Nate Ross

Created by J.R. Sanders

It’s 1938, and if he had his druthers, Los Angeles-based gumshoe NATE ROSS would rather stay on his side of Vermont Avenue, and avoid Hollywood altogether. “As a rule, I avoided all dealings with movie studios. I preferred more reputable business, like pool halls and whorehouses.”

But a chance encounter with three would-be teenage criminal masterminds in his easy-to-love debut, Stardust Trails (2020),  lands Nate in the thick of Tinseltown, when he’s hired to track down David Prince, an alcoholic screenwriter whose bender is holding up production on Stardust Trail, Republic Pictures’ latest horse opera.

It should be a piece of cake, Nate figures, but of course it turns out to be anything but. Nate finds himself knee-deep in the world of B-movie westerns, and a forty-year-old cold case that seems to be heating up all over again. Along the way there’s plenty of action, and the whole thing is slathered with enough Hollywood trivia and bold face cameos to keep fans of Stuart Kaminsky’s Toby Peters series happy.

Nate’s second case, 2022’s Dead-Bang Fall, finds him back in Tinseltown despite his best efforts, tailing a nickel-and-dime loser to the Kit-Kat Lounge, who ends up shot to death in an alley behind the bar, with Nate the prime witness. Only problem? The number one suspect is a figure from Nate’s past—a former sheriff’s deputy, who asks for Nick’s help, counting on their once-upon-a-time friendship. At least this time, Nate avoids the movie industry, and in his third case, Bring the Night (2023), the avoids Hollywood completely, asked to investigate the death of a man named Whitcanack, a death that the cops and the press have already ruled a suicide. But the man’s two grown up odd duck children, Alan and Alanna, insist it was murder, and want Nate to prove it.

Truth is, it doesn’t matter whether his cases take him to Hollywood or not. This is good old-fashioned private eye stuff, leaning heavily on nostalgia for Hammett, Chandler and all the rest. Nate’s a former LA County Sheriff’s Deputy, who left the job because he was “too honest,” and he works out of a suitably shabby office, always scrounging for a buck. He’s a working joe who favours pastrami sandwiches at the Gotham Deli and a good cigar (when he can afford ‘em), and he tells his own tales in his own voice, peppered with enough tough guy jargon, casual trivia and pithy observations to keep the customers satisfied.

Like, Nate didn’t have to be high school buddies with John Wayne at Glendale High, but it’s kinda fun that he was, right?

The author may not be breaking any new ground here, but that’s sort of the point.


Award-winning author J.R. Sanders is A Native Midwesterner spotted lurking around the L.A. suburbs, J.R. Sanders’ nonfiction articles have appeared  in such fine periodicals as Law & Order and Wild West, and his books include Some Gave All, which gives true accounts of forgotten Old West lawmen killed in the line of duty. J.R.’s first Nate Ross novel, Stardust Trail – a detective story set among the B-Western film productions of 1930s Hollywood – was a 2021 Spur Award Finalist (for Best Historical Novel), and Silver Falchion Award Finalist (for Best Investigator). Bring the Night is the third novel in the Nate Ross series. –This text refers to the paperback edition.


  • “J.R. Sanders, through Nate Ross, spins us a story with 1938 household names – Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Yakima Canutt…John Wayne.  Pick up Stardust Trail, get comfy in your favorite spot with your favorite beverage, tune out distractions – unless you’ve got music by Gene Autry or Dave Stamey handy – and settle in for an enjoyable ride along the Stardust Trail.”
    — Six-Gun Justice Podcast on Stardust Trail
  • Do you ever wish someone would uncover an unknown Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett—a genuine, hard-boiled novel with gumshoes and molls that has you checking the rounds in your roscoe and flipping pages like a flivver? Well, meet J.R. Sanders’s Bring The Night starring Nate Ross, a PI with a rhythm and poetry all his own, navigating the City of Angels with clipped wings. ”
    – Craig Johnson



  • June 7, 2023
    The Bottom Line: A rock ‘em sock ’em debut kicks off a fun series starring a deliciously retro 1930s LA dick with no use for Hollywood who walks the walk and talks the talk, just like they used to. Pastrami, not pastiche!
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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