R.E. Donald

author of the Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries series

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Summer of the Elephant

Thanks to those of you who have contacted me over the past year to inquire about the fifth novel in the Highway Mysteries series. I wish I could tell you that it’s ready for release, but unfortunately it’s not. The book was already behind schedule and it’s been a crazy summer, thanks in part to the burning Elephant.

Wildfire 2

The Elephant Hill wildfire came too close for comfort.

The Elephant Hill wildfire started near the town of Ashcroft, BC, on July 6th, 2017. It roared northwards for over two months to cover a 75-mile distance and almost 750 square miles. For a period of time it closed two major highways in the central Interior of British Columbia and it has destroyed 130 homes. It is still burning, albeit with less intensity, within a few miles of our ranch in Lone Butte.


Baling our hay while the Elephant Hill wildfire rages south of Green Lake

We have been on evacuation alert here since July 9th when an earlier wildfire near 100 Mile House was burning out of control. At that time, we evacuated our horses to a safe place where they still remain over two months later.  On two occasions in July and August, we evacuated ourselves and our dogs when the smoke hung heavy in the air while ash and burnt pine needles rained from the sky, telling us the out-of-control fires were getting too close for comfort. We were ordered evacuated a third time on August 31st, and were finally able to return home two days ago. Thanks to some recent rain and colder temperatures, we can hope we’re home for good this time. We are grateful that our house is still standing, and have great sympathy for those who weren’t so lucky during this summer of fire and flood.

Wildfire 4

Smoke glowing at sunset as the Elephant Hill wildfire blazed its way northward.

I generally don’t share much of a personal nature on this site, but felt that I owed fans of the Highway Mysteries series an explanation for the delay, since I’ve told many of you in private correspondence that the next novel in the series — Yellowhead Blues — would be out this summer. I’m hoping to get back to work now without further interruptions, but I doubt very much that I can get it ready for publication before 2017 comes to a close.

Thank you for your patience, and thank you for following the series. Wishing for the best possible outcome for those reading this who may be dealing with any kind of “wildfire” in their own lives.

If you’ve enjoyed the Highway Mysteries, please recommend the series to your friends.

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Whistler Independent Book Awards 2016: How I Became A Finalist

I’m looking forward to the Whistler Writers Festival in October!

Kobo Writing Life

By R.E. Donald

I was thrilled when I found out that the fourth novel in my Highway Mysteries series, Sundown on Top of the World, had been selected as a finalist for the 2016 Whistler Independent Book Award in the Crime Fiction Category. I was not only thrilled, but I also felt a great sense of relief.

As many other fiction writers know, confidence in our own work only goes so far. There’s an inexorable, distressing fear that our new novel has fatal flaws which, as the creator, we are just too close to the book to recognize. Releasing a new book, especially as an independent author-publisher doing so without the support of a team of publishing professionals, is taking a leap of faith. We do our best to write a novel that we ourselves would love to read, and trust that it will appeal to other readers with…

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Sundown on Top of the World up for an Award

whistlerwriters-logo-badgesI’m thrilled to announce that Sundown on Top of the World has been selected as one of three finalists for the Whistler Independent Book Award in the Crime Fiction category. Set in bush Alaska, it is the most recent novel in my mystery series featuring a former RCMP homicide investigator who drives an eighteen wheeler. The title is taken from the Top of the World highway that runs between Dawson City, Yukon and the town of Tok in eastern Alaska.

Sundown_cov origI’m delighted with the many good reader reviews the book has received on Amazon and iBooks since its release last year. The reviewer for the Alaska Dispatch News called it a “finely crafted [story] driven by well-defined characters and strong sense of place”.

Those of you who have read my earlier Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery, Sea to Sky, will know that it is set primarily in the mountain resort community of Whistler, B.C., which happens to be where the award winners will be announced during the Whistler Writers Festival this October.

