Along with the large selection of upcoming and recently-released crime and thriller books I am regularly sent to review for various print and online publications, my rapidly-growing collection of out-of-print and hard-to-find Kiwi crime/thriller titles I am amassing courtesy of various second-hand outlets, and picking up and reading books (where time permits - now much less than before) from longtime 'favourite' crime writers of mine, there is a fourth stream of 'to read' books that I find myself occasionally dipping into.
That stream, so to speak, is an informal list of crime writers I have in my head, that I really want to get around to reading. Authors who have had some impact on the genre, or have been read by many fans over the past decades, that I should really sample for myself, in terms of not only perhaps finding further 'read-everything-they've written' favourites, but also improving my crime fiction 'education', for want of a better phrase. Authors I have on this list include the likes of Robert B. Parker, Sarah Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Joseph Wambaugh, Ed McBain, Ross Macdonald, and Tony Hillerman.
I have read many classic, and otherwise 'important' authors, from Conan Doyle and Poe through to Marsh and Christie, to Chandler and Hammett. I have read Sjowall and Wahloo, as well as several of their Schwedenkrimi descendants. I have even managed to get my hands on some books not easily available in New Zealand, and gone out of my way to try new authors where time and accessibility permit (e.g. Mark Zuehlke and William Deverell when I was in Canada in 2008). Overall I feel I have read far more, and more widely, than many crime fiction fans (who tend to be quite 'tribal' in their reading, finding authors they like and sticking with them), but still, there are so many, many, many authors and books I haven't read. Many of them that I would probably love.
Hence, my fourth stream of 'to be read' books and authors. An attempt, however small, to avoid complacency and sticking to what is known, and try not only new authors, but also older authors that are new to me. This has led me to the book I am reading (and enjoying thusfar) right now: A THIEF OF TIME by Tony Hillerman. Hillerman is an author I have been meaning to read ever since I first found out a bit more about him a couple of years ago. I even got out his debut, THE BLESSING WAY, from the library last year, but it was returned (overdue) unread, because I had far too many new books to read and review. So when I was in a second-hand store while visiting my old hometown of Richmond, Nelson last week, searching for lesser-known Kiwi crime, I also ended up buying a copy of A THIEF OF TIME.
I am also going to use this book as my "US" book for Dorte's 2010 Global Reading Challenge - as Hillerman is a new US author for me, and the book also has a unique US setting (Navajo reservations and surrounds) which fits in nicely with trying different geographies, crime fiction-wise.
Hillerman's eighth novel, A THIEF OF TIME (1988) begins at a moonlit Indian ruin—where "thieves of time" ravage sacred ground in the name of profit. A noted anthropologist vanishes while on the verge of making a startling, history-altering discovery. Then at an ancient burial site, amid stolen goods and desecrated bones, two corpses are discovered, shot by bullets fitting the gun of the missing scientist. There are modern mysteries buried in despoiled ancient places. And as blood flows all too freely, Navajo Tribal Policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee must plunge into the past to unearth an astonishing truth and a cold-hearted killer.
I am about a third of the way through, and really enjoying Hillerman's writing, and the story, thusfar. If the book continues in the current vein, I think I'll be adding Hillerman to my list of favourite authors, and trying to read many more of his books. If only I can find the time...
Do you have a list of authors you'd really like to read but haven't got around to yet? Do you like reading 'older' authors as well as new, contemporary titles? How do you decide what crime fiction to read - do you keep to favourite authors? Try a new one only when you've run out of their books? Go off friend recommendations? Listen to reviewers, bestseller lists, awards and other 'media' about books and authors? Thoughts and comments welcome.