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Sarah Burke Books In Order

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Publication Order of Sarah Burke Books

Cool in Tucson / Close To Her (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
New River Blues / Rio Nuevo (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Kissing Arizona / Too Close To Kill (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Magic Line / Close to Death (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Red Man Down / Closing Ranks (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Denny's Law / Close To Home (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sarah's List / Close to the Edge (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Sarah Burke is the protagonist in the Sarah Burke series of novels written by Elizabeth Gunn, the popular crime mystery novel author. Burke is a hardworking, ambitious, divorced police detective in Tucson, AZ that also doubles as the protector of Denny, her substance abusing sister’s young daughter. We are first introduced to Sarah in book one of the Sarah Burke series – Cool in Tucson. Despite only being recently promoted to detective, Burke’s go-getter attitude tells her that the least she can do is take her boss’s job which causes friction between them. Meanwhile, the proximity of Tucson to the Mexican border means that, it has to deal with border problems such as people and drug smuggling, and associated criminal activities. Sara is a very likable detective, fitting the mold of the tough minded yet vulnerable female sleuth made famous by authors such as Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, and Marcia Muller. While she is a very good detective, her devotion to her cobbled up family that is composed of her special needs mother, her reckless substance abusing sister, and her young niece, complicate her life even further.

Spanning five titles that were published between 2007 and 2014, the Sarah Burke series is one of the most popular crime mystery series ever. Set in a city near the Mexican border, Elizabeth Gunn asserted that she chose Tucson as she viewed it as a rich resource from which she could draw fascinating characters and storylines. Tucson’s lucrative human and drug smuggling rings and the idyllic climate that attracts people from just about anywhere, makes it the ultimate melting pot of cultures. As expected, this volatile mix, made it possible for Elizabeth Gunn to create the Sarah Burke series of novels that were instantly popular, given that they were so highly relatable. Gunn has asserted that she is currently working on the latest book in the Sarah Burke series which she hopes to release soon.

Sarah epitomizes how difficult it is to juggle the work of a top police detective with keeping up with complicated family obligations. All that she has has been attained through hard work – working side by side with her colleagues to crack mysterious and often bizarre criminal mysteries. She is increasingly faced by family dilemmas such as her sister going off the rails, her mother becoming unable to live independently, and her boyfriend wanting to move in while she is not ready. She has always believed that her family life and its complications should never interfere with her job. However, she increasingly finds that the actions of her sister, her mother, and her niece, are entangled in her criminal investigations of drugs, kidnapping, and people smuggling. In spite of all her family troubles, Sarah Burke tough mindedness continues to stand her in good stead as she finds inventive ways to solve Tucson’s biggest crimes. Nonetheless, given the complex nature of the demographics of the city and her dysfunctional family, she soon finds out that most of the answers to the biggest crime mysteries could lie closer to home, and her family than she ever thought.

Cool in Tucson

The first novel in the Sarah Burke series introduces us to Sarah Burke, A homicide detective whose life and job are complicated by a substance-abusing niece, a reckless sister, potential love interest and boss that all lie to her. Upon her arrival at a murder scene with her partner Jimmy Ibarra, she learns that no one knows anything about the murdered man. The only thing they can tell from looking at the body is that the victim has congealed blood under his clothes, numerous torture scars on the bac,k and several prison tattoos. Sarah’s boss who seems to have an axe to grind with her, makes her lead investigator with virtually no resources or manpower, just to spite her. She takes it all in her stride. She is less bothered by it as she is by her alcoholic, drug-abusing sister leaving her young daughter in her car and a random pickup in her bedroom while she goes drinking. When a suspected killer steals her sister’s car with her niece in it, Sarah has to not only find the killer but also her niece. Two men are killed in quick succession over the following two days with a third threatened by a drug ring that has diversified into extortion. Meanwhile, her niece Denny manages to escape with a sack full of money that her kidnapper had somehow misplaced.

New River Blues

The second novel of the Sarah Burke series sees Burke get a second case that is just as mystifying as the first. After a night of drugs, drinking and toy boy debauchery, wealthy cougar Eloise Henderson and her newfound young boyfriend get their heads bashed in. Sarah’s boss, Chief Delaney is among the first on the scene after the station receives a call from neighbors that heard the commotion coming from the Henderson house. The Chief makes Sarah lead detective in the double homicide. Almost immediately, Sarah’s suspicions settle on Roger, a major property developer that had been until recently been involved with Eloise. Unfortunately, for Sarah, Roger has a watertight alibi – he had spent the entire night in Phoenix with an escort. There is nothing to suggest that the Ding on his vehicle, which he got on the way back, is anything but genuine. Patricia, Eloise’s daughter who is hysterical and helpful all at once, suspects the catering help that included the dead plaything Pauly, and his ex-convict associate Nino who has conveniently disappeared. Sarah’s suspect list also expands to include three employees of the Grant Street Theater that had been involved with the catering company from time to time. Her home life is just as chaotic as ever as her niece Denny is ever more suspicious and moody, her sister is back into her life, and her new boyfriend is recovering from several on the job injuries. Eventually she manages to resolve the Burke family issues and unravel the Henderson double homicide crime mystery. Gunn manages to weave a story of devotion and care for family and society in this heartwarming yet thrilling tale of one detective that gives all for what she believes in.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Sarah Burke

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