In the fall of 2015, a German translation of Sea to Sky was released, and award-winning translator Ingrid Könemann-Yarnell is now working on the translation of Sundown on Top of the World. (Könemann-Yarnell received the Readers Choice award from Amazon Crossing during the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair for her translation of a book by another Canadian author.)

I’m sorry to say that I’m way behind schedule on the next novel in the series, mainly due to family  health issues which prevented me from getting much writing done during the winter. I have more time to spend at the keyboard during the winter months, and too much else to do on the ranch when the good weather arrives. I’m still hoping to have it finished this year. Thanks to all the readers who have written and encouraged me to finish it as soon as I can!

More links:

Announcement in Quill & Quire magazine: http://www.quillandquire.com/book-news/2016/07/20/awards-whistler-independent-book-awards-names-finalists/

Link to a press release published in Broadway World Books.




Sundown on Top of the World

The Kindle edition of the latest in the Highway Mysteries series is now available on Amazon. The print edition is available through the Proud Horse Publishing e-store and through most on-line retailers, as well as for order through your local bookstore. The other digital editions will be released in June. Click here to order Sundown on Top of the World. As I mentioned in an earlier post, writing a novel set in Alaska and the Yukon was a real journey to the past for me. I visited there several times between 1979 and 1994, albeit not to all of the locations mentioned in the novel, but had to do a lot of extra research to make sure I got things as realistic as possible. My research gave me increased respect and admiration for those people who choose to make the north their home. My recent move to the South Cariboo region of British Columbia (Lone Butte, to be exact) helped, because I experienced first hand a long winter, months of snow and below zero temperatures, seeing animal tracks in the snow – foxes, deer, moose and various unidentified critters – and often the animals themselves. I’m hoping that my readers enjoy travelling with Hunter Rayne and his biker friend, Dan Sorenson, north on the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks, with an unplanned detour from Whitehorse to Dawson City, hub of the Klondike gold rush. They also travel the Top of the World Highway from Dawson to the eastern side of Alaska, the watershed of the mighty Yukon River. The people they meet are unique to the land of the grizzly, wolverine and caribou. I enjoy hearing from readers, so after you’ve read it, please let me know what you think! And, as always, thank you for reading my books.

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Countdown to Sundown

Finally! I’m on the home stretch with the fourth novel in the Highway Mysteries series, Sundown on Top of the World. It’s been two long years since the last book, Sea to Sky, was made available to fans of the series. I had hoped that my big move from a small farm near the U.S.-Canada border south of Vancouver to a large ranch in the South Cariboo of British Columbia wouldn’t delay the new novel’s completion by more than six months, but that was obviously not the case! In addition to the disruption in my work schedule caused by the move, it turned out that Sundown on Top of the World required many, many more hours of research than I’d anticipated. Let’s hope it was worth the wait!

Here’s a sneak peek at the cover (with thanks to the talented Steve Johnsen):


The novel is named for the Top of the World Highway that connects Dawson City, Yukon with the town of Tok, Alaska. There aren’t many communities at that latitude, and the one I chose as a major part of the setting is the town of Eagle, Alaska. I have to confess, I’ve never been there, although I’ve been to both the Yukon and Alaska several times. Hence the research. I’ve had to take the usual liberties for the benefit of the story, and I hope any Northern residents who read this book will forgive the inevitable errors I’ve made in depicting life in their part of the world. It’s a wild and beautiful land, and the people who choose to live there are strong and resourceful. I’ve tried to capture the North’s unforgiving beauty and the individuality of its inhabitants in my story.

Sundown on Top of the World will be available for pre-order on Amazon in a few days, and ready for download/purchase by the end of February. A print edition will be available soon afterward. Unfortunately, it will be the end of May before the ebook edition becomes available on Kobo and iBooks, or from Barnes & Noble.

I’ve really enjoyed writing “Sundown”. It led me to reminisce about my visits to the Yukon and Alaska, starting in about 1980. Memories of former friends and lovers, some now gone forever, touched me as I wrote, and the same emotional time-travel occurred for our hero, Hunter Rayne, while he was in the North. I sincerely hope mystery lovers enjoy reading “Sundown” as much as I’ve loved writing it.


