Russell Hill has published poetry, essays, short stories and novels. His novel, Robbie's Wife (Hardcase Crime), was a finalist for the 2008 Edgar Allan Poe prize from the Mystery Writers of America. That was followed by two more Edgar nominees: The Lord God Bird and The Dog Sox, both published by Caravel Mystery Books, an imprint of Pleasure Boat Studio. The recipient of a Fulbright Award, he spent a year in England as an English teacher. and taught high school students for more than 50 years. An avid fly fisherman, he has written for outdoor magazines, and is the author of The Search for Sheepheaven Trout, a book about a two-year quest for a nearly extinct trout. Other novels include The Edge of the Earth and Lucy Boomer (Ballantine Books). Married, with three children, he has lived most of his life in California. Check out Russell’s blog at

See a new article about writing by Russell at the end of this page. 

Tom Hall, & The Captain of All These Men of Death is the latest offering of Russell Hill. Russell is the three-time Edgar nominee (Robbie’s Wife, The Lord God Bird, and Dog Sox) who has given us something different this time: a coming-of-age novel about a 12-year-old boy living in the ‘40s with his TB stricken father. Tom’s adventures during this time are mischievous, dangerous, and educational. Living awhile in Arizona and awhile in LA, he comes across, finally, as a curious and sensitive boy who is struggling to make sense of a crazy world. More Huck Finn than Tom Sawyer, Tom Hall discovers a world of danger and mystery while roaming the desert hills and the LA streets. $!7. ISBN 978-0-912887-25-8/

See Study Questions for this provocative novel by clicking here.

With Deadly Negatives, Russell Hill has created another powerful and clever crime novel. Here's a book which starts innocently enough with a photographer named Michael McSwain discovering some black-and-white negatives hidden in a camera box. Wanting to find out about the photos leads him to people and places he didn't expect, not all of them friendly, and to long-unsolved crimes by prominent and powerful people. Suddenly those negatives become extremely dangerous to possess. From one harrowing incident to another, McSwain comes to regret that he ever bought the camera, certainly that he developed those negatives.

The Dog Sox. $15.95. 

Nominated for an 2011 Edgar by the Mystery Writers of America!!  It’s Russell’s THIRD nomination.

"Russell Hill's The Lord God Bird is one of the most magical reads I've experienced in a long time." - Betty Webb, Mystery Scene
"Hill's brief and utterly winsome jewel of a novel (Dog Sox) will likely delight the eminent historian and baseball aficionado." Thomas Gaughan, Booklist
"The Dog Sox is a sublime piece of writing... Fantastic." - Mike Hodges, director, Get Carter and Croupier
"This novel is a hilarious ride into the heart of washed-up dreamers, delusional heroes, and, oh yeah, a baseball team." - Logan and Noah Miller, writers and directors of Touching Home

About the book: Ray Adams buys his girlfriend, beautiful Ava Belle, a baseball team for her birthday. She loves dogs and baseball. Ray's gift is a broken-down -pro team in California's Central Valley, with a 70-year-old Jewish manager who's been n baseball for 50 years and breaks into Yiddish homilies when the going gets tough. He assembles a rag-tag lineup of sheetrockers,  laborers, wanna-be big leaguers, and a freak submarine pitcher - 19-year-old Billy Collins. The only problem is that Billy has a drunken, abusive father who, when he shows up at the ballpark, causes Billy to fall apart. How to get rid of Bucky Collins becomes a primary goal not just for the team's sake, but for Billy's. Rough him up? Pay him off? See that he has an "accident"? With him around, the team and Billy are simply not functional.

We also love the cover, from a painting by Richard Stine called “Simple Pleasures.” 

THE LORD GOD BIRD was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Paperbak Original for 2009!! We are very excited about this, and we congratulate Russell Hill for the honor.

ISBN: 978-1-929355-53-2
Price: $15 (trade paperback) * 165 pages 

The Lord God Bird is a startling novel filled with dark images of America in the South in 1949. Jake Hamrick, a 19-year-old who has been obsessed since childhood with the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a bird that is on the verge of extinction, leaves Illinois for Louisiana to find the creature, accompanied by Robin, his tiny girlfriend. They search in the bayous where the bird was last reported, and Robin, as obsessed as Jake, dresses like the bird, smearing her naked body with white clay, wearing a cloak of black crow feathers, her hair in a red crest. She is discovered by local hunters and Robin and Jake are pursued deep into the bayous, where they are harbored by Robert, an ancient black man. It is a cinematic novella of obsession, passion, violence, love and loss that you won't forget.

For Book Club Discussion Questions, click here.

Some Comments from readers:

from Bernadette Pajer (for Dorothy-L): Hill’s prose is clean and sparse, yet rich in vivid, intimate detail. As a study in show-don’t-tell, it excels. Hill’s trust in the reader is richly rewarding. His triggers do their magic, drawing curiosity, anticipation, dread, shock, and fear. But his language is, in turn, equally poetic, so while the story is suspenseful it is also beautifully haunting.

from Pat Browning (for Dorothy-L): This novella just knocked my socks off. I read the ARC in one sitting.

from Diane Reid (for [This] journey to find The Lord God Bird and the dangers and heartbreak they suffer along the way make for a wonderful story that I won’t soon forget and will recommend to all my friends.

from Janet Rudolph:
“It's rare that I finish reading a book in one sitting, and it's even rarer that I need a few weeks before I can write about it.

