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Henry Kisor books in order

Henry Kisor is a retired American book editor and author of mystery, non-fiction and children’s books.

Despite losing his hearing to meningitis and encephalitis at a young age, Kisor went on to become an accomplished literary journalist.

He received his B.A from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and his M.S.J at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Kisor served as the book editor of the Chicago Daily News between 1973 and 1978, before moving to the Chicago Sun-Times where he worked until his retirement in 2006.

He was also an adjunct instructor at the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University from 1977 to 1982.

Kisor has written several books, including the Steve Martinez mysteries, non-fiction titles, and a children’s book which he co-authored with his wife Deborah Abbott.

A husband, father and grandfather, he spends his winters in Evanston, Illinois, and his summers in Ontonagon, Michigan, with his beloved wife.

More about Henry Kisor

Genres: Children's Book, Fiction, Mystery, Non-fiction

Born: 1940

United States


Children's Books

  1. One TV Blasting and a Pig Outdoors (1994)


  1. What's That Pig Outdoors?: A Memoir of Deafness (1990)
  2. Zephyr: Tracking a Dream Across America (1994)
  3. Flight of the Gin Fizz: Midlife At 4, 500 Feet (1997)
  4. Traveling with Service Animals: By Air, Road, Rail, and Ship across North America (2019)

Steve Martinez

  1. Season's Revenge (2003)
  2. A Venture into Murder (2005)
  3. Cache of Corpses (2007)
  4. Hang Fire (2013)
  5. Tracking the Beast (2015)
  6. The Riddle of Billy Gibbs (2016)

Detailed book overview

Children's Books

One TV Blasting and a Pig Outdoors

What's it like to have a deaf father? As Conan explains, it’s not so different―but it’s always interesting. Conan tells how his father Henry Kisor learned to read and speak, made his way through "regular" schools, and grew up to be a newspaper editor and author. Conan also describes the challenges of lipreading and the technological advances that have made communication easier for his dad.

NB: Co-authored with Deborah Abbott.

Author: Henry Kisor
First Release: 1994
ISBN: 978-0807560754
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company


What's That Pig Outdoors?: A Memoir of Deafness

Henry Kisor lost his hearing at age three to meningitis and encephalitis but went on to excel in the most verbal of professions as a literary journalist. This new and expanded edition of Kisor's engrossing memoir recounts his life as a deaf person in a hearing world and addresses heartening changes over the last two decades due to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and advancements in cochlear implants and modes of communication.

Kisor tells of his parents' drive to raise him as a member of the hearing and speaking world by teaching him effective lip-reading skills at a young age and encouraging him to communicate with his hearing peers. 

With humor and much candor, he narrates his time as the only deaf student at Trinity College in Connecticut and then as a graduate student at Northwestern University, as well as his successful career as the book review editor at the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily News. Life without hearing, Kisor says, has been fine and fulfilling.

Widely praised in popular media and academic journals when it was first published in 1990, What's That Pig Outdoors? opened new conversations about the deaf. 

Bringing those conversations into the twenty-first century, Kisor updates the continuing disagreements between those who advocate sign language and those who practice speech and lip-reading, discusses the increased acceptance of deaf people's abilities and idiosyncrasies, and considers technological advancements such as blogging, instant messaging, and hand-held mobile devices that have enabled deaf people to communicate with the hearing world on its own terms.

Author: Henry Kisor
First Release: 1990
ISBN: 978-0252077395
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Zephyr: Tracking a Dream Across America

Whether dashing through the Plains, creeping over the Rockies, hurtling across the Great Basin, or threading the Sierra Nevada, the California Zephyr is an earthbound cruise ship bearing as many as 300 passengers, each with a story to tell. 

One hears tales of trysts in showers and sleepers, of charming serendipities in dining cars, of smuggling drugs and pets (including an elusive boa constrictor), and of a small child's tragic death on the tracks.

The California Zephyr remains America's most exhilarating train, traversing breathtaking mountain scenery and retracing the route of countless westering pioneers.

Veteran journalist and novelist Henry Kisor climbs aboard the train and introduces us to the men and women who ride the rails—some out of restlessness, some as a hobby, some seeking love or friendship as they open new frontiers in their deeper selves. And of course there are the resourceful train crews, who tell tales of "dog-robbing" supplies in the yards, of coping with medical emergencies en route, and of keeping their good humor over the train's 51-hour run. 

The Zephyr's route is a passage of surprising connections, as the grand history of railroads, terminals, luxury limiteds, and western bandits exists side by side with contemporary concerns.

Author: Henry Kisor
First Release: 1994
ISBN: 978-1511443531
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Flight of the Gin Fizz: Midlife At 4, 500 Feet

Henry Kisor didn’t realize what he was getting himself into when a friend invited him aboard his small plane one afternoon, but as the engine revved and the craft took flight, he found himself exhilarated as never before. 

