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Bryan Robinson is Guest Author at Southern Writers Magazine Blog

Southern Writers Magazine invited Bryan Robinson to write for their Suite T blog. His article called "Welcome Writing Uncertainty" can be read here.

New Apple Book Award Medalist 2015

Limestone Gumption Wins New Apple Book Award For Excellence In Independent Publishing!

Limestone Gumption is the winner of the 2015 New Apple Book Award in the Psychological Suspense category.

Paperback Edition of Limestone Gumption

Limestone Gumption Now Available in Trade Paperback!

We're very happy to announce Limestone Gumption has been published as a trade paperback by Sunstone Press. Click here for more info.

"Robinson has crafted a nicely nuanced debut written with wit, humor, and pathos in this promising series opener."

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
Novel wins 2015 Silver IPPY Winner!

Limestone Gumption Wins 2015 Silver IPPY Award!

Limestone Gumption is the winner of the 2015 silver IPPY award from the Independent Publisher Book Awards for outstanding mystery of the year. Awards are presented at the annual award ceremony in New York City in May of each year.

Best Mystery Winner

Winner of Best Mystery

Best Regional Fiction Finalist

Finalist for Regional Fiction

Limestone Gumption Wins the 2014 Beverly Hills International Book Award for Best Mystery

Limestone Gumption has been receiving some prestigious honors, most recently from the Beverly Hills International Book Awards, including Best Mystery. In bestowing the award, the judges said,

"Your book, Limestone Gumption, truly embodies the excellence that this award was created to celebrate, and we salute you and your fine work."

2014 International Book Awards Finalist

Limestone Gumption is a 2014 International Book Awards Finalist!

The American Book Fest announced the winners and finalists of the 2014 International Book Awards (IBA) in Los Angeles. Limestone Gumption by Bryan Robinson was named award-winning finalist in the Fiction: Mystery/Suspense category of the 2014 International Book Awards.

Nina Mansfield Interview and Guest Blog Post

Bryan was recently interviewed by Nina Mansfield on her blog Not Even Joking and was asked to write a guest post for her blog about what inspired him to write his first novel. You can read the interview here, and the guest post here.

The Big Thrill Interview

Bryan was recently interviewed by The Big Thrill. You can read the interview here.

Omnimystery News Interview

Bryan was recently interviewed by Omnimystery News. You can read the interview here.

Mountain XPress Profiles Bryan Robinson

Psychotherapist Bryan E. Robinson is a veteran author, having written 35 self-help and scholarly books on stress and workaholism over the years. His most recent such work is The Smart Guide to Managing Stress. Only now, however, is he unveiling his first work of fiction, 12 years in the making. Limestone Gumption launches with great fanfare on Friday, March 7, at Malaprop’s Bookstore. Read article here.

About the Book

Limestone Gumption: A New Mystery by Bryan Robinson

“If you can’t surrender to life’s hard knocks, you’re like the limestone arguing with the Suwannee. When a river comes up to a stone, do you think the stone spends all its time trying to push the water back? No siree. The limestone yields as the Suwannee encompasses it and becomes one with the rushing water. […] And the strength of its true character is revealed. That’s limestone gumption.”

Voodoo Sally

When Brad Pope returns to his boyhood hometown to settle a debt with his long-lost father, the 35-year-old psychologist becomes a prime suspect in the murder of football legend turned cave diver, Big Jake Nunn. Perched high on the east bank of the Suwannee River, the sleepy town of Whitecross, Florida, is known for its natural crystal-clear springs and underwater caverns. Locals are online and computer savvy, but if asked about blackberries, they think cobbler, not wireless. And townsfolk die of natural causes, not murder.

Until now.

As if being accused of murder isn’t shock enough, the psychologist’s hopes of confronting his father and reconnecting with his cantankerous Grandma Gigi are hindered by the surprised horror surrounding his father’s whereabouts and sinister secrets of the Women’s Preservation Club (WPC).

The six quirky “sisterfriends” in the club founded by Grandma Gigi—whom Brad expects to jabber about preparing Sunday’s church bulletin or the next bake sale—start to look more like cold-bloodied killers than church ladies. As Brad learns of more dead bodies and that each sisterfriend has reason to kill Big Jake, his suspicions sour into the clabbered taste of fear.

What had the WPC planted in their welcome garden on the outskirts of Whitecross? Camellias or corpses?

With its blend of humor, dark plot, and quirky characters, Limestone Gumption witnesses beauty and brutality in a small Southern town. This offbeat mystery offers you suspense, surprise, and plenty of chuckles along the way to its solution. The fast pace and twists and turns are as frequent and fast as the Suwannee River itself, and they will keep you on the edge of your seat or make you fall out of it laughing.

