Monday, November 26, 2012

Recently read crime fiction/thrillers

One shouldn't be surprised that James Patterson (photo above by Marcus Gaab for The New York Times ) is the highest earning author in the world. The books just keep pouring out and of course he is able to achieve this because he is the master of co-authorship. Look at most of his novels and you will find his name in large letters on the cover and then in smaller type you will probably  find one of the following: Michael Ledwidge, David Ellis, Marshall Karp, Liza Marklund, Howard Rougham, Maxine Paetro, Neil McMahon, Richard Di Lallo, Andrew Goss, Mark Sullivan , Ned Rust or Adam Sandler. I have never quite understood how writers can collaborate on a work of fiction but in Patterson's case one imagines he comes up with the plot and them passes it to his co-author to flesh out before it is returned to him for editing/tweeking and then to the publisher. 
However he does it, there is no doubt that it is a hugely effective technique as all the titles are best-sellers and within his various series - Alex Cross novels (mainly written by Patterson alone), The Women's Murder Club, Detective Michael Bennett, Private Novels etc etc - the voice is consistent. Those of his I have read recently include:

ZOO - James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge - Century - $36.99
Although it didn't quite keep me awake at night I did find myself thinking about it on waking on the two mornings when I had been reading it the night before. It is a stand-alone thriller that could almost be defined as horror. Right across the globe animals are attacking humans and when biologist Jackson Oz witnesses a coordinated lion ambush of humans in Africa the enormity of the violence becomes terrifyingly clear.

NYPD RED - James Patterson & Marshall Karp - Century - $36.99

Another co-authored stand-alone crime fiction thriller set in New York at the time of the Hollywood on Hudson Film Festival when the city is swept up in the glamour of the red carpet premieres night after night. Then a famous movie producer collapses at a power breakfast and so begins a series of brutal crimes which has the NYPD almost overwhelmed.

PRIVATE - OZ - James Patterson & Michael White - Century - $36.99
Of the these three Patterson titles which I read one after the other this is the one I enjoyed most. I like his PRIVATE series and this one is different as it is set in Sydney, Australia whereas the previous four titles have been set in Los Angeles.
PRIVATE, a Californian-based firm of investigators has just set up a new office in Sydney and is throwing a glittering launch party when an uninvited blood soaked, bullet-ridden guest stagggers in. Within days Private's case load is full.
Great stuff but they should have used temperatures expressed in celsius rather than fahrenheit and distances expressed in kilometres rather than miles. An editotial oversight.

THE BLACK BOX - Michael Connelly - Allen & Unwin - $39.99
Connelly's LA cop Harry Bosch is one of my favourite crime fiction characters has now been on the scene 20 years and fittingly this cracker of a story is a cold case that happened back in 1992 when Harry was first on the scene involving the killing of a young female photographer during the L.A. riotsRiveting and relentlessly paced, the unputdownable story leads Harry Bosch into one of his most fraught and perilous cases.
A former police reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Michael Connelly is the author of the Harry Bosch thriller series as well as several stand-alone bestsellers, including the highly acclaimed legal thriller, The Lincoln Lawyer. Hehas been President of the Mystery Writers of America. His books have been translated into 31 languages and have won awards all over the world, including the Edgar and Anthony Awards. He lives in Tampa, Florida, with his family. And The Bookman is a fan.
THE JEWELS OF PARADISE - Donna Leon - William Heinemann - $36.99
I am an admirer of Donna Leon who is rated by many as a master of literary crime fiction who has more than 20 novels  to her name all set in Venice.
Most of her titles are in Commissario Guido Brunetti series which has won her legions of  fans, reams of critical acclaim, and a place among the top ranks of international crime writers. Brunetti, both a perceptive investigator and a warmhearted family man, is one of the treasured characters of contemporary mystery fiction. Through him, Leon has explored Venice in all its aspects: its history, beauty, food, and social life, but also the crime and corruption that seethe below the surface of La Serenissima
So readers should be warned that this latest title while set in Venice does not feature Brunetti nor is it a true crime fiction story but rather is a tale of intrigue, music, history and greed. While highly readable, especially for one who loves opera, I nevertheless hope her next title features Brunetti once again. If you prefer her Brunetti stories then get BEASTLY THINGS published earlier this year, I thought it was a cracker.
THE RACKETEER - John Grisham - Hodder & Stoughton - Hardback - $49.99
Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.
Judge Raymond Fawcett just became number five.
Another racy read from the master of the legal thriller. Has he ever written a dud? A lot of men will find this in their Christmas stocking, the perfect holiday read.

THE BONE BED - Patricia Cornwell - Little Brown - $34.99
 Cornwell and her long-serving protagonist, Kay Scarpetta, have a legion of fans and this latest 464 page crime thriller will e sure to please them.
A woman has vanished while digging a dinosaur bone bed in a remote wilderness corner of Canada. Somehow, the only evidence has made its way into the inbox of Boston's Chief Medical Examiner, over 2000 miles away.
Patricia Cornwell's first crime novel, POSTMORTEM, was published in 1990 and became the first novel to win all the major crime awards in a single year. She has won many awards since. Fox have acquired the film rights to the Scarpetta novels, featuring Angelina Jolie as Dr.Kay Scarpetta.

LAST TO DIE - Tess Gerritsen - Bantam Press - $36.99
Death seems determined to claim three unlucky children.Years ago, Will Kennedy, Teddy Clock, and Claire Ward barely survived family massacres that left them orphaned and alone. Now these 14-year-olds are living with foster families -- and the same nightmare that took their birth parents years before is about to be repeated. Their foster families are slaughtered and once again, Will, Teddy and Claire are the only survivors.
The new Rizzoli & Isles thriller.
gerritsen has a big following in NZ enhanced by her tour here last year when she appeared at the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel presentation in Christchurch with fellow crime writer John Hart.. This is her 13th novel.

And two left in my pile which are next on my list:

SAY YOU'RE SORRY - Michael Robotham - Sphere - $36.99
Michael Robotham lives in Sydney and is a regular visitor to NZ and was here last taking part in the Christchurch Writers Festival & Dame Ngaio Marsh Award in September. 

BONES ARE FOREVER - Kathy Reichs - Wm.Heinemann - $36.99
Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropolgist  as well as an author and her protagonist is Dr.Temperance Brenna, forensic anthropologist to the province of Quebec. This is her 15th novel and I am keenly loooking forward to reading it.


Renee said...

Where's Ian Rankin in this list?

Bookman Beattie said...

Wrote about him separately a week or two ago, during his visit. He of course is at the top of any list in my book!

Renee said...

Of course! Can't wait to read it myself.