Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pleased to Meet You

My friends and family are clearly growing bolder. In a typical year only two or three of the people with whom I exchange gifts at Christmastime ever give me books. The rest, not familiar enough with my personal library to know what’s already there—and not wishing to ask me for suggestions of new works I’d like to receive—customarily play it safe and give me music CDs or clothing or edible things.

But 2017 has been different. Several people this holiday season took a chance on presenting me with works of fiction and non-fiction, most of which were by authors not already represented on my shelves. These included Noah Isenberg (We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie), Bill James (The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery), Pete Souza (Obama: An Intimate Portrait), Walter Isaacson (Leonardo da Vinci), and Richard Matheson (The Best of Richard Matheson). This continues a pattern I realized was taking shape about halfway through 2017, which is that I’ve been tackling an inordinate number of books by wordsmiths I have never sampled before.

Ever since 2008, I have been keeping an inventory of such author “discoveries.” Thus far, 2015 proved to be my most successful year for testing out scribblers I either hadn’t heard of before, or whose books I had at least not previously enjoyed: it added 47 authors to my lifetime reading record. This makes my final count for 2009, when I “test-drove” a mere 30 unfamiliar authors, look rather feeble. The tally for 2107 is 46 new writers—just one shy of my record. No wonder this has felt like an exceptional 12-month period.

So who did I “discover” over the course of 2017? Let me begin, below, by naming all the novelists. Debut works are boldfaced. Asterisks denote crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.

• Leo W. Banks (Double Wide)*
• Guy Bolton (The Pictures)*
Chris Brookmyre (Places in the Darkness)*
Héctor Aguilar Camín (Day In, Day Out)*
Polina Dashkova (Madness Treads Lightly)*
Harry Dolan (The Man in the Crooked Hat)*
Ramón Díaz Eterovic (Dark Echoes of the Past)*
• Mick Finlay (Arrowood)*
• Danny Gardner (A Negro and an Ofay)*
• Steve Goble (The Bloody Black Flag)*
• Jane Harper (The Dry)*
• Jordan Harper (She Rides Shotgun)*
Peter Heller (Celine)*
• Martin Holmén (Clinch)*
• Andrew Hughes (The Convictions of
John Delahunt

• Ragnar Jónasson (Snow Blind)*
• Stephen Mack Jones (August Snow)*
• Harry Kemelman (Friday the Rabbi
Slept Late

• Gerald Koplan (Etta)
M.J. Lee (Death in Shanghai)*
Attica Locke (Bluebird, Bluebird)*
• H.B. Lyle (The Irregular)*
Greer Macallister (Girl in Disguise)*
Ian McGuire (The North Water)*
• Abir Mukherjee (A Rising Man)*
• Jim Napier (Legacy)*
John O’Connell (Baskerville)*
• John O’Hara (Appointment in Samarra)
• T.R. Pearson (A Short History of a Small Place)
Ivy Pochoda (Wonder Valley)*
John Rector (The Ridge)*
• M.L. Rio (If We Were Villains)*
• Sarah Schmidt (See What I Have Done)*
Tony Schumacher (An Army of One)*
William Shaw (The Birdwatcher)*
• Burt Solomon (The Murder of Willie Lincoln)*
Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow)
Andy Weir (Artemis)*
• Kaite Welsh (The Wages of Sin)*
• Theodore Wheeler (Kings of Broken Things)
Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad)

For reasons I cannot explain, I consumed fewer than normal works of non-fiction, in general, this year. That also reduced my count of fact-based volumes by writers with whom I had no prior acquaintance:

Mattias Boström (From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon)
Tom Clavin (Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West)
Vicki Constantine Croke (Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II)
Mark Kurlansky (Havana: A Subtropical Delirium)
Brad Ricca (Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City’s Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation)

OK, those are my new-author encounters for 2017. How about yours? Which writers’ books were you introduced to this year? Please let everyone know in the Comments section of this post.

1 comment:

Nancy Humphrys said...

Just heard Sue Grafton passed on Dec 28...a very talented lady.
Two debut novels I liked this year: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano and The Dime by Kathleen Kent.