Valley of the Sun Mystery Series

Joe Rodriguez, homicide investigator with Phoenix Metro, yearns for a quiet life with his two kids. Ain’t gonna happen. Before his eighteenth birthday, both his Yaqui Indian father and English mother had died. Five years ago he was widowed. Two years ago, a perp ran over him with a racing car. There was that assassination attempt. And now he’s struggling mightily with guilt, for he is totally enamoured of a perfect woman—who is thirteen years his junior.

His partner, Tom Flaherty, born and raised in Galway, Ireland, is as close to a perpetual motion machine as a tall, gangly redhead ever gets. Tom didn’t just kiss the blarney stone, he caressed it. He makes tornadoes look casual. In a few years the twentieth century will turn into the twenty-first, threatening to drag the world’s computers down with it. Computers aside, Joe and Tommy work to ensure that those who have killed will never kill again. Despite the hectic weirdness of their partnership, they enjoy a ninety-seven percent conviction rate, so it’s all worth it.

Wolves of Christmas Novel

wolves of christmas (VALLEY OF THE SUN #8)

Happy holidays indeed. Homicide Captain Hocks’s retirement fund evaporates under suspicious circumstances. Tommy’s cousin, whom Joe absolutely adores, is gang-raped. Computer guru Henrietta is sweating bullets over the upcoming disaster of Y2K that will send the computer system back to the Dark Ages. The kids’ sitter, Tía Edna, turns deathly ill, and Fel gets T-boned by a kid going 55 in a hospital zone.   And that’s not taking into account a hideous murder investigation that has Gretchen pulling her hair out. Ho ho ho.



Every long bone in the corpse has been broken pre-mortem. And when Homicide starts looking, other such victims turn up. Joe, who hates to fly, finds himself in a helicopter that does not stay airborne. Then there’s Buffy, an apricot mini poodle that won’t shut up, Mitzi, a West Highland terrier with an even worse motor-mouth, and Snarf, a lugubrious basset hound whom Joe considers the only real dog of the lot. They all play a part except maybe for Buffy, whom Tommy considers satan’s spawn.

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Fatal Fishes (Valley of the Sun #6)

Joe’s supervisor Jerry sends him out on a mundane gig that turns out to be an assassination attempt. Joe would have died in the desert on an abandoned turnaround, but two teen-aged girls find him in time. Whom can he trust? No one. But he can’t act alone. Tommy takes over and with the girls and forensic investigator Gretchen ferrets out the perpetrators. But they are only the minnows. Tommy must find the bass, the fish at the top of this hideous food chain, and it looks more and more like it’s Jerry.

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Cry Fowl (Valley of the Sun #5)

Joe’s grandparents have never met their grandchildren, so he takes them to England while Tommy goes on to Ireland to visit the folks. Not all is sweetness and light. His father-in-law, Peter, assumes his daughter was murdered by Joe, and now Peter himself is a suspect in the death of his business partner. Meanwhile, Tommy learns that his uncle Seamus is marked for death, but the local police—the Garda—can’t quite believe it. That doddering old farmer? Surely not. The puzzle on English soil is resolved during a cruise to the Isle of Man. Joe then joins Tommy in Ireland to work on the little problem of keeping Seamus alive.

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Gila Monster (Valley of the Sun #4)

Gila Monster venom is as strong as a rattler’s. But no one ever dies, because the creature has to latch onto you and chew a while, slowly working its poisonous saliva into you. Besides, its teeth, shallowly rooted, come out easily; if it grabs you, simply yank it off. Except that a research professor has just died of Gila Monster venenation. Warning: Explicit snakes.

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The Last Dinosaur (Valley of the Sun #3)

“There was a day, one day—a moment, one moment—buried somewhere in the millennia when but a single dinosaur remained. His brethren of the past were gone. The eons to come would never see his kind again. He was the sole survivor, the final living member of the only species left. The last dinosaur.” Thus goes the blurb for a movie in production. Grady Golden, the producer, eschews computer effects and instead uses a full-size animatronic T. rex. Which, apparently, has stomped a woman to death. You just can’t trust dinosaurs.

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Mouse Trap (Valley of the Sun #2)

It all starts with an officer-down investigation. A well-liked Robbery investigator is gunned down along with an informer. The investigation spreads quickly to Scottsdale’s premier Indian museum, thence to the Hopi reservation. Spoilt, brilliant Bernice, eagerly misspending her youth, adds to the quirky nature of the whole case.

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Cat Killer (Valley of the Sun #1)

True incident: A woman once excoriated me for writing about killing a cat. No, I explained, the victim was a woman named Catherine. “Oh. That’s okay.” This one starts with a car bomb and ends at the tiger enclosure in the Phoenix zoo. Incidentally, I am one of the first members of the Phoenix Zoo, and this was as the area looked in the 90s; the zoo has been beautifully updated since then.