Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday Gift-Giving Recommendations - Part 2

O.k., so our recommendation list from the crime fiction community started on Friday. Here is the second half of the recommendations they had to offer:

Marcus Sakey is an award-winning writer of four crime fiction stand-alone thrillers. He would recommend Don Winslow's THE POWER OF THE DOG. Marcus describes Winslow's book as "more than just a crime story; it's also an exploration of the nature of greed and power, of how the 'right' thing, for a man or a nation, can be almost impossible to understand — let alone enact."

Hilary Davidson has been writing guidebooks, including her Gluten-Free Guidebook online resource, and crime fiction short stories. Next year her first crime fiction novel will be published. Her recommendations for great book gifts this year? Jane Stanton Hitchcock's MORTAL FRIENDS. "The writing is sharp and the plotting is swift and smart. But what really intrigued me was that this novel is set in the upper social strata of Washington D.C., the same world that Hitchcock occupies, and some of her characters seem to be based on some very prominent people. Guessing who's who is part of the fun in reading this deliciously wicked book."

Hilary also recommends Megan Abbott's BURY ME DEEP, about which she says, "I knew before I picked it up that it was based on the true-life story of the infamous "Trunk Murderess" of the early 1930s, Winnie Judd, but somehow Abbott managed to make me forget about what I knew as she lured me into a fascinating, twisted world and an intriguing -- and very different -- interpretation of the events. Thanks to her hypnotic prose and superb storytelling, this was a book that I truly couldn't put down."

Andrew Gross started his crime fiction-writing career as a co-writer with James Patterson. These days he's flying solo with his acclaimed thrillers. He recommends three books that he says are "five-star oldies that don't get read much anymore." They include TEARS OF AUTUMN by Charles McCarry, NORTH OF MONTANA by April Smith, and GATES OF FIRE (On Thermoplyae) by Steven Pressfield.

Michelle Gagnon writes a series of thrillers featuring Special Agent Kelly Jones. What is she reading that she recommends as a great gift idea this year? J.A. Konrath. She says, "I've been tearing through J.A. Konrath's Jack Daniels series and love all of them. Probably best to start with the first, WHISKEY SOUR - they're like a cross between Carl Hiaasen and Thomas Harris, in a good way."

Ruth Jordan is one of the masterminds behind CRIMESPREE Magazine. This year she recommends "TRUST NO ONE by Gregg Hurwitz to anyone who likes a well written and action-packed conspiracy book, WHITE RIOT by Martyn Waites for anyone looking for the next can't miss U.K. writer, and BONE BY BONE which is another amazing book by Carol O'Connell...the peeling back of small town history done so well you'll forget it's a book you're reading."

CJ Lyons, the author of the Angels of Mercy series, wants to recommend the gift of laughter this holiday season. That's a great gift any season. Her gift of laughter comes in the form of Toni McGee Causey's Bobbie Faye trilogy that includes: CHARMED AND DANGEROUS, GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE GUNS, and WHEN A MAN LOVES A WEAPON. C.J. says, "They have everything--romance, action, adventure, and comedy. Not to mention Causey's writing which can bring you to tears in one scene and have you laughing out loud in the next. A true treat to savor and enjoy over the holidays."

When author Theresa Schwegel hasn't been hard at work on her own thrillers this year, she's been reading Roberto Bolano's 2666, which she describes as "epic." She also recommends SNITCH JACKET by Christopher Goddard. In Theresa's words, it is "really dark and funny."

Diane Stuckart pens the Leonardo Di Vinci historical mystery series. This holiday season, she suggests three books. BABY SHARK by Robert Fate is "quirky, action-packed and always kept me guessing. Talk about a roller coaster ride...nothing but pure entertainment." About DOWN RIVER by John Hart, Diane says, it "took time for me to get into, and I must admit I never reached the point where I much liked or cared about any of the characters. But Hart’s writing was so subtly yet incredibly evocative that I could not help but keep reading despite that." And finally, Diane suggests MAHU VICE by Neil S. Plakcy. "The police procedural portion of it is fairly ordinary, but Neil does such a fantastic job of characterization that Kimo and his friends and family seem like folks you have known and loved for years. With a caveat for explicit sex, this and his other books are enjoyable and fast-paced reads."

