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Catherine Dilts Books In Order

Publication Order of A Rock Shop Mystery Books

Stone Cold Dead (2013)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Stone Cold Case (2015)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Stone Cold Blooded (2016)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Survive or Die (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Catherine Dilts is an American mystery author best known for her debut “Rock Shop Mystery” series. Apart from her mystery novels, she has also written short fiction that has been regularly featured in the “Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.” She has also authored two titles for the “Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library” series, a multi-author cozy mystery series. While she is best known as an author, she works a day job as an environmental regulatory specialist. Her work involves compiling the paperwork that certifies that the products produced by her company are up to global standards on hazardous and substances and heavy metals restrictions. However, she still hopes to become a professional full-time author someday, though she believes that is still a long time away. Besides her writing, she also has a wide variety of activities and interests that include trail runs, hiking up the mountains, and catching rainbow trout. She also does rock painting, gardening, arts and crafts, and listens to music through her sound-canceling headphones when she is writing.

Catherine got into writing as a result of boredom given that she spent much of her summers as a child with her folks in rural South Dakota. It was a time before personal computers and cable TV and for entertainment she spent a lot of time exploring the cornfields and playing in the lake with her cousins. When it was too wet to play outside, they would write illustrated stories on sheets of paper and then create their own movies by taping them together to make rolls. It was during this time that she read the “Field & Stream magazine” and was fascinated by the river trout, pack mules, and grizzly bears. Since she grew up in tiny towns, devouring the entire section of the children’s library was something that she did a lot. She remembers loving to read and reread Walter Farley’s “Black Stallion” series and anything in the library to do with cowboys. This had a significant impact in her later writing as she tends to write a lot about the world around her during this time of her life. When she got serious about writing she gravitated towards Western settings and themes. The epiphany that led to her writing her first novel came when she was studying for her graduate school courses. She realized that she did not put in as much effort into her writing work as she did for school. From that time on she decided to be more disciplined and professional in writing, rewriting, editing, and revising her work. With her newfound dedication, she finally sold her first short fiction to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and in 2013 Stone Cold Dead her first novel also sold.

Catherine Dilts has asserted that she loves to write the novels that she likes to read. While her novels may have some adult themes or a curse word here and there, they do not have any violence, gore, or graphic sex scenes. She classifies her novels as amateur sleuth murder mysteries as she believes this captures all the different aspects of her work. Dilts did not have much writing and apart from reading police procedure books, forensics, and attending her county’s DA’s Citizen’s Academy all she had to go on was a curious mind. She also got a lot of information from loops, blogs, the internet, and writing groups such as Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Many of her short stories draw from her experiences working monotonous jobs in a factory. Her novels draw much inspiration from her job as an environmental tech and also her experiences living in the West. Living in rural South Dakota, she got to hike the mountains, ride ATVs, run foot races, and make friends with real cowgirls and cowboys. She does share several characteristics with the protagonist of her Rock Shop Mystery series. Both Morgan Iversen and the author had to go through dramatic midlife changes that resulted in unexpected changes in life. Just like her lead character, Catherine Dilts’ children are grown and so they both have to deal with empty nest syndrome. She also got wrangled into running 5-kilometer races in her forties just like Morgan Iverson her protagonist. However, unlike her protagonist that reinvented herself by starting a rock shop, Catherine found new life in writing fiction.

Dilts’ “Stone Cold Case” opens to Morgan Iverson the town’s amateur sleuth trying to keep her rock shop going. The Rock of Ages store operates from a tiny town on the Colorado mountains where Iverson makes a living. She started out not knowing much about the business and is now studying all about geology, gems, and rocks. But even as she is learning the ropes of a new business, she has to deal with complicated family problems and a love interest. But then Morgan stumbles upon the old and rotten away body of a woman that had disappeared from the town for more than one and a half decades. Curious as she always is, she is soon all over town looking for clues that may help resolve what seems like a case of murder. Her knowledge of gemstones also comes in handy as Catherine Dilts weaves a great mystery story full of surprise and suspense.

Catherine Dilts’ “Stone Cold Blooded” opens to the lead Iverson Morgan spending time at the shooting range. She has never learned the skills of sharpshooting and now her friends are teaching her how to shoot as it could come in handy in her line of work. Suddenly ,a loud explosion is heard from up the hill where her store stands. Soon after, there are gunshots and shouting and minutes later they learn that Eustace Day, their reclusive neighbor has been killed. According to the police, he had been killed by his own booby traps though his granddaughter that came visiting believes that he was murdered. Morgan teams up with Kurt Willard, a local politician and newspaper reporter running for city office. Together they set out to investigate the bizarre happenings that resulted in a grisly death of one in their community. The mystery is at the core of the story though it takes a backseat as the story explores the lives of the lead and that of her friends and family. It is a humorous cozy full of interesting and entertaining characters and some mysterious creatures thrown in too.

“Stone Cold Dead” by Catherine Dilts is a story set in Golden Springs, where Morgan is spending some time at her brother’s place. Her brother had gone away on vacation and needed someone to take care of their home and Morgan jumped at the chance to get away. But when she arrives, her brother calls to says he will not be coming back soon and that she now has to run his failing rock shop for the time being. The very next morning Adelaide and Houdini who are the resident donkeys of the rock shop disappear and Del, an employee cum neighbor teams up with Morgan to go find them. While searching for their donkeys, they stumble upon a dead boy with a gargoyle tattoo that seems Goth in origin. The news spreads like wildfire and soon Morgan hits the front pages of the local papers. Her initial investigations unearth bizarre accidents that are questionable near accidents. Morgan is now running the rock shop, learning local politics, and trying to resolve a murder mystery. She learns that the murdered girl had once accused the pastor just before she went missing.

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