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Robin Yocum Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Favorite Sons (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Essay (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Brilliant Death (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Welcome Murder (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Robin Yocum is an American crime fiction writer known for several highly popular novels. He was born in Steubenville, Ohio in 1955, though he grew up in Brilliant, a small town in Eastern Ohio. With a steel worker for a father, he never had a chance to be indolent in his childhood years, as his father always hounded him off the bed before he left for work. He would also take him on a tour of the Weirton Steel Mill in West Virginia where he worked, while Yocum was in high school. The author has famously asserted that the mill was dirty, hot, and loud and his young mind thought it was the most dangerous way to earn a living. If his father’ intention was to motivate him, it clearly worked as he never wanted anything to do with the mill when he grew up. Over the years, he has worked a variety of jobs ranging from being a carrier for the local paper, the Wheeling Intelligencer, and a truck driver. He also baled hay, mopped floors at one of the major franchise restaurants, worked as a gas station attendant, and been the night janitor for the Steubenville Country club. Of all the jobs he held, it was the janitor job which gave him the motivation to graduate college, and move on to better things.

Yocum attained his bachelor’s in journalism in 1978 from the Bowling Green State University. He immediately immersed himself in journalism, working first at the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette and then later at the Martins Ferry Times Leader. However, it was at the Columbus Dispatch where he worked as a reporter that he spent over a decade. For the most part, his job was an investigative and crime reporter of which four years were spent on the crime beat, and seven on the investigative desk. During his time as a newspaper reporter and investigator, he received over thirty national, state, and local awards, the most important of which were from the Press Club of Ohio and the Associated Press.

Over the years, the journalist cum crime fiction writer has won critical acclaim in addition to winning many accolades for his exceptional novels. The awards that he has won include the 2013-2014 Choose to Read Ohio selection, and the USA Book News Suspense/Mystery Book of the Year in 2011 all of which were for the novel, Favorite Sons. In addition to several novels, Yocum has also written a compilation of crime stories drawn the notes he took when he used to work the crime beat with Columbus Dispatch. He also has a title that he co-wrote with Catherine Candisky, a colleague of his from the Dispatch. One of his novels has been described by Publishers Weekly as his coming to age novel as a mystery writer. They deemed A Brilliant Death it a satisfying and engrossing portrayal of boyhood friendship.

Robin Yocum uses the Ohio River Valley where he grew up as the setting for several of his novels. Similarly, he uses some of the people he used to live with in the valley and even his family as inspiration for some of the characters. Brilliant, the small town where he grew up even gets its own novel in the critically acclaimed, A Brilliant Death. Many of the Geographical features, landmarks, and scenes are drawn directly from the small town, which the author asserts was a pleasant place to grow up in. Even so, he still uses some elements of fiction though not so much, as any person that has lived in or has been to the town can recognize the setting in the novels as the Ohio River Valley. His family and real people he knew growing up and his family inspire the people in the novels such as the Kaminskis. The main characters are mainly first-generation Eastern European immigrants, same as the people who lived in his hometown during the 50s and 60s. Even as he draws most of his inspiration from his younger days, in a recent interview he credited his vivid imagination for his most classic of novels. Spending 13 years as a newspaper reporter also helps a lot as he can draw upon and expand on his repertoire of classic crime stories to write an engrossing and believable narrative, better than most crime writers can.

A Brilliant Death is one of Yocum Jacob’s most excellent works. It is a mystery set in the town of Brilliant, a postindustrial town in the Ohio River Valley. Travis Baron asks his best friend, Mitch Malone, a journalist to help him investigate his mother’s mysterious death. Amanda Baron, Travis’s mother had disappeared without a trace while on a boating trip with her lover, in an incident that the police declared an accident. However, the bodies of the two were never recovered. Given that she had died while Travis was a baby, he does not know anything of what she was like as he does not even have a picture of her. Their quest for answers sees them trawling through Travis’s old home attic, scouring police reports, rummaging through old newspaper clippings, and visiting an old cemetery at midnight. Their best lead comes from a former detective who believes Big Frank, Travis’s father, may have murdered Baron Amanda. With some head scratching twists of plot, local color and a satisfying depiction of the bonds of boyhood friendship, the novel makes for a gripping read.

Favorite Sons is one of Yocum Robin’s most critically acclaimed and most known of his novels. Set in Crystalton, a small town in Ohio, it features its chief protagonist is an ambitious prosecutor that is dogged by a youthful mistake. Years earlier in 1971, Hutchinson Van Buren and his friends ran into Petey Sanchez an older, developmentally challenged older boy notorious for his violence. When Petey goes at one of the younger boys with a tree branch, he retaliates with a maul killing his attacker. The boys flee the scene in a panic, afraid that if the truth were to come out, the repercussions would be dire. The moral implications of their silence become even greater when the authorities charge a convicted child molester with the crime. Fast forward to 2004 and Van Buren who now holds the position of Summit County Chief Prosecutor is gunning for the position of State Attorney General. But a person who knows of the secret comes out of the woodwork and starts blackmailing him.

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