Friday, April 17, 2009

Whom have you discovered?

I've raved recently about Pierre Magnan and José Latour, two authors I had not read until a few weeks ago. The excitement of discovery added to the pleasure of reading three wonderful books.

Tell me about some of your reading discoveries, recent or otherwise.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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37 Comments:

OpenID maxine said...

Petra Hammesfahr's The Sinner is a stunning book - left me reeling. I read it as a result of various blog reviews - bought it a while back in the light of these but have only just read it.
I've also recently read and adored Karin Altvegen - devoured her four books that are in print and translated into English. They have some common undertones but each is quite different - Missing is an exciting story about a young woman living off the grid (shades of Stieg Larsson!); Betrayal is a domestic, claustrophobic, psychological thriller; Shadow is almost Chekhovian, rooted in second world war; and Shame (least successful in my opinion) about guilt and power of the mind to bring about actions- based on someone who has been imprisoned for many years, and various perceptions by and about her. Wonderful output.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Philip said...

Rather a lot of these, Peter, for I am much given to rooting out crime writers of the first water who rarely get a mention on blogs but should, as opposed to lesser lights who turn up like leitmotivs in Wagner's operas. I am rather like a crime fiction truffle pig. So I shall mention only one, as it is the finest discovery among my most recent rootings: Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins series. Now, there was a brief mention of these I noticed on a blog recently on a list of forthcoming paperbacks: "A series about an exorcist called Merrily Watkins." That would have had me running for the hills had I not just read one, but happily I had, and I have now read four. Merrily Watkins is a Church of England priest, and she is, indeed, the Diocesan Exorcist (that title has since been changed by the Church and in the books). But her office, of which she is somewhat unsure herself, though it necessarily involves her with people convinced of supernatural doings, is but a portal to crimes of a decidedly mundane nature, though intriguing and splendidly plotted. These seem to me novels in which everything is in place, something I think I said also about Magnan's works. Apart from excellent plots, we have a tremendous sense of place (Shropshire/Herefordshire/Worcestershire), full-blown characters, superb dialogue, lovely touches of humour, and some pretty trenchant commentary on matters social, economic and religious in England today. Rickman (who does also write horror novels pure and simple, not to be confused with the Merrily Watkins) is not in danger of sinking without trace, I must say -- he is available in paperback, sells well, and has significant admirers -- the likes of Andrew Taylor and Bernard Knight, as well as little old me. But he doesn't get the attention I think he deserves, for the novels are quite special, and there is always the danger that the mention of 'exorcist', as above, could gravely mislead. I recommend most highly.

April 17, 2009  
Anonymous Dave Riley said...

The Terrorists -- Superb and a fitting ending the the Wahloo/Sjowall series of Martin Beck novels. Published after Wahloo's death from cancer in 1975 --now re-issued -- this novel is sharper than the earlier ones in its critique of Swedish society. It also templates the 1986 assassination of the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme.

I think these novels are gems and I re-read them for the satisfaction of experiencing such craft again.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

I finally read McFetridge's Dirty Sweet and really enjoyed it.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Dana King said...

I was lucky enough to be the first American to review Declan Hughes' The Wrong Kind of Blood a few years ago, and fell in love with it, and his writing immediately. I've read both subsequent books and can't wait for the new one.

Loren, if you liked Dirty Sweet , which I did as well, then you'll love Everyone Knows this is Nowhere.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Paul Brazill said...

Ray Banks.'NMH'- and 'Beast Of Burden'.

April 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suggest you check out a series of books by John Burdett. The first one is Bangkok 8 featuring Sonchai Jitpleecheep, a devout Buddist and the son of a Thir bar girl and a long-gone Vietnam War G.I. He is a policeman in Bangkok and the protagonist in the other books of the series as well. Wildly entertaing books; well written.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I have realised that in the case of two of my discoveries I was originally given the lead by Karen of Euro Crime.
I have been going on about A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell and it was a pleasure to see the excellent reviews from a plethora of experienced crime writers such as Bill Pronzini, Cara Black and Rhys Bowen.
Marek Krajewski was another author I "discovered" after Karen's initial lead I hunted both Rebecca and Marek down like a blood hound to get interviews. Marek's Death in Breslau was a suitably quirky debut in English and now his second End of the World in Breslau was rated very highly recently on Euro Crime.
I discovered Leighton Gage and his Mario Silva investigations from reading this blog [thanks Peter]and have read both his books Blood of the Wicked and Buried Strangers.
I can't claim to have discovered the virtually unknown but brilliant John Lawton as that was another tip from CFR.
The blogging community usually "know their onions" better than professional reviewers.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

Two writers whom I recently, within the past year or so, discovered are Giles Blunt and Ingrid Black, both of whom are on my "must buy or read" list.

