Northwestern Mystery Author Shares Favorite Reads

Carol Wright Crigger

Carol Wright Crigger began her writing career using initials (C.K.) on the premise they would cause her work to be taken more seriously. These days she prefers to spell out her name. Raised on a wheat ranch on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation, she grew up reading the same rootin’, tootin’ Western novels her parents loved. Today those books are classics, along with the Zane Greys she and her brother traded at Christmas.

She is a two-time Spur Award finalist; once in Short Fiction, and once in Audio. With a mind she describes as “busy as an ant on a hot stove” she writes in several different genres. Currently, she concentrates on her China Bohannon novels, which feature an 1890s bookkeeper-turned-sleuth, whose adventures often take her out into the countryside. The latest, published by Five Star/Cengage in May 2016, is titled Four Furlongs and highlights the old Corbin Park racetrack in Spokane, Washington.

She agonized over choosing five books to recommend. Most are local history, which she says, “I use to stimulate my own creative juices.”

1 Oliver Wiswell (Kenneth Roberts, Doubleday): A novel, this is the one book I turn to when I’m having trouble finding the right words. A book about the revolution, the title character is a Tory, and never less than a true American. In the story, Oliver takes some sage advice on how to write a book from an elderly lady. “The way to write a book is to write one sentence and then write another, and keep on doing it every day, rain or shine, sick or well.” Roberts’ body of work on the American Revolution fired my love of history when I was twelve and does to this day.

2 Saga of a Western Town…Spokane (Jay J. Kalez, Lawton Printing, Inc.): This is a collection of factual incidents and anecdotes relating to the pioneer past of the West’s (self-described) most friendly city, Spokane, Washington. I’ve almost worn this soft cover book out having read it so many times. Written by a gentleman who was on the scene for much of the period, the book also features drawings and photographs.     

Northwest Disaster: Avalanche and Fire and Steamboats in the Timber (Ruby El Hult, Binfords & Mort, Publishers): I’m cheating by grouping two books by the same author. Hult lived and wrote at a time when she could speak with the people featured in these books. She was an excellent researcher and writer.

4 Breaking Blue (Timothy Egan, Alfred A. Knopf):  In 1989, Tony Bamonte, the sheriff of Pend Oreille County, Washington, solved a murder and crime spree dating to the Great Depression. The book on how he did it is mesmerizing! Which brings me to…

5 Life Behind the Badge: The Spokane Police Department’s Founding Years, 1881- 1903 (Tony and Suzanne Bamonte, Tornado Creek Publications): Not only a great detective and policeman, Tony, along with his wife, Suzanne, is a meticulous historian.

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