“I fell in love with the people, the place, and most of all the words in Helen Knode’s Wildcat Play.”

Michael Connelly

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“Helen Knode has created a riveting mystery that combines elements of Upton Sinclair and There Will Be Blood with a hard-edged heroine who isn’t afraid to get grease under her fingernails.”

Denise Hamilton, author of Damage Control and the Eve Diamond mystery series

“Wildcat Play is populated with characters that would not be out of place in the TV show Dallas . . .”

Cindy Widner, Austin Chronicle

“There’s a pleasurable wit and verve to Wildcat Play that makes it a memorable mystery novel . . .”

Sarah Weinman, National Post

“One of the freshest mysteries I’ve read in a long time . . .”

Jan Burke, Edgar Award-winning author of Bones and Disturbance

” . . . literate and suspenseful . . . “

Cleveland Plain Dealer

“This book is a blast — a gutsy, funny heroine and a story that’s a pulse-pounding thrill ride.”

Janet Evanovich

“Knode’s second entry is complex both in plot and setting, equal parts mystery and primer in the art of drilling for oil.”


“Conspiracy, murder, and family secrets eventually explode in an exciting conclusion.”

Publisher’s Weekly

“…fueled purely by thrill-a-minute storytelling…”

Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald

“Plenty of combustible action . . . would appeal to Nevada Barr readers who enjoy an independent female lead fighting against the odds.”

Library Journal

Wildcat Play

A Mystery

As a hipster movie critic, Ann Whitehead pushed a Hollywood murder case to a bloody climax and almost died herself. Changed forever — less stupid and more fun — she has moved on to a place she knows well, the San Joaquin Valley, where her grandfather’s closest friend, Joe Balch, owns the oil company that keeps one town alive.

Balch gets Ann a job with the Oklahoma contractor drilling his wildcat well. It’s hard work, but Ann loves both it and her crusty old boss, Emmet. Then a guy on her crew is killed by a falling hammer. Sheriffs rule it an accident but Ann’s LAPD squeeze, Detective Douglas Lockwood, says it’s murder. Ann can’t resist the challenge of chasing a killer — even when the killer starts chasing her back.

From a writer whose first novel was praised as “highly literate, exceptionally action-packed and occasionally harrowing” (Chicago Tribune), this is a wild ride — full of bad behavior and laughs, oil-field characters and small-town atmosphere — starring a heroine who never does anything halfway.

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“. . . a first mystery that is highly literate, exceptionally action-packed and occasionally harrowing . . .”

Chicago Tribune

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“Old Hollywood collides with new Hollywood in Helen Knode’s intricate and engaging first novel . . . and except for the mythic starlets, none of it is pretty.”

The Kansas City Star

“. . . Knode’s clever, sophisticated plotting packs a punch.  L.A. noir fans — and Hollywood buffs — will be rapt.”

Publisher’s Weekly

“This smart novel, packed with an insider’s viewpoint on Hollywood, . . . successfully catapults desire, greed and ambition into murder and gruesome acts of violence.”

USA Today

“Part noir lament, part witty liberal rant, this masterful first novel from Knode . . . is fast-paced and complex.”

Book Magazine

“Knode’s heroine is wholly likable, and the plot zips along with fun Hollywood-insider details.”

Entertainment Weekly

The Ticket Out

A Crime Novel

Ann Whitehead is sick of her job.  She’s a movie critic for a counterculture rag in Los Angeles and she needs a break badly.  Instead of a break, she gets a murder.  A woman dies in Ann’s bathtub:  the victim is a film school grad and industry hopeful.  It’s the kind of story Ann was born to write, but the disgraced LAPD detective leading the investigation is determined to stop her.

The search for the killer turns into a search for the victim’s missing script, the story of another woman murdered in 1944.  Suddenly there are two killers and what seems to be a complicated conspiracy spanning decades.  Ann is smack in the middle and everyone she meets wants into the film business — whatever the price.

There’s never been a thriller hitched as brilliantly to the new underbelly of Hollywood as this one.  Helen Knode is a startling and original voice.

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