Author Jordan Harper. (Photo provided by Tandem Literary: Publicity and Marketing)

Jordan Harper, a Springfield native, has always been a writer in some form or another. But with the release of his latest book “Everybody Knows,” he has found success as a novelist.

A crime fiction based in Los Angeles, “Everybody Knows” has already received high praise from other noteworthy authors. James Patterson, one of the world’s best-selling writers, called it “the best mystery novel I’ve read in years.”  

“Everybody Knows” has been commended by the likes of authors James Patterson, Michael Connelly and S. A. Cosby, and publications like Booklist and the Wall Street Journal.

“It’s really been gratifying,” Harper said. “…This is definitely the novel I felt the best about when I was finished. I really felt like I had achieved something with this.”

Harper traveled around the U.S. to discover what kind of writer he wanted to be

Harper was born in Springfield, where he graduated from Glendale High School in 1995 before going on to the University of Missouri.

Since moving away, he has lived in St. Louis, New York City, Boulder, Colorado and, currently, Los Angeles. 

In St. Louis, he was the music editor for the Riverfront Times.

“For a long time, I wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson and be kind of a Gonzo journalist,” Harper said. “But I kind of outgrew that after a while.”

Nonetheless, Harper wanted to write.

“I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t really necessarily know what that meant,” he said.

Harper’s writing career also features plenty of short stories, helmed by one he wrote as a tribute to his grandfather, who worked at Springfield’s federal medical prison, after he died.

Titled “Johnny Cash is Dead” because of the proximity in time of his grandfather’s death to Johnny Cash’s and their similarities, the story was published in the publication Thuglit by Todd Robinson, who was a huge influence in the crime fiction genre, according to Harper.

“[My grandfather] was an Ozarks original, who made knives in his spare time and really taught me a lot,” Harper said.

His grandfather taught him about Jesse James, Bonnie and Clyde and the Young Brothers massacre, an infamous and deadly shootout that occurred between law enforcement officers and the Young brothers west of Springfield in 1932.

“Reading that very pulpy violent tale as a young person made a real imprint on me, and being told that it was an important part of my family made a really big imprint on me,” Harper said. “And I think that has a lot to do with why I write about what I write about.”

In LA, he eventually found out what kind of writer he wanted to be. Harper spent a lot of his time there writing and working in television, but ever since the release of his first novel “She Rides Shotgun” in 2017, he found his true passion.

“I like writing television, but I still felt like there was more I could be doing in the realm of fiction, which is where you can be a little freer,” Harper said. “You’re not under the eye of executives and things like that.”

“She Rides Shotgun” was a successful debut, having received the 2018 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel. 

A couple of years later, he began brainstorming “Everybody Knows.”

The cover of “Everybody Knows” by Jordan Harper. (Photo provided by Tandem Literary: Publicity and Marketing)

‘Everybody Knows’ draws Ozarks influence

The main character of “Everybody Knows,” Mae Pruett, is from the Ozarks and, like Harper, moved to LA for her career.

“There’s almost always one character from the Ozarks just because I’m very comfortable writing that character,” Harper said.

Pruett had a driving ambition that led her out of the Ozarks and, eventually, into trouble.

“She does bad things for bad people and knows that,” Harper said. “She knows that she’s doing wrong and that sort of the internal conflict in the main character, that kind of drives the story along.”

About the novel

A description of the novel provided by Harper’s publicist reads:

“Truth may be stranger than fiction but sometimes fiction predicts the truth. Jordan Harper’s new book ‘Everybody Knows’ is a combination of both. A propulsive LA crime thriller that James Patterson dubbed ‘the best mystery novel I’ve read in years,’ is the story of Mae Pruett a ‘black-bag publicist’ — she doesn’t get the good news out, she keeps the bad news in — who works for ‘The Beast,’ her name for the loose collection of lawyers, publicists and private security firms who protect and serve the wealthy and depraved of Los Angeles. Chris Tamburro is Mae’s ex, a former cop fired for corruption and a fist on the Beast’s arm, working as muscle for a shady lawyer. They must both confront the bad things they aid and abet when Mae’s boss is gunned down in front of the Beverly Hills Hotel, dying with a secret Mae is determined to learn. Unraveling the mystery of her boss’s death takes them through an electric, pulpy vision of Los Angeles, a world of homeless camp bombers, drug-addled celebrities, cop gangs who mark their kills with tattoos, a live streamed murder, and powerful men with a secret so dark they will kill to keep it.”

Harper’s support rooted in Springfield

Amid the high praise from other respected and inspiring authors, Harper attributes much of his success to the support he received from his family.

“I was fortunate to have parents who recognized my creativity and encouraged me to chase it,” he said.

He also had a journalism teacher at Glendale, Karen Ray, who he said saw his talent.

“[Ray] similarly just really believed in me and pushed me to try harder because she thought I was talented and I was doing that ‘teenage slacker thing’ and she wanted more out of me,” Harper said.

Upon publishing “She Rides Shotgun,” he sent Ray a copy to show his appreciation of how she supported and pushed him.

“I am very glad that I got the support I did to help me figure out what it meant to be a writer, which is not the most obvious thing when you grew up in Springfield,” Harper said.

Harper continues to work in television, but will continue pursuing his passion of writing novels. He said that he is already almost completed with the rough draft of his follow-up to “Everybody Knows.”

He resides in LA with his partner and dog, named Ellroy, named after the famous crime fiction writer James Ellroy.

“Everybody Knows,” published by Mulholland Books, is available across many platforms, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Jack McGee

Jack McGee is the business and economic development reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. He previously covered politics and elections for the Citizen. Before that, he worked at documentary film company Carbon Trace Productions and Missouri State University’s student-led newspaper, The Standard. He’s an MSU graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and a minor political science. Reach him at or (417) 719-5129. More by Jack McGee