The best mysteries that transport you into the great outdoors

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by the mountain wilderness and national parks of my home state, Colorado. In my younger days, I hiked to the mountain lakes of the Sangre de Cristo range near my hometown and then later the high-country trails of northern Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. When I began writing the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, I combined my experience as a veterinarian’s wife with my love of the great outdoors and dogs to create Killing Trail, book one of eight in my series that features Deputy Mattie Cobb, her K-9 partner Robo, and veterinarian Cole Walker. Together they solve mysteries in the fictional mountain community of Timber Creek, Colorado.


I wrote...

Book cover of Standing Dead

What is my book about?

Deputy Mattie Cobb and her sister, Julia, travel to Mexico to visit their mother, but when they arrive, they discover that she and her husband have vanished without a trace. Back in Timber Creek, Mattie finds a chilling note on her front door telling her to look for “him” among the standing dead up in the high country.

The sheriff’s department springs into action and sends a team to the mountains, where Mattie’s K-9 partner, Robo, makes a grisly discovery—a body tied to a dead pine tree. Mattie is shocked when she realizes she knows the dead man. And then another note arrives, warning that Mattie’s mother is in desperate straits. In a last-ditch gambit, Mattie must go deep undercover into a killer’s lair to save her mother—or die trying.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Endangered

Margaret Mizushima Why did I love this book?

I love mysteries that are set in the great outdoors, and Pamela Beason’s books definitely fill that bill.

Endangered was the first book of hers that I’ve read and I immediately fell in love with Summer “Sam” Westin, the protagonist of the Sam Westin Mystery series. Sam’s eclectic background combining experience with animals and wilderness environments has landed her an assignment to report on cougars at a Utah park.

When a young child goes missing, the cougars she’s been observing are blamed and Sam embarks on a quest to save both the child and the big cats she’s come to admire. This book taught me about cougars and their habitat and provided a tense whodunit to enjoy.

By Pamela Beason,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Summer "Sam" Westin's assignment to report on cougars in a Utah park goes horribly awry when a child vanishes from a campground and the TV news focuses on the local mountain lions as the likely culprits.

As days tick by with no sign of the missing boy and media coverage continues to inflame the public, pressure grows for the park administration to kill the cougars. But Sam was one of the last people to see the child, and she has good reason to suspect a man she spotted in the shadows as little Zachary Fischer ran away from her.

Can…


Book cover of Saguaro Sanction

Margaret Mizushima Why did I love this book?

Saguaro Sanction is the eighth book in Scott Graham’s National Park Mystery series.

I have read every one of Graham’s books, because I love being swept into the backcountry of one of the nation’s national parks and learning about issues that affect that particular location. I also love characters Chuck Bender, an archeologist, his wife Janelle Ortega, and her two daughters Carmelita and Rosie.

Graham is a master storyteller and provides a perfect balance as he weaves in details about this engaging family, the vivid descriptions of park landscapes, and educational elements to deliver an entertaining mystery.

Saguaro Sanction focuses on the cultural and historic aspects of Saguaro National Park and its mystery stands alone, but for the full scope of the characters’ stories, start with book one, Canyon Sacrifice.

By Scott Graham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Janelle Ortega and Chuck Bender are drawn deep into a threatening web of hostility and deceit in Saguaro National Park in this page-turner of a mystery.

"A winning blend of archaeology and intrigue, Graham's series turns our national parks into places of equal parts beauty, mystery, and danger.”
—EMILY LITTLEJOHN, author of Lost Lake

When Janelle Ortega’s cousin from Mexico is found brutally murdered at a remote petroglyph site in Saguaro National Park, she and her husband, archaeologist Chuck Bender, are drawn deep into a threatening web of hostility and deceit stretching south across the US-Mexico border and back in…


Book cover of Chasing Justice

Margaret Mizushima Why did I love this book?

Chasing Justice starts off with a bang, literally, as an explosion in a national forest rocks Maya Thompson, a former marine who has recently started a new job with US Forest Service law enforcement, into a new challenge when she must become handler for K9 Juniper, a Belgium Mallinois whose handler has been killed.

Debut author Kathleen Donnelly delivers a tense, action-packed mystery/suspense set in the Colorado wilderness that provides a terrific start to this new National Forest K9 series. It is apparent that as a narcotics detection K9 handler, Donnelly really knows her stuff about canine nose work and dog training.

