Monday, December 28, 2015

Introductions All Around

Excuse me, but I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by books at the moment. This Christmas brought me a welcome abundance of new reading material, including novels by William Boyd (Sweet Caress) and Sara Moliner (The Whispering City), and new non-fiction by David Maraniss (Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story) and David B. Williams (Too High & Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography). I still haven’t finished everything I want to read in 2015, so it’s more than a bit intimidating to glance at the pile of opportunities building up for 2016. And there are still a couple of wrap-up pieces I hope to write about the last 365 days before moving on to a new year.

One such piece keeps up a tradition I adopted back in 2008. Late that year, Brian Lindenmuth--then a Bookspot Central reviewer, but currently with Spinetingler Magazine--proposed that book bloggers make a habit, during the December holiday season, of posting the names of authors whose work they first read during the preceding 12 months. My entries to this meme have varied in length over time. Some of my annual assessments have been quite fiction-heavy, while others have demonstrated a better balance between novels and factual works. As was also true of 2014 (and is obviously the consequence of my book-reviewing responsibilities), I found less time to enjoy general fiction this year than I did crime and thriller fiction. Even my non-fiction reading tended toward books about crime novelists, or at least historical crime. In 2016, I shall have to concentrate on reading a greater diversity of material, lest I become a bore at parties, unable to talk about anything except misdeeds both genuine and imagined.

Below you will find my 2015 rundown of authors whose books I’d never read before. Debut novels are boldfaced. Asterisks denote crime, mystery, or thriller fiction.

Patricia Abbott (Concrete Angel)*
• Ben Atkins (Drowning City)*
Matt Bell (Scrapper)
Christopher Bollen (Orient)*
Conor Brady (A June of Ordinary Murders)*
Robin Burcell (The Last Good Place)*
• Ray Celestin (The Axeman)*
• Trace Conger (The Shadow Broker)*
Cat Connor (Databyte)*
Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See)
Ben Elton (Time and Time Again)
Barbara Ewing (The Petticoat Men)*
• Celia Fremlin (The Hours Before Dawn)*
Matthew Guinn (The Scribe)*
Lotte and Søren Hammer (The Girl
in the Ice
Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train)*
Phil Hogan (A Pleasure and a Calling)*
• Dinah Holman (A History of Crime: The Southern Double-Cross)*
B.B. Johnson (Death of a
Blue-eyed Soul Brother)*
Jeremy Massey (The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley)*
Ed McBain (So Nude, So Dead)*
Patrick Modinano (Missing Person)
Jennifer Mortimer (Trilemma)*
• A.W. Mykel (The Windchime Legacy)*
Leonardo Padura (The Man Who Loved Dogs)
• Bryon Quertermous (Murder Boy)*
Lori Rader-Day (Little Pretty Things)*
Peter Ranscombe (Hare)*
W.L. Ripley (Storme Warning)*
Maria Doria Russell (Epitaph)
Joanna Scott (Closest Possible Union)
Tina Shaw (The Children’s Pond)*
Larry D. Sweazy (A Thousand Falling Crows)*
Art Taylor (On the Road with Del & Louise)*
Simon Kurt Unsworth (The Devil’s Detective)*
Irving Wallace (The Man)
• Sarah Ward (In Bitter Chill)*
• Carolyn Weston (Poor, Poor Ophelia)*

Here’s my somewhat briefer inventory of non-fiction works I pored through and enjoyed over the last year, all of them penned by people who were not previously represented on my bookshelves. Debut works are, again, identified in boldface type.

Steve Aldous (The World of Shaft)
• Christine L. Corton (London Fog: The Biography)
Margaret Leslie Davis (Dark Side of Fortune: Triumph and Scandal in the Life of Oil Tycoon Edward L. Doheny)
Piu Marie Eatwell (The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse)
Gary Kamiya (Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco)
John Oller (American Queen: The Rise and Fall of Kate Chase Sprague--Civil War “Belle of the North” and Gilded Age
Woman of Scandal
Lee Server (Encyclopedia of Pulp Fiction Writers)
• Joe Urshcel (The Year of Fear: Machine Gun Kelly and the Manhunt that Changed the Nation)
Nathan Ward (The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett)

OK, so those are my results for the year. What about yours? Which authors’ work did you first sample in 2015? Please let us all know in the Comments section of this post. Or, if you’d prefer to deliver your first-reads record in your own blog, simply provide the URL among the comments here, so the rest of us can find your list.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Phil loved the Maranis book but it is not generally liked by Detroiters. Let me know what you think as a west coaster.

Unknown said...

The book I enjoyed most this year was "Uncontrolled Spin" by author Jerry Summers ( The author has extensive experience in law enforcement and it shows in his novel. I had never heard of him before so he is now officially in my "authors to watch" list. The book follows main character Sean Green and his multi-million dollar marketing business, the budding romance with his newest client Jessica Silva, and the murder of his best friend. This is a thriller book that really has it all (romance, suspense, in depth characters, and lots of plot twists and turns!) I can't recommend it enough. It is the first of the series and I can't wait for the next one!