Robert Greer’s latest novel—a prequel to his CJ Floyd mystery series—takes readers back in time to a very young CJ Floyd. It’s 1972, and the 22-year-old decorated war vet has recently returned to Denver from Vietnam with post-traumatic stress disorder. Navigating depression, he finds a friend in World War II vet and amputee Wiley Ames, who shares his passion for rare and valuable western memorabilia.
When Ames and a mysterious Chinese man are found murdered, CJ’s already fragile world threatens to collapse. His attempts to find his friend’s killer are thwarted at every turn, and finally he joins his Uncle Ike’s business as bail bondsman and bounty hunter. Five years later one of Ames’s treasured antique license plates turns up at a Denver flea market, and CJ is once again off and running. The trail to Wiley Ames’s murderer leads CJ down a dark path strewn with backstabbing antique dealers, conniving friends and relatives of Ames’s, and a shadowy musician. Equally a white-knuckle-ride murder mystery and a tale of a traumatized young man coming to terms with his past, First of State features the kind of fresh characters, street-smart dialogue, and ingenious plot twists that have made this series a critical and commercial success.
About Robert Greer
Robert Greer is a professor of pathology, medicine, dermatology, and dentistry at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, where he specializes in head and neck pathology and cancer research. The author of nine CJ Floyd mysteries, including The Devil’s Hatband, The Mongoose Deception, andFirst of State, as well as two medical thrillers, he reviews books for KUVO, a Denver NPR affiliate. Learn more about Robert Greer at www.robertgreerbooks.com.
"Greer's engaging eighth mystery to feature black Denver bail bondsman CJ Floyd (after 2008's Blackbird, Farewell), a prequel, reveals much that's new about CJ's background and character. Soon after returning to Denver from two tours of duty in Vietnam in 1971, 20-year-old CJ meets WWII vet Wiley Ames, who, like him, collects old license plates. When Ames is gunned down in an alley, Floyd vows to find his friend's killer. Meanwhile, Floyd's alcoholic uncle, Denver's first black bail bondsman, takes on CJ and teaches him the business. CJ never lets go of the search for Ames's murderer, and his slow, painstaking unraveling of the case over the years mirrors his growth as an investigator. As in Greer's earlier books, the black Five Points neighborhood comes vibrantly alive. This is a must-read for series fans and a great introduction for others."
"Filling his intriguing mystery with images of life in an African American neighborhood in the 1970s and details of antiquing and flea market excursions, Greer creates a richly realized setting. This should appeal to followers of the CJ Floyd series and is a good introduction to new readers. It will also attract fans of African American mysteries as well as readers looking for a good mystery with a setting just outside the ordinary."
"CJ Floyd is 22 years old, but he seems much older somehow and certainly more disillusioned than his peers in early-1970s Denver. He finds an emotional anchor and kindred soul in Wiley Ames, a World War II amputee and antique dealer. When Wiley is murdered and his case unsolved, CJ vows to find the killer; in the meantime, he throws himself into his uncle Ike’s bail-bond business, if only to push his painful memories into the shadows. Five years later one of Ames’ most treasured antiques surfaces at a Denver flea market. It’s the thread Floyd needs to unravel the murder. This prequel to Greer’s always thoughtful and multilayered Floyd series reveals the pain behind the protagonist’s curmudgeonly, emotionally guarded personality and his reluctance to employ violence. CJ Floyd is one of crime fiction’s hidden gems, and this is a satisfying entry in a rewarding, underappreciated series.”
“Denver-based author Robert Greer's eighth CJ Floyd novel turns back to the clock to the early 1970s, a savvy way to flesh out his signature character. … First of State proves the prequel concept can help extend a franchise and ripen the reader’s understanding of a beloved character.”
—The Denver Post
“Time warps in science fiction writing have brought us Back to the Future and its sequels, but rarely do we have a time warp in the form of a prequel of a mystery written by an award-winning author like Robert Greer in First of State … It’s a must read for the person who enjoys a good mystery.”