Giles Blunt: a Canadian writer, does police procedurals set in a small city? in Ontario, I think. First novel is _Forty Words for Sorrow_. Good plotting and characterizations--setting is superb. Unlike many writers who bring in something about the weather or geology and then forget it for the rest of the novel, when he tells us that they are in the midst of a heavy snowstorm, that storm and its effects are there throughout the novel and have an effect on the actions of the people caught in it.

His third novel, _Black Fly Season_ set in Spring, convinced me that Canada is no place to go to in Spring.

Blunt also has two or three novels out in addition to the police procedurals.


Ingrid Black: her series features Saxon, (no first name yet)who is an ex-FBI profiler who moved to Dublin. While on the job as a profiler back in the States, she was involved in an investigation that resulted in the capture of a serial killer. She then sat herself down and wrote a book, explaining in detail all the mistakes the FBI and made and pointing out that the serial killer could have been captured much sooner. Much to her surprise, her colleagues didn't appreciate her literary efforts, and she eventually resigned.

The first novel in the series is _The Dead_. Saxon came to Ireland to do research on a serial killer. The killer disappeared during her research, and now five years later, someone has begun killing people with the same MO as the serial killer. The police, naturally, assume that he's back, while Saxon for some reason or other thinks it's a copycat killer.

While doing research on the serial killer, she got involved with a high ranking officer, Det. Chief Supt. Grace Fitzgerald. This on-going relationship sometimes complicates her work.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Maxine, I bought The Sinner on my last book-buying binge but one. I don't generally like books about recovering lost psychological traumas, but Hammersfahr portrayed just such a situation very cleverly in the opening chapter.

IN re Karin Alvtegen, I like the sound of a woman living off the grid. That's formula I might be able to plug myself into. Thanks.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Phillip, you pulled in me in with your invocation of the truffle pig. I've added Rickman to my list. Thanks.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Paul, thanks. Allan Guthrie is another recent find of mine, so Ray Banks would be a logical future discovery.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Anonymous, I started Bangkok 8 a few years ago, but the local color was too much for me, as if Burdett were trying too hard. Perhaps I'll take a look at one of the later books in the series. Thanks.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Dana King said...

Peter,
I read Burdett's Nabgkok Tattoo and loved it. Off center, weirdly funny, kind of a Southest Asian Carl Hiassen on drugs. The local color and some of the philopsphizing about corruption as an acceptable way of life takes some getting used to (we're Americans, after all, and like to believe things aren't like that here), but it was a hell of a read.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Karen Rose has written a series of psychological thrillers (billed incorrectly as "romantic suspense" by the publisher, although I understand the marketing involved) which sucked me right in. The good guys are cops/investigators/district attorneys.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, I’ve read Blunt’s The Delicate Storm and Black Fly Season. I especially liked the latter’s invocation of Quebec’s October Crisis of 1970, a period through which I lived. He does a fine job with his more rural settings, too.

I haven’t read Ingrid Black, but your say-so and Declan Burke’s are pretty good recommendations. Thanks.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Uriah, I don’t know if bloggers know their onions better than people who accept money for reviews, but their opinions certainly range more widely and are far more comprehensive. I’ve got Marek Krajewski on my list thanks to you, and you’ve also put Rebecca Cantrell on my radar. And I think it was It's a Crime! (or a mystery...) that put me in the way of John Lawton.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, I didn’t realize you held that distinction in re The Wrong Kind of Blood. That novel’s opening line is one of my favorite ever. I was probably one of the early North Americans to review The Price of Blood. And if you liked Everyone Knows this is Nowhere. You’ll like McFetridge’s third novel.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dave, the new editions of Sjowall/Wahloo, with introductions by authors including Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo, may finally get me reading the series. This series may be worth starting from the end. Thanks.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, I'd have thought "Hiaasen" and "on drugs" redundant. His breathless wisecracks defeated my one attempt to read him. But a number of comic-crime writers I know and whose work I like enjoy Hiaasen, so I may give him another chance.

Bangkok's local color may have so overwhelmed Burdett on his first exposure that he had to fill his first book with it, a kind of bookilength "Oh, wow!" . He's a few books into the series now, so if I try him again, I may start with one of the more recent books.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks re Karen Rose, Linkmeister. That was an interesting comment about the marketing of the books.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Sunnie Gill said...

Just this week I read a little book called The Bad Policeman.
It was written by an author I hadn't heard of before; Helen Hodgman.

It is told from the point of view of a middle-aged police officer serving in a country town and it is basically his own inner dialogue with himself. The author has written other novels, but I've no idea what they are about. This one though, blew me away.

