Sunday, December 06, 2009

Who are Your Top Authors?

Y’all probably know I like CJ Box, who writes the Joe Pickett series. As soon as he publishes new books in that series, or a standalone like his latest, Three Weeks to Say Goodbye, my husband and I grab it. So when I came across an article in The Guardian called “CJ Box's top 10 US crime novelists who 'own' their territory,” I went to see who he considers “the greats.”

His list is interesting as is this tidbit he wrote in the introduction:
The dirty little secret about the very best contemporary crime novels is that it often doesn't matter much who did it and why, but where the story is set. Solving the crime is simply a vehicle to travel through the territory. Reading the best crime novels about specific locations by authors who live there and own their home turf is like visiting with the ultimate know-it-all guide who moonlights as a voyeur.
If you like crime novels, check out CJ Box’s list of the top ten. For each author, he tells the setting of the series, as well as why he thinks that writer belongs on the list and the titles he suggests you read.

Now, my question for you is: In the genre you like most to read, who is your favorite author and why?
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  1. Interesting - because I enjoy fantasy and scifi the most so character-driven is more important to me than location.
    I've never been able to find an author whose work I always enjoy. Rather certain series come to mind, like 'Dragons of Pern' by Anne McCaffrey. Unfortunately, I can't stand where her son has taken the series. Ah well.

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  3. I love Jodi Picoult, I think I have read the entire series - still on the last one 'Handle with Care' at the moment.
    She has a neck of getting down to the very thoughts in her characters that are so real, thoughts that I myself can relate to and have occured to me on routine daily issues of parenting, the spouse, kids' thoughts, being a mother, being a person. She writes with a very humanistic perspective that keeps me following very closely as she moves from character to character. I especially loved Songs of the Humpback Whale.

  4. I am a loyal, die-hard mystery and detective fiction fan. I especially like the modern "hardboiled" types of detective fiction.

    And, I like a good dose of humour (in life in general and in whatever I'm reading).

    All time faves include Robert B. Parker's Spenser series. Love the characters (except Susan), and am especially fond of Hawk. Spenser and Hawk share some great dialogue.

    Lawrence Block can do no wrong. The Scudder series is great, and the Bernie Rhodenbarr (sp?) series is just terrific. Scudder is everything a hardboiled dick ought to be, and Bernie is witty, fun, bratty, clever, and his sidekick Carolyn (the pet groomer) is a hoot.

    If I'm in the mood for something a bit lighter and funnier, the Archie McNally series is a treat. It was started by Lawrence Sanders and Goldsborough has seamlessly continued it post-humously. Archie tosses off some great one-liners.

    The guiltiest pleasure and most welcome escape is the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. They're like eating chocolate doughnuts for breakfast. Bring it on!!! Again, it's the characters that do it for me (Lula! Ranger! Morelli!), plus the humour.

    Side note: My first book - Blood and Groom - was recently released. The first review I ever got (Margaret Cannon in the Globe and Mail) said my writing "has the fast and funny style that would appeal to fans of Janet Evanovich" - talk about HIGH PRAISE!

    And finally, there is Liz Brady, author of the Jane Yeats series (three books so far... am dying for a fourth!)

    I discovered these books while I was doing my MA, and I actually did an academic paper on Brady's writing.

    My thesis was "Feminism's Answer to the Hardboiled Sleuth is on the Wagon and Rides a Harley". That pretty much sums up Jane Yeats.

    Jane Yeats doesn't take any crap from anyone, she can hold her own with Spenser and Scudder, but she remains a believable and realistic character.

    As well, Liz Brady injects a helluva lot of humour (witty similes, sarcasm, and damn good lines here and there) into her writing.

    A few favourite lines:

    "Heart of a biker, soul of a slut".

    "I donated my virginity to a good cause way back when Michael Jackson was still a black man".

    "The pouch of his g-string strained so vigorously I thought maybe a small animal was trapped inside."

