Phillip Thompson

Crime Fiction writer

Old Anger

OAnewSheriff Colt Harper believes he’s colorblind in his enforcement of the law. But is he? When a black man is murdered, it ignites age-old anger in the African-American community over the injustices they’ve endured and forces Harper to confront his own personal demons. Harper’s single-minded pursuit of justice for the dead man thrusts him between two volatile groups — furious blacks who don’t know if they can trust him and racist whites who want to use the controversy to spark a bloody race war.


Old Anger has some sweet echoes of the past while being something modern at the same time. Pacing is outstanding and the story is engaging. It has a western rash under its skin. Recommended.

Joe R. Lansdale, creator of Hap & Leonard

Phillip Thompson combines the visceral verbal skills of Craig Johnson with the white knuckle tension of Stephen Hunter. Old Anger will leave you soaked in sweat and gasping for air.

–S.A. Cosby, author of Blacktop Wasteland

Old Anger is a modern Southern novel in the best sense—exploring issues of race, privilege, and generational mistrust with candor and grace. It’s also a fiercely engaging mystery. Thompson’s lawman, Colt Harper, is a man of honor in a world that could use more of ’em. Consider me a fan.

–Chris Holm, Anthony Award winning author of The Killing Kind

In Thompson’s well-wrought third crime novel featuring Mississippi sheriff Colt Harper. Thoughtful prose is matched by solid characterizations. Thompson delivers a timely tale of racial violence.

–Publishers Weekly

Outside the Law

What's in a name?Colt Harper is back in a big way in Outside the Law. Harper lives by his own moral code, and his relentless crusade against drug crimes in his rural Mississippi county infuriates a Memphis mobster who sends Hack, his cold-blooded assassin, to stop him. ATF Special Agent Molly McDonough, looking to save her troubled career, follows Hack’s trail of corpses to Harper’s turf. The fates of Harper, McDonough and Hack collide in a bloody, brutal showdown for justice, redemption and survival that can only be fought outside the law.


Sheriff Colt Harper, as the title of Thompson’s tough, fast-paced sequel to 2013’s Deep Blood suggests, takes a Dirty Harry approach to law enforcement. In his first term as sheriff of Mississippi’s rural Lowndes County, Colt has shot several people, and his office stands accused of using excessive violence. He’s unsure whether he should run for reelection. At the scene of a convenience store robbery, a teenage boy, whom Colt places under arrest, tells him that somebody has been taking down drug dealers. When drug dealers start turning up dead, Colt suspects that a serial killer is at work. Molly McDonough, an ATF special agent, helps him investigate. Colt and Molly, who have each become disillusioned with their jobs, are seeking redemption for past mistakes. Meanwhile, a Memphis crime lord has ordered Hack, a hit man, to stop Colt. Hack, too, expresses a desire for redemption. Fueled by either remorse or revenge (or a combination of both), Thompson’s convincing characters race toward an inevitable and explosive showdown.

Publishers Weekly

Through the deeply flawed character of Sheriff Colt Harper, Phillip Thompson explores Larry Brown’s rough south, digging deeper and seeking a truce with the interloping outside world, and Harper’s tormented inner world as well. Thompson writes about the tendency of a good man toward violence. The need to seek redemption for the sins of the past—even if that redemption is through more violence. Maybe especially. Outside the Law is my kind of book, and Phillip Thompson’s Mississippi is a rough south indeed. One I hope he’ll revisit.

— Grant Jerkins, prize-winning author of  A Very Simple Crime

Outside the Law is a winner in the tradition of Justified and Walking Tall. There’s right and there’s wrong and the no man’s land in between. Thompson explores them all, but it’s the reader who gets the big payoff in the end.

— Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of Robert B. Parker’s Debt To Pay

If you’re a fan of Justified, you’re going to love Outside the Law. Sheriff Colt Harper is an old-West gunfighter in the modern world. The action doesn’t stop.
— David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of First Blood

Outside the Law needs to be savored and enjoyed. Read it for the action but also read it for the sense of place. Thompson’s writing is sparse and brilliant, no flowery speeches, no unnecessary actions.

–The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature

Deep Blood

DBDeep Blood is the first Colt Harper novel. His moral compass is slightly askew: he doesn’t care for the mundane parts of his job, he drinks too much, is separated from his wife, and has a former stripper girlfriend who regularly violates the drug laws of the county. Even when the son of a close friend is murdered, he has a hard time concentrating on the subsequent investigation. But when his incorrigible father is arrested again for DUI, he learns a secret of his father’s past — one that threatens his own future.  Described as “southern-fried noir,” Deep Blood is a story of justice, redemption and family secrets.  Check out the trailer for Deep Blood here.

Featured Review: 

The truth has a way of coming out, no matter how potent it can be. It’s not always pretty or even the way you would hope it should be, but it can definitely set you free. This is something we have seen in life, and in Phillip Thompson’s new book DEEP BLOOD we are given a reminder of it. We meet Colt Harper, a man who is entrusted with enforcing the law, but finds himself at times involved in actions that blur the line between what’s seen as right and wrong. He’s not alone. His father has been a thorn in his side most of his life, and his behavior leads to trouble that only adds to Colt’s grief. Set in Mississippi DEEP BLOOD helps us to see how the layers of the law, good versus evil and the dysfunctions of family can collide to create a recipe of complicated disaster. When a good friend’s son is murdered, it brings about a part of the past that Colt Harper would rather not be reminded of and the issue of race and how it still seems to be the poison that destroys lives. Though Colt hasn’t had the best relationship with his father, will it cause him to believe the worse before the truth is revealed? That is what readers will find out along with how people can look past color to seeing a person’s real value. Definitely a story I enjoyed, full of realistic and flawed characters that will keep you reading until the end. Regardless of what type of book you are used to reading, give this one a try. DEEP BLOOD is sure to remind you that nothing holds the power of the truth.

