Monday, August 24, 2009

Feels like the first time....

From CJ
What crime fiction novel do you wish you could read again for the first time?

I don't often re-read books--if you saw my to-be-read pile, you'd understand why! But there are a few that I return to over and over again.

The first is Ray Bradbury's SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. Ever since I was a kid, I've been haunted by Bradbury's evocative prose and fallen in love with his deft portrayals of good and evil and the power of love/family. Talk about primal forces!

Another, not a crime novel per se, but all about how humans create a just society, is Mark Helprin's lyrical and imaginative WINTER'S TALE. Magical realism at its best!

One of the few thriller novels that I've read several times is Thomas Harris's RED DRAGON. While I also enjoyed SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, for me, RED DRAGON is the better and more compelling read. Harris's villain rings true, his good guys are realistically flawed, and Hannibal Lecter isn't the fawning and almost desperate creature he becomes in SILENCE but rather is cunning and saturated with a desire for vengeance at any price. It's a delicious (pun intended!) tale that scares and thrills me every time I read it.

BUT, the book I most wish I could read again for the very first time is Carol O'Connell's JUDAS CHILD. This was my first taste of her unique voice which also carries into her Mallory books (which I also love!). JUDAS CHILD doesn't merely evoke a visceral response in the reader, it also compels you to believe that which you know is not true, to question everything your senses and the narrator tell you, and it leaves you with an indelible admiration for the strength and enduring qualities of love and friendship.

Many people won't read JUDAS CHILD because there are children in jeopardy, but O'Connell's prose, her mastery of a point-of-view that straddles omniscient and deep third person, and her finely-honed sense of place and character make it a winner. It's a book that, as a writer, I learn from every time I re-read it and as a reader I wish I could read it again for the first time and savor the emotional rollercoaster without knowing all the twists and turns that lie ahead.

So that's my list--what's on yours? What book do you return to over and over again? Why?

Thanks for reading!

About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller."

The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, was released January, 2009 and the third, URGENT CARE, is due out October, 2009. Contact her at


Jen Forbus said...

I have several (non-crime fiction) books that I've read many times: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (wait, that one counts as crime fiction!), THE GREAT GATSBY, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST.

But like you, CJ, I have an overwhelming TBR list. There are a couple crime fiction novels that I've re-read: THE MONKEY'S RAINCOAT, L.A. REQUIEM, DEATH WITHOUT COMPANY, KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED. But mostly right now I'm squirreling the books I love away and several...o.k., maybe more...years from now I want to go back and read them again, so it will almost be like reading it again for the first time. So I can re-discover and maybe discover for the first time all the subtle nuances and details that a book extraordinary. Crais's books will definitely be included in that group; Michael Koryta's, James Lee Burke's, Craig Johnson's. The specific titles that stand out for me: L.A. Requiem, definitely. I still firmly believe that it was monumental in changing what we except as "true" crime fiction, especially detective fiction. SORROW'S ANTHEM. While Koryta continues to grow as a writer and refine his style, SORROW'S ANTHEM still echoes in my mind. It was just one of the books that changed me as a reader. And I honestly can't choose just one Craig Johnson. Each of his books has affected me powerfully in a unique way, and I am always in awe that Johnson has been able to do that EVERY SINGLE TIME!! :)

Isn't reading just so amazing?

CJ Lyons said...

Wow, thanks, Jen--you just added to my over-flowing TBR pile, lol!

I haven't read Craig Johnson yet (will have to remedy that!) and somehow missed Sorrow's Anthem (I've read Kortya's others and love his writing)

As for Crais....oh don't get me started, I'll have a major fan-girl meltdown!!!

Jenna said...

I re-read all the time. Christie, Marsh, Sayers, Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Janet Evanovich, Lillian Stewart-Carl. One of my favorite comfort reads is Donna Andrews's 'Murder with Peacocks,' one of the best cozy mysteries ever written (IMHO). Nobody much remembers Quentin Patrick anymore, but I love some of his/their stuff. In a slightly more quirky way, Terry Pratchett's wacky police procedurals about the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. Lindsey Davis's Falco books.

I could go on, but I'll spare you. I do read new releases too, but I go back to my old favorites when I need something to read that won't interfere with my writing. If that makes sense...

CJ Lyons said...

Good point, Jennie! For writers, reading is sometimes all about analyzing instead of enjoying.

But re-reading, we can relax and sink into a book....ah, what fun!

PK the Bookeemonster said...

Hmmm, a book that I wish I could read again for the first time ... a couple books that turned me on to the genres when I was a teen are DUNE by Frank Herbert and CURTAIN by Agatha Christie. Simply light bulb moments and the beginning of love affairs with SFF and then later mystery, those reads.

Recent-ish reads that just tickled my brain are THE LAST EMBER by Daniel Levin, THE BOOK OF UNHOLY MISCHIEF by Elle Newmark, and THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON by Kate Morton.

And last (sorry, don't get me talking about books), the series by Alan Gordon I think is a brilliant concept: a Jesters' Guild as medieval CIA and witty to boot.

Unknown said...

I wish I could read my first Sherlock Holmes story again for the first time. I remember the summer I abandoned Nancy Drew for Mr. Holmes, Esq. -- couldn't wait to get back to the page, to experience Victorian England (oh how different from Las Vegas in the 60s-70s!). I miss that sense of discovering something utterly new.

Flannery O'Connor, especially The Violent Bear It Away, gave me the same feeling in my 40s. I wrote a paper on the number of times she changes time and place in the first twenty pages of that book. It felt weird to know that a writer whose personal life / spiritual beliefs were the opposite of mine could speak to me as if she were the voice in my head.

It's that magical fusion of writer and reader, the first time you stumble across a world you never want to leave. The things you bring to it as a reader are unique, you read Doyle or O'Connor differently from everyone else on the planet. That's magic!

CJ Lyons said...

Great picks, PK! I haven't read the Gordan series yet, but keep hearing great things about it, will have to investigate!

CJ Lyons said...

Mysti, love the way you describe it--that magic of right book, right words, right reader, right time!!!

Thanks for stopping by!