    Her descriptions are bang on, whether describing a crime scene (the hooker in the hosta) or a hangover (the furred tongue and cracked lips).

    So, there you go. My list of favourites. I look forward to new releases by all of them, and these are the few authors/few books that i will read a second and third time while I anxiously await their next books.

    Cheers, Jill
    Check out the "Blood and Groom" book trailer at

  5. Interesting the way he describes it!

    In sci-fi, my favorite is Anne McCaffrey, because her books focus on the people. The sci-fi setting is a great backdrop, but it's the relationships that matter.

    In non-fiction, it's Gary Chapman. He is down to earth and while his Christian values come through, they won't whap a non-Christian over the head.

  6. Great question! There are so many possible answers.

    My first thought was Agatha Christie for detective novels. I think she influenced my reading and writing more than anyone. Such an incredible story teller who could weave in so many clues and red herrings.

  7. I like every single sort of writing - novels perhaps more than non-fiction. I love mysteries and in that genre I adore Reginald Hill, Elizabeth George and the absolutely fabulous Kate Atkinson. I cannot pick even one for each of these three - I like the whole thing and long for the next ones. In so-called literary fiction, I am mad for Michael Ondaatje - and again won't choose one because they are all fantastic. I like Graham Greene and most favorite of his is The Quiet American, which I've read dozens of times without losing my affection. Dickens is in his own genre and I think my favorite is Great Expectations. Austin and Pride & Predjudice. Larry McMurtry and Dwayne's Depressed (also my favorite title of all time!). Margaret Atwood, Alice Munroe, Sue Goyette, Margaret Lawrence, are the very best of fantastic writers and all canadian. Enough!

  8. One of my favorites is Alice Hoffman. After I read The Ice Queen, the next day I had to pick it up and read it again. She has a way of weaving me right into the story, and her endings are amazing. Her latest, The Story Sisters, I'd say has one of the best endings to a book I've ever read.

  9. In no particular order:
    Peretsky for XI Warshawski's Chicago;
    Micheal Pearce for Mamu Zapt view of British Egypt;
    Margaret Frazer for Sister Frevisse and Joliffe medival mysteries and
    Val McDemid for Kate Brannigan, and for Lindsay Gordon's view of the book publishing world.

  10. Wow, what terrific recommendations in all different genres! Y'all are all so passionate about your choices that I want to go get them all and start reading.

  11. It's like potato chips - I can't choose just one. Partly because I read across genres. Here's my top five, in alpha order:
    Suzanne Brockmann
    Nelson DeMille
    Linda Howard
    James Patterson
    Lisa Scottoline

  12. Thanks Carol. My husband is a big Patterson fan, too.

  13. I like cozy and other mysteries especially those based in a small village. My favorites are:
    M.C. Beaton
    Susan Wittig Albert
    Earlene Fowler
    Sue Grafton
    Caroline Graham
    Donna Leon
    I also enjoy Jan Karon's Mitford series.

  14. Ann, you hit on some of my favorites, too!

  15. For spiritual/inspirational, it's Richard Bach, hands down and bar none. He's the MAN. And in the suspense/thriller genre, I gotta go with Jeffery Deaver.

    Marvin D Wilson

  16. Dang, I have to think about this. This is gonna be hard.... I'll be back.

  17. MC Beaton as a modern cozy writer (Scottish setting, quirky characters.) Agatha Christie for classic mysteries---because she was a genius. :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  18. This list of comments is where everyone should come to pick out authors to give as Christmas presents!

  19. I am a die hard Anne Tyler fan. And for short stories, the incredible Alice Munro.

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  27. I like scifi and fantasy, but more plot driven stories, rather than character driven.

    Steamy Darcy

  28. Well, the article reminded me of how much I love Elizabeth Peters and her Ameila Peabody mystery series. Ms. Peters knows Egypt and archeology inside out, and she puts you right inside a fascinating world.

  29. I've not read Peters, Miriam, but I have heard from people who really love her. She's on my list of authors I should read. Thank you!


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