The first book in the Matt Lanier trilogy. Straight River throws professional musician Matt Lanier into the improbable roles of amateur detective and unlikely “superhero” against a powerful and deadly enemy. It’s a mystery-thriller set during the emotional and financial aftermath of the Great Recession.

Straight River cover

Two mysterious deaths compel Matt Lanier, a professional musician by trade, into a search for the killer. With no superhero skills other than his brilliant musical mind and razor-sharp hearing, Lanier quickly uncovers a land-grab conspiracy that could mean financial ruin or death for thousands of farmers . . . and for himself.

If you’re a fan of unique characters who defy all odds and stand up against powerful, ruthless foes, then you’ll love this story of a musician/hero who marches to the beat of a different drummer.

Recognition and Awards for Straight River

  • 2019 Kindle Book Review (KBR) Awards Semifinalist—Mystery/Thriller
  • 2020 Chanticleer Book Review CLUE Award Finalist—Suspense & Thriller Fiction
  • 2023 Book Bloggers Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) Semifinalist


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Straight River is also available at Or click HERE for other eBook and print options.

New in 2020, find the e-book version at:  Link to

Chris donates ONE DOLLAR ($1.00) per book sale to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern MN. Thanks for supporting an outstanding mentoring organization.

Am I brazen to compare my first-in-the-series novel to these classic debuts? Judge for yourself. More intriguing lists by other authors can be found at


My pick for five best mystery-thriller debut novels

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