Publication Information

New! Paperback

Sunstone Press
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Five Star (ME)
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Large Print Paperback

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Narrated by:
Adrian Rosen
Release Date:
Bryan Robinson
  • Limestone Gumption is a stunning comedic debut, a laugh-out-loud page-turner of a mystery populated by the most eccentric and hilarious characters I’ve encountered in a long, long time. I want to be a member of the Sisterfriends, and I’m betting you will, too!”

    Cassandra King, author of The Sunday Wife and Moonrise
  • “No treasure trove of Southern lore is complete without Limestone Gumption and its Suwannee River legends, lies, and multiple mysteries, such as who’s buried in the flower bed, what really happened to Big Jake, and how will the ‘geriatric mafia’ get out of trouble? Delightful story and memorable characters.”

    Chris Roerden, Agatha Award-winning author of Don’t Murder Your Mystery and its all-genre version, Don’t Sabotage Your Submission
  • “Robinson’s debut amateur sleuth gets a thumbs up . . . light humor, genial banter, and colorful characters . . . mouthwatering recipes included.”

    Library Journal
  • Limestone Gumption displays the author’s ear for colorful dialogue and boasts many larger-than-life Southern characters, earning it favorable comparisons to the work of Fannie Flagg and Pat Conroy.”

    RICH RENNICKS, Asheville Mountain Xpress
  • “The trick to successfully blending humor into plot made of the worst things people can do is an understanding of the clockworks of the human mind and heart. Bryan Robinson truly understands how people work, making Limestone Gumption a rare treat.”

    Jamie Mason, author of Three Graves Full and Monday’s Lie
  • “A debut novel written with a veteran pen, Limestone Gumption is expertly crafted with controlled plot twists and quirky, memorable characters whose development grips the reader as much as the mystery itself. With light-hearted deftness, it also provokes much thought on wider issues.”

    Azam Gill, The Big Thrill Magazine
  • “Limestone Gumption gives us the pleasures of a mystery that keeps us guessing as well as a humorous look at small-town Southern life. Bryan Robinson has written a highly enjoyable novel!”

    Ron Rash, New York Times best-selling author of Serena and The World Made Straight, both major motion pictures
  • “This novel is funny, touching, and moving and has real heart at its core. The mystery around the Women’s Preservation Club yields great energetic characters who give so much to the action. I love the sense of place, the river, and scenes outside the river.”
    Tommy Hays, author of The Pleasure Was Mine and What I Came to Tell You
  • “A captivating story plus evocative writing with compelling, quirky yet believable characters— and (thank Heavens) an authentic Southern voice. Robinson knows his way around a good story. Be sure to put this one in your To Be Read Pile.”

    Terry Hoover, author of Double Dead
  • “Thrilling, chilling, funny, touching with rich Southern characters and spot-on dialogue Bryan Robinson’s LIMESTONE GUMPTION is the perfect novel. While turning page after page I laughed, gasped, and even shed a few tears. You will fall in love with Brad, Gigi, Voodoo Sally and all the denizens of Whitecross— especially the eccentric precious ladies of the WPC! I haven’t read a book I have enjoyed so much since The Help.”
    Del Shores, Director/Screenwriter of the motion pictures Sordid Lives, Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will? and Southern Baptist Sissies
  • “Bryan Robinson’s debut LIMESTONE GUMPTION leads you beside the slow-moving Suwannee River, seduces you with quirky small town life, and then, just when you’re reaching for another piece of Red Velvet Cake, slaps you upside the head with the outrageous antics of the Sisterfriends— Southern women who know how to take care of business. Welcome to Whitecross, Florida— the living is mostly easy but the dying can be complicated.”

    Vicki Lane, author of The Day of Small Things and the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries
  • “A wonderful yarn, as full of twists and turns as the underground caves Robinson writes about. Drenched in north Florida lore, with a terrific portrait of small-town life and mysteries and great names like Lick Skillet and Ibejean Martin, this novel is so much fun!”
    Polly Paddock, former book editor, The Charlotte Observer
  • “Five Stars. A fantastic, first-time novel! Author Bryan Robinson adeptly teases the dark underbelly of Whitecross, Florida to the surface one murder, one suspicion, and one misunderstanding at a time. The storyline twists and turns mirroring the Suwannee River…offering laughs, tears, whodunit, and unexpected surprises.”

