"Dirty Money" by Robert D. Hughes

Robert Hughes' novels are fiction. Mostly. 

"I had a career in finance in Chicago. I worked for some big companies and I saw firsthand some of the ways in which financial statements are manipulated," the Livingston-based author said. "People do things, sometimes they do desperate things, to make their company look good." 

Hughes decided to take what he had seen a step further and mix in some Montana scenery in his newest book "Dirty Money," about a former FBI agent and his niece, a college student in Chicago. 

"What if a guy found out too much, and he was murdered as a result?" Hughes asked. "That's the first scene in 'Dirty Money.'" 

The book then follows former agent and current private eye Brian McKay and his niece Darcy McKay as they investigate the murder, eventually winding up on a ranch in Montana owned by an evil company. Hughes' first novel in the McKay series, "Bone Mountain," also took place between Montana and Chicago, beginning with a murder and a kidnapping at a dinosaur dig. 

"Some of the settings in the novels are real," Hughes said. "There's a mythical town ... where a lot of the action takes place, and it's very similar to Livingston." 

"Dirty Money" and "Bone Mountain" aren't the only published works in Hughes' portfolio, although they are his first novels. He's been publishing short stories and magazine articles since the mid-'90s. 

"That sort of led up to my finally publishing my first novel in 2017," Hughes said. "I found with 'Bone Mountain,' locals around here kind of got a kick out of trying to guess what was real and what was made up." 

Hughes will be sharing several chapters from his new book "Dirty Money" and signing copies at Elk River Books in Livingston on Aug. 22, starting at 7 p.m.