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Earlene Fowler books in order

Earlene Fowler is an American award-winning author of mystery and thriller novels.

Raised in La Puente, California, her mother was a Southern while her father was a Western, which could explain why her Benni Harper Series features quilts, cattle, sarcastic women, cowboys and a seductive Latino cop.

Prior to becoming an author, Earlene wrote literary and commercial short fiction for a decade without much publishing success.

Her breakthrough however came when she switched to writing mystery, as Fool's Puzzle (1994), her debut novel, and two sequels were sold to Putnam-Berkley Publishing Group within a week of submission.

Earlene clinched an Agatha Award for Mariner's Compass (1999), the sixth installment in the Benni Harper Series.

A lover of all things quilts, folk art, horses, oral history, cowboy boots, country/western music and Central California Coast, Earlene happily lives a life of retirement with her husband, Allen, and their lovely dog, Ivy.

More about Earlene Fowler

Genres: Mystery, Thriller

Born: 1954

United States


Non Series

  • Love Mercy (2009)

Benni Harper

  1. Fool's Puzzle (1994)
  2. Irish Chain (1995)
  3. Kansas Troubles (1996)
  4. Goose in the Pond (1997)
  5. Dove in the Window (1998)
  6. Mariner's Compass (1999)
  7. Seven Sisters (2000)
  8. Arkansas Traveler (2001)
  9. Steps to the Altar (2002)
  10. Sunshine and Shadow (2003)
  11. Broken Dishes (2004)
  12. Delectable Mountains (2005)
  13. Tumbling Blocks (2007)
  14. State Fair (2010)
  15. Spider Web (2011)


  1. Benni Harper's Quilt Album: A Scrapbook of Quilt Projects, Photos And Never-before-told Stories (2004)

Ruby McGavin

  1. The Saddlemaker's Wife (2006)
  2. The Road to Cardinal Valley (2012)
Non Series

Detailed book overview

Non Series

Love Mercy

Widow Love Mercy Johnson still listens for her husband's comforting laugh, but with her friend's help, she's trying to move on. Then her 18-year-old estranged granddaughter shows up, forcing them both to confront old resentments. And when disaster strikes, they must discover if they can change their lives-and the lives of those they love-for the better.

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2009
Ebook: B001PU7WLY
Publisher: Berkley

Benni Harper

Fool's Puzzle

Leaving behind memories of her late husband, Benni Harper is making a fresh start...Moving to the trendy California town of San Celina, she takes an exciting new job as director of a folk-art museum. While setting up an exhibit of handmade quilts, she stumbles upon the body of a brutally stabbed artist. 

Hoping to conduct an investigation on her own, she crosses paths with the local police chief, who thinks this short and sassy cowgirl should leave detecting to the cops and join him for dinner. But it's hard to keep a country girl down, and soon Benni uncovers an alarming pattern of family secrets, small-town lies--and the shocking truth about the night her husband died...

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 1994
ISBN: 978-0606227834
Publisher: Demco Media
Irish Chain

Meet Benni Harper...a spirited ex-cowgirl, quilter, and folk-art expert who's staking out her own corner of the contemporary American West. She's got an eye for murderous designs--and a talent for piecing together the most complex and cold-blooded crimes.

Benni's taking time from her job at the folk-art museum to sponsor a "senior prom" at San Celina's retirement home. During the dance, she's surprised to find herself waltzing with Clay O'Hara, the Colorado cowboy she had a crush on when she was seventeen. She's even more surprised when Clay's uncle and an elderly woman are found dead in one of the residents' rooms. Now Benni's trying to find a link between the two victims--and the common thread that bound them together in death...

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 1995
Ebook: B004FPZ006
Publisher: Berkley
Kansas Troubles

After a whirlwind marriage to San Celina Police Chief Gabe Ortiz, Benni Harper is excited to visit her Kansas hometown. At a rowdy backyard barbecue, she meets Tyler Brown, an aspiring country singer with a promising future--and a fascinating past. Once, Tyler had lived the simple Amish life. Now she's determined to make it on her own selling her exquisite handmade quilts. But Tyler's gifts--and her life--are cut short when she's murdered. 

Out of his jurisdiction, Gabe is frustrated to sit on the sidelines while his friends are investigated by his own sleuthing wife. And Benni realizes that her hasty marriage will be much like Kansas weather: unpredictable and bound to be stormy...

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 1996
Ebook: B004FLKWU8
Publisher: Berkley
Goose in the Pond

Benni Harper—spirited ex-cowgirl, quilter, and folk art expert—finds herself on the trail of a storybook killer...