Timothy Hallinan is the author of the Poke Rafferty series and he's kindly offered up some recommendations as well. Since I'm forever recommending the Poke Rafferty books to people, I'm thrilled to have Tim offer some of his own favorites. Tim made me laugh because he prefaced his recommendations with, "Some books I could give away with a clear conscience." Too funny. O.k. here they are. First Tim recommends THE ZOO STATION and THE SILESIAN STATION by David Downing. "Razor-sharp writing by someone who's investing the espionage genre with a new burst of energy. Both set in Berlin, and elsewhere in the Third Reich, in post-WWII days. Great atmosphere, lively characters, really good plotting."

Next, Tim will NOT get any argument from me on his recommendation of THE RAIN GODS by James Lee Burke. Tim says, "I never thought he'd top THE TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN, but he did. The Faulkner of mysteries."

And Tim also recommends two books by Ace Atkins, who Tim says was recommended to him by a radio interviewer in Memphis, Stephen Usery. Tim recommends DEVIL'S GARDEN and WICKED CITY. "DEVIL'S GARDEN is a brilliant re-imagining of the Fatty Arbuckle scandal, with Dashiell Hammett (in his Pinkerton days) as the detective, and WICKED CITY is just amazing – the story of the cleanup of Phenix City, Alabama in the 1950s. Even the bad guys are sympathetic."

Kelli Stanley is the author NOX DORMIENDA, which gave birth to Roman noir. She is also preparing to release her next novel, also historical crime fiction, but a little closer to present day, CITY OF DRAGONS. Kelli is recommending IT'S A BITTER LITTLE WORLD: THE SMARTEST, TOUGHEST, NASTIEST QUOTES FROM FILM NOIR by Charles Pappas. According to Kelli, "If you're looking for a dose of some noir to help counteract the indefatigably sweet holiday season, search no more ... this small, square gem of a paperback contains enough pithy inspiration to foil Dickens. From little known films like The Glass Web ("Sure, I liked that barb-wire dress, one she said protected the property but didn't hide the view") to classics like The Big Heat ("We're sisters under the mink"), you'll find treats a' plenty in this fabulous little noir stocking stuffer!" (Ahem, Santa...)

And the grand finale of recommendations is going to be given by my friend and fellow blogger (but I'm not even close to being in the same blogging league as her), Elyse Dinh McCrillis, better known as Pop Culture Nerd. She has chosen to recommend my absolute favorite crime fiction novel ever. A lot of people who know me snicker when they refer to my overwhelming admiration for Robert Crais, but here's a woman who totally gets it. Elyse recommends L.A. REQUIEM. According to her, "Anyone who thinks crime fiction isn't literature needs to read Robert Crais's L.A. REQUIEM. Crais opens your heart, makes it grow, crushes it, then gently pieces it back together again, changed but still beating. If this doesn't happen to you, a zombie has taken over your body."

I simply couldn't agree more, and I find that a fitting place to end these wonderful recommendations. My thanks to all the members of the crime fiction community who took time out of their schedules to contribute suggestions.

I hope the suggestions have given you all many ideas for the right gifts for your loved ones. Books are such precious gifts, and as you can see from the wide range of suggestions here, there really is something for everyone!

Happy Shopping and Happy Reading!


le0pard13 November 28, 2009 at 10:40 AM  

These are a fantastic list of books for gift giving, Jen. You know I'm in with Elyse and you regarding the great L.A. Requiem. But, if someone is going to give LAR, (and I'm with Corey on this) they should think about including the first seven in the Cole-Pike series, too. The payoff is that much more sweeter when the reader crosses that boundary with a familiarity of Elvis and Joe to that point. Of course, that would be quite a gift! Thanks for this, Jen.

David Thompson November 28, 2009 at 11:35 AM  

Speaking of Ace Atkins's, see what's coming from him next: Happy holidays, Jen! :-)

Jen Forbus November 28, 2009 at 8:42 PM  

Michael, I think the entire Elvis Cole series up to L.A. Requiem would be the quintessential gift! The folks at Cool-ER were kidding me on Twitter the other day that they were going to give me a reader with all RC's book pre-loaded. I said, "don't tease!"

And everyone, do you see? Do you see? David is kinda like my drug dealer, only my drug of choice is books and he always has something new he's tempting me with. I just love him!! :) Ace is so on my radar, buddy! Megan was recommending him the other day, too!

Pop Culture Nerd November 30, 2009 at 3:03 PM  

Oh, wow, Jen, didn't know you'd give me the finale position! Thanks for including me in this. So many good books recommended here.

As for EC/JP books 1-7, I absolutely agree people would get more out of LAR having read the precursors. But if someone's resistant to crime fiction and doesn't want to read eight books right off the bat, I'd give them LAR because they're certain to seek out the others on their own afterwards.

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