The best books with the baddest badass dudes of crime fiction

Who am I?

My novels range from coming-of-age to suspense. I was an award-winning crime and investigative reporter for the Columbus Dispatch for 11 years. That background helps me with the investigative aspects of my books. I enjoy exploring the moral dilemmas often presented in real life. My characters all have morals, but I like putting them in compromising situations. It’s easy to sit back and judge others, but how far would you go to keep your own son out of jail? Would the love of your son get in the way of your morals? It’s never black or white. Most of life is spent dancing in and out of the vast gray area in the middle. 


I wrote...

The Sacrifice of Lester Yates

By Robin Yocum,

Book cover of The Sacrifice of Lester Yates

What is my book about?

Lester Yates is the notorious Egypt Valley Strangler, one of the country’s most prolific serial killers. Or, is he? Yates is two months from his date with the executioner when Ohio Attorney General Hutch Van Buren is presented with evidence that could exonerate him. But Yates is a political pawn, and forces exist that don’t want him exonerated. To do so could derail presidential aspirations and change the national political landscape. Yates’ execution will clear a wide political path for many influential people, including Van Buren, who must battle both the clock and a political machine of which he is a part.

A Strand Magazine review of The Sacrifice of Lester Yates, said, “A brilliant thriller by a master of the neo-noir thriller. This should be on your nightstand. Read it.” 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead

Robin Yocum Why did I love this book?

Dave Robicheaux is a New Iberia, Louisiana, sheriff’s detective in a series by James Lee Burke. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of Dave. He is righteous, but flawed. He regularly attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, struggles with nightmares of Viet Nam and other unseen demons, but has an acute sense of right and wrong. In Crusader’s Cross, his loyal sidekick, Cletus Prucell says of Dave, "He's got polka dot giraffes running around in his head, but he's the best guy I've ever known.” I’m a Burke fan, and I like everything he writes. In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, and Purple Cane Road are my personal favorites. In Electric Mist, Dave is drawn into a 40-year-old unsolved murder that he witnessed as a college freshman. In the midst of his investigation, Dave has regular conversations with the ghost of Confederate General John Bell Hood. It’s a great read.

By James Lee Burke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The sixth in the New York Times bestselling Dave Robicheaux series delivers a heart-pounding bayou manhunt—and features “one of the coolest, earthiest heroes in thrillerdom” (Entertainment Weekly ).

When Hollywood invades New Iberia Parish to film a Civil War epic, restless specters waiting in the shadows for Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux are reawakened—ghosts of a history best left undisturbed.

Hunting a serial killer preying on the lawless young, Robicheaux comes face-to-face with the elusive guardians of his darkest torments— who hold the key to his ultimate salvation or a final, fatal downfall.


Book cover of Swan Peak

Robin Yocum Why did I love this book?

Cletus Purcell is Dave Robicheaux’s sidekick and, for my money, one of the best characters in crime fiction. He and Dave were detectives together at the New Orleans Police Department. “The Bobbsie Twins from homicide,” as Cletus likes to call them. Cletus, who wears a porkpie hat and drives a pink Cadillac, is now a private detective. This guy has more character flaws than any human being on the planet, but he is an absolute loyal friend to Dave. While I love reading Burke’s books, I get as much pleasure from listening to Will Patton read the audiobooks and bring Cletus to life. 

By James Lee Burke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Trouble follows Dave Robicheaux.

James Lee Burke's new novel, Swan Peak, finds Detective Robicheaux far from his New Iberia roots, attempting to relax in the untouched wilderness of rural Montana. He, his wife, and his buddy Clete Purcell have retreated to stay at an old friend's ranch, hoping to spend their days fishing and enjoying their distance from the harsh, gritty landscape of Louisiana post-Katrina.

But the serenity is soon shattered when two college students are found brutally murdered in the hills behind where the Robicheauxs and Purcell are staying. They quickly find themselves involved in a twisted and dangerous…


Book cover of Bad Luck and Trouble

Robin Yocum Why did I love this book?

Yeah, I know, naming Jack Reacher as one of the badasses of crime fiction is the equivalent of a six-inch putt. A gimme. Child has taken a totally implausible premise—a six-foot-five former Army MP wandering around the United States and finding trouble with nothing but an ATM card in his pocket—and created one of the best characters in suspense literature. When Reacher is on the hunt, the results are never in doubt, which is why we love him. He’s the fullback coming through the line, time and time again, and no one can stop him. One reviewer of Child’s books said that Reacher is never the underdog. That’s a perfect description.