Hoping to relax after solving a murder in Wichita, Kansas, Beni and her new husband Gabe Ortiz are back in San Celina, California. But while Benni is jogging in the park, she happens upon the dead body of a library storyteller. It's an odd and disturbing scene—the woman is still dressed in her Mother Goose costume, lying facedown in the lake.

Benni's investigation takes her inside the Storyteller's Guild, where she finds out that Mother Goose was telling more than fairy tales. She was capable of airing the kind of secrets that destroy lives—and inspire revenge...

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 1997
Ebook: B004GUTMM2
Publisher: Berkley
Dove in the Window

Benni and her relatives and friends are gathered for the family's annual barbecue and cattle roundup. Among the guests is Shelby Johnson, a young photography student from a wealthy Chicago family. In Benni she finds a favorite subject and a new friend. But when the young woman's body is discovered on the ranch the next morning, Benni's closest relatives suddenly develop into prime murder suspects...

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 1998
Ebook: B004GGSXDK
Publisher: Berkley
Mariner's Compass

Jacob Chandler knew everything about Benni Harper, and in his house were pieces of her life: a hand-carved statue of her childhood horse and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings that covered her work, her marriages, and the death of her first husband. 

And when Jacob Chandler died, he left his home in Morro Bay and all its contents to Benni - the only stipulation being that Benni had to stay in the house, alone, for two weeks before the inheritance became hers. But Benni Harper has never even heard of Jacob Chandler. 

Now she has two weeks to follow his scavenger-hunt set of clues to discover whether he is her guardian angel or personal demon. The waters are rough and the direction unclear as she finds herself setting a course to a time and a place in her own past - a place Benni Harper and Jacob Chandler both knew as home...

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 1999
Ebook: B004GUTMLI
Publisher: Berkley
Seven Sisters

Meet Benni Harper…a spirited ex-cowgirl, quilter, and folk-art expert who’s staking out her own corner of the contemporary American West. She’s got an eye for murderous designs—and a talent for piecing together the most complex and cold-blooded crimes.

When Benni’s stepson announces his plans to marry into the wealthy, influential Brown family, she and her husband are invited to the Browns’ sprawling ranch, Seven Sisters, to celebrate the engagement. But the party takes a tragic turn when a member of the esteemed family is murdered. While trying to unravel the feuding clan’s tangled past, Benni uncovers a shocking pattern of tragedy—and stitches a hodgepodge of clues into a very disturbing design. . .

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2000
Ebook: B004GUTMN6
Publisher: Berkley
Arkansas Traveler

Folk-art expert Benni Harper is thrilled to be back in Sugartree, Arkansas, with her friend Elvira, who's this close to getting engaged to Benni's cousin. But Benni's got a bad feeling that she just can't shake, and soon she knows why. 

Racism has come to Sugartree and it's rearing its ugly head as the merger of two churches with racially mixed congregations comes under fire, and the first black woman to run for mayor faces opposition from a gang of white supremacists. And when one of the supremacists gets himself killed, Benni gets snagged by a murder mystery, unraveling clues that form a very shocking pattern.

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2001
Ebook: B000OCXH86
Publisher: Berkley
Steps to the Altar

While preparing for two upcoming weddings, California folk art authority Benni Harper suddenly finds herself embroiled in a decades-old, unsolved murder and dealing with a personal crisis of the heart.

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2002
Ebook: B004PLMTNQ
Publisher: Berkley
Sunshine and Shadow

Spirited ex-cowgirl, quilter, and folk-art expert Benni Harper is back, investigating the connection between her favorite author, the murder of a family friend, and a crazy quilt. And when she starts receiving strange phone calls and anonymous letters telling her she'll be the next victim, her interest in the case becomes even more urgent.

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2003
ISBN: 978-0425195284
Publisher: Berkley
Broken Dishes

When Benni Harper's friend passes away, he leaves his Broken DIS ranch to his daughter Shawna and her husband. 

Instead of raising cattle, the couple decides to turn it into a dude ranch. And while their intentions may be good, business is not. Leave it to Benni and her family to come to the rescue. Her plan? To tempt vacationers with a quilting and western extravaganza. It works. And soon, Benni and her family are cooking, quilting, and horseback riding with a whole slew of western tenderfoots." 

But the west gets a little too wild when one of the ranch dogs discovers a human bone on the property. It's enough to scare any reasonable guest away. To top it off, there's a rumor that one of the visitors is a nationally known travel writer, secretly working on a write-up. A bad review could easily kill business. 

Before long, Benni's old nemesis, Detective Ford "Hud" Hudson, is on board investigating. Together they uncover the remains of a murdered man buried in a shallow grave. Now, Benni must keep the guests safe and happy while unearthing the truth behind a terrible crime.

