The above illustration, "Blowing Bubbles," has been adapted for use here by generous permission from the artist, Cyril Rolando.

September 4, 2010

Gimme Five! Contest

We all have our favorite authors. The Do-No-Wrong gang whose books we'll always buy, check that, whose books we'll pre-order on the first possible day. And somewhere in your personal Do-No-Wrong gang of scribes are bound to be some authors who are not all that well-known to the rest of the reading hordes.

Now that's who I'm after: Five authors who you believe are an unfairly guarded secret. The ones that if you could, you would make everyone read at least once. The ones for whom you scarcely, if ever, see a review or even simple praise. More than names, I want one title to go with that name, the one title that if I only ever read one book by that author, it should be that book. Five authors, one title each, got it?

Oh, wait. One more condition. No matter how the author is usually (if ever) marketed or branded, the books you select must be works of crime fiction. I'll leave it to your discretion to determine whether your choices meet that criterion.

Everyone is eligible to enter, but please enter one time only.

In return, if you have posted your High Five in the comments by 8 am EST on Wednesday, September 8, your name will be entered into a random drawing. The person whose name is drawn will get a free book of his own choosing, with a value up to $25. (Well, let's be reasonable - I'm not springing for a 1st edition, signed copy of a Raymond Chandler title for anyone but me. And not for me either.) And I will also purchase for myself one title from the winner's list. I consider this a win-win contest.

Want to convert me into a fan of your unknown favorites? Then get ready - set - GO!


  1. Here's my 5: S. J. Rozan, Reed Farrel Coleman, Sarah Shaber, Kerry Greenwood (Corrina Chapman series--haven't read Phryne Fisher lately), and Jeff Cohen (Aaron Tucker & Double Feature series; haven't read his new stuff). None of these are probably new to you, but if I'm talking to patrons in the library, they haven't heard of any of these authors until I talk them up. Sigh.

  2. O.k. Naomi, don't enter me in the contest because Lord knows I'm overwhelmed in books right now and I would rather someone else win the prize, but I want to share my five. And to be fair, I can't say that I've not seen ANY reviews or mentions of these folks, but definitely not enough.

    Craig McDonald - I'll pick TOROS AND TORSOS as my one title for him.

    Timothy Hallinan - While I love his entire Poke Raferty series, his newest, THE QUEEN OF PATPONG, totally blew me away.

    Thomas Holland - He only has two books, but maybe if more people read those he'll write more. I'll pick his K.I.A.

    Craig Johnson - I think his name is getting around a little more, but it still baffles me how many people I talk to who don't know about his Walt Longmire series. My favorite is still KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED, but the whole series rocks.

    Last is always the hardest to pick, but I'll go with Michael Lister. I enjoy his writing style. His John Jordan series is a unique approach to crime fiction, but I'm going to mention his stand alone DOUBLE EXPOSURE, which I thought had a poetic element interwoven in the noir. Loved the symbolism. It was fresh and different.

  3. George C Chesbro - now gone, but great author

    Manuel Ramos - Moody's Road To Hell is my favorite

    Daniel Judson - Dark and under appreciated

    Vicki Hendrix - Should be on every bookshelf

    Michael Slade - dark twisted procedurals set in Canada

  4. Ray Banks - SATURDAY'S CHILD

    Russel D. McLean - THE GOOD SON

    Dave Zeltserman - SMALL CRIMES

    Laurence Gough - THE GOLDFISH BOWL

    Steve Mosby - STILL BLEEDING

  5. Naomi,

    Although I adore Chris Grabenstein, and don't think he's reviewed or appreciated as he should be, I'm sure you've tried his books, thanks to Jen.

    So, here are my picks.

    Zoe Sharp - First Drop

    Steven F. Havill - Heartshot

    Robert Fate - Baby Shark

    Vicki Delany - In the Shadow of the Glacier

    Kathryn Casey - Singularity


  6. Oh, great giveaway, Naomi. Win-win, for sure.

    Let's see...I'll start with James Patterson. KIDDING!

