The Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group discussion

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Book Hunting / Recommendations > Looking for something fresh

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message 1: by Tracy (new)

Tracy | 32 comments I'm a big mystery/thriller reader and have read most of the big names such as John Stanford, Tess gerritsen, James Patterson, Harlen Coben, Patricia Cornwall, etc... I have to say that I am starting to get dismayed at how formulaic a lot of these books are getting. Same ol cop/detective with personal isseus from past, Heroine falls for the always available FBI guy,....the same equation, just different variable names typed in, you know what I mean?
I am looking for mystery/thriller writers that don't use the old stand by formulas.
Let me know if you come across any. I'd sure like a fresh take on a good story.


message 2: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I have to agree that many of the books tend to use the same scenarios that you mentioned. I am a reader of the classics from the Golden Age.......there do not seem to be as many personal demons and love interests thrown into the plot. I would suggest some of the following authors: EC Bentley; Agatha Christie's Harley Quin stories; Freeman Wills Crofts; Anthony Berkeley; Ngaio Marsh; George Simenon; and Nicholas Blake. There are many more but that is a start for you to consider.


message 3: by Donna, Co-Moderator (last edited Mar 05, 2011 06:51PM) (new)

Donna | 2178 comments Mod
Hi Tracy. I moved this to the book hunting/recommendations folder.

I looked through my bookshelves and came up with a couple of suggestions.

Monkeewrench - quirky characters and a fast pace.

Wife of the Gods: A Novel - set in Africa
Blood of the Wicked - set in Brazil
White Sky, Black Ice - rural Alaska

Murder in the Marais: An Aimee Leduc Investigation - set in Paris

There are police officers in some of the ones above and a few personal issues but not an FBI agent in sight.

Have you tried historical mysteries?
The Coroner's Lunch
Maisie Dobbs
The Rhetoric of Death
Death of a Nationalist


message 4: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl From the Golden Age and before: John Buchan for old-fashioned thrillers, Dorothy L. Sayers for amusing Brits.


message 5: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Michael | 674 comments I have a lot of the same issues, can hardly stand to read any more of the "lawyer as investigator" things anymore, among others.

P.J. Tracy's "Monkeewrench" series is different, quirky characters, fast paced

Craig Johnson's series about a modern Wyoming sheriff, starting with "The Cold Dish" is anything but formula-written

Dick Francis wrote some very interesting mysteries, though unless you are particularly interested in horse racing, his earlier books may not work well for you. Later books kept some horse racing background but the main plot was less heavily invested in the sport. Try Reflex, Proof, Hot Money, The Danger.


message 6: by Donna, Co-Moderator (new)

Donna | 2178 comments Mod
Sharon, your mention of Dick Francis made me think of the Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn series by Tony Hillerman. I really enjoyed the setting and the information about the Navajo culture. The series begins with The Blessing Way


message 7: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Michael | 674 comments I liked the Tony Hillerman books very much. I lived in southern Nevada for several years, learned to enjoy the desert very much. The books present the 'feel' of the desert very well.


message 8: by Tracy (last edited Mar 06, 2011 02:13PM) (new)

Tracy | 32 comments Donna and Sharon, I started Monkeewrench about a week ago, and I am loving the quirky characters and the plot. I'm interested in seeing what comes next.

Dick Francis might be fun..I used to show horses (much different world than racing), but still the horse connection would be neat to read.

Jill and Lobsergirl, thanks so much for your suggestions. I can't wait to try them out.

Actually, I can't wait to check out all the books that all of you suggested.


message 9: by Donna, Co-Moderator (new)

Donna | 2178 comments Mod
Hi Tracy, I'm glad you like the suggestions. I have to agree that sometimes a big name author seems to get into a rut if the market demand is there and they just crank out another book. The first couple may have been good but then it's more of the same.


message 10: by Dorie (last edited Mar 06, 2011 06:35PM) (new)

Dorie (dorieann) | 464 comments If you haven't tried John Hart, I usually recommend him. Most people seem to like his books. I've personally loved all three of them. I think each one is better than the last. These are not a series but three standalone books:

The King of Lies
Down River
The Last Child

I also thought Louise Penny's books were different in that her protagonist is a likeable fellow who is happily married, and nary a drinking problem in sight. Hers is a series, and it starts with Still Life.


message 11: by Gatorman (new)

Gatorman | 7679 comments If you want something beyond the standard formula, try John Connelly or Mo Hayder. Both are excellent and have a real edge to their writing.


message 12: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Michael | 674 comments Tracy wrote:
Dick Francis might be fun..I used to show horses (much different world than racing), but still the horse connection would be neat to read.


I've been a horsewoman all my life so getting horse related issues 'wrong' will almost invariably annoy me to the point that I cannot finish the book. Dick Francis definitely gets the horse stuff right.