Fifty-three years old, Kisor had looked into a mirror and saw staring back ”a man who was short, fat, bald, bespectacled, and deaf.” He needed to reclaim his zest for life, and he found the answer in learning how to fly.

Kisor’s dream begins to take shape when he learns that radio communications are not required in most of America’s airspace, and that ”visual flight rules” are the same for hearing and deaf pilots alike. With the eagerness of newfound youth, he throws himself into his lessons and plans a suitable maiden voyage: a reenactment of Cal Rodgers’s 1911 journey from New York to Los Angeles, the first coast-to-coast flight. Along the way, Kisor learns that Rodgers himself suffered from severe hearing loss, which adds an unexpected personal connection to the enterprise.

Soon after getting his license, Kisor falls in love with a thirty-six-year-old beauty: a classic Cessna two-seater that he buys and renames "Gin Fizz," in honor of Rodgers’s "Vin Fiz" (itself named after a popular soft drink of the day). He then plans out his trip and invites the reader into the cockpit as he takes to the air, dodging storms and greasing landings on a journey across America that recalls the derring-do of the early days of aviation.

Landing sixty-five times along a route that takes him from New York to Chicago to Texas to California, Kisor introduces us to the men and women who make up the ”brotherhood of aviation”—those who staff the airports, repair the planes, teach student pilots, ferry skydivers (and sometimes jump themselves), and perform aerobatic stunts —and who open a window onto a rich and charming side of American life and lore.

Author: Henry Kisor
First Release: 1997
Ebook: B00A6GVKZM
Traveling with Service Animals: By Air, Road, Rail, and Ship across North America

The boom in trained service animal use and access has transformed the lives of travelers with disabilities. As a result, tens of thousands of people in the United States and Canada enjoy travel options that were difficult or impossible just a few years ago. Henry Kisor and Christine Goodier provide a narrative guidebook full of essential information and salted with personal, hands-on stories of life on the road with service dogs and miniature horses.

As the travel-savvy human companions of Trooper (Kisor's miniature schnauzer/poodle cross) and Raylene (Goodier's black Labrador), the authors share experiences from packing for your animal partner to widely varying legal protections to the animal-friendly rides at Disneyland.

Chapters cover the specifics of air, rail, road, and cruise ship travel, while appendixes offer checklists, primers on import regulations and corporate policies, advice for emergencies, and a route-by-route guide to finding relief walks during North American train trips. Practical and long overdue, Traveling with Service Animals provides any human-animal partnership with a horizon-to-horizon handbook for exploring the world.

NB: Co-authored with Christine Goodier.

Author: Henry Kisor
First Release: 2019
ISBN: 978-0252084508
Publisher: University of Illinois Press

Steve Martinez

Season's Revenge

Big events are stirring for Lakota-born deputy sheriff Steve Martinez. The normally sleepy town of Porcupine City on the southern shore of Lake Superior is uncharacteristically alive with activity after the body of one of its most respected and powerful residents, Paul Passoja, turns up at a forest campsite, the victim of what appears to be a bear attack.

From the moment he arrives on the scene, things just don't add up for Steve. Why would Passoja, a skilled camper and hunter, be careless enough to scatter bacon grease near his tent? Led by curiosity, Steve begins an unofficial investigation of the mishap only to discover that the "random" animal attack might not be so random after all. It seems that quite a few people in town had reason to do in Passoja, but the evidence points to no one in particular.

The more Steve investigates, the deeper he sinks into a mystery as old as the town itself. The seemingly peaceful forest haven was once a hotbed of treachery, and ill will only ripens with age. As he gets closer to the murderer, Steve learns the hard way that whoever killed Paul Passoja is more than willing to kill again. But Steve's Native American ancestors never were ones to fold, and neither is he.

Author: Henry Kisor
First Release: 2003
ISBN: 978-1537585499
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
A Venture into Murder

Porcupine County is nestled into the deceptively peaceful landscape of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Its seat is a small town where the residents all know one another, and the latest gossip is never something that can be kept quiet for long. But there’s one secret that Porcupine County has tried to keep quiet for years . . . and those who try to uncover it sometimes wind up dead.

Steve—Lakota Sioux by birth, white by upbringing—fell in love with the town after running away from a secret of his own. After finding the love of his life, Steve was able to make peace with his past and find comfort in the land that had been so good to his people.

The quiet is broken, however, after the discovery of the body of a mob hit man. Then, during a routine operation, one of Steve’s men literally falls over the long-buried corpse of one of Porcupine County’s missing . . . a man who was last seen a century ago. The two deaths are seemingly unrelated at first . . . but Steve Martinez isn’t one to let a matter of relation stop him.

