Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A baker’s dozen

by Dietrich

Although not all crime fiction and not all current, here are my top picks from the books that I’ve recently enjoyed, and ones that I would recommend for anyone looking for the perfect pick for their dad.

First up, I revisited Deliverance by James Dickey. It was poet Dickey’s first novel, and it sure hasn’t lost any of its spark after its original pub date of nearly fifty years ago. It’s prose is as sharp as it gets — a whitewater page-turner of survival in the Georgia wilderness. 

“I was standing in the most absolute aloneness that I had ever been given.” James Dickey

Another classic that stands the test of time is A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, originally published in 1962. Its the tale of Alex, a youth in revolt who gets captured and subjected to some scientific mind altering designed to cure criminals of their violent urges. The perfect choice if your dad leans to dystopian satire with touches of dark comedy and brilliant writing. 

The Wanted by Robert Crais was published in 2017. I always look forward to the next Robert Crais installment. In this one, PI Elvis Cole is back, along with his sidekick Joe Pike, in some bad-to-worse kickass action. After a couple of teenagers pull off some burglaries and rob the wrong man, they end up being pursued by a couple of killers. There’s something about Crais’ pacing and voice that make his novels hard to put down.

House of Earth by Woody Guthrie, a previously unpublished gem from 1947 was finally printed in 2013. It’s Guthrie’s only novel, and tells about life in Dust Bowl America. Guthrie was an amazing talent and possessed a true and powerful voice.

Just Kids by Patti Smith is a great memoir from a legendary rock star who proves she’s an equally talented writer. It takes an insightful look at her life along with friend Robert Mapplethorpe, living in New York, among the aspiring artists during the late 60s and early 70s. A time your dad might remember.

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith from 2008, a great introduction to the five book series that brought us the ultimate bad-boy, sociopath Tom Ripley.

The Jealous Kind by James Lee Burke from 2016. It’s one of his best and completes the trilogy he began with Wayfaring Stranger in 2014 and House of the Rising Sun in 2015. When a quarrel erupts between Valerie and her country-club boyfriend Grady, Aaron Holland steps in. And he ticks off the wrong person. Things soon escalate, and he finds himself surrounded by criminals and corrupt cops. It’s just a great book.

Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty, published in 2015 has detective inspector Sean Duffy back at it in the fifth installment in this well-told series, set in Northern Ireland in the 80s. It’s truly a first-rate crime thriller.

Men Walking on Water by the talented Emily Schultz, published in 2017, is a mix of crime and historical fiction set during prohibition and takes a look at rum-running from Canadian shores to Detroit.

The Good German by Joseph Canon, from 2001, is a moving and complex mystery and love story set in a battered post-war Berlin in the grips of geopolitical control. The story follows American journalist, Jake Geismer, as he sets out to find answers among the secrets and criminals hiding among the rubble in this great historical tale.

The Border by Don Winslow is the epic conclusion to the Cartel trilogy, The Cartel and The Power of the Dog. Released at the end of February, I'd been waiting to get into this one, and it didn't disappoint — a crime thriller as good as it gets.

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood, published in 1964, is a short novel about a gay English professor living in California in the midst of unresolved grief after losing his lover in a car crash. The novel takes place over the course of a single day and explores the human animal and shows some masterful writing.

I also revisited The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood ahead of her upcoming sequel The Testaments coming this September. Another dystopian tale told by one of Canada’s best authors.

There you have it, a little of this and a little of that, some new and some old, some crime fiction, some classics, but something for any dad who loves to read. 


Paul D. Marks said...

Great list, Dieter. Glad to see you expanded it out from crime fiction. And especially to see Patti Smith on there.

Brenda Chapman said...

Some great selections Dietrich. I see we both picked some of the same authors, proving great minds ....

Susan C Shea said...

I've read a few of these books and need to scout out a copy of the James Lee Burke novel, although some of his books are too tough for me. I love that the 10 Minds come up with such different books, a larger range than any one of us might have. Thanks!

Terry said...

Great list! There are a few I haven't read. I have to add them to my list.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks everybody.