It has been a busy fall for Texas-based authors, with books on true crime, politics and family fiction — all set in the Lone Star State. Here are six titles that are available now.• The Phantom Killer: Unlocking the Mystery of the Texarkana Serial Murders: The Story of a Town in Terror by James Presley (Pegasus, $27.95) — The Pulitzer Prize-nominated author ( A Saga of Wealth) lives in Texarkana and focuses his new book on a terrifying cold case that rocked his town in 1946. A series of fatal attacks — couples on “lovers lanes” — was never solved, but Presley uses extensive research, including interviews with a survivor, and rare photographs to offer his solution to an unsolved crime from nearly 70 years ago.
• A Song To Die For by Mike Blakely (Forge Books, $25.99) — The author and acclaimed singer/songwriter, who lives in Marble Falls, adds to his extensive Texana bibliography that includes co-writing books with Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers and winning a Spur Award for Summer of Pearls in 2001. This one is a murder mystery set in the mid-’70s in Austin’s burgeoning music scene. There’s a Mafioso princess from Las Vegas, mob hit men, mob hits, Texas Rangers on the case and an insider’s look at country music.
• Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America by Richard Parker (Pegasus, $27.95) — Despite the results of the Nov. 4 election, the author, an award-winning journalist who grew up in El Paso and lives in the Hill Country, isn’t seeing red. Shifting demographics could signal change. He has crunched the numbers and has come up with a state that’s large and in charge in the future — economically and in population. All the major players (Governor-elect Greg Abbott) and places (Keep Austin Weird) are featured, along with photos of the changing landscape.
• One Red Thread by Ernie Wood (Tyrus Books, $24.99) — This is the debut novel for the author, who lives in Austin. It has a touch of science fiction (time travel figures into the plot), but ultimately it’s a family mystery in which Eddy McBride is able to uncover his family’s secrets. “ One Red Thread has a crazy uncle, a public execution, a farmer, his mule, a Confederate veteran, a big old house, a flood and baseball — all of which are among the wonderful and horrible things that make the South the South,” says Wood in press materials.
• Ransom Island by Miles Arceneaux (Stephen F. Austin University Press, $19.95) — This is the third in a series of Gulf Coast thrillers by the three Texas-based writers — Brent Douglass, John T. Davis and James R. Dennis — who write as Arceneaux. It follows 2012’s Slice of Life and 2013’s La Salle’s Ghost and continues the story of the fishing Sweetwater brothers, who are regulars at Shady’s Boat and Leisure Club on tiny Ransom Island. Set in the 1950s, the plot revolves around the Galveston mob, a woman on the run, the Ku Klux Klan and Duke Ellington.
• The Paragraph Ranch by Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon (Booktrope Editions, $16.95) — The two Lubbock-based authors offer the first in a series set among the characters of Claxton, a small town in West Texas. When the protagonist, Dee Bennett-Kaufmann, a writer and professor, returns home to care for her ailing mama, she tries to reconnect with her free-willed daughter, winds up in the local book club and solves a mystery. Hints at sequels include A Wedding at the Paragraph Ranch, Christmas at the Paragraph Ranch and a cookbook.
— Celeste Williams