John Straley

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John Straley
Redwood City, California, United States
Occupationmystery writer
GenreDetective fiction, historical fiction

John Straley is a poet and author of detective fiction. He currently resides in Sitka, Alaska.


John Straley was born in Redwood City, California. He grew up in the Seattle area and attended high school in New York City.[1] Straley trained, with encouragement from his parents, to be a horseshoer.[2] He attended Grinnell College before transferring to the University of Washington for a degree in writing. After college and a stint in Eastern Washington, he followed his wife to Sitka, Alaska in 1977.[1] After moving through a number of jobs he became a private investigator. In 1985, he became a staff investigator for the Alaska Public Defender's office in Sitka,[3] a position he held until 2015.[4] As an investigator, he continued to write. After being turned down by publishers numerous times, in 1991 he received a tip from friend and anthropologist Richard Nelson that New York City-based Soho Press was interested in detective fiction novels. Upon submitting his manuscript for The Woman Who Married a Bear, Soho Press expressed interest in his work. After a successful run of mysteries that has garnered critical acclaim, he is now looking outside of his trademark Cecil Younger series for future books.

During his presidency, Bill Clinton visited a bookstore and bought The Woman Who Married a Bear.

In 2006, he was named writer laureate for the State of Alaska; he served in that position until 2008.[5]

In 2008, Alaska Northwest Books published Straley's The Big Both Ways, a historical fiction work based in the Pacific Northwest. Since then his work has been primarily in creating poetry.[3]

In 2014, SOHO Press published Straley's latest book, Cold Storage, Alaska.

Straley will return to the Cecil Younger series, with the first book since 2001, with the release of Baby's First Felony, in July 2018 (Soho Press).


Cecil Younger series[edit]

  • The Woman Who Married a Bear (1992)—winner of the 1993 Shamus Award
  • The Curious Eat Themselves (1993)
  • The Music of What Happens (1996)—winner of the Spotted Owl Award
  • Death and the Language of Happiness (1997)
  • The Angels Will not Care (1998)
  • Cold Water Burning (2001)
  • Baby's First Felony (2018)

Later books[edit]

  • The Big Both Ways (2008)
  • The Rising and the Rain (2008)
  • Cold Storage, Alaska (2014)

Other writing[edit]

  • Short stories:
    • "Life Before the War"—published in Men from Boys
    • "Finding Lou"—published in The Mysterious North
  • Essays:
    • Published in The Nation, Alaska magazine
    • "Love, Crime and Joyriding on a Dead-End Road"—published in The Book of the Tongass (1999)


  1. ^ a b Doran, Tom (13 December 2002). "Interview with mystery writer John Straley". Whalesong. 24 (7). Archived from the original on 25 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-19. External link in |journal= (help)
  2. ^ "Mystery! Alaska Style". Talk of Alaska. 2007-09-18. External link in |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b Haugland, Shannon (31 January 2014). "SE Characters Abound in New Straley Novel". Sitka Sentinel. Sitka, Alaska. Retrieved 2 February 2014.(subscription required)
  4. ^ Woolsey, Robert (13 September 2015). "Alaska's top crime novelist hangs up his real-life gumshoes". Raven Radio. Sitka, Alaska. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  5. ^ Alaska State Writer Laureate list Archived 2006-10-07 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]