It's Christmas and the Holiday Bowl is still 12 days away. I'm "recruited" out. I'm awaiting a dinner of Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken. So I came back to the book board.
As educated, literate people, I know we are all tempted to brag about the "important" works we've read. And education truly is (or should be) a continuing process, so we do read biographies and histories.
But you have to take a little time for entertainment. Like Ian Rankin's The Impossible Dead. Rankin's moved on from his Inspector Rebus novels. This is the second novel dealing with the equivalent of Internal Affairs in Edinburgh, Scotland. The first was called The Complaints. Rankin just spins a great yarn.
In a similar vein, I'd also recommend the Dublin Murder Squad novels of Tana French, of which there are three. In The Woods, The Likeness and Faithful Place. The hook here is that a supporting character in each book is the protagonist in the next. No character is allowed to get stale.
Unique writers like Max Barry, China Mieville and Jasper Fforde.
Barry is an Australian satirist who has written three of the best books on business and government I've ever read: Syrup, The Company and Jennifer Government.
China Mieville is a UK writer. Very politically active. He stood for Parliament as a socialist. And he writes books of incredible beauty where the words are as important as the story. Try King Rat, Perdido Street Station or The City & The City. Heck, even his children's book Un Lun Dun was remarkable.
Jasper Fforde? He's simply unique. He writes seemingly simple books about "Jurisfiction", "Literary Detectives" and "Nursery Crimes", but they are absolutely packed with puns and clever literary references. His best might be Shades of Gray, which portrays a world where you status is determined by what colors you can see and how well you can see them. Like nothing you've ever read before.
I'm just starting Chuck Pahliniuk's "Damned" with the Man Booker Prize finalist "Room" by Emma Donoghue to follow. If I get desperate for a laugh, I have a signed copy of "Demonic" by Ann Coulter. I haven't been able to force myself to read even the first page yet, but who knows?
Anything by george peleconos-gritty mysteries set in DC
Charles Portis-True Grit and other gems
The Shardlake series set in Cromwell-Henry VIII time by CJ Sansome
Cuban mystery novels by Leonardo Padura