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Stephen Greenleaf books in order

Stephen Greenleaf is an American attorney and author of mystery and thrillers.

He is best known for writing the John Marshall Tanner Mystery Series.

The holder of a B.A. from Carlton College and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkely, Greenleaf also served in the United States Army between 1967 and 1969.

It was also during the same timeframe that he gained admission to the California Bar.

Having undertaken a course in creative writing at the University of Iowa in 1978 and 1979, Greenleaf went on to publish the Grave Error (1979), the first of several installments in the John Marshall Tanner Mystery Series.

The retired attorney currently resides in northern California with his beloved wife Ann.

More about Stephen Greenleaf

Genres: Mystery, Thriller

Born: 1942

United States

Non Series

  • The Ditto List (1985)
  • Impact (1989)
  • R&R (2012)

John Marshall Tanner

  1. Grave Error (1979)
  2. Death Bed (1980)
  3. State's Evidence (1982)
  4. Fatal Obsession (1983)
  5. Beyond Blame (1985)
  6. Toll Call (1987)
  7. Book Case (1991)
  8. Blood Type (1992)
  9. Southern Cross (1993)
  10. False Conception (1994)
  11. Flesh Wounds (1996)
  12. Past Tense (1997)
  13. Strawberry Sunday (1999)
  14. Ellipsis (2000)

Detailed book overview

Non Series

The Ditto List

D.T. Jones is a self-employed divorce lawyer who lives and breathes 'the ditto list' - his gay secretary's pet name for the divorce court calendar. Though divorced himself, D.T. is an expert at handling divorce cases. He really cares about the women who bring their broken lives to him. A man whose humor and concern are rivaled only by his need to drink and gamble to excess, D.T. sees himself as a kind of knight in rusty armor . . . Approached by three women - each of whom has a difficult and seemingly hopeless case - D.T. agrees to represent them.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1985
ISBN: 978-0345321398
Publisher: Ballantine Books

A legal battle turns violent in the aftermath of a tragic plane crash

The fog is thick as SurfAir 617 readies to land. Onboard, a mother consoles her daughter, two children reminisce about Disneyland, flight attendants flirt with each other, and two lovers agonize over their infidelity. None of them know they are minutes from death. Then SurfAir 617 drops out of the sky, the pilots blinded by the fall, and explodes onto the runway. Only eighteen of more than one hundred passengers survive.

The families of the victims soon find themselves under siege by ruthless lawyers and corrupt insurance investigators who will do whatever it takes to cheat them out of their rightful settlements. In retaliation, lawyer Keith Tollison dives into the jungle of aviation law—and a fight to prove that SurfAir 617 should never have been cleared to fly.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1989
ISBN: 978-0553288117
Publisher: Crimeline

They called it R&R. It was supposed to be romantic, a week's vacation from the war, a second honeymoon for soldiers and their wives, an idyll of rest and recuperation courtesy of the U.S. Army.

But for three women who meet while flying to join their husbands in Honolulu - a Berkeley student who is an avid anti-war protester, the African-American wife of a career soldier who worries about managing a family in the military, and a pregnant San Francisco hippie who sees facets of her husband that terrify her - many things have changed since the men went off to Vietnam and those changes have traveled to Hawaii, too.

Aspirations and ideals are colliding; nothing is going as smoothly as they'd hoped. The men - a draftee committed to advancing civil rights after his service, an ambitious Master Sergeant determined to promote his career, and a battle-hardened corporal called Super Snipe by his peers - have trouble adjusting to the quick trip to Paradise.

As the women struggle to repair the damage that the war has inflicted on their plans for the future, one of the men sets out on a quest for vengeance that has nothing to do with romance, or even rest and recuperation, and their R&R becomes too much like the war itself - a matter of life and death.

NB: Co-authored with Ann Garrison Greenleaf.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 2012
ISBN: 978-1478719762
Publisher: Outskirts Press

John Marshall Tanner

Grave Error

Investigating a corporate crusader, John Marshall Tanner runs headlong into personal tragedy.

When corporations misbehave, Roland Nelson brings them to heel. The most powerful consumer advocate in the country, he’s ruthless in exposing cover-ups, especially when the safety of the American people is at stake. But the white knight of the American consumer has secrets of his own, and someone is making him pay. Nelson is being blackmailed, and unless his tormenter is stopped, the final payoff will be murder.

Desperate for help, Nelson’s wife approaches no-nonsense San Francisco private investigator John Marshall Tanner, who takes time out of his busy schedule of skiptracing and divorce work to look into the businessman’s secrets. At first, the job seems routine, but when a brother PI is killed on the job, Tanner realizes there are dark forces swirling around the case.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1979
ISBN: 978-0553293470
Publisher: Crimeline
Death Bed

The search for a dying millionaire’s son leads John Marshall Tanner to a case of domestic terrorism.

