Like reading Thackeray edited by Elmore Leonard

New website home

Welcome to the new website.  I want to start off with a really happy thought.  I have just been asked by Barnes & Noble to recommend my ten favourite mysteries, with as many as possible fairly recently written.  They didn’t specify that they should be available in America, but I take that as a given.  This, of course, means that I shall have to obtain, and read, all the latest works I can find of my favourite authors.  And then I need to write two or three sentences on what I particularly enjoy in them.

So I am therefore obliged to read, or re-read ten really great mystery books – WITH A CLEAR CONSCIENCE!  What a gift.  Needless to say, I have already started.  I have four fairly long flights coming up before the deadline for turning in my piece.  London to New York, which will be almost eight hours, give or take, plus plenty of waiting time in airports.  New York to San Francisco - another six hours or so.  Then the whole lot on the way back, which is usually just a little shorter.  I cannot sleep on flights.  I could if I were able to lie down, but not folded up like a broken deck chair and jammed into a plane seat, which I think were designed to make work for osteopaths.  But if I get caught up in a really good book then I am in another world anyway, so none of that matters.

I will enjoy thinking exactly what do I like about each book.  From that I should learn a great deal, both about good writing, and about my own values.  I might also learn how to write more powerfully myself. What will all these favourite books have in common?  They will all have characters that I have come to care about and whose company I enjoyed, whatever they were doing.  I will believe in their lives and their emotions.

I will probably feel a strong sense of atmosphere and place.  (They are all actually present day!)  The issues that matter to them will matter to me.  Above all I will be moved by their integrity, their courage and their flashes of amazing compassion. I expect the writers will all be skilled, have a good turn of phrase, great plotting etc.  But it is the passion of the mind behind it all that will keep me.

Some ‘jobs’ are just close to perfect, aren’t they?  The result should be on the Barnes & Noble website mystery page in April.  Thank you Barnes & Noble!

Enjoy your reading and have a good month!