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2004
ISBN: 978-0425201978
Publisher: Berkley
Delectable Mountains

When the musical director of Benni’s church is called away, Benni’s gramma Dove eagerly volunteers the both of them to take over the children’s play. But the production comes to a screeching halt when Benni discovers the broken body of the church handyman in front of the altar. 

Then comes the unexpected appearance of her husband’s cousin, and the disappearance of a valuable antique violin from the Mission Santa Celine. With a growing cast of suspects and a little girl as the only witness to the crime, Benni must unravel a plot of theft and murder before it’s curtains for her…

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2005
ISBN: 978-0425206522
Publisher: Berkley
Tumbling Blocks

San Celina’s most exclusive society suddenly has an opening and Benni Harper has been tapped—not to join, but to investigate. The upper crust, female-only “49 Club” is restricted to exactly that many members, and one must die before another joins. When the latest socialite de-pledges in her sleep, Benni’s boss wants the mystery solved—and naturally, it’s landed on Benni’s to-do list.

Reluctant at first, she profiles a few women whose social ambitions give them an obvious motive. But with a famously reclusive artist about to put Benni’s quilting museum on the map—and her daunting mother-in-law soon to arrive—Benni’s holiday is already hectic. Nevertheless, she’ll need to crack this exclusive circle of suspects, before one more gourmet goose gets cooked.

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2007
Ebook: B0013TPVHO
Publisher: Berkley
State Fair

Folk art museum curator, rancher, and sometime sleuth Benni Harper returns with a long-awaited new mystery that has her attending the San Celina Mid-State Fair-a place for caramel apples and 4-H calves, colorful quilts and homemade jams, and maybe just a little murder...

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2010
Ebook: B003L7866E
Publisher: Berkley
Spider Web

Folk art museum curator, rancher and sometime sleuth Benni Harper is back in an unforgettable new mystery, organizing a Memory Festival. But a sniper threatens to make it a day to remember in the worst way…

Benni and the ladies of her Coffin Star Quilt Guild are excited to display their Graveyard Quilt at the first ever San Celina, California, Memory Festival. The fair promises to be a moving event celebrating memories through quilts, crafts, scrapbooks, photographs, written word, oral histories, and tributes to loved ones.

But when a local cop is wounded by a mysterious sharp shooter with a vendetta against the police, Benni fears for her loved ones—especially her police chief husband, Gabe. Soon Benni is drawn into the search for the sniper, determined to make her hometown safe again…before their peaceful street fair becomes a shooter’s deadly target range.

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2011
Ebook: B004Q7DOVU
Publisher: Berkley


Benni Harper's Quilt Album: A Scrapbook of Quilt Projects, Photos And Never-before-told Stories

If you just can't get enough of author Earlene Fowler's popular Benni Harper mysteries, this is the book for you! These fun, romantic, Western-flavored stories are named for traditional quilt patterns. 

Now for the first time, Earlene Fowler and Margrit Hall present quilts to go along with the books, plus all-new Benni Harper stories, photos from their personal collections, and more! .12 traditional-style quilt projects inspired by the first 6 books of the Benni Harper mystery series .

Never-before-published Benni Harper stories fill in gaps from the novels, such as Benni and Gabe's Las Vegas wedding .Earlene Fowler shares photos of the real-life places that inspired her fictional locales .Every Benni Harper fan will love this book!

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2004
ISBN: 978-1571202444
Publisher: C&T Publishing

Ruby McGavin

The Saddlemaker's Wife

Ruby McGavin has inherited part of a cattle ranch from her late husband, only to discover that his family is very much alive, in contrast to what he told her. Even as she is drawn to handsome saddlemaker Lucas McGavin, she learns more about her late husband's family-and wonders if she ever really knew him.

Piecing together the truth, Ruby uncovers a legacy of pain and denial that has pursued the McGavin family for too long.

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2006
Ebook: B000XEC3V2
Publisher: Berkley
The Road to Cardinal Valley

Back in Cardinal, Ruby is hoping the place and people who gave her so much can give her brother, Nash—who’s been drowning in drink in Nashville—the fresh start he so desperately needs.

Saddlemaker Lucas McGavin is thrilled that Ruby is back. He hasn’t given up on his love for her, despite the awkward fact that she’s his brother’s widow—and that this may be his last chance to win Ruby’s heart.

When Nash starts drinking again and has a devastating accident, Ruby seeks out their estranged mother to help with an intervention, not realizing that Etta Walker harbors a horrible secret that keeps her from reconnecting with the children she deserted so many years ago.

As Ruby, Lucas, and Etta struggle with the present and confront the past, they each learn the power of forgiveness…and reach for a new future filled with hope, grace, and love.

Author: Earlene Fowler
First Release: 2012
Ebook: B0095ZMGC6
Publisher: Berkley