Sunday, June 17, 2012

Featured New Mexico Author: Walter Satterthwait

Author and world traveler Walter Satterthwait settled in New Mexico for a time, the result of which was the mystery series featuring Santa Fe private investigator Joshua Croft who relies on "his unique blend of low-key humor, hard-won street smarts, and a familiarity with barroom etiquette". Later joined by investigator Rita Mondragon, Croft navigates the unique environment of northern New Mexico, dealing with movie stars, Navajos, New Age healers, and commune farmers.

The Joshua Croft series:

1. Wall of Glass (1988)
2. At Ease With the Dead (1990)
3. A Flower in the Desert (1992)
4. The Hanged Man (1993)
5. Accustomed to the Dark (1996)
The Death Card (1994)

Satterthwait also gives readers the historical mystery series about Pinkerton agent Phil Beaumont, who seems to always end up interacting with governess Jane Turner. Set in the 1920s, the books in the series include such real historical characters as Harry Houdini, Arthur Conan Doyle, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and even Adolf Hitler! The first book is a play on the traditional "murder at the manor", the second book explores 1920s Paris, and the third takes Beaumont and Turner to pre-WWII Berlin. Partly told through Jane's letters to a friend, the books offer a fine experience for the mystery / history buff.

1. Escapade (1995)
2. Masquerade (1998)
3. Cavalcade (2005)

Satterthwait set his pen to two famous historical characters, with intriguing results.

Wilde West (1991) is a fictionalized account of Oscar Wilde's real 1882 lecture tour of the American Southwest, turning this famous event into a murder mystery! Lots of Wilde wit and appearances by Old West characters such as Doc Holliday make this a fun, clever read.

Folk wisdom has it that Lizzie Borden "gave her mother forty whacks, and when she saw what she had done, her father forty-one". But in Miss Lizzie (1989) Satterthwait reminds us that Borden was actually acquitted of the crime. Which doesn't stop her from being a prime suspect when a similar murder occurs thirty years later. An excellent period mystery.

And in 2007 Satterthwait revisited a famous case from the 1920s in Dead Horse:

From Booklist:

"The latest from one of crime fiction's most reliable publishers of edgy noir goes in a different, but delightfully entertaining, direction: a historical mystery drawing on the life of hard-boiled pulp author Raoul Whitfield, who, in the 1920s, was the most highly paid mystery writer in the country. In 1933, Whitfield married socialite Emily Davies Vanderbilt Thayer, and the pair lived the money-guzzling jazz-age life in a sumptuous home near Las Vegas, New Mexico. After a tempestuous separation in 1935, Emily died, apparently a suicide, though many thought she was murdered. Whitfield, who quit writing after the marriage, never escaped the cloud of suspicion surrounding his wife's death. Genre veteran Satterthwait offers his version of what might have happened, jumping back and forth in time to tell the story of the couple's storybook romance and its tragic denouement. The alternate history is completely credible, and the portrayal of a genre star brought down by the high life is addictively readable (especially for its links to Dashiell Hammett, who may have based Nick in The Thin Man on Whitfield). Great fun, particularly for pulp fans." - Bill Ott
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Walter Satterthwait -- your connection for historical mystery!

Other mystery series by New Mexico authors:

Rudolfo Anaya - Sonny Baca series
Christine Barber - Lucy Newroe series
Steve Brewer - Bubba Mabry series, Drew Gavin series
Stephen R. Donaldson - Mick Axbrewder series
James D. Doss - Charlie Moon series
Tony Hillerman - Jim Chee series, Joe Leaphorn series, Jim Chee & Joe Leaphorn series
Darynda Jones - Charley Davidson series
Robert Kresge -  Warbonnet series
Sarah Lovett - Dr. Sylvia Strange series
Michael McGarrity - Kevin Kerney series
J. Michael Orenduff - Pot Thief / Hubie Schuze series
John Maddox Roberts - SPQR series
Connie Shelton - Charlie Parker series
Susan Slater - Ben Pecos series
Virginia Swift - Mustang Sally series
Pari Noskin Taichert - Sasha Solomon series
Aimee and David Thurlo - Ella Clah series, Lee Nez series,  Sister Agatha series
Judith Van Gieson - Claire Reynier series, Neil Hamel series
Robert Westbrook - Howard Moon Deer series

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