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J. Michael Orenduff Books In Order

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Publication Order of A Pot Thief Murder Mystery Books

The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Pot Thief Who Studied D. H. Lawrence (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Pot Thief Who Studied Georgia O'Keeffe (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Pot Thief Who Studied Edward Abbey (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Pot Thief Who Studied the Woman at Otowi Crossing (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Michael Orenduff is an American mystery writer from New Mexico. He once claimed that the house he grew up in was so close to the Rio Grande, that if he wanted, he could have tossed a tortilla Frisbee style, right into Mexico. Despite his playful nature, Orenduff ws a university professor at thirteen universities and colleges across three countries and states. An accomplished education administrator he has been academic dean thrice, twice vice president, and president in four universities. While he is a brilliant academic mind, he seems to have a wanderlust that saw him move from one job to the next over the years. Nonetheless, he had the honor of being feted in Newt Gingrich’s book To Renew America for his work in the development of long distance education.

With an M.A from the University of New Mexico and a Tulane University doctorate, Michael Orenduff ultimately rose to president of New Mexico State University. He opted for early retirement to pursue a career in fiction writing, a decision which most of his friends called a midlife crisis. It was not long before his decision to leave a career in education was vindicated. One of his stage plays, The Christmas Visitor that premiered in 2013 was a huge success with a full house for all its 10 performances at the Pasadena Little Theater. The play was in the Top 100 list of book by Writers Digest, won the 2009 Jewel Box Playwriting Contest, and was recognized by the McClaren Comedy Contest in Texas and the Solano Repertory Contest in California.

Michael Orenduff’s signature work is the highly popular A Pot Thief Murder Mystery series that went on to win numerous awards and recognitions. The lead character in the series is a trader in ancient Native American pottery named Hubert Schuze, who suddenly becomes a thief when a new law is passed criminalizing the digging up and selling of such artifacts. Michael asserts that he loves writing about the Land of Enchantment, which is why all of his novels are set in New Mexico.

Orenduff’s books are a great read having crackling dialogue, quirky characters, intricate plots, and a surprise ending to boot. The author asserts that the books are aimed at sending the philosophical message that culture is merely an accident of birth. While entertainment and humor seem to be an accidental by-product of the writing, the author makes New Mexico come alive for anyone that has ever lived there or even one that has never been there. He portrays the essence of the state including its landscape, the food, people, and rich history through romance, humor, and a little philosophical reflection. His cast is composed of Eastern Europeans, Basques, Native Americans, and Hispanics all of which transmit the message that despite minor cultural differences, all people are part of the human family. The novels are a perfect fusion of margaritas, mayhem, and murder in a serious, funny, yet intellectual discourse.

Michael is married to Lai his high school sweetheart with whom he has two children – Clafre and Jay. Lai is a prominent art historian perhaps informing Orenduff’s penchant towards archeological artefacts in his novels. Claire their first-born is an art history professor at Georgia College while Jay a Columbia University Dean.

The first book published in the A Pot Thief Murder Mystery series by J. Michael Orenduff is The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras. Huber Schuze is a dealer in stolen ancient Native American pottery that he from time to time digs up illegally. With his shop not bringing in enough income, he is not very hesitant when a stranger approaches him offering a deal to supplement his income. The stranger asks him to steal a very rare pot, the Mogollon Pot from the Valle del Rio Museum. An expert at finding pots from sites where even the experts have failed, Hubert can also create perfect reproductions. The passage of a new law outlawing the digging up of old pottery has never stopped Hubert from his craft, and he continues as if nothing has happened.

The request to steal a rare artifact from one of the largest museums in New Mexico does not seem morally wrong to him. To him, he is simply stealing from one greedy company that has hoarded too many artifacts than they have need for. He visits the museum to check out its security, only to find that it is too well guarded. Back at his shop, he gets a visit from the police who allege that he has stolen the pot. The plot thickens when a body is found in a hotel room that he had visited that very night. He is now the prime suspect in a murder and a high-profile theft, and he has to solve both cases if he is not to end up in jail. Overall, this is a very good mystery that is fun and easy to follow. It has its philosophical and humorous moments that are the hallmark of a truly great writer at the height of his powers.

The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy is another very popular book in the A Pot Thief Mystery novels. In this novel, Hubert Schuze makes a comeback, still as pottery thief but now for a good cause. The mysterious New Mexico Pueblo, San Roque just had some of its most precious sacred pots stolen, and Schuze is the guy to recover them. An expert in finding pottery from the most remote and unlikely looking of spots, he is sure that this will be a walk in the park. However, these pots are not ones you dig for underground – they are hidden in a building 150 feet above ground.

Stashed away in a high security building, the Rio Grande Lofts, Schuze must now employ his extraordinary clue seeking skills if he is to recover the pots. He comes up with a perfect plan though it all falls apart when he meets a beautiful woman when executing it. The police are also on his heels for a murder, in which all evidence points to his guilt. He was seen entering and leaving the dead man’s room, people heard the shots, and saw him come out with bloodied hands. He now has to outmaneuver building security and the police, and solve the double crimes before he is killed or taken to jail. Steeped in Mexican culture, scientific facts, and philosophical musings on ownership of artifacts, this is one of Michael Orenduff’s greatest classics.

Book Series In Order » Authors » J. Michael Orenduff

8 Responses to “J. Michael Orenduff”

  1. Mary Beagle: 12 months ago

    Have read all of your books as has my husband. We are looking for The Pot Thief Who Studied Calvin but can’t seem to find it in print. Is it available?

    • Graeme: 12 months ago

      I don’t believe that one has been published yet.

      • mary: 11 months ago

        Thank you

      • Mary: 11 months ago

        Actually, I read he had a book signing in Silver City, NM, last September for this book.

  2. Carol Olsen: 2 years ago

    I just completed the Woman at Otowi Crossing and it did not disappoint! I love your humor mixed with history and geology. Thank you! (I’m guessing it’s time to visit New Mexico again!)

  3. Mary B: 2 years ago

    I have read three of your books and love them. I told my husband about them and now he likes them too. We plan on reading all of them and are already hoping for more. Love your writing style.

    We moved to Las Cruces 10 years ago and did snowbirding for about 12 years before that so we feel right at home with your books and have been to many of the places you mention. Thanks so much!

  4. Barb Newell: 3 years ago

    I just finished your last Pot Thief book and wondering if a
    new one is in the works?
    Love the quirkiness and humor plus a good mystery! We spend a couple of months in Corrales (our daughter lives inRio Rancho)
    so feel a small connection with each book!

    • Mike Freeman: 1 year ago

      I have fallen in love with all of the characters in these books! I need more.


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