Tom Colgan is an Executive Editor at Berkley Books. When he’s not reading for pay, he’s reading for play, and when he’s not doing that he’s sleeping. If your threshold for nonsense is high you can follow him on twitter @tomcolgan14.
I’m probably stretching the definition of suspense to include this one, but I’ve been in love with Chris Buehlman’s writing since reading his first novel, Those Across the River. Like that book, The Lesser Dead, is a story of horror set against a historical backdrop. Since the setting here is 1970’s New York City, it’s the first historical novel set in an era of which I have first hand knowledge. Although, at the time the worst thing I had to deal with was the subway not vampires.
Margaret Coel has written 18 mysteries about Jesuit priest John O’Malley and Arapaho attorney, Vicky Holden set against the backdrop of Wyoming’s Wind River reservation. The writing is so enthralling, the descriptions of the area so evocative and the characters so intriguing that several years ago when my family was planning a trip to the west I confessed to Margaret, “I started thinking about visiting my friends on the Wind River reservation only to realize, I don’t know anyone there.” I guess there is a (small) downside to writing this good.
The rules force me to pick one book per author so I’ll go with the latest from Robert Crais, but, really, you should read all of them (even the non-Penguin ones). He’s a master of suspense who never fails to deliver memorable characters and intense action.
What makes SUSPECT stand out from his other titles is that this time around his protagonist isn’t human. Maggie is a German Shepherd who lost her handler to an IED in Iraq and has been sent home with PTSD. Now with the LAPD, she’s labeled as unmanageable until she meets Scott James, an officer who was wounded in an attack that killed his partner. Now both he and Maggie are looking for a second chance, but they may be getting too close some very dangerous men. Dogs don’t have nine lives.
As a former history major, I’m a big fan of historical thrillers, and, boy, they don’t come any better than Alex Grecian’s Murder Squad books. Set in Victorian-era Britain, these are tales of the early days of Scotland Yard and the fledgling science of criminal investigation. The first book, THE YARD, was great, but you could just feel the author building steam as he moved through the series. In THE DEVIL’S WORKSHOP a group of gentlemen vigilantes stage a prison break in order to get their hands on some particularly heinous criminals. However, things go badly wrong and instead of justice they get terror when they unexpectedly free the greatest evil Britain has ever seen, Jack the Ripper himself.
I can’t let you go without recommending a couple of good cozy mysteries. First up is BOOK CLUBBED by Lorna Barrett. Stoneham, New Hampshire is heaven for any bibliophile. It’s a booktown, a quaint village that has revitalized its tourism industry by turning empty storefronts over to used bookstores. People come from all over to browse, buy and eat at the various restaurants. Oh how I wish it was real!
It certainly feels like a visit to a familiar place when you are reading one of the charming Booktown mysteries from Lorna Barrett. Over the course of eight books, she’s introduced us to the quirky inhabitants of Stoneham which for all its appeal is murder on its residents. BOOK CLUBBED centers on something I’ve never come across before, murder by bookcase.
When it comes to cozies, you have to think of Laura Childs. She’s the author of not one, not two, but three bestselling cozy mystery series. Scorched Eggs is the sixth in her Cackleberry Club series. The small Midwestern town of Kindred is the home of the club, a combination café, bookstore, knitting shop and quilting supply store. That’s a lot to pack into one series, but Laura is adept at creating charming characters and placing them in jeopardy while keeping the story rollicking along.
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