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Janet Dawson Books In Order

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Publication Order of Jeri Howard Mystery Books

Kindred Crimes (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
Till the Old Men Die (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
Take a Number (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
Don't Turn Your Back On The Ocean (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Missing Child / Nobody's Child (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
Credible Threat (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Witness to Evil (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Where the Bodies Are Buried (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Killing at the Track (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bit Player (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cold Trail (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Water Signs (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Devil Close Behind (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Things We Keep (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Jeri Howard Short Stories/Novellas

Candles on the Corner (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Little Red Corvette (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Slayer Statute (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Blue Eyes (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of California Zephyr Mystery Books

Death Rides the Zephyr (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death Deals a Hand (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Ghost in Roomette Four (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death Above the Line (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

What You Wish for (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Sacrificial Daughter (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Voice Mail (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Pack Rat (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
By The Book (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Invisible Time (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mrs. Lincoln's Dilemma (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
What The Cat Dragged In (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Witchcraft (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
But Not Forgotten (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Hit the Books! (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Once Upon a Crime(1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
San Francisco Noir 2(2009)Description / Buy at Amazon

Janet Dawson is an American mystery and thriller author best known for the Jeri Howard Mystery series and the California Zephyr Mystery series. Janet was born and raised in Colorado. She would go to the University of Colorado where she studied and graduated with a degree in journalism. She would then work as a newspaper reporter in Colorado before she quit to join the US Navy. As a journalist in the military, she was in charge of features and news for the public affairs offices of the Navy in Pensacola, Florida and a brief stint in Guam. She also worked in the San Francisco Bay area, which she so loved that she would later make it her new home. During her time as an officer she went back to school and attended California State University, where she graduated with a master’s in history. She currently lives in Alameda in the San Francisco Bay Area of California.

Dawson got interested in writing when she was in elementary school when she was a huge fan of the Nancy Drew books. Drawing inspiration from her voracious reading of Nancy Drew, she would write her stories in lined binder paper in longhand. Her big breakthrough came with the publishing of “Kindred Crimes,” the first novel of the Jeri Howard series. The novel was so successful that it was the winner of Best Private Eye Novel contest by St. Martin’s Press. The novel was also nominated for the Macavity, Anthony, and Shamus Awards. She also writes the “California Zephyr” historical mysteries also set in the 1950s. The mysteries feature a train hostess also known as Zephyrette named Jill Macleod as the lead character. She has more than fifteen novels spread over the “California Zephyr” and “Jeri Howard” series, a standalone novel “What You Wish For,” several short stories, and novellas. Dawson has always published her novels the traditional way though she has self-published her short stories most of which were featured in magazines and anthologies before publishing.

Janet Dawson’s lead in the “Jeri Howard” mysteries is Jeri, a recently divorced woman who is still dealing with the aftereffects of her divorce to an Oakland homicide detective. She finally gets over the bitterness with her ex and over the course of the series they work together on several cases. She also does have relationships with several men, though she finds one she thinks might just be the one in the latter books. The lead of the “California Zephyr” series is a woman named Jill Macleod, a train hostess who works on a historic train named the “California Zephyr.” The series is set in the early part of the 1950s and Dawson has asserted that her love for historical trains is what drove her to write the series. Train hostesses were common on the classic streamline trains though it was only on the California train where they were referred to as Zephyrettes. Jill McLeod is responsible for the wellbeing and care of the passengers on board the train. She is in charge of everything from providing first aid, making announcements, mailing postcards, pointing out beautiful scenery, making dinner reservations and sometimes even babysitting. She is thus best placed to solve mysteries as she is everywhere and can observe the behavior of the passengers, which makes herthe ultimate amateur sleuth. Janet Dawson got most of her information for her novels from interviewing former Zephyrettes and exhaustive research at the Colorado and California railroad museums. For the “Jeri Howard” series she spent time talking to defense attorneys, the Oakland Police Department of Homicide and even did a ride-along with a cop.

Janet Dawson’s “Death Rides the Zephyr” is set in 1952, where a transcontinental train has its path blocked by an avalanche deep in a canyon in Colorado during the winter. Things get interesting when there is a homicide on board the train and there is evidence that the killer may kill again if he is not stopped. The California Zephyr has been running the Chicago Oakland route for 21 years and has never had such a heinous crime committed on it. It has been known for its Vista Domes that offer an all-round view of the beautiful Western scenery. The train has tens of passengers from all walks of life getting in and getting off that it is more like a small city. Jill McLeod the Zephyrette is the primary point of contact between the passengers. She comes armed with a screwdriver, a first aid kit and a deep knowledge of human nature. But she now needs to put her skills of observation to work in trying to find a killer before he can kill again.

“Death Deals a Hand” the second novel of the “California Zephyr Mystery” series is set in 1953, where Jill McLeod is back on board the California Zephyr. She is in charge of the passengers traveling from Chicago to San Francisco through the Rockies. As the only Zephyrette on the train, she is in charge of greeting passengers, administering first aid and keeping them up to date on the location and progress of the train towards their destination. She is looking forward to a reunion with her new boyfriend and her family members that she has not seen for a while. The train has the usual mix of passengers and events from high stakes poker games, long lost relatives and troublesome passengers. However, the stakes have never been higher as when death decides to play. A former Chicago smuggler named Fontana is fatally shot and no one knows who would kill the man. It is up to McLeod to go into investigation mode and try to establish motive for the killing. What is more intriguing is that the killer had framed Doug Cleary the black sheep cousin of the man by planting the gun in his cabin.

Dawson’s “The Ghost in Roomette Four” is set in 1954, where the sleek “California Zephyr” is headed to Chicago from Oakland. As she is going back to her compartment, Jill McLeod the Zephyrette notices something bizarre in the “Silver Gorge Pullman” compartment. Could the strange light be a ghost? She had heard that others had been witness to the phenomenon but now she has seen it with her very own eyes. Passengers told stories of hearing voices coming from the compartment that had been presumed empty. Porters reported answering the porter call button from the roomette and going to the room to find no one there. The strange thing is that a few weeks past, a young man had been found murdered in the very same compartment she had seen the strange apparition. The death had been declared to be from natural causes but the unquiet spirit haunting Roomette Four points to murder.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Janet Dawson

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