Do I Want To Read… Criminal Authors; Val McDermid, James Ellroy & Jo Nesbø

I haven’t done a  ‘Do I Want To Read’ post on for a while but now seemed the perfect time. I don’t mean to bore you all with health issues at the moment but I think between the various waiting rooms I have managed to catch a corking cold and its put me in the mood for some crime anyway and I don’t mean cosy either. In fact what I have been hankering after is chilling and page turning crime and three authors have sort of been on my horizon who fit the bill for various reasons and who I wondered if you could recommend or not…

I was listening to one of my favourite book podcasts ‘The Book Show’ the other day and they repeated and interview with Val McDermid and her latest novel ‘Trick of the Dark’. Val McDermid is an author that I have always wanted to read and yet haven’t gotten round to. I actually got a copy of ‘Wire in the Blood’ ages ago and then a) found out it was the second in the series and I do like to read in order and b) the cover was atrocious (I think it was a magazine freebie) and I went right off it. Listening to her talking about her latest book, which also happens to be a standalone novel, I found her really compelling and so of course now I want to read all of her work. I have heard she is very chilling and it’s quite brutal which oddly, with flu and therefore furious at the world, is just what I am in the mood for right now.   

Another author I have wanted to read on and off is James Ellroy. I saw the film ‘The Black Dahlia’ a few years ago and was left rather confused and also really compelled, I thought ‘ooh I should read the book’ and then of course didn’t. I did the same with ‘L.A. Confidential’ actually thinking about it. Strolling through the City Library, which I will be reporting back on very soon, I caught sight of a What’s On pamphlet and saw that it was LGBT month and there is a regular book group which is ‘a monthly group for anyone who enjoys LGBT-interest fiction’ and one I thought with The Green Carnation Prize now back in swing (yes we are receiving submissions already) it might be interesting to pop by. Their next choice of novel is James Ellroy’s ‘The Big Nowhere’ so of course now I need to read the book. I am just worried it might be a little bit too hard boiled for me. What do you think?

Finally there is an author I seem to be seeing everyone reading, and who was recommended by a few of you when I tweeted my desire for chilling crime the other day and that was Jo Nesbø. I was actually sent ‘The Snowman’ a while back and passed it onto Novel Insights as ‘the new Stieg Larsson’ tag annoyed me (though oddly I have been mulling those over again after loving the films and being in this crimey mood) but I new she loved that series. It also bothered me that it seemed a bit Henning Mankell like an I had only read the first of those, and in fact must read the second at some point, and didn’t want to get my detectives confused. And yes the fact that it wasn’t the first in the series put me off too. Of course I am now intrigued and want to read the series from the start and apparently that’s ‘The Redbreast’ although on Wikipedia it says it’s ‘The Bat Man’ but that’s not out yet which leaves me in confusion, can any of you help and which have you read? Does the order matter?

So can you help? Recommendations on all three authors would be great, as would any specific thoughts on the titles that I have mentioned and pictured above or indeed any of the other titles by those very authors. I am looking forward to your thoughts, I have a feeling this is a post lots of you will be able to advise me on. Ooh, I just thought if there are any cracking crime authors I might have missed do let me know about those too!


Filed under Book Thoughts, Do I Want To Read?

22 responses to “Do I Want To Read… Criminal Authors; Val McDermid, James Ellroy & Jo Nesbø

  1. I just asked my husband about the James Ellroy because he really likes him and his comment was, that book is f*cked up, really gory and perverse and Ellroy’s darkest book. So there you go! He liked it (I think?) but I remember him reading it and telling me about how disturbing it was. The Black Dahlia is his favourite and it’s the first in the LA Quartet, with The Big Nowhere being the second in that series and LA Confidential the third, then White Jazz.

    • I gave up on the f*cked up book I have to say Carolyn, it just wasnt really working for me. That could possibly have had something to do with the fact I knew it wasnt the first in the series of these books which was narking me deep down.

  2. ana

    Apparently Ellroy’s crime memoir My Dark Places is very good. Am sure I read it ages ago and found it gripping. You get the crime and also the fascinating personal story as well. Could be just the thing to fight back against that miserable germ attack. Hope it works.

  3. Dot

    I was really disappointed with The Snowman but I have read other reviews where people loved it! I personally thought that Henning Mankell was better. Although nothing seems to be beating Tess Gerritsen for me at the moment, she is the queen of crime!

    • Its interesting Dot but I got the second Mankell from the library and for some reason simply couldnt get into it… but I liked the first, bit odd.

      I am going to see how I get on with the next Nesbo (as I now have had all of them as a gift from the publisher) and see how I go. I liked the first, am not quite hooked yet.

  4. That’s an easy one: you want to read Jo Nesbo. I just finished his latest novel, The Devil’s Star, which I’ll review soon. I’ve read that one of his earlier novels (there are only two) won an award for the best Norwegian mystery. The writing is taut, and in my opinion, far exceeds that of Stieg Larsson’s Girl With The Whatever She’s Boring Me To Tears series.

  5. The first two Tony Hill books by McDermid would be good if you want gore/brutality/darkness/kinkiness (The Mermaids Singing; Wire in the Blood).

  6. I read The Devil’s Star and was entertained by not impressed. Both The Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential are much better if you ask me.

    Ellroy is very dark and while he does include LGBT characters they are not typically the people the community wants to go around boasting about. He writes about the 1940’s to early 60’s in his best books which were not great years for LGBT folds in America.

    I’ve not read any of them but I do enjoy the Wire in the Blood television series.

    I’d say go with Ellroy if you’re feeling better, but stick with Nesbo if you’re still sick enough to find reading makes you tired. The Devil’s Star is a much easier read.

    • I foudn the Ellroy didnt quite suit my mood, and possibly was getting cross there was a prequel I hadnt had the chance to read… so I left it. Nesbo I was so, so about but will see how the series develops. McDermid though, now she is a treat.

  7. Simon, have you read Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larsson? That is a real pageturner. 🙂

  8. I like the snowman by Nesbo but have always dabble with crime my one booky weakness simon ,all the best stu

  9. novelinsights

    I’m totally unable to really help, but I’m definitely wanting to get around to reading The Snowman! I think you need to try Nesbo or you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about.

    • I have tried him… and I am still wondering what the fuss is about a little bit. Ha! But I will keep going as I have heard they get better and better and you become more and more involved.

  10. Pingback: Cover Her Face – P.D. James « Savidge Reads

  11. Eva

    The Redbreast is the first translated into English. It’s really the third in the series, but you can definitely start with it. You’ll find a few mentions of things that happened in Australia and Thailand (where the two first books took place),but it’ll be nothing critical to the enjoyment of The Redbreast.

    • I have to say I couldnt tell it was a thrid whereas I have heard readers of The Snowman really could tell it was a book later in a series and missed something because of that.

  12. Pingback: The Redbreast – Jo Nesbo « Savidge Reads

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