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Joseph Heywood books in order

Joseph Heywood is an American Vietnam veteran, retired company executive, poet, photographer and author of mystery, thriller and non-fiction novels.

Born in Rhinebeck, New York, he attended Michigan State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, before joining the United States Air Force.

During his time with the military, he was a USAF Instructor Navigator, and received the Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters.

Joe returned to undertake his graduate studies at Western Michigan University and completed course work for MA in English Literature–albeit with no degree.

Prior to writing crime fiction, Joe worked for The Upjohn Company (currently Pfizer), where he retired as vice president for worldwide public relations.

His Woods Cop mystery series was inspired by his experience on patrol with conservation officers in the Upper Peninsula.

Joe enjoys walking, hiking, fishing, painting and taking photographs.

More about Joseph Heywood

Genres: Mystery, Non-fiction, Thriller

Born: 1943

United States


Non Series

  • Taxi Dancer (1985)
  • The Snowfly (2000)

Beau Valentine

  1. The Berkut (1987)
  2. The Domino Conspiracy (1992)


  1. Upper Peculiar: Tales from Above the Bridge (2019)

Lute Bapcat

  1. Red Jacket (2012)
  2. Mountains of the Misbegotten (2014)
  3. Beyond Beyond (2020)


  1. Covered Waters: Tempests of a Nomadic Trouter (2003)

Woods Cop

  1. Ice Hunter (2001)
  2. Blue Wolf in Green Fire (2002)
  3. Chasing a Blond Moon (2003)
  4. Running Dark (2005)
  5. Strike Dog (2007)
  6. Death Roe (2008)
  7. Shadow of the Wolf Tree (2010)
  8. Force of Blood (2011)
  9. Hard Ground: Woods Cop Stories (2013)
  10. Killing a Cold One (2013)
  11. Harder Ground: More Woods Cop Stories (2015)
  12. Buckular Dystrophy (2016)
  13. Bad Optics (2018)

Detailed book overview

Non Series

Taxi Dancer

As 50th anniversaries of the events of the Vietnam War happen for the next 10 years, this Lyons Press reissue of Taxi Dancer gives Joseph Heywood fans and others the opportunity to read his fictional account of that conflict’s air war through the eyes of Captain Barney South.

In this novel, the first of Heywood's career, we meet the first Flying Ace of the Vietnam War, Captain Barney South, who has flown ninety hazardous missions. He has already used up more than his fair share of luck. With ten more missions to go, he doesn't need the brand of flak he's been getting from the brass, who have more use for dead heroes than live troublemakers. And now, they're offering him a long shot—the most important mission of the war, they say—although Barney is convinced he's being set up.

Taxi Dancer is a novel based on an elite corps of jet pilots who flew controversial and highly dangerous bombing raids over North Vietnam. When it was first published, it's front cover carried the following line: “Nam. The Air War. The First Novel to Tell the Story.” Author Joseph Heywood himself is a veteran of the Vietnam air war—1965-1970, USAF Instructor Navigator, KC-135 tanker, honorably discharged as captain. Vietnam veteran. Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters.

NB: Joseph Heywood writing as Joe T Heywood.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 1985
ISBN: 978-1493009039
Publisher: Lyons Press
The Snowfly

One legendary insect--enormous, white, and exceedingly rare--attracts trout of such size that they couldn’t possibly exist in the world as we know it. But in Heywood’s classic novel, such things can and do exist.

Protagonist Bowie Rhodes, UPI reporter and expert fly fisherman, had learned of the snowfly early in his childhood. It hatches every seven to ten years, never on the same river twice, bringing to rise trout so huge they would have to have lived forty years or more; trout so wily that they never allow themselves to be caught--or even seen; trout so hungry for this fly that they will risk exposure to rise for the hatch. The snowfly is the sacred quest of the most obsessed trout hunters, existing--it seems--only in myth and in a lost manuscript.

Rhodes’s reporting brings him to such sites as the jungles of Vietnam, the labyrinth of Brezhnev’s Soviet Union, and a poisoned Canadian wasteland of uranium mines. His hunt for the manuscript, meanwhile, takes him deep into his own heart of darkness.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2000
ISBN: 978-0762786954
Publisher: Lyons Press

Beau Valentine

The Berkut

At dusk, SS Colonel Gunter Brumm parachutes silently through the sulphuric haze in the smoldering ruins of Berlin, past the Soviet troops that encircle the skeleton that the city has become in April 1945. 

