Thursday, August 1, 2013

Books, authors and more

I talked about my current writing malaise in my last post. I got some really wonderful commentary and feedback, which I truly appreciated. It had been something like 7 months since I had last posted, and to know people remembered me and cared enough to comment really made my situation seem a little more bearable.

I've fully admitted to being a book worm, a lover of words and a general nerd about reading. For a long time, I read anything I could get my hands on, and generally enjoyed it. As I got older, my taste slowly refined, and I finally figured out that I adore detective stories.

Detective stories, folks- NOT murder mysteries. I can't stand mysteries. I absolutely hate them with a burning, scathing, unbridled and relentless fury. Mysteries drive me crazy. Many of them are formulaic, and a lot of the time they try the Sherlock Holmes/Agatha Christie minute, obscure and irrelevant detail bit as a key to discovering whodunnit. I can't stand that crap.

I prefer detective stories, especially serials. Following a gumshoe along on their adventures both good and bad is like visiting an old friend and seeing what they have been up to since the last visit.

Here's a list of some of may favorite authors, with a list of their books I enjoy, and some commentary about why I like them. I'd love to hear about your favorite friends- I need SOMETHING to do.

James Lee Burke- Specifically, the Dave Robicheaux novels. "Streak" is a messed up dude, with a good heart. Burke's lyric and lush writing is evocative, expressive and compelling. Every time I read another Robicheaux story, I want a Dr. Pepper with cherries and an orange slice; a drink Dave often downs in place of the liquor he craves to quench his inner demons.

  1. The Neon Rain (1987)
  2. Heaven's Prisoners (1988)
  3. Black Cherry Blues (1989)
  4. A Morning for Flamingos (1990)
  5. A Stained White Radiance (1992)
  6. In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead (1993)
  7. Dixie City Jam (1994)
  8. Burning Angel (1995)
  9. Cadillac Jukebox (1996)
  10. Sunset Limited (1998)
  11. Purple Cane Road (2000)
  12. Jolie Blon's Bounce (2002)
  13. Last Car to Elysian Fields (2003)
  14. Crusader's Cross (2005)
  15. Pegasus Descending (2006)
  16. The Tin Roof Blowdown (2007)
  17. Swan Peak (2008)
  18. The Glass Rainbow (2010)
  19. Creole Belle (2012)
  20. Light of the World (2013)

Patricia Cornwell The Kay Scarpetta novels started out as a rude awakening to the male oriented forensics field. The first books were so gritty, so detailed and so thrilling I couldn't put them down. I enjoyed Kay, despite her being terribly flawed and incapable of having healthy interpersonal relationships. I did get to a point where I found the books less than original, with several recycled plots and overused story crutches bringing down what could be the best crime writing around.

  1. Postmortem (1990)
  2. Body of Evidence (1991)
  3. All That Remains (1992)
  4. Cruel and Unusual (1993)
  5. The Body Farm (1994)
  6. From Potter's Field (1995)
  7. Cause of Death (1996)
  8. Unnatural Exposure (1997)
  9. Point of Origin (1998)
  10. Black Notice (1999)
  11. The Last Precinct (2000)
  12. Blow Fly (2003)
  13. Trace (2004)
  14. Predator (2005)
  15. Book of the Dead (2007)
  16. Scarpetta (2008)
  17. The Scarpetta Factor (2009)
  18. Port Mortuary (2010)
  19. Red Mist (2011)
  20. The Bone Bed (2012)
  21. Dust (2013)

Sue Grafton  What is there to say about Kinsey? She's awesome. She's real. She has fears, dreams, and an unparalleled work ethic. Her note card system for keeping track of information is pretty brilliant. I stole it and use it all the time.  Grafton has kept Kinsey in a capsule of time that's believable and not too historic; and has taught me that private eyes do a lot more than take pictures.

