Currently reading my way through Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins series. For those who don't know (and I didn't until November last), a single mother priest and 'deliverance minister' (read 'exorcist') confronts mysteries ancient and modern in rural Herefordshire. Complex, multi-faceted fiction that blends history, myth and faith in a unique blend. The dialogue and characterization are wonderful, though (IMO) the earlier novels suffer from too many ideas. As the series progresses, however, it 'deepens like a coastal shelf' to quote Philip Larkin.
Jo Nesbo: Cockroaches.
The second Harry Hole book is finally available in English and is well worh the wait.
Harry battles booze, his enemies in Norway and an ambassador's killers along with those who want to cover up the reasons for the murder in Bangkok.
A great read.
I sampled three books, each highly commended by others.
Kerry Greenwood, Phryne Fisher in URN BURIAL. This started like a very silly Agatha Christie. Couldn't abide the style and tossed it.
Stuart Neville, STOLEN SOULS. I might have read this or other books on the same subject: the slave trade with young Eastern women being forced into prostitution in England/Ireland. No longer interested in the subject.
Declan Hughes, ALL THE DEAD VOICES. Shamus winner. This is about the Irish troubles and people blowing each other up. It also involves sports. Sports are not for me. As for the other violence: this was a strangely boring account of such activities. Tossed again.
Where have all the good books gone?
These recommendations are based on your comments.
Try James Lee Burke. If you haven't sampled him already begin at the beginning - with Heaven's Prisoners and Neon Rain. Nobody writes crime more like a poet than Burke.
For literary efforts into the genre, read Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem and Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon - particularly the former.
For feminine hardboiled, read Megan Abbott, particularly The End of Everything and Queenpin. I understand that her latest efforts are also excellent - Dare Me and The Fever - but I haven't got to them as yet.
Thumbs up from me for James Lee Burke.
I know James Lee Burke. He's a good writer, but I don't care for his settings. Again subjective.
For some reason, literary mysteries always leave me a tad disappointed. (see Umberto Eco)
Don't like feminine hardboiled. Very tired of female characters in male roles being twice as macho as the guys.
(Don't like feminie cozy either :) )
Consider the books I'd suggested (except perhaps Inherent Vice). You might change your mind.
Isn't everything subjective? Yet, we manage to share and agree sometimes...
Yes, indeed. Plus I'm incredibly picky and prefer foreign settings.
I read all of Robicheaux novels except the last three. Only two or three Holland novels. I don't like his earlier more 'serious' work. Well-written but boring to extreme. Better off reading Cormac McCarthy.
I agree with most of what you've written above. However, this applies mostly to any series that stays around a long time. Holland is a carbon copy of Robicheaux and, as such, not really satisfying. I do one thing with any genre author that I like. I read two or three works and then keep away from them for a year or longer.
Try Dennis Lehane, if you haven't already. John Burdett was very interesting with the first three books in his Bangkok series. (I live partly in Bangkok. Nobody has captured the city better than Burdett, IMO.) Cara Black does good things with her Paris and female sleuth. But you'll remember not much after you go through the books.
Burke is a poet. He is a rich poet now and probably Robicheaux will die with him.
You'd remember after going through my books.
I like Burdett. Also like Hallinan. Tossed the most recent Qiu. Best of all the foreign locales: Andrea Camilleri.
Not sure if this is for me. It's been years. I've read maybe 5. Got really angry with the one where he makes charges of gross cruelty against some German naval vessel. The old Nazi propaganda.
But mostly I got tired of the same old same old: the adorable daughter, the house on the bayou, the wonderful black characters, Creole characters, any kind of characters. Ranging towards the sickeningly sweet.
He does do some lovely descriptions of scenery, though. That in the face of the dictum that no mystery must ever describe setting or weather.
Just finished Indridason's STRANGE SHORES. As usual atmospheric, it describes what Erlendur has been doing in eastern Iceland.
Now reading Qui Xiaolong's RED MANDARIN DRESS, same theme of the solution of a murder crime in the political context of Shanghai.
I've been thinking about what makes an above average mystery book. For me it is drawing characters who seem real, about whom you care what happens.
Maybe that's why I'm so impatient with American books which seem to be interested only in serial killer tales. The serial killer can't really be understood; the profile is bloodless.