With the precision and skill that has marked his brilliant military career, Brumm has completed the first stage of a simple yet seemingly impossible mission: to evade the Allied forces swarming over Europe and to smuggle "Herr Wolf," the greatest war criminal of the twentieth century, to safety. 

Less than twenty-four hours later a special Russian team snakes its way into Berlin's city limits, headed for the Reich Chancellery. It is led by Vasily Petrov, "the Berkut"—named after the Russian eagles trained to hunt wolves, a man handpicked by Stalin himself for his ability to track down his quarry and driven by the knowledge that failure means certain death. 

THE BERKUT is a classic story of pursuit, of hunters and the hunted, that pits two elite teams against each other—both of them brave, resourceful, of great physical prowess and so fully motivated that only the winners will survive. 

Scores of other characters populate this engrossing thriller: priests, deserters, partisans, Nazis on the run, Swiss guides, Austrian refugees—as well as a larger-than-life OSS operative who is the only person among the hundreds of thousands of Allied troops in Europe who realizes that Herr Wolf is not only alive but on the verge of escaping justice.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 1987
ISBN: 978-1493009046
Publisher: Lyons Press
The Domino Conspiracy

Autumn 1960. Nikita Khrushchev is politically adept, visionary, and locked in a fight with the Politburo and a battle with Mao and the Chinese. His country and his political future are in trouble because he has opened doors to the West and espoused the doctrine of peaceful coexistence. 

Meanwhile, the arms race is crushing the Soviet economy and there is unrest throughout the Communist empire. Changes are imperative. The army must be reduced, money redirected to a consumer economy, and the US neutralized. But the old boars of the Red Army will not be easily displaced; its leaders are intent on saving their country from Khrushchev. 

A cabal of senior Red Army patriots are led by a man who the world thinks is Khrushchev's unswerving toady. The game is treason, and the tools are Albania's mad-dog leaders, for whom assassination is second nature. What begins subtly soon turns brittle. A rocket technician disappears before a major accident at the Soviet Space Center. 

In Belgrade a psychotic CIA agent escapes an ambush, vows revenge, and disappears. Khrushchev turns to the Special Operations Group, the elite hunting team featured in THE BERKUT.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 1992
ISBN: 978-1493009053
Publisher: Lyons Press


Upper Peculiar: Tales from Above the Bridge

From the author of the Woods Cop Mystery series comes a new collection of stories about life in the Upper Peninsula. Heywood offers a glimpse into the world his best loved characters came from, like Grady Service, Limpy Allerdyce, and Luticious Treebone. 

From the early 1900s to present day, Heywood shows the roots of Yoopers and how their influence has spread across the peninsula. Meet ‘Didit Dave’ and his sudden and unexpected promotion to police chief, a dead man who doesn’t make it to heaven but instead an old bar in Kate’s Bay, and several military veterans who had engaged in each major US conflict and managed to return home. 

This collection wouldn’t be complete without a couple classic Heywood mysteries featuring a new detective duo: Tribal police chief John Clash and Houghton County Sheriff Nayar Sekhar. One thing is for certain, the characters in this collection could only come from one place.

For Yoopers who are far and away (and some who are not so far away), one thing is true for them all: They all want to return above the bridge ASAP. Heywood’s collection of stories shares why.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2019
ISBN: 978-1493062805
Publisher: Lyons Press

Lute Bapcat

Red Jacket

Meet Lute Bapcat, orphan, loner, former cowboy, Rough Rider, beaver trapper, a man who in 1913, with the enthusiastic recommendation by Theodore Roosevelt, himself, becomes one of the Michigan’s first civil service game wardens. His territory: The Keweenaw Peninsula, the state’s industrial center. 

Featuring a stunning array of characters, fascinating historical detail, and Heywood’s trademark writing about life and work in Michigan’s wild, Red Jacket asks Lute to confront an explosive, bloody labor strike; a siege-like sabotage, including a sudden rash of decapitated, spoiled deer; poisoned trout streams and well water; and unusual deforestation-all apparently designed by mine owners to deny nature’s bounty to the strikers, and thereby to break the union. 

The strike’s violence culminates in the Italian Hall disaster, during which a man allegedly yells fire in a small building with several hundred people inside. In the panic, 73 people are crushed or die of suffocation, the majority of them the children and wives of striking miners at the hall for a Christmas party.