    OK, for real:

    Gillian Flynn--SHARP OBJECTS or DARK PLACES. Flynn believes women can be just as vicious as men and sets out to prove it in these books. Her characters are extremely nasty but so compelling, you can't look away.

    Rupert Holmes--SWING. Yes, the "Pina Colada" guy has written two really good mysteries, with SWING being the better one. It takes place in 1940, with great period detail and a noir feel. One of the cleverest things about it is it comes with a music CD of jazz music (written & orchestrated by Holmes) in which clues are embedded. If you don't know a lot about music, the book is still immensely satisfying on its own.

    Craig Holden--THE RIVER SORROW. I was reading it at work on a lunch break when a co-worker asked if I was okay. I didn't realize the sorrow was showing on my face.

    Denise Hamilton--SUGAR SKULL or LAST LULLABY. Books 2 and 3 of her Eve Diamond series. Hamilton is really good at turning the multicultural aspect of Los Angeles into a character.

    T. Jefferson Parker--THE BLUE HOUR or THE FALLEN. BLUE is the first in his superb Merci Rayborn trilogy; it's followed by RED LIGHT & BLACK WATER. My heart was broken by the time the trilogy ended. FALLEN is a standalone and deals with synesthesia, a real and interesting neurological condition.

  7. Okay,
    1. Blue Heaven- Joe Keenan
    2. Ritual In The Dark - Colin Wilson
    3. The Cutting Crew - Steve Mosby
    4.Stiff Lips -Anne Billson
    5. Them - Jon Ronson

  8. My choices feature five solid mid-list writers who deserve far more recognition than they have received. In alphabetical order:

    - Max Allan Collins. This guy makes everything he does seem so easy. My pick: Stolen Away, his take on the Lindbugh kidnapping.

    - Bill Crider. The sage of Alvin, Texas. His series about Dan Rhodes may seem light-hearted, but under the surface is a dead-on study of small-town life. You could start anywhere in the series, but I'd start from the beginning with the award-winning Shotgun Saturday Night.

    - Ed Gorman. Gorman is one of the best short story writers in the mystery field; his novels are just as good. He has the eye of a poet with his understanding of (and sympathy for) the ordinary man. His Sam McLain series focuses on small-town America in the 50's and 60's. Try Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.

    - Joe R. Lansdale. Hisownself. Hap and Leonard are best friends, one white and straight, the other Black and gay: Lansdale puts them through the hoops. Mucho Mojo is a great addition to the series.

    - Bill Pronzini. Non-fiction works are excluded from this list, so I won't mention Gun in Cheek or 1001 Midnights. Pronzini's Nameless Detective is one the greatest fictional PIs ever. Nameless has grown and aged over the length of the series. If possible, start early with The Snatcher and go on to enjoy Nameless's journey through the series.

  9. Four Corners of the Night, Craig Holden
    The 37th Hour, Jodi Compton
    Go with Me, Castle Freeman
    Miami Purity, Vicki Hendricks
    Dope, Sara Gran

  10. Kem Nunn - Tapping the Source
    Newton Thornburg - Cutter and Bone
    Ed Gorman - Different Kinds of Dead
    Joe Lansdale - A Fine Dark Line
    James Reasoner - Texas Wind

  11. Ross Thomas - Briarpatch

    Oliver Bleeck (aka Ross Thomas) - The Brass Go-Between

    Norbert Davis - Sally's In The Alley

    Vince Kohler - Rainy North Woods

    Jasper Fforde - Something's Rotten

  12. None of the following are obscure and all but Gault are still writing and Campbell was up for a National Book Award this year, but these are five of many that I think more people ought to read, for if they did, these authors would have large followings:

    Thomas Keevers: What the Hyena Knows
    William Campbell Gault: Come Die With Me
    Richard Lange: This Wicked World
    Bonnie Jo Campbell: American Salvage
    Charlie Stella: Johnny Porno

  13. 1. TRUTH by Peter Temple. He just won Australia's premiere literary award for this book - first time ever for a crime novel. Brilliant.
    2. I'd list all Temple's other books as choices 2 - 5, but I guess that'd disqaulify me. So:
    2. TIJUANA STRAITS by Kem Nunn.
    3. THE REMORSELESS DAY by Reginald Hill.
    4. THE MIDWIFE OF VENICE by Roberta Rich.
    5. THE SUSPECT by L.R. Wright.

