Friday, May 15, 2009

Recommended Reads

I had been posting recommendations of good reads once a month until I got sick over the holidays and let it lapse. I let it alone because no discussions had been generated, and I didn’t see much point to adding to the multitude of unsolicited reading lists. A discussion in Crimespace a few weeks ago led me to reconsider.

Is it ever a bad idea to promote a book you enjoy? The publishers do damn little for most authors in that regard. Traditional media review outlets trim the space allotted almost daily. Word of mouth recommendations become more important to writers every day; it’s on the recipient to decide if that mouth has a word worth listening to.

Catching up, here are the books I’ve read since the first of the year that I recommend in good conscience.

A Darker Domain, by Val McDermid – My first McDermid. Made me wonder what the hell I’d been waiting for.

The Given Day, by Dennis Lehane – This is the book Lehane was born to write. He covers the ground from Babe Ruth to labor relations to anarchists with empathy, humor, and wonderful writing that never takes you out of the story. Brilliant.

The Ice Harvest, by Scott Phillips – I saw the movie and liked it. As expected, the book is better. Phillips has a deadpan style that carries a story of betrayal and violence lightly, and is laugh out loud funny in places, never inappropriately.

Hardcore Hardboiled, edited by Todd Robinson – Solid collection marking the best of Thuglit for 2007. A wide range of stories told in a wide range of styles, all of which include people you’d rather not meet alone in a dark alley.

The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler – Yes, it’s about the eighth time I’ve read it, and yes, everyone knows all about it, but how can anyone read it and not recommend it? Still pretty much the gold standard for PI fiction.

What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman – Everything a mystery should be.

Fifty Grand, by Adrian McKinty – The first book of McKinty’s post-Forsythe saga is an outstanding thriller. The rare book where the style is as good as the story, and enhances it.

Priest, by Ken Bruen – I read The Guards Christmas week, and it didn’t excite me. Of course, I was sick and kept dozing off, so that’s not a true test. Bruen’s style may be an acquired taste. If so, then I’m acquiring it.

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