By Lee Child,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

You do not mess with Jack Reacher.

He is as close to untraceable as a person can get. A loner comfortable in his anonymity and solitude. So when a member of his old Army unit finds a way to contact him, he knows this has to be serious.

You do not mess with the Special Investigators.

In the past the elite team always watched each other's backs. Now one of them has shown up dead in the California desert and six more are missing.

Reacher's old buddies are in big trouble, and he can't let that go.

_________

Although the…


Book cover of Depth of Winter

Robin Yocum Why did I love this book?

Walt Longmire is the sheriff of fictional Absaroka County, Wyoming. Longmire is a decorated Marine and played offensive line at the University of Southern California. He’s big, and he can brawl. He can be the cerebral Sherlock Holmes or Rambo, depending on the situation. In most of his books, Longmire teams up with Henry Standing Bear, but in Depth of Winter, Longmire is largely on his own as he sneaks into Mexico in search of his only child, Cady, who has been kidnapped by the leader of a Mexican drug cartel. Longmire is a bulldozer in his quest to rescue his daughter.

By Craig Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"It's the scenery-and the big guy standing in front of the scenery-that keeps us coming back to Craig Johnson's lean and leathery mysteries."
-The New York Times Book Review

Walt journeys into the northern Mexican desert alone to save his daughter Cady, who has been kidnapped by the cartel

Welcome to Walt Longmire's worst nightmare. Winter is creeping closer, but for Sheriff Longmire this one is looking to be harsh in a way to which he is wholly unaccustomed. He has found himself in the remotest parts of the northern Mexican desert, a lawless place where no horse or car…


Book cover of The Disappeared

Robin Yocum Why did I love this book?

Seriously, who’s tougher than a Wyoming game warden? Box’s character in more than 20 novels is Joe Pickett, who, by the standards of most crime fiction protagonists, is... What’s the word I’m looking for here? Oh, yeah, boring. He’s married, has three daughters, no major addictions or hang-ups. Box describes his character as someone who tries to “do the right thing.” I think that’s what makes him such a badass and likeable character. After all, it’s not easy being a game warden when virtually everyone you encounter is armed. Nate Romanowski is Joe’s sidekick. He’s a great second banana, but without the personality and capricious temperament of Cletus Purcell.

By C. J. Box,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

No motive, no suspect, no trace.
Who doesn't want her found?

Joe Pickett is 300 miles from home, enduring the worst weather January in Wyoming can throw at you.

He's in the small mountain town of Saratoga, on the trail of a British woman who checked out of the remote ranch she was holidaying at and disappeared.

But the missing woman is only the beginning.

Something is not right in Saratoga. Why has the local game warden also disappeared? Why is local law enforcement spooked? Why is the new state governor taking such an interest in the case? Joe will…


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Christmas at Corbie Hall: A McLaren Mystery

By Jo A. Hiestand,

Book cover of Christmas at Corbie Hall: A McLaren Mystery

Jo A. Hiestand Author Of An Unwilling Suspect

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Mystery novelist World War 2 espionage enthusiast Reader Cat parent

Jo's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Former police detective Michael McLaren is looking forward to spending Christmas at his grandfather's ancient Hall with his grandfather, uncle, and his lady love, Melanie. But McLaren’s holiday plan gets snowed under when a dead man is discovered outside his grandfather’s house--in circumstances similar to an older murder. And it’s not long before McLaren is asked to look into the previous death.

Both men played in Scottish pipe bands and worked at the same bank. Are the two murders connected? Can McLaren wrap up the cases in time to unwrap Christmas gifts with Melanie? It’s a race against the calendar and weather if he wants the Day—and his future with her—to be merry and bright.

Christmas at Corbie Hall: A McLaren Mystery

By Jo A. Hiestand,

What is this book about?

Former police detective Michael McLaren is looking forward to spending Christmas at his grandfather's ancient Hall with his grandfather, uncle, and his lady love, Melanie. But McLaren’s holiday plan gets snowed under when a dead man is discovered outside his grandfather’s house--in circumstances similar to an older murder. And it’s not long before McLaren is asked to look into the previous death.

Both men played in Scottish pipe bands and worked at the same bank. Are the two murders connected? Can McLaren wrap up the cases in time to unwrap Christmas gifts with Melanie? It’s a race against the calendar…


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