Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Don’t Take My Sunshine Away

David J. Montgomery has started a discussion in his blog built around this seemingly simple question: “Who are the three authors whose work you would miss the most if they stopped writing?” Montgomery chooses Lawrence Block, Michael Connelly, and George Pelecanos. Others have pitched into the pile Dennis Lehane, Lindsey Davis, Fred Vargas, Reginald Hill, Ruth Rendell, and Elmore Leonard.

It’s no easy matter, just picking three authors. Basically, three crime fictionists whose work you find consistently enjoyable, and whose books you are always willing to buy or otherwise read. The assumption among commentators to Montgomery’s post seems to be that these have to be living novelists, since dead ones probably aren’t going to be producing anything new. But, since prominent writers seem notorious for squirreling away manuscripts that await discovery decades hence, that may not have to be the case.

For my own part, I’d find it hard to be without the entire collected works of Ross Macdonald or Raymond Chandler. And I’d feel myself cheated, were I to be cut off from future novels by Max Allan Collins, Edward Marston, Tom Bradby, Megan Abbott, Loren D. Estleman, John Shannon, Ian Rankin, and Stuart M. Kaminsky. Plus, there are numerous authors whose novels I still have to explore more fully--John Harvey, Mark Billingham, Sophie Hannah, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, Ross Thomas, Laura Lippman, Erle Stanley Gardner, Mickey Spillane, and Ken Bruen.

But if I had to pick just three novelists whose books I always find satisfying, reliably surprising, and eminently re-readable--and who are still turning out more--they would be:

Peter Lovesey. I am particularly fond of his older Sergeant Cribb books, such as Waxwork (1978), but am a consistent reader of his newer Inspector Peter Diamond novels as well, the latest of which is The Secret Hangman (2007).

Peter Robinson. I admit to not having paid much attention to his novels before the 10th Inspector Alan Banks book, In a Dry Season (1999), which introduced Banks’ sexy, young, and smart new colleague, Annie Cabbot, into the casting mix. But since that time, I’ve gone back to read most of the preceding works and have certainly kept up with that series’ progression. Rarely have I been disappointed. Robinson has a new Banks book, All the Colours of Darkness, due out in the UK this summer. I don’t think I can wait to buy it until it reaches the States next year.

Robert Crais. Way back in the late 1980s, I picked up a copy of The Monkey’s Raincoat--the first entry in his private eye Elvis Cole series--and haven’t been able to put his books down easily since then. His characters are fully formed, the emotional underpinnings of his stories carefully crafted, and the plotting tension he creates is something quite marvelous to behold. Younger writers hoping to make it big in this business should study Crais’ techniques carefully. I very much look forward to getting my hands around a copy of Chasing Darkness--his 11th Cole novel--later this month.

Any other suggestions?


Ali Karim said...

Hmmmmm only three

Well I'd have to say that the following three writers are as important as insulin to me and if they didn't write anymore, I'd seriously find my life a much more lonely place. I've indicated which one of their works make me quiver with excitement

Thomas Harris -

Arnalder Indridason -
JAR CITY [aka Tainted Blood]

Stephen King -

But you knew that already......

hmmmmmmmm I can think of a load of others but those three writers are special and everytime they release a work, it jumps, leaps to the top of my review / reading mountian.

The sad aspect is that Bernard Scudder Arnalder Indridason's translator passed away recently. Hence Random House told me at Crimefest that their is a delay in the 5th translation. I recently viewed Jar City [Icelandic with Subtitles] and itn still wrecked me mentally


Martin Edwards said...

Three is too few, but my choice might be Lovesey, Hill and Andrew Taylor. Perhaps tomorrow I would pick another three, but this particular trio are terrific.

Anonymous said...

Peter Robinson, Ian Rankin and Richard Stark. But I need to have Chandler, Ross Mac and the early Pronzini books on my shelf, as well as the first 10 John D.'s and the first 10 Donald Hamiltons.


Kerrie said...

Yes, we'd be worse off without all of these

Anonymous said...

3 is unbelievably hard isn't it. I went to bed last night feeling relatively happy with my selected 3 - then woke up in the middle of the night and realised I needed Mankell, Indridason and Nesbo, and the idea of no more books by Stephen Booth, Minette Walters and Mark Billingham (ever) was making my palms sweat.....