Reviews & Awards

RESERVATIONS reviews

Compelling, realistically flawed characters and a timely story line, especially in the wake of the protests at the Dakota Access Pipeline, make this one of Florio’s hardest-hitting mysteries yet. Library Journal, starred review

Florio (Disgraced, 2016, etc.) captures the culture and poverty on reservations still suffering from greed and mismanagement in a ripped-from-the-headlines story with a shocking ending. Kirkus Reviews

 

DISGRACED reviews

A gutsy series. New York Times

“Lola Wicks is back and better than ever. … a gutsy, lusty, decidedly undomesticated woman.  … Disgraced takes on some of the most pressing issues of our time: the triple scourges of war, racism and sexism. How do we face such seemingly insurmountable problems? Not through silence and lies, Lola insists. ‘Cowboy up, sissy.’ Seek the truth. Speak up. And read this book.” Elise Atchison, Montana Quarterly

A gut-wrenching mystery/thriller that explores prejudice and the incredible stress on soldiers in a seemingly unending war with no clear goals. Kirkus Reviews

Flowing prose and gritty narrative. … Engaging, riveting, and authentic, DISGRACED is a thrill ride from the very first page. The Big Thrill

Weaves lyrical prose into a fascinating tale. The Montana Standard

More than just a crime fiction novel, this one tackles important topics we as a society should be discussing. BOLO Books

Lola Wicks is my favorite fictional feminist journalist. … I will always read this series. Amy Steele, Entertainment Realm

Disgraced adds depth and dimension to Wicks’ character. The choices she confronts, the lies she deciphers, and her relentless pursuit of a story give Disgraced a satisfying weight. … Disgraced is the best of Florio’s fiction to date. Mark Stevens, Don’t Need a Diagram

Gwen Florio’s ‘Disgraced’ presents serious issues in guise of mystery novel. Missoulian

“No reader in 2016 will fail to note, for example, Florio’s dramatization of the ways in which racism and sexism assumptions can manifest as physical violence. But even as “Disgraced” pinpoints our political reality it never sacrifices its suspense.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle

 

DAKOTA reviews

With the same strong writing as Florio flashed in Wicks’ first adventure, Montana, this story rides on gritty atmosphere and sharp-edged characters. Mark Stevens, author of the Allison Coil mystery series

Florio’s second novel mines familiar ground with another look at American Indian culture along the frozen U.S.-Canadian border territory, with a compelling mystery folded in to add spice to the mix. … the writing is top-notch, and the action builds at just the right pace. In Florio’s capable hands, Lola Wicks is going to be around for a long, long time. Kirkus Reviews

A classic literary mystery to whet your appetite, Dakota by Gwen Florio is a great standalone novel, and second in what’s sure to be a great ongoing series. Gwen Florio might be the thinking woman’s Tony Hillerman, as she writes of Indian America and smalltown values and beauty. … Enjoy this rich, elegant, complex tale with a 4-star rich elegant complex cup of coffee. Sheila Deeth

Readers will be drawn immediately into the story, the characters’ lives, and the mysteries that unfold. … There is plenty of action and a surprising, highly fitting climax that I found enormously satisfying. Rachel Schaffer, Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association

[Lola Wicks] calls to mind not so much the calm composure of a Miss Marple, but the reckless enthusiasm (and disregard for head injuries) of a more grownup Nancy Drew. … In a patriarchal world, women can either work against each other for perceived gain, or band together to lend a sister a hand.” Missoula Independent

Florio has few equals when it comes to describing a desolate landscape. The brutal details of nature underline the story’s theme and run like a thread throughout the novel. … During the climax, Lola herself strikes a symbolic blow against the hypocrisy in all of us. In that action, we see Florio’s desire to be done with cruelty, prejudice, stupidity, and greed. Reviewing the Evidence

A gripping adventure story packed with interesting characters, many of them living a hard life in a heartless town. …Dakota is an insightful look into a unique lifestyle. The plot is engaging and suspenseful. City Book Review

The laconically named Dakota is written in a pleasing prose, crammed with incident and excitement … there’s much social observation to chew on and the description of Blackfeet culture is fascinating. Thinking About Books

A gripping read, sure to make readers restless for a third Lola Wicks mysteryBooklist

Florio succeeds with her second riveting Lola title (after Montana). … the hard-nosed feminine perspective is refreshing. For fans of Lori Armstrong and Craig Johnson. Library Journal (starred review)

I have added Lola Wicks to the list of characters whose adventures I hope to follow for a long time. … Dakota is the second book in the Lola Wicks series and, while waiting for the third, I’ll put Montana on my reading list and Gwen Florio on my list of new authors I like. Anne Holliday, Anne’s Book Club