I also read the first novel by Nick Brownlee the other week.
Bait, set in Kenya. It's very violent and bloody. I loved it for its pace and the setting. The different attitudes to life and death are also on display. People are despatched as casually as we would flick a fly away from our face.

The other book I read a couple of months ago that stayed with me is Devil's Peak by Deon Meyer.

A hard-drinking detective is thrown out of his home by his wife and given six months to clean up his act. While he is coming to terms with that he is given a case of a possible serial killer.

As much about the detective's journey on the road to sobriety as it is a murder mystery. It has the convention of the alcoholic detective and explores that in dept. Fabulous book.

(oh and if anyone's interested I have reviewed all the above on my blog)

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sunnie, Meyer's Dead Before Dying gives protagonist Mat Joubert an alcoholic colleague: Benny Griessel. Crime fiction gives us several alcoholic protagonists. An alcoholic colleague was a nice variation. Which one of ther two is the protagonist of Devil's Peak?

I'll take a look at your Bad Policeman review. I've recently been thinking about the appeal novels with rural and small-town settings can hae for someone like me, who has lived in cities all his life. Thanks.

And here’s a link to your blog in handy, easily clickable form.

April 18, 2009  
Blogger Gavin said...

Oh, Colin Cotterill and his wonderful Laotian coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun. I believe the first one is The Coroner's Lunch.

April 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the comment, Gavin. I’m a Colin Cotterill fan. I think my favorite moment in the three books I’ve read is the first glimpse of Dr. Siri in Thirty-Three Teeth.

April 18, 2009  
Blogger Sunnie Gill said...

From what you said about Dead Before Dying, it sounds as if Devil's Peak is the follow up.

I hope you can find a copy of The Bad Policeman. I'd be interested in what you make of it. It's not easy to come by even down here in Australia. Bookshops.com.au had some reasonably priced copies, but what the shipping was I don't know.

April 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Sunnie. ABE is another possible place to look.

April 18, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

Though this does not qualify under the "detectives beyond borders" concept, you simply must read John Hart's novels. DOWN RIVER was sensational (2007), and THE LAST CHILD (May 2009) is the best of its type. In fact, I do not recall reading anything better than THE LAST CHILD in a long, long time. It is a literary gothic thriller of the first magnitude. Do not miss it!

April 18, 2009  
Blogger Sunnie Gill said...

I think I looked in ABE and the copy they had there was very expensive (something like $30) .
Someone in the UK asked me about it and I did a bit of research and I think the cheapest was from Bookshop.

April 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., I know Down River won the Edgar Award for best novel, which caught my eye. Other than that, I don't know much about John Hart, so thanks for calling him to my attention.

April 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Sunnie. ABE has a feature that will notify a prospective buyer when a copy becomes available at a price chosen by the buyer. That's a possibility if I decide to look for the book.

April 19, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

Er, I may be a bit belated in my recommendation here, but what the heck, here it goes: You ought to check out Michael Gregorio's series featuring the 19th century Prussian sleuth, Hanni Stiffeniss, a protege of Immanuel Kant. The latest (i.e. the third in the series) is entitled A VISIBLE DARKNESS, and it appeared in bookstores in mid-April. Michael Gregorio is the pen-name of a husband-and-wife writing team living in Italy, thus they qualify under the rubric of your wonderful blog. BTW, my review of A VISIBLE DARKNESS appears on my blog, "Novels, Short Stories, and More" at http://novelsandstories.blogspot.com

April 19, 2009  
Blogger marco said...

Outside of the Irish-Canadian mafia- McKinty,McFetridge,(MC)Burke -the most exciting discovery in recent times was André Héléna. He was wasn't very successful during his life and long forgotten after his death but has been reevaluated in recent years as one of the great masters of French Noir.
L'Uomo Qualunque/Le Demi-sel is a noir masterpiece- elegantly written, very visual and cinematic -you feel the smoky atmosphere of postwar Paris- reminded me of Goodis and Camus.
Excellent.
I don't think is work is available in English -something may have been translated at the time, but it's surely long out of print.

v-word: prophes

April 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the recommendation and the link, R.T. It's never to late to weigh in.

April 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Marco, an Wikipedia article says only that "some of his books" have been translated into German and English. I find nothing on ABE in English, but I'll keep looking ... or perhaps make another of my sporadic efforts to read in French. Thanks.

April 19, 2009  
Blogger Kent Morgan said...

Latour's Outcast was one of my favourite books a few years ago. I've read Ingrid Black's first two books and enjoyed them both. Louise Welsh and Cathi Unsworth are two more UK writers I enjoy. I also like Ron Ellis's series about a DJ/PI set in Liverpool.

April 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've just borrowed Outcast. Welsh, Unsworth and Ellis are little more than names to me as yet, but I am always happy to have more authors to investigate. Thanks.

April 20, 2009  

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