Clinton McKinzie


Current Issue
Additional New Mysteries
Readers Recommend
Small Press
Featured Authors
Books In Audio
Hard Cover Archives
Submission Guidelines
Short Stories
Mystery links

Clinton McKinzie, author of the Antonio Burns series!


   Crossing the Line                 Trial By Ice and Fire
    Point of Law                        The Edge Of Justice


Review and synopsis of Crossing the Line:

If you pick up this latest from McKinzie, you might want to consider getting something to strap you in at the same time.  Reading like a high-grade action movie, this stunning and absolutely breathtaking ride is gloriously addictive. 

This time out, Wyoming's special agent Antonio Burns is approached by the FBI to aid in bringing down the head of the Mexican drug cartel, and they also want to enlist Ant's brother, the infamous rock climber and drug addict, Roberto.  What follows is nothing short of non-stop thrills and adventure, plenty of pathos, and some heartbreaking scenes that will render the reader breathless.  McKinzie keeps getting better, deeper, and more intense with each outing.  We hope he doesn't put this character to rest, because Anton is finally coming into his own, and because he still has so far to go, we wouldn't miss a thing.     



1.  Give us a bit of background on Special Agent Antonio Burns, why did he
become a cop?

That's something Antonio himself is wondering about in the last two or three
books.  Originally, it was because of his passion for order and justice.  He
couldn't stand seeing criminals get away with things, whether it was murder
or even something minor like flipping a cigarette butt out a car window in
the Wyoming mountains.  He somewhat naively believed that our written laws
could bring about actual Justice.  But, as the series progresses, he's
becoming wiser and more cynical.  He's also becoming something of a criminal himself, dispensing a little justice himself.

2. His family, specifically Roberto, play a very important part in his
eventful life, tell us about that.

He worships his big brother Roberto despite the fact that he is a felon and
drug addict.  Antonio believes that despite Roberto's manias and
lawlessness, he's basically a very good man.  An ongoing theme throughout
the series is that Roberto is struggling to make up for his crimes, while
Antonio, the cop, is becoming more lawless himself.  They're both crossing
the line, but in opposite directions.

3.  How did Roberto and Antonio end up on such opposite sides of the law?

That's a question I've been trying to answer for a long time.  I think about
it a lot.  I have childhood friends who have taken both paths.  Some became
addicts and criminals and are in-and-out of jail, while others, like me,
went into law enforcement.  It may have something to do with impulsiveness.
My character Roberto acts on every impulse without thought, while Antonio
broods and carefully considers his actions. But I don't think that's a
complete answer by any means. I hope to figure it out in future books!

4.  Some ambivalence regarding the authority of the law seems to creep into
your writing...what is one of biggest discouragements you find in this
regard?  One of the least?

I'm a little like Antonio in being disappointed with the law-but not nearly
to the same extent.  I spent a few years as a criminal prosecutor in Wyoming
and Colorado and learned a lot about the failings of our legal system.  It's
the best system in the world, but it's far from perfect.  One problem I saw
continually was the different justice meted out to defendants based upon
their income level.  Indigent defendants, for instance, often spend months
or even years in jail awaiting trial, while wealthy defendants bond out
immediately.  Kobe Bryant is being treated totally different than the
defendants I prosecuted for sex assault in Colorado.

4.  Tell us a bit about "feeding the rat".

It's a climbing term that's similar to what heroin addicts call "getting a
fix."  It describes the need climbers (and other extreme athletes) often
feel to scare themselves silly, to put it all on the line.  It's a funny
addiction-when I was climbing hard, I'd get into situations where I would
swear I'd never, ever leave the ground again.  Then a day or two I'd start
to feel the rat gnawing in my belly, and I'd be almost desperately
anticipating putting myself in an even scarier place.

5.  It's obvious you've integrated some of your personal loves, such as
rock-climbing, in the personality of Antonio, how have the two you managed
to survive some of the dangers you've confronted?  What other aspects of
Antonio match those of yourself?:))

Antonio and Roberto share my passion for climbing, but they're a lot better
at it than I am.  Antonio shares my interest in the law, too, of course, but
I was a lot better at following the rules than he is.  Writing about both
brothers definitely allows me to indulge in some of my own fantasies.  I
miss the days when I was another dirtbag climber living out of my truck.
They certainly handle danger better, though.  They don't whimper and curse
quite as much as I tend to.  Now that I'm getting older (and am raising
children), I'm becoming a lot more risk-averse.

6.  Antonio is now a father-to-be, but his relationship is not going so
well, why is he having so much conflict in his personal life?

Conflict is what these books are all about.  What life is about, really.  I
like to keep him off-balance and hanging from a thread in every aspect of
his life.

7.  What are you reading these days?

For thrillers, I love (and aspire to write books like) the character-driven
thrillers of Arturo Perez-Reverte , Michael Connelly, Scott Turow, and John
Le Carre.  I'm also re-reading the books that most influenced me as a kid,
like Jack London's CALL OF THE WILD.  Right now my nighttime reading is
great adventure stories like KON TIKI.

8.  When did you know you wanted to write?

I've always dreamed of it, ever since elementary school.  Throughout grade
school, college, and law school I'd always have a paperback with a broken
spine slipped partway under a notebook where the teacher couldn't see it.  I
got some pretty bad grades, but read some really great books.  But I never
thought I'd actually get to do-I didn't even have the courage to try until I
was a burned-out prosecutor desperately seeking a change.  I realized if I
didn't give it a shot now, I'd someday be an old man full of regrets.

9.  Any particular influences you'd care to share?

My original intention was to write a series something like John D. MacDonald
's Travis McGee series.  I loved those books when I was introduced to them
as a teenager.  The Antonio Burns books have turned into something else,
though.  They've become one long story rather than a series.  The story has
taken over-I have a lot less control than I did when I started it with THE

10.  And finally what's next for Antonio?

That's something I'm still wondering about too.  In the next book he gets
fired from his job as a Wyoming state cop for a pretty spectacular crime.
Beyond that, it's all in the air.



Clinton McKinzie grew up in Santa Monica, California and now calls Denver, Colorado his home. Prior to becoming a writer, he worked as a deputy district attorney in Colorado’s Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. As a criminal prosecutor, he had the opportunity to see the American justice system in its many facets, good and bad. Prior endeavors included being a surf bum, lifeguard, chauffeur, ski instructor, vagabond climber and saloon bouncer (probably Wyoming’s smallest, he says).

After leaving Santa Monica High School with vague dreams of becoming a professional surfer, and after several years of wandering on three continents with his surfboard tucked under his arm, Clinton graduated from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi and then from the University of Wyoming’s College of Law. Additional schooling involved an eclectic array of institutions, including Boston College, World College West, Santa Monica College and Paris’ Cité Universitaire.

Aside from his wife and son, Clinton’s primary passion is for steep mountainsides, which he is fond of assaulting with ropes or skis. He learned the meaning of the expression feeding the rat after he arrived in Laramie, Wyoming in the midst of a July 4th snowstorm and became addicted to getting a lot of air beneath his heels on cliffs - first at Vedauwoo, then the Tetons and elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain west - locales that appear in his books. He always has enjoyed extending the rope to friends so that they can share the thrill.

Among Clinton’s other interests are reading everything he can get his hands on, scuba diving, mountain biking, camping, snow skiing and fly fishing. His dislikes include avalanches, smelly climbing partners, sharks, thieving marmots and cold nights spent hanging from dubious anchors.

At the end of 1999, Clinton took a leave of absence from his job as a criminal prosecutor and spent six months honing a first novel that combined the drama of the courtroom with the primal thrill of rock climbing. In the summer of 2000 he signed with book agent John Talbot of New York. Within weeks he had a 2-book deal with Random House. Soon came another 2-book contract with the same publisher. Clinton recently signed a contract for the publication of more Antonio Burns novels

To find out more about Clinton McKinzie's previous titles and Clinton himself, please visit his website at