Category Archives: Ransom River

A reminder: My books

IntoTheBlackNowhere    1121 UNSUB

phantom_instinct  Shadow    



Every now and then, readers ask how many books I’ve written, and what the titles are. Here’s the list as of February 2019. Into the Black Nowhere is the most recent. Click on each cover to learn more about each title.

And if you want to know the order in which they’ve been published, here you go. From first to fourteenth:

Evan Delaney novels:
China Lake
Mission Canyon
Jericho Point
Kill Chain

Jo Beckett novels:
The Dirty Secrets Club
The Memory Collector
The Liar’s Lullaby
The Nightmare Thief

Stand alone novels:
Ransom River
The Shadow Tracer
Phantom Instinct

UNSUB novels:
Into the Black Nowhere

Happy reading, y’all.

Get signed, personalized books for the 2017 holidays

1121 UNSUB
phantom_instinct  Shadow    

The holidays are coming up, and of course you’re contemplating giving books as gifts to everyone you know and love. Right?

If you’d like to get copies of my novels, you can now arrange for me to scribble in them, no matter how far away you live or whether you catch me in person when I have a pen in my hand. Thanks to my fantastic local bookstore, Book People in Austin, you can order signed, personalized copies of my novels. The store ships across the USA and internationally.

Book People doesn’t have a hard deadline for holiday shipping, but the sooner you order, the better.

UPDATE! Book People says:

To ensure orders make it somewhere in time for Christmas, we ask that they be placed before (not on) December 19th at the absolute latest. Making an order that late would require UPS shipping, our more expensive option, so customers looking to ship through USPS should place orders before the 12th to be sure they make it on time. UPS shipping typically takes 3 to 5 business days and USPS typically takes 5 to 10 business days.

If you’d like to order copies of my books and have me sign them, call (512) 472-5050 or CLICK HERE.

And once you order my books, you can keep on going and order books by other authors as well. Book People has a whole store full of them. What are you waiting for?

Die Zeugin: Ransom River German edition

Die Zeugin

The German edition of Ransom River has just been published. Die Zeugin translates as “The Witness.”

Like all of Heyne’s covers, this one is moody and evocative. Vielen dank!

Ransom River: now out in paperback

Ransom River

I’ve been so crazy flying back and forth between Austin and London and preparing for the publication of The Shadow Tracer and writing another new novel that I managed to slide straight past another bit of news: Ransom River has just been published in paperback in the USA.

Quick recap, in case you haven’t been obsessively focused on the plots of my novels over the past year (I know it’s hard to believe, but a few people aren’t): Rory Mackenzie is a juror on a high-profile murder case in her hometown of Ransom River, California. The town is a place she vowed never to visit again, and her return dredges up troubling memories from the childhood she spent as an outsider. But in the wake of a desperate attack on the courthouse, Rory realizes that exposing these dark skeletons has connected her to an old case that was never solved, and bringing the truth to light just might destroy her.

C’mon, you know you want to. The book has kicks. Good guys. Bad guys. A pretty blue cover. The Associated Press says it has “everything you want in a blockbuster thriller: multiple plot twists, thoroughly creepy psychotic villains, danger at every turn.”

It’s available from, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Powell’s Books, and your local independent bookstore.

Mistakes people make about my book titles

Let me clear a few things up.

1. China Lake is not a travel book.

2. The German edition of The Dirty Secrets Club is Die Beichte — “The Confession.” It’s pronounced “Dee Bye-shtuh.” Not Die Bitch.

3. My current novel is not titled Rancid River. To the person shocked I would call my novel something so ridiculous: I didn’t.

California Dreamin’ — Songs my characters love

All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray… okay, all the leaves are scarlet and it’s a vivid autumn day. The point is, songs. And not just songs I love, like “California Dreamin’,” but songs my characters love. I want to reassure everybody that my characters do have loves and hatreds. Because in a recent post — What do writers owe readers? — some commenters expressed surprise that the characters in my books are fictional. Please don’t panic. They’re as real to me as they are to you, and to prove it, here are their favorite, and least favorite, songs.


Evan Delaney — Patsy Cline, “Crazy.” Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Jubilee.”

Jesse Blackburn — Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower.” Foo Fighters, “Times Like These.”

Jax Rivera — Ray Charles, “Georgia on My Mind.”

Jo Beckett — Elvis Costello, “Complicated Shadows.”