Another author that does the horse thing right is Rita Mae Brown in her "Sister Jane" series, which centers around the people involved in a fox hunting club in Virginia. I do not generally care for books in which animals converse, but it works for me in this series. The author is, I believe, the master of hunt in a VA foxhunting club, so I suspect what she writes of is very accurate, though I've never lived in VA and never been in the hunt field.



message 13: by Tracy (last edited Mar 08, 2011 07:06AM) (new)

Tracy | 32 comments Sharon wrote: "Tracy wrote:
Dick Francis might be fun..I used to show horses (much different world than racing), but still the horse connection would be neat to read.


I've been a horsewoman all my life so get..."


Sharon, I also cringe when the horse related issues are wrong...it totally destroys the author's credibility imo. I have read Outfoxed and liked it as well as the first 6 or so Sneaky Pie Brown series.
Did you ever read the series by Carolyn Banks? It starts with Death by Dressage and they are fast reads with a little humor thrown in.Death by Dressage


message 14: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Michael | 674 comments Tracy wrote: Did you ever read the series by Carolyn Banks?

I tried that series, think I read either one or two of the books. Can't remember now exactly why I didn't continue but have the feeling I just couldn't connect with the main character.

Have you read anything by Jody Jaffe? I've had several horse friends suggest that one but haven't tried any yet.



message 15: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8598 comments Mod
Have you considered Scandinavian crime fiction? Henning Mankell's books are excellent; I'm currently finishing up the series by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (Martin Beck) and they're most excellent.

just a thought


message 16: by Michael (new)

Michael Wallace This is my frustration, too, writers who once wrote fresh, interesting stuff, but now seem to mail it in. I hope that this is one change we'll see out of the ebook revolution, that the increased competition will force some of those writers, who I am convinced still have good books in them, to go to the effort they once did.


message 17: by Hayes, Co-Moderator (new)

Hayes (hayes13) | 2060 comments Mod
Thanks for the great suggestions everyone.


message 18: by Tracy (new)

Tracy | 32 comments Sharon wrote: "Tracy wrote: Did you ever read the series by Carolyn Banks?

I tried that series, think I read either one or two of the books. Can't remember now exactly why I didn't continue but have the feeling ..."


I have tried Jody jaffe. Her first book was good but then she started to get preachy about her anti-Christianity. That turned me off.

Thanks everyone for all your suggestions!!!


message 19: by Bill, Co-Moderator (new)

Bill | 5414 comments Mod
You might like to try David Rotenberg's mysteries set in China, with Police Detective Zhang Fong. Hua Shan Hospital Murder is one of the series. They are different and excellent, very exciting.


message 20: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3 comments Hi Tracy,

I know how you feel about formulaic mysteries. It get frustrating after awhile. You might want to try my new novel THE CARD just released this week. It's a Young Adult novel that is action/mystery not paranormal romance. It is Adult appropriate as well, just not as much swearing or sex.

The action is real and it should keep you guessing right up until the end. If it doesn't, let me know, because that means that I have to do better.

Have fun and thanks!


message 21: by Caroline (new)

Caroline (pip_squeak) Hi Tracey!
I found a wonderful author whom you may like to read, S.J. BoltonReally refreshing suspense thrillers! Also Simon Beckett and his David Hunter series, Although he has some past issues, The stories are WELL worth reading,
Hope you find something you like
x x


message 22: by Tracy (new)

Tracy | 32 comments Jim and Caroline,
All of them sound good. I'll check them out.


message 23: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (elizabeth8921) | 7780 comments Just digging into Studio Sex by Liza Marklund. Different format and really enjoying it.


message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim  (lpmusicman) | 2 comments Tracy wrote: "I'm a big mystery/thriller reader and have read most of the big names such as John Stanford, Tess gerritsen, James Patterson, Harlen Coben, Patricia Cornwall, etc... I have to say that I am startin..."

Highly recommend James Lee Burke (numerous novels very strong) and "Smilla's Sense of Snow" by Peter Hoeg.


message 25: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (elizabeth8921) | 7780 comments "Smilla's Sense of Snow" the best mystery I have read.


message 26: by Donald (last edited Apr 19, 2011 08:19PM) (new)

Donald Grant (drdon1996) | 122 comments The Demise Of The Soccer Moms" is a psychological suspense thriller by Cathryn Grant. This is a quote from a review "Grant has a way of layering her world with chilling details that *seem* ordinary, but aren't. Her characters are beautifully fleshed out and detailed. Without ever telling us what, exactly, is wrong with them, she fills their conversations and observations with enough clues to let the reader figure it out." I highly recommend it if you are looking for something fresh!! The Demise Of The Soccer Moms by Cathryn Grant


message 27: by Lpmusicman (new)

Lpmusicman | 1 comments Yeah, "Smilla" is really impressive and gripping, and I was surprised a male writer was able to connect so well with a woman's psyche (at least it seemed that way to me).


message 28: by Chris (new)

Chris Stanley (christinelstanley) | 44 comments Have you tried Shona Mclean's The Redemption of Alexander Seaton and it's sequel A Game of Sorrows, both are extraordinaryly good


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