Jess Lourey books in order
Jess Lourey is an American Amazon Charts bestselling, Anthony and Thriller Award winning author of crime fiction, young adult fantasy, children's books, and nonfiction.
Born in Tacoma, Washington, she holds a Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees, and is currently a retired professor of creative writing and sociology.
A TEDx presenter, a Psychology Today blogger, and the recipient of The Loft's Excellence in Teaching fellowship, Jess has been nominated for the Edgar, Agatha, and Lefty awards for her works of fiction.
She began creative writing when her husband took his own life soon after their wedding.
A mother of two residing in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Jess enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and fostering kittens whenever she isn't leading women's writing retreats.
Genres: Children's Book, Fantasy / SF, Mystery, Young Adult
- The Catalain Book of Secrets (2014)
- Unspeakable Things (2020)
- Bloodline (2021)
- Litani (2021)
- The Quarry Girls (2022)
A Murder by Month Romcom Mystery
- May Day (2006)
- June Bug (2007)
- Knee High By the Fourth of July (2007)
- August Moon (2008)
- September Mourn (2009)
- October Fest (2011)
- November Hunt (2012)
- December Dread (2012)
- January Thaw (2014)
- February Fever (2015)
- March of Crimes (2017)
- April Fools (2019)
- Catch Her in a Lie (2022)
- Death by Potato Salad: A Murder-by-the Minute Short Story Featuring Mrs. Berns (2014)
- Monday Is Murder: A Romcom Mystery Novella (2022)
- Leave My Book Alone! (2021)
- The Adventure of the First Problem: Salem's Cipher Novella (2016)
- Salem's Cipher (2016)
- Mercy's Chase (2018)
- The Toadhouse Trilogy (2012)
Detailed book overview
Four generations of Catalain women battle the curse that threatens to destroy their already-divided family.
The Catalain women have always had an uneasy truce with the people of Faith Falls, but one daughter's return brings all the bad blood to the surface, dredging up secrets, bitter curses, and a mysterious death. The Catalain women must find a way to make peace with their past or lose everything that's ever mattered to them.
Inspired by a terrifying true story from the author’s hometown, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota community where nothing is as quiet―or as safe―as it seems.
Cassie McDowell’s life in 1980s Minnesota seems perfectly wholesome. She lives on a farm, loves school, and has a crush on the nicest boy in class. Yes, there are her parents’ strange parties and their parade of deviant guests, but she’s grown accustomed to them.
All that changes when someone comes hunting in Lilydale.
One by one, local boys go missing. One by one, they return changed―violent, moody, and withdrawn. What happened to them becomes the stuff of shocking rumors. The accusations of who’s responsible grow just as wild, and dangerous town secrets start to surface. Then Cassie’s own sister undergoes the dark change. If she is to survive, Cassie must find her way in an adult world where every sin is justified, and only the truth is unforgivable.
Perfect town. Perfect homes. Perfect families. It’s enough to drive some women mad…
In a tale inspired by real events, pregnant journalist Joan Harken is cautiously excited to follow her fiancé back to his Minnesota hometown. After spending a childhood on the move and chasing the screams and swirls of news-rich city life, she’s eager to settle down. Lilydale’s motto, “Come Home Forever,” couldn’t be more inviting.
And yet, something is off in the picture-perfect village.
The friendliness borders on intrusive. Joan can’t shake the feeling that every move she makes is being tracked. An archaic organization still seems to hold the town in thrall. So does the sinister secret of a little boy who vanished decades ago. And unless Joan is imagining things, a frighteningly familiar figure from her past is on watch in the shadows.
Her fiancé tells her she’s being paranoid. He might be right. Then again, she might have moved to the deadliest small town on earth.
In the summer of ’84, fourteen-year-old Frankie Jubilee is shuttled off to Litani, Minnesota, to live with her estranged mother, a county prosecutor she barely knows. From the start, Frankie senses something uneasy going on in the small town. The locals whisper about The Game, and her mother warns her to stay out of the woods and away from adults.
When a bullying gang of girls invites Frankie to The Game, she accepts, determined to find out what’s really going on in Litani. She’s not the only one becoming paranoid. Hysteria burns through the community. Dark secrets emerge. And Frankie fears that, even in the bright light of day, she might be living among monsters.