Even with good people dying, the Michigan governor refuses to take sides. Should Lute Bapcat?

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2012
ISBN: 978-0762788590
Publisher: Lyons Press
Mountains of the Misbegotten

Former Rough Rider turned Michigan game warden Lute Bapcat sets out to find a deputy warden who has disappeared from Ontonagon County, one of the Michigan Upper Peninsula’s most lawless places. Merely hours into his search, Bapcat is shot by assailants unknown.

After a miraculous rescue and recovery aided by mysterious caretakers, Bapcat uncovers a plan by powerful locals to capture and sell bears to zoos around the country, an act akin to theft in Bapcat’s mind. 

The game warden’s determination to break the scheme ratchets up when it seems his missing colleague may have authored the idea and employed the help of an outlaw called Red Hair, who had been raised in the same orphanage with Bapcat. Red Hair’s gang of thugs have long terrorized the region. Bapcat must use all of his woodcraft to brave the Trap Hills and Porcupine Mountains to face the criminals at the old Nonesuch Mine. 

Zakov the Russian—Bapcat’s eccentric game warden partner—is brought in to help with the hunt, which causes Bapcat to reevaluate his personal values. In classic Heywood style, an extraordinary band of Upper Peninsula characters collects around intrepid woods cops.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2014
ISBN: 978-1493009558
Publisher: Lyons Press
Beyond Beyond

We last saw our hero in Mountains of the Misbegotten and Heywood delivers an even more thrilling mystery. Lute Bapcat and Pinkhus Zakov had been partners in the far northern counties of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for years when in early 1917, Zakov suddenly disappeared. 

A year later, Bapcat and Jordy (now 18) get a summons to Marquette, by former President Teddy Roosevelt. (Bapcat had served as a Roughrider with Roosevelt back in the day.) Roosevelt tells them that Zakov was sent to Russia by the U.S. government to find Russian Tsar Nicholas II, who abdicated and disappeared. Zakov went into Russia in April 1917 and had been feared dead, until an urgent message comes through a Swedish diplomat: Zakov wants Bapcat and Jordy sent to Russia to assist him. 

In the midst of the flu epidemic, a strange, Russian-born American marine major named Dodge is assigned to lead them into and across Russia until they locate Zakov. They dive deep into the heart of the Russian Fatherland as the Revolution of 1917 turns into a full out Civil War, with a level of chaos, random violence, and blood-letting far beyond Bapcat’s imagination.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2020
ISBN: 978-1493059386
Publisher: Lyons Press


Covered Waters: Tempests of a Nomadic Trouter

Covered Waters is a "forgotten classic" by Joseph Heywood. Now back in print and featuring new material, this collection of autobiographical essays and fishing tales helps readers understand the extent of Heywood’s passion for the sport, especially in his native waters of Michigan. 

This book covers an outdoorsman’s wanderings and wonderings about fishing and life, and how the two are often interconnected. These episodes include reminiscences of his days in the U.S. Air Force, training to drop nukes on the Soviet Union in the Cold War; his temporary but intense obsession with bear hunting (which ended the moment he finally killed a bear); and, of course, his international adventures in fishing, recounting such hilarious scenes as two women in France engaged in what appeared to be strip fishing. After fishing the world over, Heywood finds that there is no water like home water, and no fishing partners like old friends.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2003
ISBN: 978-1493013128
Publisher: Lyons Press

Woods Cop

Ice Hunter

MEET GRADY SERVICE: former Marine, renowned tracker, conservation officer, and the last person any errant hunter wants to cross. 

In Ice Hunter—the first of a series of mysteries set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and celebrated for its intricate plots and outrageously unforgettable characters—Service defends his turf with the tenacity of a bear and the wisdom of an ancient. He shuns all creature comforts and consumerism and is most at home stalking the Mosquito Tract, his self-designated wilderness. Times are not easy for Service. As the summer season opens, he gets news that his nemesis, the despicable leader of an incestuous clan of poachers, is to be released from prison. 

