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Mystery Writers F and G

So thrilled to be up to "F." If I had remembered I was up to "F," I would have written this post sooner.

10. Gillian Flynn
I know everyone is excited about Gone Girl and how it's going to be made into a Major Motion Picture, but if you have the time, read Flynn's first two novels. They are so much better. I don't consider myself a reader of thrillers -- remember, I like police procedurals (and I enjoy a good night's sleep) -- but Dark Places and Sharp Objects are so well-written and tightly plotted they converted me. Sharp Objects was Flynn's first novel and was an Edgar Award finalist (it also taught me that southerners often put syrup on pork projects, which is a very tasty thing). Dark Objects is probably a little better, just as suspenseful and rich with characterizations. And it too is being made into a movie. Flynn's stories don't always have likeable protagonists (see Gone Girl). But that fact just adds to the storytelling. I do tell people who come in looking for Gone Girl to read Flynn's other novels -- if they want a good, dark read. (United States)

11. Tana French
French might be my favorite author (right now). Look for her Dublin Murder Squad series but realize they may not be in your library's mystery section -- the books cross genres and are great literature. (Michael Chabon has written about how genre novels should be taken as seriously as literary fiction and one day I will finish his book about this topic.) Each novel has a different detective protagonist, which made me sad at first because the first book was my favorite. I got over it. Definitely start with In the Woods. It won too many awards to list here. The Likeness, the second book, reminded me a bit too much of Donna Tartt's A Secret History for me to enjoy on its own merits. But Faithful Place made me go out and tell everyone to read these books. Broken Harbor was a bit of a letdown, but only because the detective is hard to love. (FYI, Tartt has a new book coming out this fall.) (Dublin)

12. Elizabeth George
George's books are beginning to be a drag. She has written 17 books set in London and thereabouts starring Detective Inspector Lynley and Detective Sargeant Barbara Havers. One or two books even have Lynley's best friends as the detectives (eh). I look forward to the novels in which Barbara has a starring role. Since tragedy struck Lynley, the books have less joy. And I don't understand why a certain lovely character was killed off. Her latest novel, Just One Evil Act, is due out soon and I will read it because it involves Barbara. But I was really put off by Believing the Lie because there seems to be a subliminal message: The characters killed were gay and/or transsexual. And I couldn't read at all What Came Before He Shot Her.  (London)

13. Sue Grafton
Unfortunately, Grafton's books have gone on too long for me too. Maybe if they weren't still set in the 80s? I'm not sure. I like her private detective Kinsey Milhone, but I'm so tired of her baking neighbor, her favorite little dive, her crazy familial relationships. I am sure that I haven't read the last few and I feel bad about that. I think V Is for Vengeance is buried under a pile of papers somewhere; I don't remember "U." Still her books are widely popular (our library system already has 196 holds for W Is for Wasted and it's not due out until next month. (California)


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