  • Limestone Gumption is a well-written book…There are twists and turns and surprises that kept me turning the pages. Limestone Gumption had a little of everything: mystery, suspense, love, hate, and it is a completely entertaining story.”

    Trudi Lopreto for Readers’ Favorite

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About the Author

Bryan Robinson
Photo by Jon Michael Riley

Bryan E. Robinson is a novelist and licensed psychotherapist. His debut novel, Limestone Gumption: A Brad Pope and Sisterfriends Mystery, won the 2015 Silver Ippy Award, the 2014 Bronze Award from Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Book of the Year for Best Mystery,  the 2015 USA Regional Excellence Book Award for Best Fiction in the Southeast, and the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award for Best Mystery. Book 2 in the Brad Pope and Sisterfriends series, She'll Be KILLING Round the Mountain  is finished, and Bryan is working the third installment, Michael Row the BODY Ashore. He is also working on a nonfiction book for writers, Don't Murder Yourself Before Finishing Your Mystery. Bryan is a member of Mystery Writers of America; International Thriller Writers, where he serves as coordinator of the Debut Author’s Forum; Sisters in Crime; Mystery Readers International; International Association of Crime Writers; and Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.

He has authored over thirty-five nonfiction books including the best-seller,  Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them (3rd Ed., New York University Press, 2014). His books have been translated into thirteen languages, and he has won two awards for nonfiction writing. He  has appeared on ABC’s 20/20, Good Morning America, and ABC’s World News Tonight; NBC Nightly News, NBC Universal, the CBS Early Show, CNBC’s The Big Idea, and CNN’s Minding Your Money. He hosted the PBS documentary, Overdoing It: When Work Rules Your Life.

Bryan maintains a private clinical practice in Asheville and Charlotte, NC. He resides in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his partner, four dogs, and occasional bears at night. Visit his nonfiction website: or email him.

Check out Bryan's full bio on Wikipedia.

Non-Fiction by Bryan Robinson

More information at


  • June 23, 2017
    9:00am –10:00am

    Burry Bookstore

    130 West Carolina Avenue
    Hartsville, South Carolina 29550
    Moveable Feast
  • July 11 – 15, 2017

    Grand Hyatt Hotel

    109 East 42nd Street
    New York City, New York
    ThrillerFest for International Thriller Writers
  • August 24 – 27, 2017

    Killer Nashville

    Nashville, TN
    Killer Nashville Literary Conference
  • September 9, 2017
    10:30am –12:30pm

    Winston Salem Bookmarks Literary Festival

    251 North Spruce Street
    Winston-Salem, NC 27101
    Winston Salem Bookmarks Literary Festival

Invite Bryan to Your Book Club

If you have a book club and would like Bryan to visit, you can use the contact form to discuss the visit. Book club appearances are gratis as long as the members purchase the book in advance.

My Blog

Meet Your Region: The South

October 10, 2016

Beauty and Brutality in the Southern Mystery/Thriller

As a Buddhist and writer, looking back on my Southern upbringing, I am fascinated with the Tao or coexistence of opposites — shrouded in darkness and mystery. Nowhere is this paradox more striking than in the customs, natural beauty, and brutality of the southern United States.

Where I come from, we serve sweet iced tea and call you “honey” even if we don’t know you. We ask you to “come back” as you leave, even if we don’t want you to. We scrape our feet at your front door whether or not they’re dirty to show respect before entering your house. We offer you food, even if we don’t have any left, praying you’ll say “no, thank you.” While we’re eating one meal, we talk about the next one over fried chicken, rice and gravy, and homemade biscuits. Before we badmouth somebody, we preface it with, “Bless her heart” so we sound respectable. And we say, “yawl” to make sure everybody’s included.

But there’s a brutal underbelly to this genteel Southern hospitality. Many of us — not me of course — dodder along in our pickups, throwing friendly hand-waves at strangers, shotguns mounted firmly in gun racks behind our heads “just in case.” The innocent-looking church ladies planning a reunion under the shade trees in the churchyard welcome you with open arms, then gossip and shun you behind closed doors because you’re “different.” If you’re from Florida looking to buy mountain land, you’re out of luck. Mountain folk call Floridians “Southern Yankees,” and smile and point them in the wrong direction.

Southern traditions — the savory food, cloaked messages full of contradictions, dysfunctional relationships, and deep pockets of religious fundamentalism — exemplify the beauty/brutality paradox. As a child I remember camp meetings where fireflies punctuated the dark summer sky and believers fanned away the sweltering heat as they gathered under huge tents to worship. I loved to peek through slits in the tents to watch preachers scream warnings of the devil and threats of burning in hell. I watched worshipers’ arms raised to the heavens, clapping their hands, speaking in tongues, running up and down aisles, sometimes cutting cartwheels in ecstasy as they became “slain in the spirit.”