Maximilian Kottle spent all his life fearing death. When he eventually developed cancer, he thought the disease might prove a disappointment. He was wrong. Dying is far worse than he had imagined. With less than a month to live, the wealthiest man in San Francisco calls on private detective John Marshall Tanner to fulfill his final wish: He wants to see his son.

Thirty-year-old Karl has been missing since he disappeared a decade ago, lost in the fog of sixties radicalism, leaving his plutocrat father in the dust. As the elder Kottle’s time runs out, he hopes the past can be forgotten, but as Tanner soon learns, the wounds of the sixties haven’t fully healed, and finding Karl Kottle will be an explosive feat.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1980
ISBN: 978-0553293487
Publisher: Crimeline
State's Evidence

To clean up a rotten town, John Marshall Tanner goes after the city’s most powerful villain.

El Gordo is a quiet little city just outside of San Francisco, with a charming town square, a few local businesses, and the most corrupt police force in the state of California. John Marshall Tanner has worked a case here before, and it nearly ended with him taking a beating. When the private detective returns to El Gordo, it will be his life on the line.

A new district attorney is fighting to clean up this rotten burg, and he wants Tanner’s help. One of the richest men in town killed a nobody in a hit-and-run, and the culprit is doing everything he can to buy his way out of trouble. In the old days, that would have been simple. But with the DA backing him up, Tanner will scrub El Gordo clean—no matter how much blood stains its filthy streets.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1982
ISBN: 978-0553293494
Publisher: Crimeline
Fatal Obsession

Back on his family farm, John Marshall Tanner investigates a murder that hits very close to home

It’s been thirty years since John Marshall Tanner, private eye, returned to Chaldea, and he hasn’t missed the farm—three hundred acres of thin topsoil and ratty growth—any more than he’s missed his family. There’s his sister, Gail, worn down by decades of trying to do the right thing; his brother Curt, wallowing in depression ever since his son, Billy, came back broken from Vietnam; and his other brother, Matt, in debt up to his eyeballs and trying desperately to hang on to his new wife. As the family convenes to discuss selling the farm, tensions run high—and tragedy looms on the horizon.

When Billy is found hanging in a public park, the family dismisses it as suicide. But our protagonist knows murder when he sees it, and he is determined to learn what happened to the dead boy, no matter the cost to his family.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1983
ISBN: 978-0553293500
Publisher: Crimeline
Beyond Blame

John Marshall Tanner must outwit an expert in insanity to reveal the truth behind a woman’s brutal murder

Dianne Renzel’s parents, a kind old Swedish couple, have just sold their business and are planning to use some of the money to purchase a car for their only child. But when their daughter is found murdered in her home, her flesh cut to ribbons by a madman’s blade, they’ll need to buy her justice instead. The police investigation quickly stalls, and the Renzels reach out to the only private investigator in San Francisco sensitive enough to handle this gruesome crime: John Marshall Tanner.  

Dianne was married to Lawrence Usser, a constitutional law professor known for helping killers evade punishment by pleading temporary insanity. When Usser is accused of murdering Dianne, his natural recourse is his most practiced defense. It falls to Tanner to prove that Usser knew what he was doing when he butchered his innocent young wife—and the case will take the detective far past the brink of madness.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1985
ISBN: 978-0345336705
Publisher: Fawcett
Toll Call

John Marshall Tanner will go above and beyond to protect his secretary from a stalker

John Marshall Tanner finds his secretary slumped over on the sofa, her arm draped across her face. This private eye has seen enough death that, for a moment, he thinks Peggy Nettleton has been murdered. Fortunately, after a moment’s panic, he realizes she has simply dozed off. Tanner has worked alongside Peggy for eight years, and if something happened to her, it would shatter him. Unfortunately, that grim nightmare is about to come true.

For weeks now, Peggy has been getting obscene phone calls from one of the most deranged minds in San Francisco. To set her mind at rest, Tanner goes looking for the caller—a decision that sends him down a path of madness and murder that could either push him into Peggy’s arms or separate them forever.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1987
ISBN: 978-0345353498
Publisher: Fawcett
Book Case

To save a small publishing company, John Marshall Tanner searches for an anonymous scribe

John Marshall Tanner has spent most of his life avoiding parties—an easy feat for San Francisco’s most introspective private detective. Nevertheless, when one of his closest friends, publisher Bryce Chatterton, finds himself in desperate need of a private eye, Tanner joins him at the party thrown to announce Periwinkle Press’s latest publication—but there’s little reason to celebrate.

The publisher’s financial backer has decided to pull the plug on Periwinkle unless Chatterton can come up with a bestseller fast. Chatterton thinks he has his hands on a surefire hit—but he’s not sure if he can print it. The book is an anonymous tell-all, implicating some of the city’s most powerful in a chilling miscarriage of justice, and Chatterton needs the author to corroborate the story. Only Tanner can track down the mysterious writer, but are the secrets between the pages of this manuscript worth dying for?