Gabe Quintana — Stephen Sondheim, “Johanna.” No, only kidding. Los Lobos, “Will the Wolf Survive?”

Lt. Amy Tang — Beyoncé/Jay-Z, “Crazy in Love.”

Rory Mackenzie — Radical Face, “Welcome Home.”

Riss Mackenzie — Amy Winehouse, “Some Unholy War.”


Jesse — “Memory,” played on a Hammond organ at the Holiday Inn in Goleta, California.

Evan — Donny and Marie.

Rory — anything that Riss has played within her hearing.

BookPage puts Ransom River on its 2012 must-read list

What a way to make my week. BookPage:

“Though 2012 isn’t over yet, we want to tell you about 10 must-read thrillers you won’t want to miss. These thrillers stand alone; best of all, they are unpredictable and superbly written.”

I’m delighted that Ransom River is on the list, along with books by terrific writers like Attica Locke, Tom Piccirilli, and Michael Koryta.

Time out for my happy dance.

10 must-read thrillers.

Hands up: Who reads the ending first?

Yesterday a reader wrote to me that she’d just finished Ransom River. It’s always great to hear that people enjoy my books. But I had to laugh at this reader’s message: “Great ending. I wish I didn’t read it right after I read chapter 1.”

Generally I can’t stand spoilers. I don’t want to know how a story ends until I get there. My family, on the whole, can’t stand them either. At our house, we used to have a Giving-Away-the-Ending Jar. (It was next to the Stale Joke Jar, which the kids made for their parents.) But I know a number of people who deliberately read the last page of a book before reading the rest. And some recent psychological research suggests that in general, spoilers don’t spoil the enjoyment of a story.

So tell me: Do you read the ending before the rest of a book? Do you want to know how a movie ends before you sit down to watch it?

Ransom River: Bookgasm review

Bookgasm has reviewed Ransom River and said some nice things that make me grin like a fool.

Meg Gardiner’s latest is her first standalone novel. Fans of her Jo Beckett and Evan Delaney series needn’t worry; RANSOM RIVER is the author’s most inventive and emotionally involving thriller to date.

“This comes highly recommended to all thriller fans, or those who simply admire a extremely suspenseful, well-told story…. If you haven’t joined the choir yet, RANSOM RIVER is a great place to start.”

I would dance like Serena Williams at the Olympics, if only I could dance.

Ransom River: AudioFile magazine review

Kudos to Brilliance Audio and Angela Dawe, who has done a wonderful job narrating the audiobook edition of Ransom River. Here’s AudioFile’s review:

“Angela Dawe’s polished performance captures the tension, along with vivid descriptions and believable characterizations. She portrays Rory’s anxiety as she reconnects with childhood friend Seth Colder, an undercover officer who warns her about dirty cops. Her depictions of manipulative cousin Nerissa and bullying stepbrother Boone are especially strong. Listeners will be unable to guess the story’s outcome.”

Thanks, and well done.

Ransom River: Find the Mystery Character

Here’s something I’ve never mentioned online. Every new book I write includes at least one character who’s appeared before in one of my novels. That’s right: all the books are linked.

Even when I’ve started a new series. Even when I’ve written a stand alone novel. There’s always one character who returns from an earlier book.

Ransom River is set in a world I’d never written about before. Its cast is new — Rory Mackenzie, Seth Colder, the whole gang — except for one character. I’m not saying who that is. I’m not telling you which series this character appeared in, Evan Delaney or Jo Beckett. Let me know if you figure it out.

In the meantime, some more reviews have been published that have made me very happy:

Mystery Scene Magazine says:

“While the plotting is fine-tuned and tight, and the mystery at the heart of this tale captivatingly suspenseful throughout, it’s the well-realized characters of Rory and Seth that help make this book so successful…. Rory is a survivor and a tough one at that. She’s also intelligent, and her drive to confront the demons of her past, which are possibly connected to the events at the courthouse, always comes off as plausible and identifiable. She’s a great main character and the pulse at the heart of this gripping read.”

Jenn’s Bookshelves calls it “an intricate yet exhilarating mystery”: “Gardiner ties all of the weaving and winding story lines together to form a completely surprising conclusion. Looking for a taut, chilling mystery to fill your weekend? Ransom River is the book for you. Highly recommended.”

And Mayhem and Magic says, “I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this story.” “This mind-blowing thriller had me consuming pages at a furious pace…. With an explosive and heart-pounding finale, this was an awesome read and I can’t wait for the next thrilling story from Meg.”