  1. "A" Is for Alibi (1982)
  2. "B" Is for Burglar (1985)
  3. "C" Is for Corpse (1986)
  4. "D" Is for Deadbeat (1987)
  5. "E" Is for Evidence (1988)
  6. "F" Is for Fugitive (1989)
  7. "G" Is for Gumshoe (1990)
  8. "H" Is for Homicide (1991)
  9. "I" Is for Innocent (1992)
  10. "J" Is for Judgment (1993)
  11. "K" Is for Killer (1994)
  12. "L" Is for Lawless (1995)
  13. "M" Is for Malice (1996)
  14. "N" Is for Noose (1998)
  15. "O" Is for Outlaw (1999)
  16. "P" Is for Peril (2001)
  17. "Q" Is for Quarry (2002)
  18. "R" Is for Ricochet (2004)
  19. "S" Is for Silence (2005)
  20. "T" Is for Trespass (2007)
  21. "U" Is for Undertow (2009)
  22. "V" Is for Vengeance (2011)
  23. "W" Is for Wasted (Coming Sep. 2013)

Nevada Barr The Anna Pigeon series is as much a tribute to the awesome and breathtaking natural beauty in the US as it is about Anna and her trials from grief stricken widow to her marriage to Paul. I'm captivated by the knowledge of the parks and their vistas as well as laws and regulations the rangers enforce. That murder happens everywhere around Anna is just window dressing to an in depth visitation of the human condition.

Tom Clancy- These aren't really detective stories, and they're pretty far out from what I normally enjoy. The highly detailed and technical nature of these books would normally be a huge turn off for me- pages of descriptions of technology and military procedure make me want to weep in almost any other situation than a Clancy novel.

Without Remorse is one of the best examples of what happens to a decent and moral man when the things he holds dear are destroyed. It's visceral and raw, honest and unblinking. It's the best look at why men can become killers I have ever read.

I also love Hunt for Red October, Cardinal of the Kremlin and Clear and Present Danger. Clancy captures the brotherhood of men and the allure of secrets in a deep and compelling way. Later books in the Ryan/Kelly series become pretty mawkish and predictable; but these are pretty damn awesome.

The Hunt for Red October (1984)
Red Storm Rising (1986)
Patriot Games (1987)
The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988)
Clear and Present Danger (1989)
The Sum of All Fears (1991)
Without Remorse (1993)
Debt of Honor (1994)
Executive Orders (1996)
Rainbow Six (1998)
The Bear and the Dragon (2000)
Red Rabbit (2002)
The Teeth of the Tiger (2003)
Dead or Alive (2010, with Grant Blackwood)
Against All Enemies (2011, with Peter Telep)
Locked On (Dec 2011, with Mark Greaney)
Search and Destroy (July 2012, with Peter Telep) (Cancelled)
Threat Vector (Dec 2012, with Mark Greaney)

Charlene Harris: Cotton candy with a twist of lemonade. Super light and fluffy with just a kick of tartness thrown in for good measure. The Sookie series is only sort of a detective series, but I'm not sure I care. I like Sookie, and I like the writing. I love the goofy side universe with all of those weres and vamps, and don't mind admitting it. There is a lack of consistency that have many concerned, but it's fiction, people.

Sookie Stackhouse:

Dead Until Dark
Living Dead In Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
Definitely Dead
All Together Dead
From Dead To Worse
Dead and Gone
Dead in the Family
Dead Reckoning
Sookie Stackhouse Companion
Dead Ever After

Charlaine has also written a series of books that involve Harper Connelly:  Harper is just such a different take from Sookie, someone new and refreshing. I really admire her and the way she deals with her life. I'm sad her story is already over.
  1. Grave Sight (2005)[47]
  2. Grave Surprise (2006)[48]
  3. An Ice Cold Grave (2007)[49]
  4. Grave Secret (2009)[50]

Kathy Reichs: Crime, forensics, a tough and compelling lead character- and a whole lot of French thrown in for good measure. Yeah, I'm hooked. Temperance Brennan is a one of my favorites; a character so well done I feel like I could be her friend in real life.

  1. Deja Dead -  
  2. Death du Jour 
  3. Deadly Decisions 
  4. Fatal Voyage 
  5. Grave Secrets 
  6. Bare Bones 
  7. Monday Mourning 
  8. Cross Bones 
  9. Break No Bones 
  10. Bones to Ashes 
  11. Devil Bones 
  12. 206 Bones 
  13. Spider Bones 
  14. Flash and Bones 
  15. Bones Are Forever 

Linda Fairstein - the Alex Cooper books are vivid and a real testament to the detectives and prosecutors in NYC, as well as the city they work. I love the awesome friendship between Coop, Mercer and Mike. It's very honest and intense, with depth drawn from people that have worked together for a long time.