As Steve probes deeper, he’s confronted with problems both professional and personal that could jeopardize everything: his career and his relationship with the beautiful Ginny Fitzgerald—a wealthy widow with secrets of her own.

Through shoot-outs and death-defying surveillance flights, Steve is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the peace in the land he loves, but he may find that even in the quietest of towns there are some things that are better left buried.

Author: Henry Kisor
First Release: 2005
ISBN: 978-1511597029
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Cache of Corpses

Porcupine City is a peaceful little town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the kind where everyone knows everyone else and good-natured gossip is a prime source of entertainment. The residents enjoy a quiet life far removed from the comings and goings of larger cities. It’s certainly the last place anyone would think of using as the backdrop for a high-tech, high-thrill treasure hunt.

Until the first gruesome clue is found: a headless corpse wrapped in plastic.

Deputy Steve Martinez—Lakota Sioux by birth, Porcupine City native by association—has investigated many crimes, but none more surprising than the case before him now. When clues at the first crime scene lead to a second headless corpse, Steve realizes this is someone’s twisted idea of a game. And these events couldn’t come at a worse time: the election for county sheriff is fast approaching and the sudden rash of bodies is just the sort of ammunition Steve’s opponent is all too eager to use against him. Luckily Steve’s longtime love, beautiful redhead Ginny Fitzgerald, is still by his side, but even that relationship becomes strained as Steve searches for a way to connect with her foster son, Tommy.

This is Steve’s toughest investigation yet—one that spreads from secret Internet chatrooms into Chicago’s seedy underbelly, and even takes to the air above Porcupine County. It will take all of Deputy Martinez’s patience and cunning to catch a sociopath who’s after the next forbidden rush. It might also force him to face some unpleasant truths about the locals he has sworn to protect.

Author: Henry Kisor
First Release: 2007
ISBN: 978-1511603072
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Hang Fire

When a pretty teacher is killed by a muzzle-loading ball during an encampment of historical re-enactors, Sheriff Steve Martinez is troubled by her role-playing "persona" as a frontier prostitute. Sex can be a motive for murder. But the death is ruled an accident. Besides, killing a person with a muzzle-loader takes way too much time and effort. The next few months, however, bring a surprising number of seemingly unrelated muzzle-loading deaths. A statistical anomaly—or something worse?

To find the answer, Steve must battle skeptics, a lack of forensic evidence, an ever shrinking budget, and a rocky romance with his longtime love. Hot on the trail in the deep woods, he suddenly discovers that he is his quarry's newest target.

Author: Henry Kisor
First Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-1542827904
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Tracking the Beast

When the remains of three little girls turn up inside railroad hopper cars, Sheriff Steve Martinez faces a troublesome case, for the cars had sat for years on a siding deep inside his beloved Porcupine County. After Steve and his comrades do the spadework, the FBI moves in, thinking their Unsub is both rapist and murderer. But Steve believes the killer―or killers―instead hired someone to dispose of the bodies. 

With the help of lawmen of all kinds, including the Ontario Provincial Police, and even Detroit mobsters, Steve doggedly tracks “the Beast.” This intricate police procedural, set in the wilds of Upper Michigan, features not only an exciting high-tech chase around Lake Superior but also the revival of a clever World War II deception.

Author: Henry Kisor
First Release: 2015
ISBN: 978-1432831158
Publisher: Five Star
The Riddle of Billy Gibbs

When the mutilated body of a black man is found hanging from a tree in Mackinac County 275 miles away across the wild Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Porcupine County Sheriff Steve Martinez is dismayed.

His bailiwick is ninety-nine per cent white, and the victim, an army veteran, had just been acquitted by an all-white jury in the rape of a white woman. Steve had feared racial repercussions after the verdict and suspects bigotry led to the violent death of Billy Gibbs.

But a mystery surrounds the victim himself. How could an ordinary truck mechanic possess such a large bankroll? Why was he so concerned about the well-being of his brand-new, tricked-out pickup truck?

Steve is severely shorthanded, but to shine light on Gibbs and to find his killer—or killers—Steve and Sheriff Selena Novikovich, his counterpart in Mackinac County, dig deep into the case. With the help of their deputies, several state troopers, a retired FBI agent who must fend off a hostile CIA, and a military police colonel willing to put his career on the line for the comrade who saved his life in Iraq, the two sheriffs doggedly track the clues across five states.

The cops turn up another murder as well as a clutch of fervent neo-Nazis, one of whom is a gorgeous but vicious woman whose sexual proclivities rival those in Fifty Shades of Grey.

Author: Henry Kisor
First Release: 2016
ISBN: 978-1537639758
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform