TROUBLE ISLAND, my next novel, will be out from Minotaur Books in the fall of 2024!
It will be published under my given name, Sharon Short.

TROUBLE ISLAND is an historical mystery set in 1930 on a remote island in Lake Erie that is owned by a Prohibition gangster and occupied by an alleged murderer, who has been forced into hiding as the gangster’s wife’s servant and is plotting her escape just as the gangster, his cronies, and an ice storm make unexpected landfall. More information coming soon!


Welcome to the official website for author Jess Montgomery, who writes gripping historical mysteries featuring strong female leads and compelling themes just as relevant today.


“Deeply felt…the feisty female protagonists do their real-life foremothers proud.”
Publishers Weekly
“… A simultaneous examination of women’s rights, coal mining, prohibition, and Appalachian life, make this a fantastic choice for historical fiction fans.”
Library Journal (Starred Review)
“An engaging debut… Vivid historical details, an intriguing mystery, and strong female characters.”
—Kirkus Reviews
“Beautifully plotted and filled with believable characters”
AP News
“This amazing, thoroughly researched historical novel by debut author Jess Montgomery shows how love, determination, and courage can overcome bitterness, deceit, and violence.”
New York Journal of Books

“Skilled storyteller Montgomery takes up the issue of racial prejudice as it existed in that place and time in this historical mystery that shines with its strong and appealing female characters.”

“The exploration of emotional hollowness, its origins and expressions, adds layers to this story. Montgomery has written another suspenseful mystery full of atmosphere and surprising historical details.”
Criminal Element

“Beautifully written, poetic, and full of fascinating historical detail…”
“Remarkable…[Montgomery’s] writing is brisk, yet it lingers long enough to indulge readers with beautiful prose along the way.”
“Women’s and workers’ rights, Prohibition, and a murder mystery come together beautifully…The book is impossible to put down or forget.”
—Mystery Scene
The Widows is a gripping, beautifully written novel…”
—Hallie Ephron, New York Times bestselling author of You’ll Never Know, Dear
“A rich, empowering, and satisfying read.”
—Jessica Strawser, author of Not That I Could Tell

About Jess

Jess writes the Kinship series set in 1920s’ Appalachian Ohio. She has won awards for her writing from the Montgomery County Arts & Cultural District (Ohio) and the Ohio Arts Council. Jess also directs a writers’ workshop, teaches creative writing, and speaks frequently at writers’ workshops and conferences. To get to know Jess a bit better, read her letter to readers or her official bio.

A few Jess facts:

  • Enjoys hiking; has absolutely no sense of direction.
  • Finds bats adorable; is terrified of mice.
  • Loves tacos; allergic to avocados and thus guacamole.
  • Is not in the least afraid of public speaking; terrified of (besides mice) rip tides, swinging bridges, and open-air heights in general.
  • Favorite beverages: coffee, sweet tea, and occasionally whiskey on the rocks or an Old Fashioned
  • Once flew a plane without any formal training.
  • Makes pies for family and friends.
Author Jess Montgomery

Book Clubs

I *love* to visit book clubs, whether in person or via Skype.  Please contact me!


I’d love to meet you in person!
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Jess Montgomery blog

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Jess Montgomery


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