Classic Southern fiction — from Tennessee Williams to Flannery O’Connor to Pat Conroy — have excavated these fundamentalist religious traditions, teasing to the surface the underlying dysfunction with one suspicion, one misunderstanding, and one murder at a time. Like old varnish, they peel off the veneer of deeply-flawed, eccentric characters hiding behind a façade of respectability and superiority. Southern mystery writer John Hart said, “Family dysfunction makes for rich literary soil. It’s a place to cultivate secrets and misdeeds where betrayal cuts deeply, pain lingers, and memory becomes timeless.”

The natural beauty and wildlife of the South also reflect the paradox. The embroidered branches of sprawling live oaks droop with heavy beards of Spanish moss, stretching low to brush the lush vegetation. Blooming azaleas burst with color, the humid evening breeze carrying perfume of Confederate jasmine, honey suckle, night blooming cereus, and gardenias and magnolias. The night calls of whippoorwills and hoot owls and the monotonous droning of tree frogs echo across a moonlit sky.

On the flipside, we observe the brutality. Underneath Florida’s Suwannee River, stunning marine life and primeval underwater caves — some as tall as ten-story buildings, wide as three football fields — draw divers across the world. Eerie lime rock formations, resembling gargoyles and screaming faces, carved for thousands of years by the Suwannee cut through prehistoric limestone. At night, river dwellers sit around campfires on the river’s sandy shores, complaining about motorboats scarring the backs of endangered prehistoric manatee. Or they tell stories of lost divers drowning in the twisted, turning underwater caves, stretching miles beneath the earth — cavers running out of air, stabbing each other with dive knives to steal a last breath from their partner’s tanks. Tales of corpses wrapped in tangled guidelines, entombed like mummies, arms tightly pinned against their stiff bodies. Stories of bodies so bloated that rescue teams have to pry them out of narrow passageways. And of goodbye messages hastily carved in limestone walls during final dying breaths.

One night I sat around a campfire listening to the harrowing tales, watching campfire shadows dance like ghosts against the white Florida sand, trying to ignore my thudding heart and the chills that lifted the hair on the back of my neck. That’s when it hit me: “I have to write about this.” I started to read or re-read all of my favorite Southern novelists among them Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, Pat Conroy, John Hart, Flannery O’Connor, Fannie Flagg, James Lee Burke, and Zora Neal Hurston.

I researched cave diving and actual cases of divers drowning in the caves. I listened and watched the people and customs of locals with the ardor of an anthropologist (Margaret Mead would be pleased). I read the history of the area, including a 1948 novel, SERAPH ON THE SUWANNEE by famed novelist Zora Neal Hurston. I frequently kayaked the Suwannee, tubed down Itchtuknee Springs, and listened to locals’ tales about the history of the area. I read books about the Florida laws and dangers of underwater cave diving, conducted Internet research, and interviewed local expert dive outfitters about the technical aspects of their underwater treks.

Influenced by my favorite Southern writers, I used many traditional “noir” themes in my debut novel LIMESTONE GUMPTION: A BRAD POPE AND SISTERFRIENDS MYSTERY. My protagonist is 35-year-old psychologist and reluctant sleuth, Dr. Brad Pope, who finds himself accused of a murder he must solve to save himself. When the police drop the ball, he outsmarts the cops by relying on his own psychological wits and instincts as he unravels a tangle of murder and intrigue. He confronts his tortured, dysfunctional past and a finger-wagging grandmother who heads a sinister garden club – six quirky women of a certain age who at first glance look like sweet little church ladies. Upon Pope’s closer investigation, however, they appear to be cold-blooded murderers. Glued together because of a sinister secret, the women are not exactly sisters but are more than friends, hence “Sisterfriends.” Their biggest claim to fame is the garden they tend under the welcome sign on the outskirts of town, where passersby wonder what they planted there.

Striking a balance between the beauty and brutality of small-town Southern life without idealizing it, yet without vilifying it, was a challenge: the mixed messages of the townspeople, macabre ironic events, religious zeal fraught with dysfunctional relationships, and a penchant for exotic homemade foods. Writing the novel required suspension of judgment and a bird’s-eye view to show the Tao as it exists in nature. There are many truths to be mined in the darkness of the South, few strictly good or bad. Truth contains elements of both, and all of us, writers and readers alike, are stuck with that paradoxical mix for life.

—Bryan Robinson, October 10, 2016