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1991
ISBN: 978-0553290615
Publisher: Crimeline
Blood Type

John Marshall Tanner dives into San Francisco’s roughest neighborhood to avenge a fallen friend

John Marshall Tanner, PI, is a drinking man, and he prefers to imbibe in the comfort of a nameless San Francisco bar. Tanner has just one friend there, a social crusader named Tom Crandall who has just discovered that his wife, a celebrated chanteuse, is having an affair with one of the city’s most powerful men: Richard Sands. Sands is a ruthless corporate tycoon, and if he wants to steal Crandall’s wife, there’s nothing either Crandall or the private detective can do about it. But soon after Crandall confides in Tanner, the jilted husband is found dead.

Although the police write Crandall’s death off as just another overdose, Tanner knows his friend never touched drugs. Convinced the murder was connected to Sands, he begins a journey that will take him into the depths of San Francisco’s seediest district—the Tenderloin—where only the streetwise survive.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1992
Ebook: B019PQQI9G
Publisher: Road
Southern Cross

John Marshall Tanner protects a friend from a gang of white supremacists in Charleston

In his long career as a private eye, John Marshall Tanner has stared down a great many evils, but even he cringes at the thought of turning fifty. So when the invitation arrives for his twenty-five-year college reunion, Tanner bites at the chance to feel young again. He expects a weekend of nostalgia, but he will be lucky to get out alive.

At the reunion, Tanner reconnects with an old college buddy, Seth Hartman, now a civil rights lawyer in Charleston, a city more divided by racial intolerance than any in the country. After two decades protecting the rights of the black citizens of South Carolina, Hartman has made his share of enemies, and now they want him dead. To assuage his own guilt over sitting out the fight for civil rights, Tanner journeys to Charleston to do battle with men for whom fear is a weapon and hate is a way of life.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1993
ISBN: 978-0553568172
Publisher: Crimeline
False Conception

Performing a check on a prospective surrogate mother on the condition that she never learn who the contracting parents are, Tanner is amazed when she flees and discovers that the would-be adoptive parents harbor secrets involving incest, murder, and the family business.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1994
ISBN: 978-0671007942
Publisher: Pocket Books
Flesh Wounds

To help an old flame, John Marshall Tanner tracks a missing model in Seattle

As far as John Marshall Tanner can tell, everyone in San Francisco is lonely, and few are lonelier than him. He’s lost too many friends, either to death or distance, and there’s no one he misses more than Peggy Nettleton, his beloved former secretary, who left his detective agency six years ago, and broke his heart on her way out the door. When she calls out of the blue, Tanner can tell she’s in trouble—and that means he’s in trouble too.

Peggy is due to get married in three weeks, and her soon-to-be stepdaughter, Nina Evans, has disappeared. Nina worked as a model, and it doesn’t take long for Tanner to discover that she was in over her head. As he combs the unfamiliar city in search of the vanished girl, he finds that his old feelings for Peggy are stronger than ever—strong enough to get him killed.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1996
ISBN: 978-0671007959
Publisher: Pocket Books
Past Tense

When his friend, police lieutenant Charlie Sleet, breaks into sudden acts of violence, San Francisco PI John Marshall must unearth the repressed memories at the heart Charlie's corruption and vigilantism to put an end to the killing.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1997
ISBN: 978-0671019471
Publisher: Pocket Books
Strawberry Sunday

While recovering from a gunshot wound, John Marshall Tanner meets a woman worth fighting for

John Marshall Tanner left most of his blood in a vacant lot on Twentieth Street, along with the body of his closest friend. Tanner and Charley Sleet shot each other at the same time—a tragic finale to a long friendship that left Sleet dead and Tanner bleeding out on the sidewalk. The EMTs saved Tanner, but he isn’t sure he wants to be alive. The uncertainty doesn’t last long though, and soon he will find a reason to live—and to die.

While he recuperates in the hospital, Tanner befriends Rita Lombardi, a strawberry picker from Haciendas who is recovering from corrective surgery on her clubfeet. Rita leaves the hospital walking tall, but soon after, she’s murdered in her hometown, unforgivably guilty of promoting unionization. To avenge her, Tanner will hunt for the killer as long as the blood keeps pumping in his veins.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 1999
Ebook: B019PQQJ5O
Publisher: Road

Against his better judgment, John Marshall Tanner takes a job as a writer’s bodyguard

Somebody wants Chandelier Wells dead. After years churning out bestselling bodice-rippers, she’s the best-known author in San Francisco, and she’s no stranger to receiving threatening letters. But the most recent ones seem different. They feel real. Ms. Wells knows her life is in danger, and the only man capable of protecting her is John Marshall Tanner.

Tanner is a private detective, not a bodyguard, but at Ms. Wells’s rates, he’ll be anything she likes. He soon finds that her life is a chaotic one though. Between crazed fans, a jealous ex, and a scheming agent, Chandelier Wells has no one she can trust. When her chauffer is killed by a car bomb intended to erase her from the bestseller lists, Tanner knows that the life of this Chandelier is hanging precariously in the balance.

Author: Stephen Greenleaf
First Release: 2000
Ebook: B019PQQISM
Publisher: Road