I could pretty much read mysteries and thrillers all the time but I know reading widely and outside my genre will help me become a better reader and writer. This past month, despite cramming in a lot of writing, I managed to read a couple books worth mentioning.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaledeis
Like WOMAN IN THE WINDOW last year, this book seems to be the publishing industry’s buzz book. I listened to it on audio and mostly enjoyed it. Good initial hook, a little boggy in the middle, clever ending.
In retrospect, I wish I had read it to pay more attention to see if the author played fair throughout. It uses some narrative sleight of hand to generate tension and surprise. Good beach read.
Light It Up by Nick Petrie
If you are a fan of Child’s Jack Reacher series that are a lot of imitators out there but few who do it nearly as well. Trust me, I’ve tried a lot of them while waiting for the next Reacher each November. Petrie is the real deal.
Over the years, Child has honed his narrative style to a knife’s edge. There is not fat on the bone. Most of the time this serves him well, especially if the mystery element is really clicking. But after twenty plus books there aren’t a lot of surprises left with Reacher.
Petrie’s Peter Ash is very much in the Reacher mold psychically (ex-Army, big, strong, acute need to help) but he’s also damaged and Petrie allows him to have more than the casual one book connection with other humans. The writing is crisp and clear and the vivid descriptions never get in the way of the action. The second book’s plot gets a little convoluted (common second book problem) but this third one is back on point. This is a top-notch action thriller series.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
One of those books that was such a wrenching experience that I’m not anxious to revisit. It was beautifully written but so intensely emotional that it really started to affect my mood and my willingness to pick it back up. It’s a testament to the writing and world building that Ng can evoke such strong emotions but it’s not a relaxing read!
A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston
After Stephen Tobolowsky’s book, this might be my favorite showbiz memoir. Cranston is an insightful writer and a good storyteller with an actor’s eye for details.
It’s much, much more than just his time as Walter White. In fact, I could have used more stories and examples from the hit show but it certainly didn’t detract from the book.
His life and stories are a good example of the drive, humility, and hard work it takes to succeed, not just in Hollywood, but any creative field.
May is national short story month. Shorts are a great way to try a new author’s work. (Hint: you can get my own novella SLEEPING DOGS for free right here). In the mystery genre, the Akshasic noir series is great.
I also think Laura Lippman is underrated as a mystery short story writer. Too often short stories end up as incomplete vignettes, even with mysteries. Lippman is great throughout, beginning, middle, and end.