Killers hiding in plain sight. Small-town secrets. A girl who knows too much.
Minnesota, 1977. For the teens of one close-knit community, summer means late-night swimming parties at the quarry, the county fair, and venturing into the tunnels beneath the city. But for two best friends, it’s not all fun and games.
Heather and Brenda have a secret. Something they saw in the dark. Something they can’t forget. They’ve decided to never tell a soul. But their vow is tested when their friend disappears―the second girl to vanish in a week. And yet the authorities are reluctant to investigate.
Heather is terrified that the missing girls are connected to what she and Brenda stumbled upon that night. Desperately searching for answers on her own, she learns that no one in her community is who they seem to be. Not the police, not the boys she met at the quarry, not even her parents. But she can’t stop digging because she knows those girls are in danger.
She also knows she’s next.
A Murder by Month Romcom Mystery
The not-so-proud owner of a waitressing career and a cheating boyfriend, cosmopolitan Mira James jumps at the chance for a fresh start in rural Battle Lake. When she immediately lands a librarian job and meets a sexy small-town hunk, she wonders if she’s finally made a good life decision.
Until that hunk turns up dead between the library’s reference stacks.
Anxious to learn more about the man who briefly stole her heart, Mira delves headfirst into the mysteries of Battle Lake. The first thing she discovers is that she’d chosen the wrong guy all along. The second? That unknown dangers are concealed under the polite exterior of this quirky town, and revenge is a tator tot hotdish best served cold.
Diamonds, dives, and dead bodies...oh my!
Mira James never imagined life after Minneapolis would include a doublewide trailer outside Battle Lake, Minnesota. Then again, maybe the North Country has more to offer than mosquitoes and broasted chicken. Maybe it has earthy, sexy Johnny Leeson and... jewels?
Local legend claims that a diamond necklace was lost nearly a century ago in Whiskey Lake, near the bank of the present-day Shangri-La resort. Mira, a part-time reporter, goes fishing for the story behind the legend. Her exhilarating treasure hunt uncovers a new mystery and puts her face to face with a menacing foe from her past.
Can she survive his deadly advances long enough to lock lips with Johnny?
What's so wrong with admiring from a distance?
Mira's quirky attraction to Chief Wenonga, a well-muscled fiberglass statue, might be a safer love pursuit than online dating. But when the 23-foot Chief goes missing and a human corpse is found at his cement base, Mira's not the only Battle Lake citizen to be crushed.
Things get impossibly worse when her second-biggest hunk, organic gardening god Johnny Leeson, disappears and the police think she’s involved. With her luck with men running out and the cops closing in, Mira has no choice but to roll up her sleeves and start investigating.
But is she trailing a statue-thief, a kidnapper, or a cold-blooded killer?
Believing she’s been royally stood up by local hottie Johnny Leeson, Mira decides to abandon Battle Lake, Minnesota, where the women are churchgoers, the men like to hunt, and the body count is above average. But when a cheerleader bites the dust, Mira is called back to the town that’s done her wrong.
She begins investigating the New Millennium Bible Camp, a disturbing place with a Stepford Wives meets Hee Haw vibe. Before she ditches Battle Lake once and for all, Mira is hell-bent on confronting her own demons to catch a killer.
The Minnesota State Fair is the beloved home of 4H exhibits, Midway rides, and everything on a stick. The festival fun is riding high until the recently crowned Milkfed Mary, Queen of the Dairy, a Battle Lake native, is murdered while her regal likeness is carved in butter.
Can Mira James, covering the fair for the Battle Lake Recall, manage make-out time with guitar-slinging Johnny Leeson while winning a blue ribbon for caging a killer?
You bet your last deep-fried Nut Goodie!
NB: This book is also known as September Fair.
There's big trouble brewing in little Battle Lake...
Beer and polka music reign supreme at October Fest, Battle Lake's premier fall festival. To kick off the celebration, the town hosts a public debate between the two congressional candidates: straight-laced Arnold Swydecker and slippery incumbent, Sarah Glokkmann.
