Deputy Chief John Sibley, ret., Rochester, Minnesota PD
: my nephew and #1 helper. He introduced me to the men in his department when I began writing the Jake Hines series, and has advised me on every one of the Minnesota stories. He’s pictured here in front of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul, which we have visited together several times.

Chief Roger Peterson, Rochester, Minnesota PD
: Like all modern law enforcement officers he is a work in progress, constantly updating his own skills and adapting his department to the changing needs of a dynamic, fast-growing city.  He still arranges ride-alongs and pauses in the midst of busy days to fill me in on late-breaking developments.

Sergeant Kevin Hall, homicide detective, Tucson PD
:  The term “hard-working” understates his job as head of Tucson’s homicide investigators.  And like law enforcement officers everywhere in this recession, he’s always being asked to do more with less.  But he’s been patient enough to show me the interview rooms and explain interrogation equipment and methods – an essential component of my Tucson stories.

Sergeant Mark Fuller and Sgt Kerin Fuller, Tucson PD
: This attractive couple has helped me many times, always separately. Kerry runs a shift at the West side station and has given me insight into street patrol during a couple of eventful ride-alongs. Mark was heading a homicide crew when I met him and went on to drug interdiction and then to street patrol. We were finally going to all have lunch together the day I took this picture—but a minute later, they both got called back to work.

 Supervisory Special Agent Steve McGuigan, Drug Enforcement Administration, Tucson: On the slippery slope that is the Arizona-Mexico border, drugs are an important part of the traffic, and DEA is a major player. A crime novelist could hardly do better than to have a friend like Special Agent Steve McGuigan, who has learned how to navigate this dangerous turf without losing his good-natured Scotch composure.

Officer Quentin Gleason and his K-9 partner Sam:  They let me follow them through two training sessions—one indoors hunting drugs in cupboards, which the dogs would enjoy if not for those slippery floors; and one out in a dry wash in the middle of the night, where the dogs and men practiced attack techniques that raised my heart rate several notches. The dogs are awesome and the men who handle them earned my lasting respect.

Heartfelt thanks are also due to: “Cops ‘n Writers“, John, Josh and Maria Cheek, who help with everything; Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Carl F. Pirtle and Border Patrol Agent Monica George, who patiently escorted me around the amazing installations at the Douglas Border station;  Mark Adams, PCUSA Mission Co-worker, Frontera de Cristo, Douglas, AZ and Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, a Presbyterian minister whose mission is to ease the plight of returned  illegal border crossers; Stan and Anne Lehman, colleagues who lent me insight into what it’s like to live in a house on the border; Detective Tom Stewart, Tucson PD, who illuminates tales of his long career in Tucson law enforcement with insight and humor; Special Agent Ray Rede, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who helped me understand how the parts fit in the Department of Homeland Security.

And a tip of my hat to my critique group:

Susan Cummins Miller writes the Frankie MacFarlane mysteries, as well as poetry and essays, and has edited an important compendium of writing by women of the American frontier. A scholar with degrees in history, anthropology, and geology, she has taught geology and oceanography at the college level. Her protagonist is a field geologist who’s enterprising when it comes to facing down trouble; her books are cozy in name only—the amateurs who solve the puzzle use a lot of true grit to do it. In our critique sessions, she uses her disciplined eye to catch anomalies we’ve been hoping to slide past, and is gentle and tactful about forcing us to pull up our socks. See more about her books at

J. M. “Mike” Hayes is the author of a wonderful historical novel called THE GREY PILGRIM, and a stupendously amusing series of mysteries about an unlikely pair of brothers named Mad Dog and Englishman. The latest, SERVER DOWN, was named “One of the year’s five best mysteries,” by Library Journal, and features so many quick dodges in and out of a computer game that I quit worrying and just enjoyed the chase. (It’s a fascinating read, though, for gamers.)  Mike is also a wizard on Arizona history, Tucson city sites, and all things automotive, and I owe him many big ones for keeping me out of the weeds in those areas. For more on his remarkable oeuvre, go to

Margaret Falk has published three novels under her own name, two as Annie McKnight, and two, DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN and THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, as J. Carson Black. Currently, as M.J. Hawk, she’s marketing a hard-edged thriller called THE SHOP, and writing another page-turner called PARADOX. She is a student of current mystery writing and the keenest critic of our group; Margaret can nail a nuance across a crowded room. To get a glimpse of what she’s up to right now go to