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brokenfingers
04-20-2005, 06:42 AM
Hello everyone,

I just posted a thread like this in the SF/Fantasy board. I also enjoy reading mysteries and thrillers and am curious if any here would like to do this:

Iím assuming that everyone here reads mystery/thriller books Ė both for pleasure and research. I donít know about anyone else but Iím constantly on the prowl for good mystery authors.

There are certain characteristics that make a good mystery/thriller. A competent and dedicated protagonist, an intriguing setting, and of course a compelling antagonist. Plus so much more!

Anyways, I was thinking we start a thread of good books that are either well-written or different or stand out in some way or you would recommend and why. From either a readerís standpoint or a writerís.

Books that are a pleasure to read, are gripping and are able to make you a faithful reader of a series, are innovative in some way, successfully go beyond or enhance the genre cliches, norms etc.

Books that are good examples of writing skill, plot, characterization or storytelling in the genre.

Itíd be good if everyone who gives input also explains why they recommended such and such a book or author, so everyone knows what and why and can decide accordingly whether they want to check it out or not.

Not generic terms like: I really liked it - címon weíre writers here and are supposed to be able to express oursleves, or ideas and our feelings.

Tell us what about this book made you post about it. The character? The authorís style? The premise?

What about this authorís dream has made you a willing member of it?

Iíd also like a thread where we could discuss certain books that have been read. From a writerís and a readerís viewpoint. Dissect and examine the inner workings of successful books in the genre. See what makes Ďem tick and why or why not we each felt it worked or didnít.

I think itíd be especially beneficial if we focused on newer works since they more accurately reflect the face of publishing today.
SPOILER posts would be identified so as not to ruin the reading pleasure of any who have not yet read the mentioned books.

What do you think? Is this something otherís here would be interested in? Iíd like to hear the opinions from others who frequent this board and the mods also.

Good Word
04-20-2005, 05:55 PM
I think this is a great idea -- sort of a mini-review from a writer's perspective, for fellow writers. A great way to learn. Mind you, it can also be a few sentences, or longer if the poster has such a hankering.

Broken fingers, why don't you start?

Also, I'll be happy to keep an eye out for "spoilers" as you mentioned, but we don't seem to have that problem on this board as much as some of the others do, for whatever reason.

Lisa

soloset
04-20-2005, 11:17 PM
What a great idea! I would *love* that!

As to spoilers, a trick I've seen on movie boards is to make the spoiler the same color as the background, and then a reader has to actively highlight it to see said spoiler. I don't see the exact background color in the list of colors, but I know I've seen the trick used in a signature.

Just a thought, anyway.

Maryn
04-21-2005, 09:14 PM
Oh, this is a very good idea--it's so rare that anybody cares what I'm reading and why I'm loving it, and their eyes glaze over when I start talking about the writing quality.

Let me think a bit and come back with a few favorites.

Maryn, wondering if her current read qualifies

NeuroFizz
04-22-2005, 01:20 AM
Hi, All

Dan J. Marlowe's "The Name of the Game is Death." It's the first of the Earl Drake series when the protagonist wasn't Drake yet--the one that spawned the metamorphosis. Why? It's classic pulp fiction, and the protagonist is a horrible person, but he is sympathetic because those around him are worse. Try making a cold-blooded killer come off as sympathetic...

It's an oldie, but a goodie.

brokenfingers
04-22-2005, 01:55 AM
Wow, I wish I could give some wham-bang list, but I've been out of the loop recently as far as mystery/suspense/thriller fiction goes.

Let's see... in the past year I've read and enjoyed:

George P. Pelecanos - Right as Rain

Michael Connelly - The Black Echo, The Poet

John Sandford - The Prey series

The thing is - it's been so long since I read them that I can't point out any specific characteristic about them to quantify my statements. I suppose I enjoyed the story and the characters (how lame!!)

It seems to me that to be published in this genre today - you need a good hook to make your character and story stand out.

Not just a detective - but a female detective!
Not just a female detective - but an African female detective!!

Liam has recently received a Big House publishing contract - maybe he can give further input as to what is needed nowadays from a new author perspective???

soloset
04-22-2005, 06:39 AM
The "gimmick" detective (and complaints about them!) has been around for awhile, actually. Though I know what you mean ("one-armed cigar-smoking ninja detective!"), technically, you could sum up any detective like that.

