Local Series: A Mystery in the Woods

click to enlarge Local Series: A Mystery in the Woods
When author Rob Phillips isn’t writing, he’s chasing salmon on the Columbia River.

In a confession that's going to baffle a lot of would-be writers, Rob Phillips says he wrote his first book in 24 days. "I've been a writer most of my life, more as an avocation than a vocation," he says. "When Covid hit, I decided to give it a go."

His latest, Creature of the Cascades, released Dec. 9, is the sixth in the fast-paced series featuring game warden Luke McCain and his yellow lab Jack. (Yes, Phillips has written six books since the pandemic began and is at work on the seventh.) The new book, which can be read as a standalone, finds McCain investigating a series of baffling animal deaths. In a side plot, a couple of Russian immigrants who arrived years before to work the oil fields in Wyoming have now embarked on a new, and illegal, venture involving the capture and export of wild Northwest birds.

Readers will enjoy the regular appearance of Washington locales, animals and plantlife in the series, which is informed by the author's years as an avid outdoorsman.

"I try to keep it as true to life as I can," says Phillips, who's now retired after owning an ad agency in Yakima for 40 years. He's also well-known in his hometown as an outdoors columnist for the Yakima Herald-Republic.

Phillips says he was about three-quarters of the way through writing his first book when he showed it to Latah Books' publisher Jon Gosch in Spokane, who helped him polish it up. Gosch notes: "A fun fact is that the first book in his Luke McCain Series (The Cascade Killer) is now the bestselling book of all time at Inklings Bookshop in Yakima." Even more than Harry Potter!


The Luke McCain series is available at local bookstores, including Auntie's.

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Anne McGregor

Anne McGregor is a contributor to the Inlander and the editor of InHealth. She is married to Inlander editor/publisher Ted S. McGregor, Jr.