Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, staff from Out West Books in Grand Junction recommend “Shutter,” “Blackwater Falls,” “Striking Range” and “Catering to Nobody.”


By Ramona Emerson
SoHo Crime
August 2022


From the publisher: Rita Todacheene is a forensic photographer working for the Albuquerque police force. Her excellent photography skills have cracked many cases — she is almost supernaturally good at capturing details. In fact, Rita has been hiding a secret: She sees the ghosts of crime victims who point her toward the clues that other investigators overlook.

From Didi Herald, bookseller:  If you’ve read Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn/Chee mysteries you know Navajo have taboos surrounding death, so a Navajo forensic photographer for the Albuquerque police department seems unlikely. Rita Todacheene is a Navajo written by a Navajo writer and filmmaker. In a grisly scene, as Rita takes photo after photo of the pieces of a victim, Esme, the dead woman’s ghost, tells her she didn’t commit suicide but was murdered.  Esme will not leave Rita alone until her killer is punished, causing Rita to be suspended as she investigates. This superbly crafted tale pops back and forth from the present to the people  and events in the past that shaped Rita. 

Blackwater Falls

By Ausma Zehanat Khan
Minotaur Books
November 2022


From the publisher: Girls from immigrant communities have been disappearing for months in the Colorado town of Blackwater Falls, but the local sheriff is slow to act and the fates of the missing girls largely ignored. At last, the calls for justice become too loud to ignore when the body of a star student and refugee — the Syrian teenager Razan Elkader — is positioned deliberately in a mosque.

From Marya Johnston, owner: Inaya Rahman is an American policewoman of half-Afghan, half Pakistani descent.   As part of a police program designed to ensure that vulnerable people are treated fairly, she is called to the sheriff’s department in Blackwater Falls, Colorado, to take over the murder case of a Syrian teenager. 

There are a lot of social issues going on in this book, with characters of many races and beliefs…all of them very current and important.  Khan lays bare the American Muslim experience as well as immigration,  evangelism and entitlement.  She leaves no stone unturned, but I like that.   If you are a fan of multifaceted, multicultural fast-paced mysteries with a strong female character, “Blackwater Falls” is your holiday murder read.

Striking Range

By Margaret Mizushima
Crooked Lane
September 2022


From the publisher: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 No. 1 — the man who tried to kill Deputy Mattie Cobb and may have killed her father 30 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.

From Marya Johnston, owner: I have customers who will always buy Margaret Mizushima’s books because dogs figure prominently in the story.  This is Colorado, after all.  Though this book is the seventh in the Timber Creek series, it could easily stand alone.  The main character, Deputy Mattie Robb, is one of those tough-seeming kind of gals with a heart of gold.  She and her canine partner, Robo, take to the high country in their quest to find Mattie’s dad’s killer and are sidetracked and lost in a snowstorm trying to find a newborn.  It’s action packed and great winter reading!

Catering to Nobody

By Diane Mott Davidson
Bantam Books
February 2002


From the publisher:Even though working a wake isn’t Goldy Bear’s idea of fun, the Colorado caterer throws herself into preparing a savory feast featuring poached salmon and strawberry shortcake buffet designed to soothe 40 mourners. Her culinary efforts seem to be exactly what the doctor ordered . . . until her former father-in-law, gynecologist Fritz Korman, is struck down — and Goldy is accused of adding poison to the menu. 

From Marya Johnston, owner:  I have loved Diane Mott Davidson’s books for years.  Goldy the Caterer, based in Evergreen, is an unlikely crime solver, but people just keep dying when she’s around, so naturally she’s in the “mix.”  Some of the recipes sprinkled throughout the books have become standards at my house, like “Cereal Killer Cookies.” This book is the first in the series. Diane’s character Goldy was one of the first of the modern tradition of out-of-the-ordinary female crime solvers. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and Ellie Cosamano’s Finlay Donovan are more recent entries in this hilarious sub-genre.


Out West Books

533 Main St., Grand Junction


As part of The Colorado Sun’s literature section — SunLit — we’re featuring staff picks from book stores across the state. Read more.

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