As a reporter for the Battle Lake Recall, Mira James is roped into writing up the word war. But the festive mood sours when a visiting blogger is found dead. To keep the heat off her best friend's fiancé―an ex-con reporter―Mira wades through the candidates' dirty laundry and some murderous mudslinging to expose the killer.
November in Battle Lake, Minnesota, is cold enough to freeze the balls off a pool table. lt's also deer hunting season. When Tom Kicker is killed in a hunting accident, Mira James is hired to investigate―a job that brings her closer to her P.I. license.
Braving subzero temps and shrieking blizzards, Mira uncovers a decades-old scandal that has never quite died, unlike the cold stiffs piling up in the town morgue. As she pieces together the clues, Mira discovers that Battle Lake's good-old boys have been up to some bad business. But with threats and enemies around every icy corner, she may not live long enough to expose the truth, even with the help of hunky Johnny Leeson.
Silent Night, Deadly Night.
With Christmas just over a week away, ’tis the season for grinning sales elves on TV, maddeningly jolly Muzak, and a guilty Nut Goodie addiction. But for Mira James and other Battle Lake-area women, the holidays are marred by something far worse―a serial killer leaving candy canes as his calling card. His target? Thirty-something brunettes who look just like Mira.
When a woman from her high school graduating class becomes his latest victim, Mira plows through a case of online dating turned deadly with Mrs. Berns at her side. Will she earn her detective stripes . . . or end up deader than the Ghost of Christmas Past?
The Ice Man Succumbeth
Private-eye-in-training Mira James loves Minnesota's crisp January days, as long as she can spend them in the arms of hunky Johnny Leeson. But when Mrs. Berns' erratic Zamboni driving uncovers an icebound dead man, Mira's cold-weather tranquility threatens to melt away.
With a frozen corpse in the lake and a freak January thaw descending on Battle Lake, neither Johnny nor generous portions of high-octane comfort food are enough to ease Mira's frazzled nerves. If she can't figure out who's behind the murder, the next time she feels sub-zero temperatures, it may be because she's sporting a toe tag in the town morgue.
All Aboard the Murder Express
Mira James’s hot and heavy relationship with boyfriend Johnny Leeson is definitely warming up her winter. But when Johnny has to go to Portland, Oregon, for a month-longth internship, airplane-averse Mira lets her septuagenarian friend Mrs. Berns talk her into a visit. On the plus side, Mira can make the trip a tax write-off by attending the International Private Investigator Conference. On the down side, Mrs. Berns books them―much to Mira’s dismay―on the Valentine Train, a place for singles to meet and mingle.
After a few glasses of champagne and Mrs. Berns’ encouragement, Mira begins to relax and enjoy herself . . . until a fellow passenger is murdered and a snowstorm traps the train in the Rockies. If Mira can’t track down the killer, she may end up derailed―permanently.
A doll walks into a bar...
Ida Gilbertson of the Battle Lake Senior Sunset has a new hobby: crafting life-sized dolls to display around town. Budding PI Mira James finds the homemade mannequins creepy enough on their own, but when she's forced to sit next to one and discovers a human corpse under the hat and wig, it becomes personal.
Police Chief Gary Wohnt, trying to save face because of his newfound attraction to Mira, is all too eager to pin the blame on her. When her sleuthing gives him the perfect excuse to lock her up, it's up to Mayor Kennie Rogers and Mrs. Berns to help her escape.
Racing against the clock, Mira must unmask the murderer before she either becomes a jailbird...or the next dolled-up victim.
Librarian and aspiring PI Mira James has discovered one corpse a month for each of the eleven months she's lived in Battle Lake. She'd give her left foot to break that streak this April.
Then she stumbles across that disturbing note, and a sweet Battle Lake girl vanishes.
She follows the note's trail and is shocked to discover that it leads to her father, who died 13 years earlier. It's a race against the clock to crack the secret he carried to his grave in time to save the girl. Meanwhile, chiseled police chief Gary Wohnt is scrutinizing her every move, aching to finally put her behind bars or in bed, and Johnny, her sexy boyfriend, is planning a grand surprise for her.
Problem is, she doesn't know if it's a marriage proposal or an intervention.
As Mrs. Berns and Mira take on their final case together, Mira discovers it's more personal than she could have imagined, and that she holds not only the life of the vanished girl but the fate of all Battle Lake in her hands.
