Obsession with genre of books no mystery—January 18, 2013
For decades I avoided it: I didn’t want to get “hooked” as many of my friends were. Then one day it just happened; I read a MYSTERY, and there was no turning back. I started with some of the standards: Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series, Lillian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who . . . books, and Susan Conant’s books with Holly Winter’s malamutes Rowdy and Kimi.
Some summers would be devoted to a single author such as the Patricia Cornwell, Tony Hillerman and Laurence Shames summers. Others would be varied with a sampling of authors. Sometimes I’d even read something that wasn’t a mystery, but eventually I’d be back. If I ran through all the books by one writer, then, like many of you, I’d be looking for something new, either through just plain browsing or suggestions from almost anyone.
A result of this obsession is that I can make some recommendations for those of you who are also mystery genera devotees.
My favorite detective fiction writer is Robert Crais. His P I Elvis Cole is human yet highly skilled. Joe Pike, Elvis’s partner is fierce and fearsome. The early novels are by far the best, so you want to start with “Lullaby Town,” “Free Fall,” or “Sunset Express.” As with most series, you’ll want to read them in the order they were written so you don’t get ahead of the lives of the main characters. Crais won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel in 1988 for “The Monkey’s Raincoat.” Reading his early stuff makes the reason obvious.
If you enjoy humor and irony with your fiction, you’ll love Carl Hiaasen. Again, the early works are by far the best. Hiaasen’s novels are set in a Florida that is being spoiled by greedy, short-sighted developers with no concern for natural beauty or ecology. His first solo book was “Tourist Season.” The book “Strip Tease” was made into a movie; however, the book is MUCH better than the movie (isn’t that always true?). One word of warning, don’t read his novel “Skin Tight” right before undergoing plastic surgery, or perhaps any surgery.
If you like Hiaasen, you’ll love Laurence Shames. “Virgin Heat” is the first book in the series that we have at the library. It’s not his best, but you really do want to read the books in order, as much as possible. Otherwise you know things that make the plots less compelling.
What mysteries am I reading right now? I read “Gone Girl” last month and loved it, except for the ending. Shortly after that I read Janet Evanovich’s latest number; she’s becoming too much of a formula writer for my taste. I’m always reading Donna Leon’s Brunetti mysteries. I’m ready for number eight of about fourteen. Obviously, I’ll make time for the newest novel by any of my favorites. The latest Sue Grafton was way better than the previous three or four. Wish I could say the same about Crais’ latest. His book “Suspect” comes out January 22nd; sure hope it won’t be disappointing.
So from time to time I’ll write about some mystery writers I enjoy that I think you might also like.
I’d also love to hear your recommendations. Just know that one mystery writer I don’t like is Anne Perry, at least her Christmas novellas, which seem hastily and poorly written, plus I’m loathe to read something written by a murderer.
I also don’t care for any cutsie books where the cat talks or there are stupid puns, or a dead aunt who magically appears when the character goes into a special room and holds a stuffed rabbit on her lap. I also don’t want to read anything that is gory, depraved or sadistic. Other than for those exceptions, I’d love for you to help me discover a “new” writer.
So if you are a mystery addict too, stop by, and we can talk books.