I was immediately taken with both Maya and Juniper, and I look forward to the next book in the series.

By Kathleen Donnelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A former marine learns to love again in this suspenseful, action-packed K-9 search and rescue from debut author Kathleen Donnelly.

After losing her military K-9, former marine Maya Thompson swears she’ll never work with dogs again. But when she returns home to Colorado and accepts a job with US Forest Service law enforcement, fate brings K-9 Juniper into her life just as another tragedy unfolds.

Juniper, a beautiful two-year-old Malinois, isn’t the only new addition to Maya’s life. Josh Colten, the local deputy sheriff, insists on helping with her new case. Handsome and mysterious, he’s all anyone in town can…


Book cover of Figure Eight: A Northern Lakes Mystery

Margaret Mizushima Why did I love this book?

Figure Eight whisks you into the Northern Lakes region of Wisconsin, offering backwoods snapshots of landscapes rarely traveled by humans.

As an avid outdoorsman, Jeff Nania knows the Northern backwoods like a beloved family member, and he has created a novel that captured and held my attention with its vivid outdoor descriptions and engaging characters. I loved John Cabrelli and rooted for him as he begins this tale from his hospital bed and takes us into his story of murder and family relationships.

This is book one in the Northern Lakes Mysteries, and I’ve enjoyed the rest of Nania’s mysteries through his fourth and latest episode, Musky Run.

By Jeff Nania,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A shattered career. A crooked lawyer. An unsolved murder. Seeking peace in the Northwoods is fraught with danger.
Every night John Cabrelli relives the tragic events that ended his career. While struggling to find himself again, John inherits his uncle's cabin and returns to the lake where he spent much of his youth. Little does John know that danger waits for him when he uncovers suspicious circumstances of his uncle's death. Few people will talk about it as John unravels a mystery that could forever change the landscape.

Award-winning author, conservationist, and retired decorated law enforcement officer Jeff Nania weaves…


Book cover of Vanishing Edge

Margaret Mizushima Why did I love this book?

This book swept me into Sequoia National Park, a place I’ve visited only through Kells’ eloquent landscape descriptions as seen through the eyes of protagonist Felicity Harland, a federal agent with the Investigative Services Bureau.

I felt Felicity’s pain as she hikes ever upward into the forests of an extreme wilderness area that tests the limits of her endurance, having been injured in her last job as an FBI agent. I enjoyed the landscape as well as the story woven into this tight and twisty debut mystery.

By Claire Kells,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Vanishing Edge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For fans of Christine Carbo and Scott Graham, an ex-FBI agent is on a desperate hunt for a party of vanished campers while a killer is on the loose.

The rugged landscape of Sequoia National Park is a challenge on the best of days—but when a park ranger discovers an abandoned exclusive campsite with an empty tent and high-end technical gear scattered on the shores of an alpine lake, the wilderness takes on a sinister new hue.
 
Thirty-two-year-old Felicity Harland—a former FBI agent who left the service in the wake of a personal tragedy and has taken her skills off…


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Book cover of Evil Alice and the Borzoi

DK Coutant Author Of Evil Alice and the Borzoi

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Why am I passionate about this?

Author Professor Cross Cultural Psychologist Dog Lover Traveler Reader

DK's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Cleo Cooper, a cross-cultural psychology professor, is living the dream on the Big Island of Hawaii. With ocean-dipping weekends, she enjoys her dog, her job, and her boyfriend Ben - until the day she’s on a research vessel and a dead body is caught in the dragline.

The police determine it is murder and set their sights on a gentle former student, Kai. It doesn’t take much urging from Kai’s auntie for Cleo to investigate. But Ben grows distant, and Cleo’s dog grows ill. A couple of accidental deaths later, and someone makes an attempt on her life.

What happened to Cleo’s life in paradise? Can she discover the true killer? Can she stop the killer before the killer stops her?

Evil Alice and the Borzoi

By DK Coutant,

What is this book about?

Paradise is shaken when the body of a young woman is dragged onto a university research vessel during a class outing in Hilo Bay. Cleo Cooper is shaken when she finds her favorite student is on the hook for the murder. Danger lurks on land and sea as Cleo and her friends are enticed to search for the true killer. In between paddling, swimming, and arguing with her boyfriend, Cleo discovers all is not what it seems on the Big Island of Hawaii. But will she figure out the truth before she becomes the next victim?


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