Gideon Stoltz Mysteries 

Set in Pennsylvania in the 1830s, A Stranger Here Below is the story of Sheriff Gideon Stoltz trying to understand what would lead the local judge to kill himself. The first in a new historical mystery series, the book draws on author Charles Fergus’s expertise as a nature writer and his personal experience with murder.

Deeply imagined and intricately plotted, A Stranger Here Below marries richly textured historical fiction with the urgency of a mystery novel. Fergus knows certain things, deep in the bone: horses, hunting, the folkways of rural places, and he weaves this wisdom into a stirring tale.” Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March

Read the first chapter

A Stranger Here Below COVER

“Some writers are natural storytellers. Others have the ability to evoke mood or a sense of place. Still others are able to handle landscape or use precise imagery. Every now and then you find a writer who has all of these skills, and because of that they invoke the magic of fiction. They make the chair you are sitting on disappear. Charles Fergus is one of those writers, and A Stranger Here Below is one of those books.” – Craig Nova, author of The Good Son and All the Dead Yale Men

A slow, rich novel of a distant time and a man who is ‘Othered’ in most aspects of his life . . . an exploration of the soul in the presence of death and wrongdoing.” Beth Kanell, New York Journal of Books

“In Gideon Stoltz, Charles Fergus has created a unique 19th-century Eastern lawman who struggles not only with wrongdoers but with his own griefs and travails. A Stranger Here Below kept me reading late into the night. Dan O’Brien, author of The Indian Agent and Stolen Horses

I loved this novel. It works as a compelling and complex historical mystery, but it’s more. The characters struggle mightily with the evil around them, trying to find purpose in a world that is frequently brutal and unforgiving . . . The details, whether of a grouse’s feathers or a horse’s gait or burning charcoal for an iron mill, are flawless. Fergus has a curious naturalist’s attention to detail. This is a gem.” – Matthew Miller, The Nature Conservancy “Cool Green Science” blog

“If you’ve grown tired of formulaic mysteries and thrillers, then you’re in for a treat . . . The characters are built not from cliches, but from Fergus’s deft descriptions of their thoughts, desires, and secrets, all the while creating a tone that keeps the reader entranced by the place. A pleasure to read.” – Elaine Meder-Wilgus, WPSU’s BookMark

Fergus has created a strong character in Gideon Stoltz . . . Some themes are universal, and the jealousy, cruelty, and greed that Stoltz uncovers are as prevalent in 2019 as they were in 1835.” Historical Novels Review


Nature and Wildlife

Make a Home for Wildlife (nonfiction, how-to) gives property owners the tools and knowledge to create food and cover for wildlife. Whether you live on a quarter-acre lot in town, own a 5-acre house site or a 20-acre woodland retreat, or belong to an outdoor club with hundreds of acres, you can turn your property into a better home for wildlife, and this book will show you how.

Focusing on the eastern U.S., the book describes basic habitat types—forests, shrublands, grasslands, wetlands—and explains how to create or improve them. Includes recommendations on how to help mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and pollinating insects. It also has success stories about landowners who have made habitat on their properties.


“Fergus is a storyteller, and even when he’s writing a how-to book, it’s infused with clear text and keen observations. This is a book you’ll refer to repeatedly, for both the practical advice and the nature writing.” – Matt Miller, director of science communications, The Nature Conservancy

Brings together an amazing amount of information. I particularly love the way the book lets landowners tell the stories of what they have done.” – Margaret Brittingham, Ph.D., professor of wildlife resources, Penn State University

Well-researched and delightful, truly a must-read.” – Steven Williams, Ph.D., president of the Wildlife Management Institute and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Fergus is an accomplished naturalist with extensive experience in wildlife and habitat conservation . . . Make a Home for Wildlife is an excellent resource for private landowners, as well as biologists who are working with landowners to support their conservation efforts.” – Jodi Stemler, Outdoor News Bulletin


Other books by Charles Fergus

The Wingless Crow (nature essays)
Common Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms of the Northeast
Trees of Pennsylvania and the Northeast
Wildlife of Pennsylvania and the Northeast
Trees of New England
Thornapples: The Naturalist’s Year
(nature essays)
Swamp Screamer: At Large with the Florida Panther
Summer at Little Lava: A Season at the Edge of the World
Bears: Wild Guide
Turtles: Wild Guide
A Rough-Shooting Dog
The Upland Equation
A Hunter’s Book of Days
Shadow Catcher
(a novel)