  14. Tough to narrow my list to five, but decided not to name some that others have named, to widen the exposure of some not named, who are top faves of mine, so here goes, in no particular order:

    1. Daniel Woodrell-Under The Bright Lights, this past series is too little known, and this man is beyond genius, in every book. His stand alones are beyond compare.

    2. Colin Cotterill-The Coroner's Lunch, this series set in Laos is also beyond compare, and have loved them all.

    3. Stan Jones-White Snow Black Ice, his series set in back country Alaska does so much much more than the 'better known' Alaska series, imo.

    4. Denise Mina-Garnethill, this trilogy should be used as a textbook on how to write a noir trilogy, and this first one took my breath away, have even re-read it, and loved it again.

    5. Peter Bowen-Coyote Wind, set in rural Montana and has none of the class or upscale things, just a Metis 'sort of' policeman who does as he pleases, and his people and his land. Love these!

    Ok, that's five. Read them! :-)

  15. Patti said Four Corners of the Night, Craig Holden to which I’ll add YES, YES, YES!

    Here’s my not 5

    The Long Fall by Lynn Kostoff (or any of his other two books)

    Lethal Injection by Jim Nisbet

    The Death of the Detective by Mark Smith

    Blackburn by Bradley Denton

    Stone City by Mitchell Smith

    All the Beautiful Sinners by Stephen Graham Jones

    Cruddy by Lynda Barry

    The God File by Frank Turner Hollon

    Snitch Jacket by Christopher Goffard

    Sky Full of Sand by Rick Demarinis

    The Open Curtain by Brian Evenson

    The Insult by Rupert Thomson

    The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno

    Also, for something very current, check out the four books that the Switchblade imprint have published.

  16. Brian beat me to Blackburn, so I'll try to come up with a unique 5...

    1. Extenuating Circumstances- Jonathan Valin
    2. Naked Moon- Domenic Stansberry
    3. Await Your Reply- Dan Chaon
    4. The Autumn Dead- Ed Gorman
    5. In The Lake of the Woods- Tim O'Brien (which may be my favorite novel ever).

  17. Ok, it's eight not five, but here are mine:

    Jeff Strand - Pressure

    Mark de Castrique - Dangerous Undertaking

    Steve Mosby - The Cutting Crew

    Jonathon King - The Blue Edge of Midnight

    Jack Kerley - The Hundredth Man

    Giles Blunt - Forty Words for Sorrow

    Nick Stone - Mr. Clarinet

    Jonathan Nasaw - Fear Itself

  18. Elizabeth, there's that Steve Mosby name again! I'm quite a fan of Giles Blunt, too.

    I'm sorry you missed the deadline for the contest, but I like your list!

  19. I know I missed the contest but I would still like to contribute my list of five.

    Steve Thayer - The Weatherman

    Jack Kerley - The Hundredth Man

    Josh Bazell - Beat The Reaper

    Brian Freeman - Immoral

    Train Man - P. T. Deutermann

  20. Thanks for adding to the list, Betty.

    pam, you have won the drawing. Please email me.

  21. A bit of overlap but I'll nominate five:

    S.J. Rozan: Winter and Night is superb, one of my favorite mysteries, over years of reading.
    Jodi Compton: The 37th Hour
    L.R. Wright: The Suspect (first in a series by this Canadian author about a police detective in British Columbia; she won an award in the mid-1980s for this, Felony & Mayhem Press reprinting this and one other of hers, so far)
    David Rosenfelt--writes light, witty defense attorney mysteries, and loves dogs--no, they do not talk, they are regular, talk-wagging canines. Fantastic when one needs a lift and humor.
    Stephen White: good series about a psychologist/sleuth in Boulder, Colo. The current one, "The Last Lie," is very good. His stand-alone, "The Siege," is chilling and well-done, not putdownable.

  22. Still seeking "pam" -- please contact me regarding your win by Oct. 31. After that, I'll draw names for a new winner.