Two agents on the trail of a serial killer. A mother and daughter on the trip of a lifetime. Fates converge in paradise in a chilling short story by an Amazon Charts bestselling author.
Cold case expert Evangeline Reed and forensics legend Harry Steinbeck are on their way from Minneapolis to Costa Rica. They’ve been ordered to keep close watch on a protective mother and her daughter, both of whom have troubling connections to a Minnesota serial killer. Are they on holiday? In hiding? Or on the run? It’s time for Van and Harry to close in on the truth. And there’s more at risk than anyone can imagine.
NB: Catch Her in a Lie by Jess Lourey is part of Getaway, a collection of six stories about dream escapes that take unimaginable, even sinister, turns.
Here are the books that make up this collection:
Belle Mer (2022) by Luanne Rice
Catch Her in a Lie (2022) by Jess Lourey
His Happy Place (2022) by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Shell Game (2022) by Rumaan Alam
Stockholm (2022) by Catherine Steadman
Uncharted Waters (2022) by Sally Hepworth
In this Murder-by-the-Minute mystery, Mrs. Berns is roped into attending the All Church Retreat in Bemidji, Minnesota. The three-to-one female to male ratio has her down, but her weekend grows a silver lining when she’s called on to solve a killing committed with the unlikeliest murder weapon in history.
How much can go wrong in a single Monday? PI-in-training Mira James is about to find out.
Big city gal Mira James is finally settling into itty bitty Battle Lake. Sure, there’s that pesky dead-body-a-month hitch, and her hunky musician boyfriend has begun receiving mysterious late-night texts. The fact that her problematic ex-boyfriend seems to be tailing her doesn’t help, either.
But Mira is determined to ignore all that for one day so she can focus on the December wedding of two dear friends. She's succeeding, too, until Kennie Rogers, Battle Lake mayor and frenemy extraordinaire, is kidnapped right in front of her eyes by a murderous Santa Claus.
Claudette the dragon knows what's best for everyone: what food they should eat, what clothes they should wear, and even where they can color. You know what else? She's not afraid to tell them. Being bossy makes her feel safe and smart, two of her favorite things. But what happens when she realizes she’s not in charge of anyone but herself?
Have your crayons ready so you can help her to find out!
Teacher and bestselling author Jess Lourey's endearing, beautifully-illustrated tale reminds us that as much as we want to hoard our treasure and tell others what to do—especially when life is feeling uncertain and maybe a little bit scary—things are more fun when we raise each other up. It’s the first in a series of story books that empowers children to be creative participants in what they’re reading (or what’s being read to them).
Salem Wiley is a genius cryptanalyst, courted by the world’s top security agencies ever since making a quantum computing breakthrough. She’s also an agoraphobe. When her mother’s disappearance is linked to a plot to assassinate the country’s first viable female presidential candidate, she's forced out of her safe zone.
Drawn into a labyrinth of messages encrypted by Emily Dickinson and century-old codes tucked inside the Beale Cipher, Salem begins to uncover the truth: an ancient and ruthless group is hell-bent on ruling the world, and only a select group of women stands in its way.
What if everything you thought you knew about Stonehenge was wrong?
When agoraphobic genius Salem Wiley lands her dream job as an FBI cryptanalyst, she vows never to return to the witch hunt underworld, where ancient secrets encrypted by hunted women have the power to rewrite history. Her resolve disappears when sweet Mercy Mayfair, the child she is pledged to protect, is kidnapped. As the clock ticks, Salem must face the terrible truth that there is only one way to free Mercy: crack the unbreakable code of Stonehenge.
Aine believes herself to be a regular teenager, but when a blue-eyed monster named Biblos attacks, she discovers that the reclusive woman raising her isn't really her grandmother and that she's been living inside a famous novel for the past five years.
With her blind brother, Spenser, she flees the book she's called home, one terrifying step ahead of Biblos's black magic. Her only chance at survival lies in beating him to the three objects that he desires more than life, all of them hidden within the pages of classic literature.
As she undertakes her strange and dangerous odyssey, Aine must choose between a family she doesn't remember and her growing attraction to a mysterious young man named Gilgamesh.