“A few weeks ago I met Russell Hill, the author of The Lord God Bird. Some things are serendipitous, and my meeting Russell Hill was one of those things. At the urging of his publisher Jack Estes of Pleasure Boat Studio, he attended one of our literary salons for another author. We got to chatting, and I decided to read his book that very evening. I became so caught up in the book that I couldn't put it down. It's not a long book, even so I was savoring every word.

“The Lord God Bird is a story of obsession, the South and the 1940s, told in a very poetic way. Hill captures the period and the people, but more than that I felt like I was reading a book about another time, a primeval time in the swamps of the South, in the 'Big Woods', with decomposing cypress and slithery creatures, a place where time stood still: a time of The Lord God Bird, the huge ivory-billed woodpecker.

“This is a haunting book about obsession. Hill paints a very vivid picture of the South, and he peoples this setting with strong characters that will reverberate within you long after you finish.

“Read The Lord God Bird. It's one of my favorites of the year. I look forward to reading more books by Russell Hill.”

from Betty Webb (Mystery Scene, No. 111, 2009)
“Sometimes autumn's crisp temperatures and vivid colors approach the magical, so perhaps it's only fitting that I begin this column with a book that so well suits the season.

“Russell Hill's The Lord God Bird (Pleasure Boat Studio, $15) is one of the most magical
 reads I've experienced in a long time, yet it isn't truly a member of the literary genre known as 
magical realism. Set in 1949, the book begins when two naïve teens from Chicago—19-year-old 
Jake and his girlfriend, the aptly named Robin—head to the mangrove swamps of Louisiana in 
search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a bird long believed extinct. To lure the bird, Robin 
takes off her clothes, adorns herself with a cape of feathers, and climbs high into a tree. In a 
Deliverance moment, she is spotted by a group of local toughs who plot to rape, then kill her. 
Their plan is interrupted by the great bird itself, who hears the girl call out, and flies to greet her. 
When one of the men shoots it, Jakes shoots him, thus sending Robin and himself on the run 
from the law. In this mythic novella, Hill deftly uses the Lord God Bird (so named by those 
who, upon seeing it, shout "Lord God!") to highlight a clash of values. To the area's African-
Americans, the bird is sacred; to the Whites, target practice. In this outstanding novel, passion, 
ignorance, idealism, and cynicism come together to shape a tale that warns us of the losses that 
apathy can cause, both in humanity and in nature. Beautiful, tragic and not to be missed.” 

An article by Russell about writing:  
	In my novel, The Lord God Bird, the protagonist and his girlfriend go into the swamps of Louisiana.  I described what met them there:  “
\	“The mosquitoes were fierce. They came in clouds, and our arms and faces darkened with them. We only stayed in the bayou an hour before we were forced out.  I left the boat chained to a tree and I piled branches over it so we wouldn’t have to load it back onto the car.  Back at the house we rubbed alcohol onto the welts and tried to figure out how we could go back into the woods and stay without being eaten alive.”
	I’ve never been in a bayou in Louisiana, but I know the sensation of being set upon by a cloud of mosquitoes.  I visited my editor Tom Wittenberg and his wife, Madeline in Naples, Florida, in a little house that bordered a canal where occasionally an alligator appeared.  Tom drove us out onto Alligator Alley, and then turned off onto a dirt road.  
	“This is the real Florida,” he said.  There were egrets and water everywhere,          and we went off onto a dirt road that wound through palmettos, brush, the occasional abandoned refrigerator with rifle holes in it, a desolate landscape.  We came to a big puddle in the road and Tom paused, then drove into it, but it wasn’t a puddle.  The water came up over the hood in a cascade and the engine died. It was deep enough to flood the engine and there we sat, the car immobile,  deep in the Everglades.  I watched as the windows began to turn gray.  
	“Mosquitoes,” Maddy said.  The windows and windshield were a dark gray now, and I wondered what we would do next. I had gotten off the airplane from the north that morning and was still wearing a long-sleeved shirt and levis.  Tom and Maddy were in their Florida gear, shorts and tee shirts.  
	“We’ll have to walk to the highway,” Tom said.  “Maybe a mile. Button the collar of your shirt, button your sleeves. Tuck your Levis into your socks.”   
	He opened the door and I watched, fascinated, as my hands began to darken with mosquitoes.  Tom and Maddy pulled loose bunches of long grass,  using them as switches to swat at their arms and legs and we walked away from the car, leaving it stranded in a muddy pool up to the door panels.  It was humid and hot and the air was filled with the whine of mosquitoes.  How had people lived here, I wondered. I remembered reading Peter Matthiessen’s Killing Mister Watson, a novel set in a landscape much like where I now fought off the never-ending cloud of insects.   It took almost an hour to reach the highway and Maddy and I found refuge in a gas station, where she bought a can of insect repellent and we sprayed each other generously. Tom went off to find a tow truck to bring his car out of the Glades.  
	I saved that afternoon, and used it in The Lord God Bird. When Jake Hamrick and Robin return to the bayou, they have smeared  on their bodies a patent medicine, oil of eucalyptus. The whine of mosquitoes is always with them in that novel.  It is the whine that I heard on that humid afternoon in Florida

russell hill