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Stephen Greenleaf Books In Order

Publication Order of John Marshall Tanner Books

Grave Error (1979) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Death Bed (1980) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
State's Evidence (1982) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fatal Obsession (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Beyond Blame (1985) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Toll Call (1987) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Book Case (1991) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Blood Type (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Southern Cross (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
False Conception (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Flesh Wounds (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Past Tense (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Strawberry Sunday (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Ellipsis (2000) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Ditto List (1985) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Impact (1989) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
R&R (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Stephen Greenleaf is a noteworthy American writer of mystery and thriller stories. He is a former attorney from California and is best known for writing the John Marshall Tanner book series. Greenleaf was born in Washington, D.C, the United States on July 17, 1942. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1964 from Carlton College. Greenleaf followed it up with a J.D. in 1967 from California University, Berkley. Between 1967 and 1969, he served in the US Army. During the same period, Greenleaf was also allowed admission into the California Bar. Subsequently, he held multiple legal positions.

In 1978-79, he studied creative writing by attending the Iowa Writers Workshop at the Iowa University. It was also in 1979 that he came up with his first John M. Tanner novel. Greenleaf has penned 14 John M. Tanner novels altogether. He has set every book in San Francisco with John M. Tanner in the role of the chief protagonist. Greenleaf has depicted him in the role of a private investigator based in San Francisco. The John M. Tanner books are recognized for being highly entertaining and literate. They are shown dealing with contemporary political and social issues. In the series’ beginning, Greenleaf felt that to remain vital, his books should focus more on the place and people encountered by Tanner than him being a detective. With this thought in mind, he restricted the biography of detective Tanner in the first 3 books.

As the series progresses, Tanner’s character undergoes several changes. Greenleaf feels he brought changes in the character over the years and made him less judgmental and more sympathetic. Author Greenleaf says that some of the events mentioned in the Tanner novels are inspired by his own life experiences. The contemporary legal issues mentioned by him are taken from his background as a lawyer. As Greenleaf’s military experience didn’t include combat, he chose to depict fabricated versions of such events in the books. Several other personal experiences that pop up in between include, growing up a Midwestern town, studying at an arts college and then at a law school, and joining the agricultural industry’s legal work.

In addition to the Tanner novels, Greenleaf has written several standalone books that include Impact, The Ditto List, and R&R. He wrote the latter in collaboration with his wife Ann Garrison Greenleaf. Warner Bros. had bought the film rights of The Ditto List. Dustin Hoffman tried his best to make the film, with Mike Nicholas’ inclusion as the director and Nora Ephron as the scriptwriter, but the project could not see the light of the day. Likewise, Impact was also in talks to be adapted into a movie, but due to unavoidable circumstances, this project also got shelved. Author Greenleaf considers himself fortunate for having published Tanner books over a period of 4 decades and achieved worldwide success. He is grateful for everyone who helped in shaping his career and enabling him to become an established author. Some of the prestigious award nominations received by him include the Edgar Award, Shamus Award, and the Dilys Award.

The John Marshall Tanner series written by author Stephen Greenleaf is comprised of 14 books released between 1979 and 2000. It features the essential characters in the roles of John M. Tanner, Roland Nelson, Claire Nelson, Harry SPring, Ruthie Spring, Max Kottle, Pamela Brown, Tony Fluto, Tancy Verritt, Billy, Lissa, Dianne, Lawrence Usser, Pete Rose, Peggy Nettleton, and several others. The debut book of the series is entitled ‘Grave Error’. It was released by the Doubleday publication in 1979. Greenleaf dedicated this book to his wife, Ann Greenleaf. The early scenes of the book open with elegant, simple sentences and are surfaced with the wry and dry humor of John Tanner.

Initially, it is mentioned that Roland Nelson’s wife hires Tanner to investigate the large, suspicious expenses in her company. Meanwhile, Roland’s adopted daughter named Clair Nelson has hired the services of Tanner’s mentor Harry Spring to find out answers related to her troubling origins. Sara Brooke is introduced as an assistant who works at the Nelsons’ institute. As Tanner begins to look into the personal life of Sara Brooke, the mystery behind the suspicious expenses begins to unravel. To everyone’s shock, Harry Spring is found murdered in a remote location in Oxtail, California. Ruthie Spring, Harry’s wife, asks Tanner to investigate her husband’s murder case and track down the killer. After Tanner successfully solves this case, Ruthie goes on to become a mainstay in the series. She becomes a close pal of Tanner and assists him in his investigations.

The second mind-blowing installment of the series is known as ‘Death Bed’. It was published in 1980 by the Crimeline publication. This book opens by introducing Max Kottle as a businessman from San Francisco. He is suffering from cancer and does not have much time left with him. Max has a 30-year-old son named Karl, who has been estranged from him for the last 10 years and no one knows about his whereabouts. When all his efforts at locating his son go in vain, Max Kottle hires Tanner to do the task for him. While working on this case, Tanner romances with a lady reporter named Pamela Brown. As Tanner succeeds in finding some important information about Karl Kottle, he discovers that Max has not told him some key points about his son.

Karl is a wanted criminal and has now gone underground. He has established links with a terrorist organization that blows up buildings under the command of some corrupt politicians. The organization seems to have negative thoughts about successful businessmen like Max Kottle. The search for Karl takes Tanner to sordid places, where he comes across desperate people doing all sorts of desperate things. This book is filled with more frustrations and dead ends than successes and revelations. There are many interesting characters who keep the plot intriguing enough for the readers to keep reading until the end. Author Greenleaf has done a tremendous job of describing a suspenseful story filled with numerous twists and turns. He received the credit from critics for this well-written story with credible and believable characters and an excellent storyline. Readers in all corners of the world like this novel and gave excellent reviews that helped it to become immensely popular.

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