The last relatively recent mystery I read was The Bone Vault by Linda Fairstein. I found it to be interesting and, at least until the end, well-thought out. Unfortunately, the stakes the bad guy was playing for seemed silly to me, and it made the ending a lot less satisfying than it could have been.

If you like your forensic mysteries on the less gooey side, check out the skeleton detective series by Aaron Elkins. I wouldn't recommend reading them back to back, because you start picking up on certain things the author re-uses, but spaced out regularly they're a lot of fun -- and the romantic threads woven through the first few are so nicely done and true to love that it's a pleasure to read.

For a police procedural that's a bit softer and less gritty than an Ed McBain, you could try Monkey Puzzle by Patricia Gosling. There are three in the series (most recent is 2002) and one spin-off of sorts. The three I've read were fast-paced, intelligently written, had lots of realistic (at least as realistic as I want) romance, and more than a few laughs. Sometimes the female characters do dumb things for dubious reasons, but I found I only really started to be bothered by this on the second or third read through.

Darn. I should write blurbs for book covers. Except most of the books I've read aren't new enough to need new blurbs.

Maryn
04-23-2005, 12:01 AM
Peter Abrahams, Pressure Drop; The Fan; Hard Rain; and Revolution Number 9
At his best--in these titles--nobody beats Abrahams for weaving divergent plots and plausible characters together in unexpected ways. Pressure Drop has two plotlines that seem impossible to join until the moment they come together. Forget the film based on The Fan; the novelís main character will frustrate you no end with his terrible decisions but stays with you long after reading. Hard Rain asks former hippies and Vietnam vets to remember the reality of the idealized Sixties long enough to solve a murder and the disappearance of a flower childís child.

Joseph Garber, Vertical Run
This oneís a heady blend of pacing and concept (SPOILER): What if you came into the office one morning and everybody was trying to kill you? Can your rusty skills from Ďnam save you? More disturbing still: What if your would-be killers had a valid reason, so compelling your wife was helping them?(END SPOILER)

Douglas Kennedy, The Big Picture and The Job
Nobody researches his subjects with Kennedyís contagious enthusiasm. Whether itís the photography of The Big Picture or the business world of The Job, you know the authors breathed, ate, and dreamed his subject matter--and crafted tidy mysteries around each. You may not like the protagonists heís created, but you understand fully what their passions are and why.

Andrew Klaven, True Crime
Again, forget the movie, which managed to miscast both the main characters so badly that the essential plot was undermined (race and age matter, unless youíre Clint Eastwood and can get Denzel Washington). The exquisite pacing of Klavenís Ďticking clockí in True Crime doesnít happen often--will the hero do what he has to do in time? This one will have you reading late into the night, on the edge of your seat--except when you get up for a Kleenex because it made you cry.

Dennis Lehane, Mystic River
The richest character development in ages, and by far Lehane's best work, despite the brilliant twist in Shutter Island. Lehane makes you understand how all the central characters--and there are many--became the way they are, and you care deeply about them, and rage or mourn like family at some of the horrible decisions they make.

Petru Popescu, Almost Adam
Three things matter in a novel, and with this one theyíre concept, concept, and concept. The mystery-suspense aspect and character development are so-so, but the basic idea, which I wonít spoil, just pleased me no end. The author, BTW, was an accomplished novelist in Romania(?) but lived in the US for many years before feeling confidence to write well enough in English.

Good Word
04-25-2005, 06:02 PM
I think this is a great idea -- sort of a mini-review from a writer's perspective, for fellow writers. A great way to learn. Mind you, it can also be a few sentences, or longer if the poster has such a hankering.

Broken fingers, why don't you start?

Also, I'll be happy to keep an eye out for "spoilers" as you mentioned, but we don't seem to have that problem on this board as much as some of the others do, for whatever reason.

Lisa

Edited to add: Bah! I thought you were talking about the board spoilers (the folks that show up and are rude and nasty and sometimes we have to ban 'em! :gone:

soloset
04-29-2005, 05:08 AM
Joseph Garber, Vertical Run
This oneís a heady blend of pacing and concept (SPOILER): What if you came into the office one morning and everybody was trying to kill you? Can your rusty skills from Ďnam save you? More disturbing still: What if your would-be killers had a valid reason, so compelling your wife was helping them?(END SPOILER)

I remember this one. I'm pretty sure I cheated and started skimming about half-way through, because I have no patience. Great premise, but a bit long on the eyes. Thanks for the reminder, though! I have a friend who loves eighties and nineties action movies, and I'm going to give him a copy of this and the book Die Hard was based off of for his birthday.

katdad
05-07-2005, 01:56 PM
It's a challenge to keep a series fresh and to tell new stuff.

