top of page

(A Sam Rivers Mystery)

Killing Monarchs cover.jpg

Contact Information: Liliane Opsomer                       FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tel: 205-443-7981


(A Sam Rivers Mystery)
by Cary J. Griffith
$16.95 – ISBN 978-1-64755-175-9 – June 13, 2023 – 432 pages

The Denver Post calls Sam Rivers the “predator’s predator.” In Killing Monarchs, award-winning writer Cary J. Griffith brings back Sam for his third mystery—a thrilling novel filled with action and suspense.

There are two dead bodies and too many coincidences to ignore—in this outdoors mystery, special agent Sam Rivers must stop a murderous conspiracy.

As a special agent for the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Sam Rivers has researched and studied a variety of animals. He’s visiting sixth graders at Hopkins Elementary to share photographs of the monarch butterfly—and he has brought along his drug-sniffing wolf-dog, Gray, to give students a demonstration of his partner’s remarkable skills.

Gray finds a sample drug packet, hidden by Sam, but that’s not all. The wolf-dog keeps following his nose, leading Sam to a utility room where they discover the school’s janitor—dead! Local police write it off as a drug overdose, but Sam is no stranger to crime scenes. He suspects foul play.

When Sam and Gray come upon a second victim, Sam’s 0instincts tell him there’ll be more deaths, but, as usual, those instincts put him at odds with conventional law enforcement. Armed with his knowledge of the natural world and his wolf-dog companion, Sam must uncover answers to questions that few others believe should be asked.

Award-winning author Cary J. Griffith grew up among the woods, fields, and emerald waters of Eastern Iowa. His childhood fostered a lifelong love of wild places. He earned a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa and an M.A. in library science from the University of Minnesota. Cary’s books explore the natural world. In nonfiction, he covers the borderlands between civilization and wild places. In fiction, he focuses on the ways some people use flora and fauna to commit crimes, while others with more reverence and understanding of the natural world leverage their knowledge to bring criminals to justice. He lives with his family in a suburb of Minnesota’s Twin Cities.


For a high-resolution cover image, a review copy, or to schedule an interview with the author, contact Liliane Opsomer at 205-443-7981 or

*    *    *    *    *    *    *


"Take a pinch of Joe Pickett and add a heaping helping of Cork O'Connor, and the result is Fish and Wildlife agent Sam Rivers. By turns breakneck and achingly poetic, Killing Monarchs, the third Sam Rivers mystery, is a rollicking and hugely satisfying ride."
C. Matthew Smith, author of Twentymile
"With one sharp eye on the world of nature and another carefully watching the evil antics of two-legged species that roams the earth, Sam Rivers is one-part teacher and two-parts crime solver. Killing Monarchs floats like a butterfly and stings like a scorpion. Prepare to be schooled." 

Mark Stevens, author of The Fireballer and The Allison Coil Mystery Series. 

"What do murders disguised as overdoses, endangered monarch butterflies, and international heroin smugglers have in common? U.S. Fish & Wildlife Special Agent Sam Rivers, and Gray, Sam’s rescued wolfdog hybrid with a nose for narcotics. As the bodies pile up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Sam and Gray are on a mission to stop the killer before he claims his next victim. A gripping thriller highlighting the ironclad bond between man and his best friend, Killing Monarchs had me turning pages all night long. Sam Rivers and his faithful wolfdog are my new best friends."
Brian Malloy, author of The Year of Ice and After Francesco

Cary Griffith is that rare crime writer who's not afraid to be funny and wise even as he keeps us on the edge of our seats. What's more, he's a gifted chronicler of the natural world. These qualities are all abounding in Killing Monarchs, Griffith's best yet. It's time to put his intrepid investigator, Sam Rivers, on every suspense writer's radar, and the author himself in the same echelon as the finest crime writers working today.”

Peter Geye, author of The Ski Jumpers

Both thriller and mystery, Killing Monarchs mixes an elementary-school science project with scorpions and drugs.  Totally surprising is how butterflies flit into this fast-paced and tantalizing story.  Cary Griffith has laid out another fabulous tale, based on solid knowledge of the natural world, with a provocative sense of the deviousness of humankind.”

Mary Logue, author of The Streel and The Big Sugar

"Killing Monarchs is an exciting, thrilling, and suspenseful page-turner! Griffith weaves together an intriguing mystery with fascinating environmental concerns, young adults facing the reality of their past and the dangerous world of drug cartels. Sam Rivers, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent is a captivating character, and, as a K-9 handler, I especially enjoyed River’s sidekick, the extraordinary wolf-dog, Gray. Together, Rivers and Gray make an outstanding team. Readers will be rooting for them and stay up late to find out what happens next. MONARCH hooked me from the first page, and I couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend this series!"

Kathleen Donnelly, Author of the Award-Winning National Forest K-9 series and K-9 handler for Sherlock Hounds Detection Canines

"Griffith's third Sam Rivers mystery, Killing Monarchs, moves with the speed of a bullet train. A gripping tale of greed and vengeance, drug cartels and murder, scorpions and butterflies. Not to be missed."

Jeffrey B. Burton, award-winning author of The FindersThe Keepers, and The Lost



Sam Rivers, special agent for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, returns to Minnesota's Iron Range. He investigates wolf depredation of livestock, but wolves aren't the only predators around. A murder lands him on a case unlike any he's worked before.

bottom of page