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John Billheimer Books In Order

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Publication Order of Lloyd Keaton Mystery Books

Field of Schemes (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Player to Be Maimed Later (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Owen Allison Books

The Contrary Blues (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Highway Robbery (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dismal Mountain (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Drybone Hollow (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Stonewall Jackson's Elbow (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Primary Target (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Baseball and the Blame Game: Scapegoating in the Major Leagues (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hitchcock and the Censors (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

John Billheimer
John Billheimer grew up in Huntington, West Virginia. He has a PhD in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University. For thirty years he has been Vice President of SYSTAN, Inc, a San Francisco Peninsula based consulting firm with diverse specialties.

He also co-founded the California Motorcyclist Safety Program, which is a statewide program of mandatory training for motorcyclists that helped lower motorcycle deaths more than seventy percent in fourteen years. He chaired the Transportation Research Board Committee on Motorcycles and Mopeds.

John is married with two kids, and is a movie buff and an avid tennis player. He teaches a series of classes on “The Modern Mystery in Film and Print” and “Film Noir” as part of Continuing Studies Program at Santa Clara and Stanford Universities.

The Drood Review named “The Contrary Blues” as one of the ten best mysteries of the year 1998.

John’s debut novel, called “The Contrary Blues”, was released in the year 1998. His work is from the mystery genre. John has also penned some non-fiction on Alfred Hitchcock and baseball.

“Highway Robbery” is the second novel in the “Owen Allison” series and was released in the year 2000. West Virginia’s highway department does road construction and finds human remains close to the small town of Barkley and it stops everybody involved dead. Everybody, including Owen Allison who is called home by his mom immediately on some weak excuse, appears to have her theory on the skeleton’s identity. Another corpse is found, this one much fresher, the simple forensic investigation becomes something a lot deeper.

It all appears to start and end with the Allisons. As thirty-five years back, Wayne Allison (Owen’s dad and West Virginia highway commissioner) vanished and was thought to have drowned when a burst dam flooded the town. Owen’s mom is certain the skeleton belonged to her husband. But that is not the only bit of trouble on the Allison home front.

Now George, Owen’s troubled older brother, is the highway commissioner and he faces both professional and personal problems, from his political appointee boss to a group of environmental activists that are determined tof thwart a local highway expansion from happening. Owen has to put together the mysteries within Barkley’s past, and those in his family history. And figure out the truth before he is somebody’s next victim.

The novel features mayhem, mystery, humor, and a great sense of diversity in this state. It is both soulful and intelligent and is a treasury of both Southern speech and Southern humor. The main characters are well developed and the humor is integrated into the story well.

“Dismal Mountain” is the third novel in the “Owen Allison” series and was released in the year 2001. Owen Allison returns once more to the familiar Dismal Mountain, his hometown hills in West Virginia. Just minutes after his arrival he is caught in the middle of a fight with a shady land development company and cheating hospital administrators. Construction dumping threatens the Allison hollow close to Barkley, Owen’s Aunt Lizzie takes her rifle and goes off to stop it. Shots are fired, there’s a trucker killed, and Aunt Lizzie swears that she pulled the trigger. Owen believes that she is hiding something, possibly out of her stubborn sense of family loyalty. He intends to uncover the truth before she is forced to face the consequences for this.

Is Owen going to be able to clear his aunt’s name, in spite of the best efforts she’s making to stonewall him, and figure out a way to thwart the harmful dumping before it is too late for the Allisons? If anybody can navigate the bureaucratic mess and deal with all the colorful local scoundrels successfully, it’s Owen Allison.

These books give a unique hero that is entertaining, that you sympathize with and want to see him succeed. This satisfying read is brought to life by good characterization, the twisty plot, solid pacing, and some interesting characters.

“Field of Schemes” is the first novel in the “Lloyd Keaton Mystery” series and was released in the year 2012. A hotshot minor league outfielder asks Dale Loren (his trainer) for steroids, so Loren gives him a harmless mix of lemon juice and cold cream. Loren tells him it is a brand new steroid that goes undetected in baseball’s drug testing regiment.

Believing the mix gives him an illegal edge, he goes on a hitting streak and gets called up to the majors where, once he is cut off from his “steroid” supply, he falls into a deep slump. Then he tests positive for drugs and says Loren is his supplier. Loren’s then fired and the outfielder is found dead under some mysterious circumstances.

Lloyd Keaton (a local sportswriter) who lost his marriage, money, and a major-market career because of his gambling problem sets out to clear Loren’s good name. Along the way, he is threatened by mobsters, gets shot at, and learns that his teen son has been hooked on steroids. Keaton quickly finds out that the highest stakes are off the field and he is going to risk more than he ever thought to keep his family safe and find the truth.

“A Player to Be Maimed Later” is the second novel in the “Lloyd Keaton Mystery” series and was released in the year 2013. A retired superstar, named Blaze Stender, asks Lloyd Keaton, his old friend, to pen his biography for him, hoping that the book will aid in him being elected into baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Keaton begins working on the bio and continues even after Stender vanishes after a boating accident. Keaton quickly finds though that the facts of his longtime friend’s life are at odds with his quite popular image. Stender was holding onto some dark secrets, including blackmail payments being made that might be related to one mysterious death.

Stender’s widow attempts canceling the bio, fearing that it would tarnish her husband’s image. However Keaton cannot stop following any story. Even when it leads to one more murder and the reporter himself ends up this unknown assailant’s target.

Book Series In Order » Authors » John Billheimer

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