Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Summer reads

Out of all the books available to read and limited time, what influences your choices? What books have you read this summer and which would you rate as your top recommendation?

by Dietrich

When I open a new book I want to be engaged by page one. The genre doesn’t matter as much as the quality of the writing. There are so many good books, both written by authors I’m familiar with and those I haven’t read before. So this year I’ve made more time for reading, and although I don’t have an absolute favorite, here are the standouts that I’ve read so far. 

I’ve been catching up on Richard Stark’s Parker novels. Topping the four I’ve read this year is The Sour Lemon Score, one that came out in 1970. It’s number twelve in the series, in Stark’s typical clipped style, about a bank heist that goes right until one of the four partners gets greedy and starts bumping off his partners. The trouble is he doesn’t shoot Parker first.

Then there was Charlie 316 by our very own Frank Zafiro, co-authored by Colin Conway. Without putting some spoilers out there, I’ll just say if you like a convincing cop story that jumps from the opening, with some twists you won’t see coming, then give this one a read.

I’d been anticipating the release of Don Winslow’s The Border, the conclusion of the epic cartel trilogy. I can’t say enough about this series, and this book is awesome, making Winslow one of my favorite authors writing today.

Also high on my list is the new one by James Ellroy. This Storm is part two of the second L.A. Quartet, and it takes readers back to the early forties: a story of crime, debauchery and some fast and loose history, told in Ellroy’s jazzy, excellent style.

Chance by Kem Nunn focuses on Dr. Eldon Chance as he gets more than professionally involved with a corrupt cop’s wife. Chance is no match when confronted by the cop, that is until he befriends D, a street-wise character skilled in the art of the blade. From there it’s a bumpy, often hilarious, ride to the end. Highly recommended.

The Year of the Flood is Margaret Atwood’s view into the near future. A relevant and powerful tale that looks at environmental collapse and a hope for a future. A great imagination and matching writing skills, by one of the greats.

Dirty Who? by Jerry Kennealy is another well-told cop story. Set in 1970 San Francisco, it’s about Inspector Johnny O’Rorke who bends a few rules after he’s assigned to investigate the disappearance of several gay men and to help find locations for an upcoming film that will star Frank Sinatra. It’s a convincing and well-told story by another former cop and private investigator.

The Jealous Kind by James Lee Burke is about a teen coming of age in 1952 Houston and focuses on classes, pride and loyalty. I’ve long been a fan of Burke’s Robichaux and Purcell stories, and in this one, the second in the Holland family saga, Burke’s words are as powerful as ever and conger some great images of a bygone time.
Another great story I read as part of a collection is The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier. Originally published in 1952, it's a classic and hasn't lost any of its edge and certainly stands the test of time. Masterful writing.


Clipping Path said...

Nice post.Keep sharing. Thanks for sharing.

Brenda Chapman said...

Some great recommendations, Dietrich. Good post!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Brenda.

Susan C Shea said...

I have only read a couple of those, although I've read a few other books by those authors. As you know, I lean toward the softer elements in crime fiction. Question for you: Your choices are mostly tough guy stories and protagonists, written by very fine male writers. Are there women writing today whose work in the same vein capture your interest? I'm not looking for gender bias but for examples of where women - and men - might be making a mark in the areas where there weren't a lot of examples previously. Good post - got me thinking!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Tough or soft, male or female. For me, it's about the quality of the writing. A few female authors who write in the same vein: I liked Emily Schultz's Men Walking on Water. It's got some rough characters, and it's well told and it's good writing. And I've always liked the pace and humor in Sue Grafton's novels. And I like Anne Emery's voice and style.

Frank Zafiro said...

Dang, Deets, thanks for the adding me in there! I'm thrilled that you liked Charlie-316 so much. It's an arc that we're pretty excited about. We're on book 3 of 4, and I feel like #3 is the best so far. I think you'll dig it, too.

Looking forward to getting you on the podcast, and seeing you again at B'Con or LCC!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

I'm looking forward to the next one, Frank.