On this Valentine’s Day I’ve decided that rather than go the romantic route or spend several paragraphs talking about myself — which is what we tend to do on blogs — I’ll tell you about two books by friends of mine who happen to be exceptional writers.
One of them by a fellow Killer Year classmate, Brett Battles, while the other is written by a “friend” of Killer Year, Philip Hawley, Jr.
One of the benefits of being a published writer is making friends like Brett and Phil and getting a chance to read their books before publication.
Back at Bouchercon, Brett Battles and I cemented a rather new friendship when we discovered that we had a number of things in common. And before the conference was over, we traded ARCs. Brett’s was a lavender bound thing called THE CLEANER (now replaced by a fantastic new cover) and the moment I read the first line, I knew I was in the hands of a skilled craftsman.
I’m a first line kinda guy. I like writing first lines that hook you and I love reading them as well. And Brett’s first line, his first paragraph, his first page told me a lot about what I was in for with this book.
I am extremely busy these days and am admittedly a slow reader, so I had to read THE CLEANER in fits and starts. But every time I returned to it, I found myself in a world I loved, with characters I felt comfortable with.
THE CLEANER is a spy thriller, but the machinations of the plot (although clever) are less important than the interaction between the characters and the wonderful settings Brett has put them in, including Vietnam and Germany. It won’t be out until June, so be sure to put it on your must buy list.
Next up is Phil Hawley’s STIGMA.
I have, however, a confession to make: I haven’t yet finished Phil’s book. I started it shortly before Left Coast Crime and must again blame my schedule and my slow reading habits.
But I can tell you this. Even though this is Phil’s very first book — his very first ATTEMPT at writing a book (correct me if I’m wrong here, Phil) — it reads as if he has been writing for many, many years. He’s that good. And if you aren’t sucked in after the first chapter, you’re made of stone.
STIGMA is a thriller that takes you from a Los Angeles children’s hospital ER to the jungles of Central America, and like Brett, Phil gives us characters that we want to be with and follow on their journey.
STIGMA is coming out late February, early March, so be sure to look for it.
Okay, so I know that Valentine’s Day is a time for hearts and flowers and chocolate and romance and all that good stuff. But it’s also a time, I think, to reflect on all the good things in our lives, and there’s no bigger thrill than discovering a new writer whose work you enjoy.
In the course of just a few months, I’ve discovered two of them —
— and am lucky enough to call them my friends.
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