Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Tenth Day of Christmas: Suspense

I’ve loved reading mysteries and suspense since I was six or seven years old. The first one I can remember reading was Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion. I can also remember ordering ever mystery offered by Scholastic Book Service at school, inhaling all of the Hardy Boys (with a slight detour into the Tom Swift science fiction stories), and then going on to mysteries with murders and general mayhem. Even today, I usually can’t resist the newest mystery novel by Elizabeth George, P.D. James, Ian Rankin or the Spanish writer Arturo Perez-Reverte (English translation).

Christian fiction has its own sub-genre of mystery and suspense, and a growing category of horror. And there’s a lot of controversy within the ranks, so to speak; not everyone likes it or believes it to be “edifying.” But I’ve found four novelists are who tell great stories, and I will read anything by them.

Earlier this year, not too long before I started blogging, I discovered Mike Dellosso and his novel The Hunted, shortly before he published his latest novel, Scream. Set in Pennsylvania where Mike lives, these are stories more influenced by Stephen King than P.D. James. There’s mystery, to be sure, but there’s also horror, and sometimes the supernatural. He writes about life in a small-town, but it’s life like you’ve never run across before. I got hooked. His next novel, Darlington Woods, is due out in May 2010.

Then I saw a recommendation for Isolation by a Chicago-based novelist named Travis Thrasher. He’s a full-time writer, and has written 12 novels, including a love story and a lot of mysteries and suspense. His novel Sky Blue is a personal favorite, and I’ve also read Admission and Ghostwriter. Some are mysteries, all are suspenseful and a few fall into the horror category (As I read Isolation, I had to occasionally put it down, go walk around and calm myself, and then come back – the tension that Thrasher creates is something else). He’s under contract for a series of Young Adult novels, and has just self-published Every Breath You Take because it was something he wanted to do. (Yes, I’ve ordered it.)

Adam Blumer's novel Fatal Illusions was published in the late spring, and I don’t think I will ever look at magicians the same way again. Adam is a freelance editor who lives in Michigan’s U.P., and this is his first novel – and it’s a corker of a story about a family trying to take a healing sabbatical, and instead finding themselves being stalked but not one but two different people for two different reasons. Don’t read this novel before turning the lights out for the night; I made that mistake and lay in bed wide-eyed for some time. Adam is also working on his next novel.

Sam Batterman also published his first novel this year, called Wayback. It leans more in the direction of science fiction than the other three novelists, and it’s more like Michael Crichton than Stephen King. It’s got a fascinating premise – that scientists are able to prove the Biblical flood, and travel back in time to do just that. The descriptions of the landscape – and of the cataclysm of the flood itself – are incredible. Batterman is working on a sequel to WayBack.

(Over at the High Calling Blogs, we’re celebrating the 12 days of Christmas by highlighting a blog or web site of someone besides ourselves during this season of Advent and Christmas.) (Which is what we should also be doing the other 353 days of the year.)


Maureen said...

I used to read a lot of mysteries and went through all I could find of Michael Crichton. I haven't picked up something from the mysteries and suspense group in years, since my son was young. You write so well of these books, I may just have to open a few of them.

Anonymous said...

time travel... probably better than flying frontier.

L.L. Barkat said...

I'd be glad to see more of this kind of stuff from Christian writers. To me, "Christian publishing" is able to handle a lot more literarily than it currently does.

Laura said...

I agree with L.L. Have you read any of Ted Dekker's stuff? You must be a voracious reader, Glynn! I can't keep up with you.

Would you recommend any of these for a thirteen year old boy? I have so much trouble keeping Teddy in books. He love the sci-fi stuff.

Mike Dellosso said...

Hey, Glynn, thanks for including my books in this list. All great books and the authors are genuinely great guys.

Sam Batterman said...

Glynn, thanks for including me in such amazing company. I look forward to reading your great blog for many years to come. Keep up the great work!

Adam Blumer said...

Thanks for highlighting me and my novel in your list. Much appreciated, and I'm so glad you liked the novel.