Who are my own favourite novelists? Well, I tend to take a pretty broad-brush approach, though I suppose I do tend to opt for mystery dramas or mystery thrillers. I’m a great admirer of Michael Connelly and his Harry Bosch series. I love Connelly’s spare, economical prose style. And I can’t deny a liking for Lee Child, though I’ve found his later novels much less engaging and more formulaic than his earlier ones. But I’ve read that his latest marks a return to form. I’d better read it!
I also love CJ Box and his series about game warden Joe Pickett: wonderfully vivid and atmospheric, even if they sometimes turn a bit melodramatic. Lately I’ve discovered a newer series by Paul Doiron about another game warden – this time set in Maine, whereas Box’s are mostly set in Wyoming. Doiron shares Box’s ability to evoke atmosphere and details of location beautifully, even if it isn’t always a pretty picture, and his flawed but determined leading character Mike Bowditch is very likeable.
I think I’ve read all the novels of Peter Temple, the Australian-based writer. His thrillers were written in the 1990s and 2000s. I’ve enjoyed them all to some extent – even when the local vernacular used by some characters has threatened to defeat me! I’ve been puzzled by the lack of information on the web about why he apparently stopped writing altogether in 2010, but I guess I’ll work it out eventually. If he is still able to write more, I wish he would!
Looking back a bit, I remain a big fan of Dick Francis in his heyday. In my opinion he hit his best form in the late 1960s, when he came out with a succession of truly outstanding thrillers – full of vivid characters, cleverly wrought plots and economical, witty prose. My favourite is Blood sport, a mystery that ranges from the Thames to east coast America and then Wyoming. It didn’t appear to be available in digital form when I first checked, but now it’s on sale on Kindle. It’s outstanding. Flying finish would be my second choice. Dick Francis’s later novels became a bit formulaic and contrived, but I would argue that nothing can detract from his best.
And my favourite novel of all time? Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. It would take a whole blog to explain why, but suffice to say that it’s the funniest and most engaging story I’ve ever read.