Thanks for every word of that.

Guest post at Jungle Red Writers: 5 Ways to Kill Suspense

Over at Jungle Red Writers, I’ve written an article about how not to create suspense.

Suspense is vital to storytelling. It keeps readers turning pages, desperate to learn what happens next. As a building block of drama, it’s as old as literature itself—Aristotle said suspense consists of having some real danger looming and a ray of hope.

The word comes from the Latin suspendere—to hang up—and writers are the hangmen. We keep readers dangling. But if we do it wrong, we kill the story.

Here are five surefire ways to do that.

1. Sacrifice tension for surprise.

For the rest of the scoop, head on over to read the whole thing: Five Ways to Kill Suspense.

Bonus #1: Find out how Hank Philippi Ryan and I met.

Bonus #2: They’re giving away not only a copy of Ransom River, but of Hank’s upcoming and already-lauded mystery, The Other Woman.

Bonus #3: Stick around over there and join the conversation about your favorite moments of suspense in books and movies.

What are you waiting for?

Ransom River reviews: USA Today

It’s very cool that USA Today has picked my novel as one of “four new mystery/thrillers perfect for a hot summer day.” And it’s an honor to be included with Karin Slaughter, Lisa Unger, and Rebecca Cantrell.

USA Today reviews Ransom River:

If you can’t resist crime novels in which the innocent are perceived as guilty, look no further than this tightly wound tale that starts with gunmen raiding a courtroom in an attempted hostage taking.

Rory Mackenzie is one of the jurors and is soon looked upon as a conspirator with the gunmen. But why do the police think that? Rory, determined to ferret out the identities of the gunmen, falls into a pit of familial dysfunction that makes most other families pale in comparison.

A deadly crime committed in Rory’s childhood plays a prominent role, as do family greed and secrets and the cold-blooded depths to which people will sink for money. A chilly tale for a hot day at the beach.

And Bookloons calls the book a “fast-paced, suspenseful thriller that will keep readers glued to its pages.

Rory is a fearless, feisty heroine, determined to do what is right, while juggling her feelings for Seth and her worries about her family. If you’re looking for a summer read to lose yourself in as the pages fly by, Ransom River is the one.

Which is mighty nice, and a perfect way to make my weekend.

Oklahoma City: books and cowboy boots

When I left New York City Sunday morning, I could barely see the sky. 60 story skyscrapers were blocking my view. 1,500 miles later I stepped off my flight to feel like the blue was about to swallow me. Oklahoma City spills across the southwestern prairie beneath a sky that seems too large to be contained.

Luckily it was cloudless. The airport has tornado shelters every hundred yards.

Then I saw the monster trucks, and the Red Dirt Saloon, and the windows filled with signs saying THUNDER UP. I turned on the TV and immediately saw commercials for the symphony and the rodeo. What a place to call my home town.

I was born in Oklahoma City. My family here goes back generations — they got here via the land rush and the Trail of Tears. My grandparents had a farm on Route 66. You want to know why so many characters in the Evan Delaney series talk with a twang, or grew up near a bluebonnet-covered meadow in Shawnee? That’s why.

So around these parts I have cousins by the busload. And when I scheduled an event at an OKC Barnes & Noble to talk about Ransom River, I was hoping some of them would turn up. And that none of them would heckle me.

They did turn up, along with a great crowd of people who weren’t even related to me. And everybody behaved. However, the relatives wanted to know who the characters in my thrillers “really” are. I told them: nobody. And that’s the truth — I make it all up.

Besides, do you think I’m going to reveal that anyone in my family is the basis for:

  • Rory Mackenzie’s cousins, who hate her as much as they love money
  • Evan’s cousin who holds lingerie parties and ends up leaving an FBI agent hogtied to a bed, stark naked
  • The pint-sized assassin in a Catholic schoolgirl’s uniform
  • The crazed preacher who ends up head-down in a trash can, cowboy boots protruding?

If so, you’ve forgotten that I was a lawyer, and know the definition of libel. My books are fiction. F-I-C-T-I-O-N. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. But the crowd might not have believed me. They bought every copy of my books in the store.

And that makes Oklahoma City one of my favorite book events of all time.

And by the way, the ads that show up when you Google “hogtie” to doublecheck the spelling are… eye-popping.

Now excuse me, but a severe thunderstorm warning just interrupted the news, so I’ve got to figure out how to become a stormchaser.