The Spenser books have become stale, and the Hillerman stories tend to run in circles (If I read one more chapter about Jim Chee washing out his socks before he goes to bed, I'll SCREAM!)

I really enjoy the Sandford Prey books -- they are pretty fresh and the writing is vivid.

Maybe the best current private eye books are the Elvis Cole mysteries, but I'll tell you that his standalone novel about the LA bomb squad is the best thriller I've read in years.

Lately I've been too busy with my own writing to read too much, though. Trying to finish the article on "Marriage of Figaro" and trying to get re-started on my 3rd novel is keeping my little fingers flying. Whew.

Maryn
05-07-2005, 05:50 PM
katdad, I just set the Sandford "Prey" books in the give-away box, realizing I wasn't going to pick any of them up for a pleasant re-read. To me, they've gone the way of "Spenser" and Hillerman, just so stale...

I'm not as enamored of the Elvis Coles as you are, although they're fun--think I've read two, maybe three--but on your recommendation I'll give the stand-alone on the bomb squad a shot. What's the title?

katdad
05-08-2005, 07:00 PM
katdad, I just set the Sandford "Prey" books in the give-away box, realizing I wasn't going to pick any of them up for a pleasant re-read. To me, they've gone the way of "Spenser" and Hillerman, just so stale...

I'm not as enamored of the Elvis Coles as you are, although they're fun--think I've read two, maybe three--but on your recommendation I'll give the stand-alone on the bomb squad a shot. What's the title?

Sorry for the major brain fade yesterday -- I was getting ready to go out.

The book is "Demolition Angel" by Robert Crais. It's stunning.

As far as modern private detective or modern crime fiction, who are your favorites. If you don't think the Prey books or the Elvis Coles are tops, what are for you?

And of course, here's hoping that soon (this year is likely) you'll be able to rave about the new "Mitch King" mystery series by that grumpy Houston writer. ha ha

euclid
02-15-2010, 07:50 PM
Liam has recently received a Big House publishing contract - maybe he can give further input as to what is needed nowadays from a new author perspective???

I'm new to this thread/subforum.

Liam who?

I only recently discovered George Pelecanos (the turnaround) and loved his writing. I've started a second one. Maybe I'll post a minireview when I finish it. A lot of what I've been reading recently centres on Irish crime/thriller writers. I loved Eugene Kerrigan and enjoyed Declan Burke. If anybody's interested in these writers I could add something more (?)

I hated James Paterson and Lee Child who both seem to write to a formula, quite shamelessly.

heyjude
02-15-2010, 08:13 PM
Wow! A 5 year old thread! :) Euclid, we've got another one going here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=166212) where we all chime in on what we're currently reading. We'd love your input, here or there!

euclid
02-15-2010, 09:01 PM
Sorry about that. Did I break some cardinal rule or commit some felonious misdimeanour by responding to an old thread? Well excuse me! So I forgot to check the date of the last posting.

I was searching for posts about George Pelecanos...

heyjude
02-15-2010, 09:03 PM
Absolutely not. I didn't even know five-year-old threads were still stored. Just thought it was interesting.

euclid
02-15-2010, 09:45 PM
I've had some discussion with the powers that be on the forum about deleting old threads, to save space, to make it easier to navigate the forum, to save the planet, but they're not inclined to delete any old threads.

PS I've just noticed you are one of the aforementioned ptb's. I hope you can overlook my impertinece.

HistorySleuth
02-15-2010, 10:11 PM
I think this was a good thread to revive. I bet there is even a difference from 5 years ago to now. Have the above mentioned authors written more? Have they stayed fresh or in a pattern? Do readers like something totally different now in M/T/S then they did 5 years ago?

Ken Hoss
02-15-2010, 10:58 PM
Wow! A 5 year old thread! :) Euclid, we've got another one going here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=166212) where we all chime in on what we're currently reading. We'd love your input, here or there!


Old threads never die, they just fade away. :D

I'll definitely have to check out some of these listed here and see what's "different" today.