—Kingman Daily Miner
"Meet CJ Floyd, a bail bondsman who cracks cases and has a weakness for sweet potato pie. He's one of the colorful heroes of crime fiction, thanks to author Robert Greer."
“As a ‘prequel’ to the CJ Floyd series, this book takes readers back to a time when CJ was not sure what he wanted to do with his life, and Greer does a great job evoking the unsure, shaky 1970s and the innocence of the times. … If you’re looking for a whodunit that won’t ruin the surprise with too many clues, try this. If you want a mystery with Western flair, grab this. If you’ve never read the Floyd books, start here. For y’all, First of State holds much promise.”
—The Washington Informer
“Filled with twists and turns, compelling and likeable characters and a solid plot, First of State is an engaging mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat…Thumbs up!!”
"Robert Greer has written a great Floyd mystery that fans will thoroughly enjoy."
—Genre Go Round Reviews
“First of State is a strong addition to the series, one that gives an interesting historical perspective to the character of CJ Floyd but is also, on its own merits, a first rate murder mystery.”
"Greer's characters—such as fetching Mavis, a Boston college business student being groomed to take over her father's many Five Points businesses, and CJ's best buddy Roosevelt "Rosie" Weeks, a strapping man who runs an independent gas station and garage—are unique and complicated. Many dozens of these characters make appearances in First of State, and leave before the reader is ready to part company with them. It's a good thing for readers like me who are new to the CJ Floyd series that there are seven more books in which to read up on their exploits, and First of State is an excellent place to start."
“Fast-moving...Readers are introduced to the intriguing world of antique collecting through the passionate appreciation of certain rare license plates which Floyd collects... The story revolves around Floyd's quest to find license plates in mint condition and at the same time attempts to solve several murders...a great gift for the holiday season for the reader who likes a stylish 'Who Done It.’”
—Clark's Eye on Books
"The characters were well-developed with colorful personalities...The author did a wonderful job of making the location, Denver, and the time period, the 1970s, an integrated part of the storyline...I recommend this book to mystery readers and readers who enjoy stories with a western locale."
—APOOO Book Club
"[A] very enjoyable book....Much of the book surrounds C.J.'s relationship with his uncle Ike Floyd. Ike, who raised C.J. since he was two years old, takes C.J. into his bail bondman and bounty hunter business and encourages him to learn the business as he thinks this will help C.J. ....The interactions and relationship between C.J. and Ike is the best part of the book and goes a long way to providing a better understanding of why C.J. is the way he is....After reading First of State, I read a few chapters of The Devil's Hatband, the first book in the C.J. Floyd series. Although written fourteen years prior to First of State, much of the same style and approach are present. In both books, Greer spends much time introducing the reader to what appears to be a main character, only to have that person murdered. This is an interesting approach that Greer uses that makes the reader really want C.J. Floyd to solve the murder and find the murderer. I'm certainly looking forward to finishing this book and many others in this enjoyable series."
"First of State brings the series back to the basics as it allows fans to see how CJ got his start in the business that has carried him through the first eight novels. Greer provides a unique insight into what made CJ the person he is – a first-rate investigator still smoking his beloved cheroots and carefully considering clues that lead him to solve difficult cases. There is an emotional depth to this novel rarely seen in mysteries that allow readers to become engaged in the plot, rooting for their favorite characters, and feeling like they are part of the action in each scene."
"Robert Greer has done it again in this prequel....a real page turner....It keeps you on edge from the beginning to the end."
"I absolutely love how Robert Greer added a second story line to First of State...The characters were absolutely unique and very interesting, ones that surely won't be forgotten-even if Mr. Greer kills them off in the end."
—The Romantic Type
"This was the first time reading [a book by Robert Greer], and it being the prequel, has piqued my curiosity as to the rest of the series."
—CMash Loves to Read