  • Final Jeopardy (1996)
  • Likely To Die (1997)
  • Cold Hit (1999)
  • The Deadhouse (2001) (Nero Award winner)
  • The Bone Vault (2003)
  • The Kills (2004)
  • Entombed (2005)
  • Death Dance (2006)
  • Bad Blood (2007)
  • Killer Heat (2008)
  • Lethal Legacy (2009)
  • Hell Gate (2010)
  • Silent Mercy (March 2011)
  • Night Watch (July 2012)

Janet Evonovich If Charlaine Harris is cotton candy, Janet is the whole sweet shop. Stephanie Plum's adventures are nothing short of syrupy sweet ridiculous fun, and I don't care. I love these super light books, with tons of action, hyperbole and laughter.

One for the Money
Two for the Dough
Three to Get Deadly
Four to Score
High Five
Hot Six
Seven Up
Hard Eight
Visions of Sugar Plums (between-the-numbers holiday novella)
To the Nines
Ten Big Ones
Eleven on Top
Twelve Sharp
Plum Lovin’ (between-the-numbers holiday novella)
Lean Mean Thirteen
Plum Lucky (between-the-numbers holiday novella)
Fearless Fourteen
Plum Spooky (between-the-numbers novel)
Finger Lickin’ Fifteen
Sizzling Sixteen
Smokin’ Seventeen
Explosive Eighteen
Notorious Nineteen

Jim Butcher The Dresden Files are a lot more serious, but still have a wicked sense of humor. Harry is resourceful, witty, ridiculously noble and powerful as hell. His growth from nickel rubbing hack to the guy that brought down the world is pretty spectacular. Plus, I like the coat.

Storm Front
Fool Moon
Grave Peril
Summer Knight
Death Masks
Blood Rites
Dead Beat
Proven Guilty
White Night
Small Favor
Backup (Thomas-centric novella)
Turn Coat

Folks I don't like: JD Robb and Sarah Paretsky. I tried them both and was less than thrilled. JD Robb (Or better known as Nora Roberts) has an extreme fascination with formula that makes me bonkers. For Paretsky, I could not find any possible way to enjoy V.I. as a character; she just wasn't sympathetic to me at all.

As I said earlier, I'd love to hear about your favorites. Authors or series, characters or places; I'm not picky. I love at least checking out new books and the worlds inside them. I'll try anything once, more than that if it's fun.


  1. Why if isn't my long lost friend... who has finally returned to the corner! :P

    Once, I told an internet friend of mine... Your job, as the Character 'Captain Morgan Griffon' is to lead. Your job as a writer is to write.

    I believe we all go through periods of 'the blahs', or whatevs (to use a tentacle based word!

    As some obscure internet personae... Don't worry about it. Even if it's a few lines here or there eventually something will 'inspire you' and then you'll be off and running.

    I keep a word document on my computer for jotting down cool sayings or thoughts as I find them. Last month I use it and wrote two short 'things' for the fiction section of a forum I've belonged to for quite awhile.

    The net is vast and infinate... you'll never know what corner you will find!


  2. Not a detective series in the least, pure hard sci fi, but wondering if you have tried David Webers Honor Harrington series?


    1. No, I haven't. Sci-fi is so iffy for me, as a rule, that it's hard for me to like. I will give it a shot, though. Thanks for the tip.

    2. I can loan you the first book if you want to give it a try.

  3. I loved the tom clancy novels too on a similar vane try stephen coonts start with under seige it was the best by a long way and marked a more complex clancy esque style his earlier efforts were quite simplistic jngoistic shoot em ups but worth reading once your invested in the characters

    Dragons Claw

  4. I loved clancy too at least the jack ryan novels not so keen on the ones he collaberated on I got the feeling he was just providing his name. Id recommend stevan coonts start with under siege his earlier nes where quite straightforward action books for boys. Worth reading once your invested in the characters

    Dragons Claw