Crime Fiction & Music: When Art Forms Intersect

May 29, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Baron Birtcher

In recent weeks, I have been doing a number of talks and signings in support of the release of the newest installment of the award-winning Sheriff Ty Dawson crime thriller series, Knife River. And the question I encounter most frequently regards the origins of Ty Dawson and the fictional locale Meriwether County in which Dawson plies his trade as both a rancher and a sheriff. In fact, I often characterize the series as Longmire meets Yellowstone in the 1970s.

But I think it is the time-period itself that sets the tone and, frankly, I love that these books are so evocative for many readers, and the fact that the action takes place during the 1970s conjures such a vast mélange of memories, images and feelings, and that the musical soundtrack of those times informed more than mere backdrop; it was the very atmosphere in which we lived and breathed.

I like to say that I was born in South California (a term that is infrequently—if ever—used by anyone other than me, but I’ve always liked the look of those words on the page). I was birthed at the crossroads of the Eisenhower and Kennedy eras, reared in the shadow of the Age of Aquarius, and graduated from high school in the ballroom of the Hotel California.

Raised on a small ranch in San Juan Capistrano, I grew up surrounded by horses, cattle, and untold acres of farmland (orange groves, strawberries, and avocados in my case), and learned to saddle and handle a horse (a pony, at first) by the time I had reached my fourth birthday.

But music was my first love, and I took to the entire scope of it with my whole heart.

So, after graduating college with a degree in Finance and Business, I promptly did what all good business students do: I started a country-rock band.

Baron Birtcher

I spent a number of years as a full-time working guitar player and vocalist, then as a record producer, and finally as an artist manager—advising, listening, traveling, laughing, negotiating, and sometimes arguing with some of the most fascinating people in the world, my exposure to the music of my youth informing every mile and every moment. Perhaps one of my most cherished chapters from that period came from my association with legendary music- and film-producer, James William Guercio, founder of the famed Caribou Ranch Studios. Situated in the rural front range of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Caribou Ranch became an iconic recording resort home-away-from-home for artists as varied as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Chicago and John Lennon (among dozens of others). This association formed the backbone of a fictionalized narrative thread in Knife River, which to say much more about would spoil the fun…

Suffice to say, though, that the thing that most effectively fuels creativity and inspiration for me as a writer of crime fiction is music.

As an author, however, my basic premise is this: Every story is about people. Whether it is science fiction, horror, whodunnit mystery, cozy, or literary narrative, the way the characters respond to a situation is what creates the trajectory of the story. The locale, setting, and historical timeframe forms the cultural backdrop within which the author’s people process their reality and how the fictional community perceives the action as it unfolds. So, if the jumping-off spot as an author is to create an entertaining and compelling narrative, the location and lens we employ in the telling of that story indelibly affects the story itself.

I left California nearly 30 years ago and now live in rural Oregon, but my two siblings remain—these days surrounded by the tracts of houses, streets, and highways that have supplanted the vast acreage of orange trees, the golden blooms of wild mustard weed, and the lowing of cattle in the folds between the foothills of my youth. But as many of us would likely agree, the place that dwells inside the root system of one’s childhood never departs—the landscape might look different, having been revised from that which resides inside our memories, but the heart still skips a beat when first returning “home” after an absence.

Now, with the publication of Knife River, I invite you to join me on the thrilling ride with Sheriff Ty Dawson, and to (re)visit those heady, turbulent, beautiful, and terrifying times of the 1970s, and to join me on Facebook and Instagram at:
Instagram: instagram/BaronBirtcher_author

Books in the Ty Dawson series (Available in eBook, Trade Paperback and Audio)
South California Purples
Fistful Of Rain
Knife River

Other Crime Thrillers by Baron Birtcher
Roadhouse Blues
Ruby Tuesday
Angels Fall
Rain Dogs
Hard Latitudes

They can be purchased by using this link:

You can click here to purchase this book.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify.

Baron Birtcher is the winner of the Silver Falchion Award (Hard Latitudes); Winner of Killer Nashville Readers Choice Award (South California Purples); and Best Book of the Year Award for Fistful Of Rain. He has also been nominated for the Nero Award, the Lefty, the Foreword Indie, the Claymore, and the Pacific Northwest’s Spotted Owl Awards. Baron’s writing has been hailed as “The real deal” by Publishers Weekly; “Fast Paced and Engaging” by Booklist; and “Solid, Fluent and Thrilling” by Kirkus.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


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