Ruth on the “dome” above Dawson City, overlooking the town and the Yukon River – 1985

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Bound for Bouchercon in Long Beach, California!

I’m looking forward to attending my first Bouchercon since I went to Bouchercon 1997 in Monterey. Bouchercon 2014 is taking place in Long Beach, California, and is aptly being called Murder at the Beach. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Bouchercon, it’s an annual convention that brings together mystery readers and writers, as well as publishing industry professionals. It’s an opportunity to connect with other mystery fans, meet some of your favorite mystery writers, buy books, exchange ideas and just generally have a good time with other mystery buffs.

This will the first such conference I’ve attended as a published author. I experimented with self-publishing by making my first Hunter Rayne novel, Slow Curve on the Coquihalla, available to Amazon readers in September of 2011 and the response was so encouraging I now have three novels in the Highway Mysteries series available in both print and digital editions through all of the major on-line retailers. I had hoped to finish my fourth novel in time to take some ARCs with me to the conference, but I still have a few chapters to write, revisions and edits to make, and formatting to do before it’s ready for readers.

If you’re going to be at Bouchercon, I’ll be doing an Author Focus Panel on Friday, November 14th. Look for me in Room Harbor C at 9:00 a.m. I’ll also be participating in the Author Speed Dating breakfast on Thursday, November 13th from 8:30 to 10:30. It’s something I’ve never done before, but I expect it will be a lot of fun and I look forward to meeting readers and other writers at the event.

Kings River Life, a California e-magazine with great mystery content, currently has a contest to win a free print copy of my third novel, Sea to Sky, featured as a Bouchercon coming attraction on KRL.  KRL published a short story of mine in September, partly inspired by my visit to Monterey for the 1997 Bouchercon (I’ve actually been there several times). It features Elspeth Watson, one of the main characters from the Highway Mysteries series, and is a good introduction to her rather unique personality. Check out Joggers on KRL.

Hope to see you in Long Beach!


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Real Truck Driver Heroes

My mystery series features a truck driver hero. Hunter Rayne is a former police officer who left the police force and bought himself a big rig. In the series, he travels the highways of western North America in a navy blue Freightliner that his boss likes to call The Blue Knight. Whether he wants to or not, he still gets involved in investigating murders and, like the Mountie he used to be, he always gets his man.

But Hunter Rayne is a fictional hero, and the men featured in the following two stories from Truckers Report this week are the real thing. One of the men, Robert Tyler from Washington State, used his head and his truck to possibly save more than one man’s life when he encountered an unconscious man in a vehicle that could have careened into traffic at any second. Read the full story from Overdrive Magazine here.

In the second story this week, a driver trainee and the driver who was training him (Harry Welker) were in the right place at the right time. A state trooper in Kansas had pulled over a van at a rest stop. In the van was a man wanted for parole violations. He was somehow able to overpower the trooper, and had him in a chokehold. The two drivers, Harry Welker and the trainee, are both former marines and didn’t hesitate to run to the trooper’s aid, helping to subdue the offender so he could be taken into custody. Read the full story, titled Driver Trainer, Trainee Rescue State Trooper on the Truckers Report.

Truckload Carriers Association Highway Angel

Truckload Carriers Association Highway Angels Program

There are ‘bad apples’ in every profession and trucking is no exception; often it’s the bad examples whose stories get passed along. The truth is, the vast majority of truck drivers are hard-working individuals who care about their fellow motorists and deserve our respect and admiration. The two examples of truckers helping out cited above are just the most recent. The Overdrive website has many stories of such heroic actions in their feature Knights of the Road, and the Truckload Carriers Association honors these Highway Angels on an ongoing basis.

Country artist Lindsay Lawler explains the program and introduces her song about Highway Angels on YouTube.


Next time you pass a big rig on the highway, you might just be passing a Highway Angel.