I was disappointed that my panelist Eileen McGill got snowed in at her home in California and missed both the panel and the entire conference. Turns out, you have to drive through Donner’s Pass to get to Reno from her house and it began snowing just before she could get through. I was supposed to go on a Donner Party historical tour, but it was also cancelled due to the weather.
In addition to hosting the panel, I attended excellent workshops and met a bunch of interesting new authors.
I always like to read authors I’ve met personally, talked with or listened to on author panels. It makes their stories resonate more deeply, to know something about the author.
I became interested in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series after hearing her speak about how she decided to write that series. And her presentation on the decisions she and the filming crew made when the books were adapted for the Starz series pointed out the difficulty of cutting a six- hundred-page novel into 60 -minute episodes for the Starz mini-series.
At the first writers’ conference I ever attended, Lisa Gardner, the guest speaker, told us about sneaking out of the house and driving downtown to interview prostitutes for one of her first books, Say Goodbye. Now I’ve read more than a dozen of her novels.
At that same conference, a handsome ex-lawyer I’d never heard of, Bob Dugoni, congratulated me on winning first place in the conference’s unpublished writer contest that year. He was so nice, I picked up one of his books and read it on the plane ride home. It was really, really good. Now, everyone who reads suspense knows his name.
So, I attended Left Coast Crime this year, not just as an author, but also as a reader…a reader with an eye out to discover some new favorite authors. Some of them have just written their debut novel. Others are only new to me. I tried to make some type of personal connection with each writer on this list.
Please, take a look, and give some books I’ve listed a try, if you like suspense or crime fiction. Or, check out the whole gallery of titles for each author at your bookseller of choice.
As he doggedly plumbs these ghastly depths, Rafferty matures from a play-it-as-it-lays layabout into a man willing to meet his lover's culture more than halfway and find his moral compass at a time when the victims can be as guilty as the murderers are innocent. The fact that the referenced pedophile photo series and Phnom Penh torture house both existed heightens the impact of a narrative that's already deeply felt. Hallinan is off to a surefooted start with this new series. Why I’m reading –Halliman is a veteran writer who happens to be new to me. I attended both of his panels and, when he described his characters in the Taking Emotional Risks panel, it was easy to see this man cares deeply about his characters. He writes 2 series. When I asked him, after the panel, which book to read first if I love character-driven suspense, he recommended this first book of his Bangkok series.
For this book, he moves his protagonist to the Arizona desert and tees up on the timely subject of illegal immigration. Whatever our political views, this is a subject that warrants thought and discussion, although Cork feels like a fish out of water.
Why I’m reading – Krueger won the Lefty award this year for best mystery, so I came home and read it immediately. His style is a bit too back-woods folksy for my taste, but the writing is excellent. If you like cozy mysteries, and a protagonist with strong moral principles, I’m betting you’ll like this book.
Natalie Delaney, a crime reporter from the Chicago Times, discovers that daughters of Democratic powerhouses are the real targets. Obsessed with finding who is behind the killings, Natalie becomes entangled in an underworld where drugs, cops, gangs, politics, and privilege collide. Risking everything, this reporter becomes the story… Why I’m reading- Cheryl is a former editor and reporter at the Chicago Sun Times, a professor at Syracuse University, and a journalism grad from U of Missouri, my alma mater. Her past is so full of excitement and awards, I’m willing to give her debut fiction novel a try—and it’s a plot that could have been ripped from today’s headlines.
Fighting to stay on the path of the righteous while confronting evil at every turn, Father Chavez finds himself in a battle of good versus evil, with the souls of hundreds hanging in the balance. Why I’m reading – A Priest who infiltrates a human-trafficking ring caught my interest. Plus, I have human trafficking in my work-in-progress, so it will be interesting to compare.
Ellie is sure that Sgt. McKeever meant that as a compliment, but that identity-a girl wanting to do a man's job-has throttled her for too long. It's 1960, and Ellie doesn't want to blaze any trails for women; she just wants to be a reporter, one who doesn't need to swat hands off her behind at every turn.
Adrift in her career, Ellie is back in New York City after receiving news that her estranged father, a renowned Dante scholar and distinguished professor, is near death after a savage bludgeoning in his home. The police suspect a routine burglary, but Ellie has her doubts. When a second attempt is made on her father's life, in the form of an "accident" in the hospital's ICU, Ellie's suspicions are confirmed.
Then another professor turns up dead, and Ellie's investigation turns to her father's university colleagues. She embarks on a thorny journey of discovery and reconciliation, as she pursues an investigation that offers her both a chance at redemption in her father's eyes, and the risk of losing him forever.
Why I’m reading – First, every book of Ziskin’s has an intriguing premise. Second, the man has won almost every suspense award out there, and his latest novel was nominated for Lefty’s Best Novel award. Third, he was friendly and open and not at all “lofty” at the conference, despite being one of the best-known authors at the conference. Based on his recommendation, I’m starting at the beginning of his series.
Good reading! Leave and note and let me know if you find anything you like.