with four more in the series and four in a new series. In Blood on the Tracks, we’re introduced to Sydney Parnell and her K-9 partner, Clyde. They are ex-military turned railroad cops, and both suffer from PTSD. Nickless brings to life the underground world of rail riders and the obscure job of the railroad cop as Sydney investigates the brutal murder of a young woman found on the tracks. The crimes are shocking, and Sydney puts herself in mortal danger as she seeks justice for victims. This is a writer to watch.

By Barbara Nickless,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Blood on the Tracks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

A young woman is found brutally murdered, and the main suspect is the victim's fiance, a hideously scarred Iraq War vet known as the Burned Man. But railroad police Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell, brought in by the Denver Major Crimes unit to help investigate, can't shake the feeling that larger forces are behind this apparent crime of passion.

In the depths of an icy winter, Parnell and her K9 partner, Clyde-both haunted by their time in Iraq-descend into the underground world of a savage gang of rail riders. There, they uncover a wide-reaching conspiracy and…

Book cover of The Marsh King's Daughter

Chris Goff Why did I love this book?

This book was riveting. Helena grew up in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the daughter of a brutal man whom she loved and a mousey mother for whom she had little respect. Until she learned the truth. Two years before Helena’s birth, her father had kidnapped her mother, then he’d held her prisoner for years. Now, he is in prison and Helena is married with children. A family from whom she’s kept her past secret. All that changes when her father kills two guards and escapes into the wilderness. Helena knows her family is in danger, that the police are underestimating her father’s capabilities, and that she is the only one capable of finding him. Told through a series of flashbacks, this story made me realize just how blind love can be, and how everything we say and do can forever impact our relationships.

By Karen Dionne,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Marsh King's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Published in ebook and paperback as Home

You'd recognise my mother's name if I told it to you. You'd wonder, briefly, where is she now? And didn't she have a daughter while she was missing?

And whatever happened to the little girl?

Helena's home is like anyone else's. With a husband and two daughters, and a job she enjoys. But no one knows the truth about her childhood.

Born into captivity and brought up in an isolated cabin until she was 12, Helena was raised to be a killer by the man who kept her captive - her own father.…

Book cover of Track of the Cat

Chris Goff Why did I love this book?

I love this character! Anna Pigeon is a self-effacing loner, who struggles with personal issues. Don’t we all? Fleeing New York to escape painful memories, she takes a position as a Park Ranger for the National Park Service in the remote backcountry of Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas. Who hasn’t wanted to run away? But when a fellow ranger is killed and his death chalked up to a mountain lion attack, Anna is convinced the cat is not to blame. The politics and prejudices of the locals endanger the protected cats, and that it’s up to her to protect them. Barr does a brilliant job of making you feel Anna’s pain, anger, and fear, which makes the triumphs all sweeter.

By Nevada Barr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Track of the Cat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The fascinating hero of Nevada Barr's award-winning series-park ranger Anna Pigeon-has brought an unyielding love of nature and sense of fair play to the mystery genre. Track of the Cat is the acclaimed novel that first introduced readers to Anna, as a woman looking for peace in the wilderness-and finding murder instead...

Patrolling the remote West Texas backcountry, Anna's first job as a national park ranger is marred by violence she thought she had left behind: the brutal death of a fellow ranger. When the cause of death is chalked up…

Book cover of Lake of Fire

Chris Goff Why did I love this book?

Stevens does an incredible job of whipping up a firestorm. Lake of Fire is a must-read for anyone interested in knowing what it’s like to live in the Colorado mountains. Allison Coil is a Colorado hunting guide, and the book opens with a giant wildfire raging through Colorado’s Flat Top Wilderness. It wipes out Allison’s hunting grounds and bears down on her boyfriend’s family ranch. In the fire’s aftermath, she is shocked to learn a friend, a reclusive environmentalist with an unorthodox idea for battling global warming has died in the fire. Determined to find justice for him, Allison digs into an underground group of anti-government extremists, only to have them strike back, hurting those closest to her. Allison doesn’t back down, never afraid to protect the people and places she loves. Her passion is inspiring.

By Mark Stevens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lake of Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A giant wildfire is roaring through Colorado’s Flat Tops Wilderness. The massive blaze is wiping out Allison Coil’s precious hunting grounds and the flames have set their sights on the beautiful ranch owned by her boyfriend’s family. Backwoods survivalist Devo finds a body in the blackened forest. The dead man turns out to be a reclusive environmentalist with an unorthodox idea for the battle against global warming. The dead man was no stranger to Allison or her longtime friend, Trudy Heath. Allison, with help from Glenwood Springs reporter Duncan Bloom, burrows into an underground world of haters who harbor a…

Book cover of Striking Range

Chris Goff Why did I love this book?

Seventh in Mizushima’s series, this is her best book ever! It’s a very personal story with ties back to Deputy Mattie Cobb’s past. In Striking Range, a woman who has recently given birth is found dead in a mountain campground and her baby is nowhere to be found. While Mattie and her K-9 Robo search for the missing newborn, a deadly storm descends on the Colorado Rockies, and then Mattie’s partner Cole goes missing. Soon she finds herself pitted against a mastermind killer with a cold-blooded plan and personal vendetta. Mizushima is a master at building relationships, but her depiction of the treacherous weather conditions was incredible. Having lived in the mountains of Colorado all my life, and she put me there for every frozen, heart-pounding moment.

By Margaret Mizushima,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Striking Range as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A deadly secret is buried in the Colorado high country--and murder is only the beginning in the seventh gripping installment of Margaret Mizushima's Timber Creek K-9 mysteries.

He was suspect number one--the man who tried to kill Deputy Mattie Cobb and may have killed her father thirty years earlier. But when Mattie and cold case detective Jim Hauck reach the Colorado state prison where they will finally get to interview him, he's found dead in his cell. There's only one clue: a map leading to Timber Creek and rugged Redstone Ridge.

Though she usually works with veterinarian Cole Walker, Mattie's…

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Thorn City

By Pamela Statz,

Book cover of Thorn City

Pamela Statz

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Dressed to kill and ready to make rent, best friends Lisa and Jamie work as “paid to party” girls at the Rose City Ripe for Disruption gala, a gathering of Portland's elite.

Their evening is derailed when Lisa stumbles across Ellen, a ruthless politician and Lisa’s estranged mother. And to make matters worse, Lisa’s boyfriend, Patrick, crashes the party to meet his new boss, Portland's food cart drug kingpin. Lisa makes a fateful choice that traps her, Jamie, and Patrick in Ellen’s web. In this gripping thriller, Lisa must reconcile a painful past and perilous present.

Thorn City

By Pamela Statz,

What is this book about?

Suspected murder, eclectic food trucks, and artisanal cocaine: just another day in Thorn City.

It’s the night of the Rose City Ripe for Disruption gala—a gathering of Portland’s elite. Dressed to kill in sparkling minidresses, best friends Lisa and Jamie attend as “paid to party” girls. They plan an evening of fake flirtations, karaoke playlists, and of course, grazing the catering.

Past and present collide when Lisa stumbles across Ellen, a ruthless politician who also happens to be Lisa’s estranged mother. Awkward . . . When Lisa was sixteen, Ellen had her kidnapped and taken to the Lost Lake Academy—a…

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