In case you missed the Coen Brothers’ Fargo, you can catch up on grim, Northwest cold and feisty female protagonists with Gwen Florio’s suspenseful new thriller Dakota, featuring sleuthing journalist Lola Wicks… .What no movie could convey, however, no matter how striking the photography, is what Florio captures in memorable prose—the smell of the town and its degenerate inhabitants, the feel of the biting, menacing cold and dark of winter. By The Book

 

MONTANA reviews

Florio has given us a real treasure … Her writing is strong, her characters rich and her ability to describe a sense of place is extraordinary. Montana Magazine

Journalist Florio’s outstanding first novel introduces foreign correspondent Lola Wicks…..Quirky and cantankerous, Lola is grudgingly willing to learn from experience. Believable action complements razor-sharp observations of people and scenery. Publishers Weekly, starred review

Montana is a highly accomplished first novel from Gwen Florio. …. This is one of the best murder mystery thrillers of the year. San Francisco Book Review

Florio’s gritty, no-holds-barred story rings true with meticulous descriptions of the harsh, gorgeous Montana landscape and true-to-life characters that many well-traveled Montanans will recognize.Her series adds yet another rich layer to the canon of genuine Montana stories that includes the likes of Dorothy Johnson, A.B. Guthrie and poet Richard Hugo, whose poetry of place reflected the true backroads of Montana. Montana Standard

Florio’s Montana is an impressive debut mystery with a solid plot as strong as its landscape. Philadelphia Inquirer

Montana is beautifully written. Florio milks the scenery for every ounce of atmosphere – the wide skies, the wind, the trees. And the wind. Did I mention the wind? Florio is equally adept at zooming in on fine details. Florio writes with the eye of a keen reporter and the heart of a poetMark Stevens, author of the Allison Coil mystery series

Breathless pacing, strong characterizations, and a nuanced plot blend into an unforgettable read. With its strong sense of place and an intriguing ethnic character mix, consider for fans of Lori Armstrong, C.J. Box, and Wayne Arthurson. Florio is a veteran journalist, so she knows her stuff.  Library Journal, starred review, Debut of the Month (October 2013)

Her twists are sharp, her characters vivid—even Mary Alice, who appears primarily as a corpse—and her imagery of the area flows like liquid gold. An excellent beginning to a hopefully long-lived series. Mystery Scene Magazine

The rugged western terrain where a “molten filament of sunlight outline(s) the prairie” is the setting for another stellar read: Gwen Florio’s Montana. …Lola is a short-tempered, whiskey-drinking loner with an Attitude. She doesn’t carry a purse, ride a horse or cry. A wealthy local rancher with whom she sleeps asks her, “What do you do, Lola Wicks?” She gets the story. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Montana is an entertaining, well-paced page-turner with mounting tension and steady suspense. Florio plants ideas in a reader’s mind just as deftly as Wicks slips other people’s belongings into her pocket. And just when we think Wicks has the murder solved, the book gallops to a thrilling, fiery finish. From start to finish, Montana is decadent crime fiction with local and international flavor. And as with all good stories, when Wicks flies out of a small-town Montana airport at the story’s end, she’s not the same person she was when she arrived. Montana isn’t the same either. The Missoulian

A loving portrait of the state, filled with observations of things we might take for granted, from the expansive sky to the generous portions of cinnamon rolls at hometown cafes. ….but Florio’s portraits of tough women and old-school journalism are what left a lasting impression.” Missoula Independent

In “Montana,” her first novel, Gwen Florio, a reporter herself, gives readers an action-packed story with plenty of danger and bloodshed. By contrast, life in Kabul was a lark. Denver Post

MONTANA drew me in immediately with its stellar page-turning plot, terrific characters and stunning descriptions of Montana scenery. Entertainment Realm.

Hello new favorite wild and feisty crime fighting broad! I loved the book and very much enjoyed “out of her element” Lola. This woman is tough as nails, rude, brusque, unsentimental (a little too unsentimental at first glance) she knows what, when and who she wants and when she wants it with no apologies. … By the time I finished the book I realized that I loved this big hearted bad girl and wanted to see her again and again!  goodreads

Journalist Florio’s story about a friend’s murder arrives crammed with atmosphere and intriguing characters….the author does a great job of writing a book that’s both evocative of the Montana countryside and a satisfying, hair-raising ride. A promising debut.  Kirkus Reviews

The exotic setting and plot twists alone would keep a reader absorbed, but Ms. Florio makes them even better with her vivid, sometimes startling, turns of phrase. New York Journal of Books

FICTION AND JOURNALISM AWARDS