Rex Burns, Author

Rex in sunRex Burns is the author of numerous books, articles, reviews and stories. The first in his series of police procedurals, The Alvarez Journal, won an Edgar for Best First Mystery and introduced the hard-boiled Denver homicide detective Gabriel Villanueva Wager. Another, The Avenging Angel, was made into a feature movie starring Charles Bronson. With Suicide Season, Burns introduced the Devlin Kirk series, a Denver private detective specializing in industrial security.

Burns’ books are published in hardback and paperback and have been translated into a number of foreign languages. He is also co-editor, with Mary Rose Sullivan, of an anthology of detective stories entitled Crime Classics, and has published under the pen name “Tom Sehler.” He has published short stories in several periodicals and anthologies, and his “Leonard Smith” series of Aboriginal police stories currently appears in “Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.”

For several years Burns wrote a monthly mystery book review column for the Rocky Mountain News. Other of his reviews have appeared there and in the Denver Post, the Miami Herald, and the Washington Post. A number of his essays on craft have been published in The Writer and elsewhere. He was a contributor to Scribner’s Mystery and Suspense Writers, and an advisor and contributor to the Oxford Companion to Mystery.

He received his AB from Stanford University, and, after serving in the Marine Corps, his MA and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He has published articles on American literature and culture, and a study of nineteenth century values entitled, Success in America: The Yeoman Dream and the Industrial Revolution. Retired from the University of Colorado, he lives and writes in Boulder, CO.

Agent: Sorche Fairbank, Fairbank Literary Representation.

His Web page LINK

His Email:

crude carrierWhen a sailor dies under unusual circumstances, Raiford goes undercover on the high seas

The Rossi family received only a handful of letters after their son shipped out on the supertanker Aurora Victorious. The first dispatches were from Harold himself, describing the blend of tedium and excitement that defined life onboard the ship. The last communication came from the ship’s owners: four brief sentences informing them that their son had died and been buried at sea. Desperate to know more, the Rossis turn to James and Julie Raiford, the father-daughter detective team behind the Touchstone Agency. As the Raifords soon learn, work on the open sea is dangerous—and asking questions can be deadly.

When the shipping company stonewalls the investigation, James joins the Aurora Victorious as an electronics officer, and Julie digs into the proprietors’ shadowy background. International oil shipping is a ruthless business, and its secrets run as deep as the ocean itself.

LINK to his Amazon Author Page to purchase his books


1) Idea for most recent book
It came from the “what if” file: what if someone could steal a lot of oil, how and why and where . . . . and the story begins.

2) Inspiration
I don’t know if “inspiration” is the term. More like desperation–not writing makes me grouchy, writing (well) makes me happy. It’s a compulsion that can even occasionally become a burden.

3) Current project
The current project is a novella featuring a series character who has so far appeared only in short stories: Constable Leonard Smith of the West Australia Police.

4) Advice for aspiring writers
Have a second job. As for writing advice, Ben Johnson said it in the 1500’s: read the best writers, hear the best speakers, and practice, practice, practice.As for profiting from one’s work–the changes in publishing make marketing more important for an author than ever–even, it often seems, more important than writing talent.

5) Best thing about being a writer
The satisfaction of telling a good story that has, in some way, added to a reader’s enjoyment.

6) Writers block
Start  four or five different stories and go with the one that feels right. Usually, two or three out of the four or five storylines will fall together, and you’re off and running.


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