But something even more sinister is afoot—something that inspires untold greed, involves giants of industry and politics, and renders human life dispensable. Service must call upon his every reserve to track, stalk, and capture the “ice hunter.” Full of grit and wilderness lore, Ice Hunter pulls you in and won’t let you go.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2001
ISBN: 978-1599213613
Publisher: Lyons Press
Blue Wolf in Green Fire

A string of protests by animal-rights activists appear to have culminated in a double murder at a wolf lab, which releases into the wild a rare animal: a blue wolf. To the Ojibwa a blue wolf means luck; but if captured or killed, Armageddon. Grady Service is in a race against time as an elusive poachers' ring chooses its final target: the blue wolf.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2002
ISBN: 978-1493040490
Publisher: Lyons Press
Chasing a Blond Moon

Strange things are happening to the black bears of the Upper Peninsula. Grady Service is stumped until a Korean-born professor is murdered by cyanide-laced figs that contain two freeze-dried bear gall bladders.

Once again, Grady Service, the hard-boiled conservation officer of this superb series set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, has a weird case on his hands. Strange things are happening to the black bear population. Grady Service can’t pin the phenomenon on anyone or anything until a Korean-born professor from Michigan Tech is murdered by cyanide-laced figs—and two freeze-dried bear gall bladders are found among the figs. 

Service is certain that poachers are at work, killing bears to fuel the Asian market for traditional medicines. The animal-parts market is highly organized, and its practitioners are ruthless and dangerous. Grady’s nemesis, Michigan’s governor, has cut budgets so severely that there are not enough conservation officers to cover the state. 

Service finds himself filling in for colleagues, chasing illusive poachers who leave little evidence, and wrestling with the usual cast of eccentric and entertaining characters. And there is a new twist in Grady’s personal life: he meets a sixteen-year-old son he never knew he had.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2003
ISBN: 978-1493040513
Publisher: Lyons Press
Running Dark

We go back in time twenty-five years to meet Service as a young conservation officer. Still fresh from Vietnam, but on home turf, Service has been tapped for an unusual assignment that threatens to be his last.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2005
ISBN: 978-1493041978
Publisher: Lyons Press
Strike Dog

A serial killer is knocking off America’s best conservation officers—and Service learns he is next on the list. The FBI brings him on the case, but Service is also out for blood. The killer has murdered his girlfriend, Maridly Nantz, and his son, Walter. Service must navigate the terrain of his own grief as well as the killer’s twisted mind.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2007
ISBN: 978-1493041985
Publisher: Lyons Press
Death Roe

Another suspenseful who-done-it finds Grady Service with an unexpectedly complex, truly rotten, and important case on his hands. This time tainted eggs are showing up in caviar and Service must expose a ring of corruption in state government and perhaps within his own beloved DNR, one that could lead him all the way to the top.

Making enemies at every level of the state, Service rousts out the people on the take. Can he get to the source of the contaminated eggs and prove it? Pitting corporate greed against the health of the general public isn't something Service takes lightly. He doesn't rest until there has been full exposure in a case that takes him from the wilds of the Upper Peninsula to the jungles of the state capital, into the maw of the Ukrainian mafia in New York City and onto distant beaches of Central America.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2008
ISBN: 978-1493041992
Publisher: Lyons Press
Shadow of the Wolf Tree

The discovery of skeletal remains sheds troubling light on an eighty-year-old cold case involving racism, gold, and murder. Combine that with a present-day ecoterrorist whose guerrilla tactics—including a gruesome trap called a “wolf tree”—make Rambo look like a cub scout; a thriving crystal meth industry; and Service’s particular brand of grizzled, sexually tense, and action-packed police work.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2010
ISBN: 978-1493050048
Publisher: Lyons Press
Force of Blood

Late spring, 2007. Michigan in economic freefall, state budgets being slashed, politics reduced to nastiness, state jobs being erased, and personnel furloughed without pay. Grady Service, detective for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the Upper Peninsula, watches as his colleagues leave the department one by one. 

Upon being asked by an old friend to look into unspecified problems his son is facing on the shores of Lake Superior, Service has no idea how complicated his life is about to become. All he knows is that the situation involves something his friend calls “bleeding sand”—and that his new partner, Conservation Officer Donna “Jingo” Sedge, is the oddest young officer he’s ever met.

The story moves at breakneck speed as Service, nearing three decades as a Woods Cop, finds that expectations seem to be changing on all fronts, personal and professional, and he is not certain he can live up to them.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2011
ISBN: 978-0762781232
Publisher: GPP
Hard Ground: Woods Cop Stories

Hard Ground is a treasure chest of stories for lovers of the outdoors, fans of smart crime fiction, and, of course, the legions of Joseph Heywood fans. 

