John Marquez Series

Die Off

Book 5

John Marquez is back—but his mission is the same: shut down animal traffickers. Still attached to the California Fish & Game’s Special Operations Unit, it’s the open, unsolved investigations that now land on his desk.

Then a tip call comes which reveals the location of a gun used to kill two young women camping along the Klamath River two years ago. At the same time, Marquez is on the hunt for a notorious animal trafficker known as Rider, who’s rumoured to have a hideout in mountainous northern California. The subsequent discovery of thousands of invasive northern pike triggers a cascade of clues and questions that draws Marquez away from his pursuit of Rider. Or do they? Is there a connection?

When a Siskiyou County investigator and an ambitious sheriff question Marquez’s interest in the murders of the two women and his relentless presence in the remote northern county, the stakes rise ever higher—and the way forward is fraught with risk.

Russell makes it work, taunting, teasing, upsetting, and challenging the reader.
…chillingly descriptive and packed with suspense, secrets, violence and nonstop action.
Cooked at a slow simmer, the story explodes in the second half, demanding readers’ full attention…
Library Journal
The setting is portrayed with care, and the chance to root for an animal-saving, nature-loving detective is a pleasant respite from the weary cynicism of typical police procedurals.
Publishers Weekly


Book 4

Fourth novel in the highly-acclaimed John Marquez crime series—Eighteen years ago, Special Agent John Marquez was forced to watch as his informant, Billy Takado, was gunned down, the victim of a set-up by criminal mastermind Emrahain Stoval. In the fallout from the affair, Marquez lost his job. Now, working for California’s Department of Fish and Games, John is contacted by a former colleague. Ted Desault is determined to take Stoval down, but to do that, he needs Marquez’s help…

From Kirk: Redback starts in the last days of Marquez’s DEA career so there’s more back story, but I wouldn’t call it a prequel. More of an evolution to where at the end of this one he’s temporarily attached to an FBI task force. The first three novels centered on poaching plots in California. This story gives him more latitude to roam. In the right circumstances it’s credible he could fit into another operation in another place. Or quietly run one. Does it work? If you read the book, let me know.

The tension rises as the unpredictable plot skitters and jitters along, powered by smoothly understated prose.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
… look no further than Redback—or, indeed, the entire John Marquez series. Outstanding!
Russell’s narrative is so drastically compressed that you can barely take in the many action sequences, betrayals and violent deaths in this breathless survey…

Dead Game

Book 3

There’s only one reason for the illegal killing of so many sturgeon—caviar. And behind the highly profitable trade in caviar is the Russian mafia, dealing in things much more dangerous than fish eggs.

John Marquez is closing in on the sturgeon poachers when his key confidential informant disappears. Marquez and his understaffed team—which is slated for shutdown by top brass—search frantically for the informant in their remaining weeks, while also pursuing the poachers and tangling with the Russian mob and the FBI.

Fast-paced, thought-provoking, and vivid, this eco-thriller pushes the tough but sensitive Marquez to the limit. Dead Game is a tale of unforgettable action and complex human emotions.

Russell tackles both action sequences and intractable moral problems with prose as sharp and efficient as a filleting knife…
…wildly fun and solidly convincing… Russell is at the top of his game.
Booklist (starred review, and one of the top ten crime novels of the year!)
Fans of Nevada Barr’s national park series will find much to enjoy in Dead Game, especially in its complicated and very human hero.
—Tom and Enid Schantz, Denver Post
Buy this book and hunker down. I guarantee you won’t want to leave the house for a while.
—Carroll Johnson,

Night Game

Book 2

Tough, caring, and distinctive John Marquez is back. A former DEA agent who is now the head of the special operations unit of the California Department of Fish and Game, Marquez brings gritty investigative techniques and a clouded past to his role in enforcing the poaching laws of California.

In this gripping new crime novel, former federal drug agent Marquez again pushes the boundaries of safety and politics when he takes his team of Fish and Game officers on a dangerous operation in pursuit of bear poachers. A murdered student, a missing game warden, and threats to his own family draw Marquez even more deeply into the tangled world of international traffickers and local thugs. At the center of his investigation is a wildly attractive and highly unreliable woman who sets some traps of her own.

Night Game hits hard and moves fast toward a finish that ricochets through wilderness, backwoods towns, and the darker recesses of love and greed. A second novel that delivers—and firmly establishes—a great series.

Superb suspense, culminating in an exhausting but satisfying series of chases, showdowns, and bitter glimpses of justice denied.
Kirkus (starred review)
Russell writes of the wilds with deep knowledge, making his story achingly credible.
Russell has a real feel for and love of the California wilderness. It is everywhere in the intensity of his writing.
Philadelphia Inquirer
This is a series, and an author, to hitch on to.
—Author C.J. Box
Kirk Russell writes with the clarity of a mountain stream. The story flows through the brain with an exhilarating rush.
—Author Nevada Barr

Shell Games

Book 1

The discovery of thousands of empty abalone shells and two murdered divers sends Lieutenant John Marquez’s poaching investigation in a new—and very risky—direction. Former DEA agent and now head of a special operations unit of the California Department of Fish and Game, Marquez learns he himself has been targeted as the next victim. Stalking him is Kline, a vicious drug smuggler turned abalone smuggler who has a vendetta against Marquez.

John Marquez is supposed to protect wildlife, not solve murders, but the only way he can break the multi-million-dollar abalone-smuggling ring, as well as save his own life, is to find and stop Kline. A fast-paced crime novel set along the majestic Northern California coastline, Shell Games introduces a tough, complex, and appealing hero and a masterful new series.

Shell Games announces the start of what I think will be a great series and career.
—Author Michael Connelly
The story is loaded with atmosphere…It’s also made unself-consciously relevant with timely references.
Kirk Russell’s Shell Games is so well-crafted, it’s hard to believe it’s a first novel.
—Author Jan Burke
Russell should walk off with the award for far and away the most inventive new detective hero….
…a wonderfully unpredictable plot that holds the reader hostage to the very last page.
—Author Ridley Pearson