– Cyrus A. Webb, Host of Conversations LIVE! Radio

Enemy Within

 My first novel and the first Wade Stuart novel, Enemy Within. Originally published in 1999 by Salvo Press. Now available as a Kindle edition. Download it here.
Featured review:
“[A] U.S. president without prior military experience orchestrates congressional repeal of the Posse Comitatus Law, thus freeing him to use the military to intervene in matters of civil law. This shift in power plays into the hands of militia groups across the country, who have prophesied this critical development and will use the ensuing erosion of civil rights to activate their violent plans. ATF Special Agent Wade Stuart knows this, as he has infiltrated the Mississippi People’s Militia, a terrorist group, to prevent their plot to assassinate Mississippi’s governor and take control of the state. When the MPM napalms the Mississippi state courthouse, Stuart, faced with lack of support from his feckless ATF superiors in Washington, must rush to beat the president’s deployment in Mississippi of the 2nd Marine Division, with its attendant risk of widespread carnage. The mission becomes even more desperate when his sexy new girlfriend, Lee Ann Weatherby, is kidnapped by henchmen of her 77-year-old great-uncle, the MPM’s fanatic leader. … [T]his earnest if heavy-handed little fable is as timely as the morning headlines. Without trying to impose answers, the author asks some probing questions about national apathy, the abdication of responsibility for one’s own country and the resulting decay of U.S. civil rights.”

A Simple Murder

41fIB192MmLA Simple Murder
 is the second Wade Stuart novel. In this installment, Stuart has resigned from the ATF and is content to while away his days in Hawaii as freelance reporter. But when he reports on a murder aboard the Marine base on Oahu, he discovers a sinister plot to kill hundreds of innocent tourists. Navigating his way between his former Washington bosses, hostile locals and the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, Stuart finds himself again trying to stop an audacious terror attack. Available via Amazon.

My favorite thriller has just turned into a franchise, and its writer Phillip Thompson has cracked open the second installment in a beautiful new frontier. Whereas the first Wade Stuart novel was so soaked in its Mississippi setting that the book felt deep-fried, this time we meet our protagonist on a sandy Oahu beach, where he’s toting a camera as a crime beat reporter. That’s right, new setting, new occupation, and, oh yeah, a new girl: the ATF staffer out of Washington who knows Wade from his early agent days. Thompson’s new strokes spin your head and make you cling dearly to the familiar pieces that carry over from the first book, like the ruthless homegrown terrorists and the murder mystery (that’s a mutilated corpse with its face blown off on that sandy beach). So now we’ve got a classic crime thriller and a fresh fish out of water story running parallel. What holds it together? Who do you think? It’s our good-old Mississippi Alpha-dog protagonist, former Marine and resigned-over-principle ATF agent, Wade Stuart, taking on another nasty batch of domestic terrorists intent on spilling innocent blood. One of my favorite aspects is the novel’s resistance to modern thriller trends. The good guy isn’t corrupt and the bad guys do deserve what’s coming. This is old-fashioned, down-home thriller material — including no less than a cut brake cable on a mountain road and villains who knock Wade out but let him live to save the day. Wade Stuart is back, just as cool as I remembered. Former Marine and newspaperman Phillip Thompson knows his hero, and, with a knack for straight-ahead breathless prose, runs Wade and us readers through the story at a snapping cadence. The enemies, the place, and the world can change, but we’re sure glad Wade Stuart doesn’t.
— W. Ames Holbrook, author of  The Deporter
A Simple Murder is more than a murder mystery. It’s a redemption story. Thompson’s Wade Stuart tries to exorcise some demons, possibly some of Thompson’s own, after the events of Enemy Within, by heading for Hawaii. Things don’t go as planned, though. The novel takes a series of exciting, and even surprising, turns as Thompson shows his characters to be anything but stereotypes. They are three-dimensional characters who grow and change throughout the story. I found I could relate with many of the Marines in the story, having spent 12 years in the Marine Corps myself. Thompson, already a strong writer, has matured in the years since writing Enemy Within, and this long-awaited sequel leaves me anxiously awaiting the next installment.
—  Jay Lamborn’s “Ramblings of a Ragamuffin” blog

Into the Storm

My nonfiction account of the Persian Gulf War.
From the publisher
Phillip Thompson had kept a journal for years, from the time he was in college in the 1980s at the University of Mississippi until he attended the Artillery Officers’ Advanced Course, when the demands of school interrupted. His desire to keep track of the events in his life was re-ignited with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, his impending deployment to the Persian Gulf in August 1990, and the beginning of Operation Desert Shield. While in the Persian Gulf, Thompson kept a small green, military-issue notebook with him at all times, writing down everything he could, drawing maps, explaining his emotions, and oftentimes, venting his anger. Upon his return from Saudi Arabia in 1991, he had filled three notebooks, which evolved into this work. Here are Thompson’s personal experiences and his observations of those around him in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

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