Featuring the game-warden colleagues of Woods Cop star Grady Service, the tales in this collection follow the men and women patrolling Michigan’s wilds as they encounter everything from poachers determined to defend their kills with deadly resistance to drug pushers selling their wares at an Elvis Convention camping retreat. There are search-and-rescue operations, a rookie game warden's first day on the job, and much, much more. 

With Heywood’s trademark ability to capture the eccentric characters of the Upper Peninsula, his wonderful ear for dialogue, and his vivid descriptions of hunting, fishing, and outdoorsmanship, these twenty-plus stories will delight Heywood fans and entice any reader who loves stories about the great outdoors or law-and-order. As an added bonus, one story features Woods Cop protagonist Grady Service early in his career, while another story stars Heywood's new series protagonist Lute Bapcat.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-0762781263
Publisher: Lyons Press
Killing a Cold One

Every fall in northern Michigan brings a spate of dogman sightings. A radio DJ’s invention, the dogman was created as an attention-getting joke. But millions of Michiganders believe in angels and vampires, werewolves, Bigfoot...and the dogman. 

Late summer, the horribly mutilated bodies of two Native American girls are found in a tent in a remote campground in the Huron Mountains. Grady Service, who wants nothing more than to return to patrolling his beloved Mosquito Wilderness, is called into the case. Strange animal tracks are found, mayhem ensues, a bloody trail of victims begins to accumulate, and the governor, in a political panic, and on her way out of office, orders Grady to hunt down and eliminate the killer--on her office’s dime. 

Grady Service does not believe in Easter bunnies, Santa Claus, or dogmen, and the "monster" hunt that unfolds in Killing a Cold One builds to a violent finish in some of the Upper Peninsula’s harshest and deadliest terrain. Joseph Heywood's legendary woods cop is called upon to use all of his investigative skills to sort fantasy from reality in order to do what the governor wants.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-1493050062
Publisher: Lyons Press
Harder Ground: More Woods Cop Stories

A treasure chest of stories for Joseph Heywood fans, featuring the women game-warden colleagues of his mystery series star Grady Service. With Heywood’s trademark ability to capture the eccentric characters of the Michigan wilderness, his wonderful ear for dialogue, and his vivid descriptions of hunting, fishing, and outdoorsmanship, these stories will delight Heywood fans and entice any reader who loves stories about the great outdoors or law-and-order. The game wardens in these stories not only have to contend with poachers, drug smugglers, and violent criminals, but they must also confront the challenges of being women in a wilderness law enforcement fraternity traditionally dominated by men.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2015
ISBN: 978-1493009022
Publisher: Lyons Press
Buckular Dystrophy

The traditional firearm deer season in Michigan lasts two weeks, a time in which the most hunters are afield during the year and the time when most things happen. 

Game wardens cannot count on having any life but work during this period, and in this case Grady Service, who takes longtime violator and archrival Limpy Allerdyce on as his partner for deer season runs into the most bizarre string of big cases involving deer that he has ever encountered. 

Buckular Dystrophy is the term coined by Conservation Officers to describe the condition whereby people cannot help killing deer, not for sport or food, but for other reasons – an addiction of sorts, and unlike other addictions, one not medically organized, but just as real.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2016
ISBN: 978-1493033607
Publisher: Lyons Press
Bad Optics

Conservation Officer Grady Service is on unpaid suspension until spring, but—stubborn as ever—continues to patrol the Mosquito Wilderness, along with his complicated past. 

Service is off-duty through July 4 following a season in which Service and his unofficial partner (lifelong poacher Limpy Allerdyce) cleaned up on deer-law violators and poachers, closing more big cases in two weeks than most officers solve in their careers. His reward? He is summoned to Lansing, told he is on unpaid suspension, his badge, firearms, and truck taken. The rationale for the action is fuzzy, a questioning of his using a lifelong lawbreaker as partner. 

For the first time, Service has no duties and feels like he has been beached unfairly. But voluntarily on patrol, he begins to sense political shenanigans–an old foe lurking somewhere in the shadows. He could retire, but decides to fight, and enlists help from Allerdyce and fellow game warden and Vietnam Veteran Luticious Treebone. 

Clues accumulate: It seems someone wants to illegally commercialize the Mosquito. Grady realizes if he doesn’t stop it, the wilderness will be destroyed. The tight story unfolds like a poker game, with one side bluffing and raising, while the other side keeps calling and keeping the game on until there is a final showdown.

Author: Joseph Heywood
First Release: 2018
ISBN: 978-1493049981
Publisher: Lyons Press