Special Report: ThrillerFest IX, Part II | What We’re Reading

The LJ/School Library Journal crew is still recovering from our massive move (from downtown Manhattan to even farther downtown Manhattan) and will be back later to discuss their reading habits, In the meantime, here’s part two of the ThrillerFest WWR report. I prowled the show floor, panel discussion rooms, nooks, crannies, and beyond at ThrillerFest IX, held July 8–12 at New York City’s Grand Hyatt, to find out what attendees were reading.

A.X. Ahmad’s second Ranjit Singh thriller, The Last Taxi Ride, came out in June from Minotaur; he liked Death Money (Soho Crime) by Henry Chang, his fourth Chinatown title starring NYPD detective Jack Yu. Another Ahmad recommendation is Julia Dahl’s May 2014 debut, Invisible City (Minotaur).

Weir.TheMartianJeff Ayers, LJ reviewer and thriller author—his SWAT thriller set in the Seattle Public Library, Long Overdue (StoneHouse Ink), was on sale in the ThrillerFest bookstore—had some public and private reading recommendations. At a panel of reviewers led by author Jon Land, he suggested that good reviewers read outside of their genres, then went on to heap praise on the sci-fi title The Martian (Crown, originally self-published) by Andy Weir and Candice Millard’s nonfiction book Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President (Doubleday), the president in question being James Garfield. Later, off the dais, Ayers said he was looking forward to reading his next assignment for LJ: Alan Jacobson’s seventh Karen Vail thriller, Spectrum (Open Road Media).

At a book signing between panels (where he entertained and amused ThrillerFest attendees), Linwood Barclay, author of the August 2014 thriller No Safe House (NAL)*, talked about his love of John D. MacDonald, author of the famous and terrific Travis McGee novels. He’s rereading MacDonald’s The Lonely Silver Rain, the last in the series, first published in 1985 by Knopf and rereleased frequently since then.
* Spoiler alert: I’m reading this book right now and will have something to say about it in the next staff WWR—LF

RT Book Reviews Features Editor Mala Bhattacharjee provided moral support for her colleague Regina Small, who appeared on the ThrillerFest reviewers panel (check out Regina’s picks below). She is enjoying “the perfect summer read,” Riding the Wave (Signet) a surfer romance by Lorelie Brown.

Liz Berry, ITW (International Thriller Writers) Executive Director, says that romance helps her be a better “muse” to her husband, best-selling author Steve Berry. She especially likes paranormal romances, and Reaver (Grand Central) Larissa Ione’s fifth in the “Lords of Deliverance” series, was a particular favorite.

Martin.FevreDreamAt the cocktail party before the Thriller Awards banquet (and before she won a “Thriller” award for her self-published ebook original novel, The World Beneath), Rebecca Cantrell told us about Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin’s 1982 vampire novel, Fevre Dream (Poseidon Pr.), which is set in the 1850s on a Mississippi steamboat.

Matt Cook’s debut thriller Sabotage comes out in September from Forge Books. He’s reading all around and beyond his genre, including The Sigma Protocol (St. Martin’s) by Robert Ludlum and Nicholas Sparks’s The Longest Ride (Grand Central). “My entertainment attorney also reps Sparks,” added the savvy newcomer.

Hours before she presented the Best Young Adult Novel Thriller Award to Cristin Terrill (for her Disney-Hyperion release, All Our Yesterdays), Karen Dionne told us about her work with the Fox TV series The Killing. Her first tie-in novel, The Killing: Uncommon Denominator (Titan), was released last month. Dionne had just begun reading Lorenzo Carcaterra’s crime thriller, The Wolf, which Ballantine will publish in a couple weeks.

In addition to running the social media marketing firm Circle of Seven Productions, Sheila Clover English is in the process of writing a YA trilogy. She talked about zombies, specifically the “new take on post-apocalypse zoms” in John Maberry’s Rot & Ruin (S. & S.).

Kimberley Howe, Executive Director of ThrillerFest, stopped long enough to talk about going to a kidnapping and hostage-negotiation conference (yes, that’s a real thing!) and praise The Book of Negroes (HarperCollins) by fellow Canadian author Lawrence Hill (in the United States, the book is called Someone Knows My Name). Howe called the story of an African who’s kidnapped into slavery a “survival of the soul” tale.

D.P. Lyle’s third Samantha Cody thriller, Original Sin, releases in August from Reputation Books; he’s enjoying Tom Rob Smith’s new psychological thriller, The Farm (Grand Central).

Marr.MadeforYouMelissa Marr, thriller author? Yes, as of September, when her HarperCollins YA title Made for You comes out. Marr took time out at a book signing to recommend Elizabeth Blackwell’s “fantasy historical, also fabulous” title, While Beauty Slept (Amy Einhorn: Putnam).

Jennifer McMahon, who won a Best Paperback Original Thriller Award for her 2013 novel The One I Left Behind (Morrow), “absolutely loved” Keith Donohue’s The Boy Who Drew Monsters (Picador) calling it “wonderfully creepy.”

Former federal prosecutor and newbie thriller author (Dead Light, Sapphire Star Publishing) Mike Pace recommended two Oceanview titles: D.P. Lyle’s Run to Ground and David Putnam’s The Disposables. He added that Putnam is a former LA cop and his story “grabs you by the throat.”

Inspirational thriller author Dani Pettrey, whose fourth “Alaskan Courage” title, Silenced, came out in May from Bethany House, said she is catching up on Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series, having just read V Is for Vengeance (Marian Wood: Putnam). Next on her list is Lisa Gardner’s latest “D.D. Warren” adventure, Fear Nothing (Dutton).

Author of the “Smokey Annicelli Mysteries” and coauthor (with Don Mann) of the “SEAL Team Six Novels” Ralph Pezzullo had very good things to say about Kai Bird’s nonfiction title The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames (Crown).

Keith Raffel, author of A Fine and Dangerous Season (Thomas and Mercer), is going to Newfoundland soon, so what better book to check out than E. Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer Prize winner, The Shipping News (Scribner), which is set in that neck of the woods?

AnitaNair.CutLikeWe caught up with“Rebus” series author Ian Rankin right after he and a star-filled panel talked about creating iconic characters. He recommended Anita Nair’s Bangalore-set police procedural A Cut-Like Wound (Bitter Lemon Pr.), which he said contains “eunuchs, trannies, and quite a bit of social criticism.”

E-published author Suzanne Rorhus (Cuffed, a short-story “Readers Ride-Along” written with coauthor Bill Howe) just finished Lori Rader-Day’s debut, The Black Hour (Seventh Street).

ThrillerFest attendee Charina Russo is a proud reader of “smut”: she said Lauren Blakely’s self-published After This Night, book two in the author’s “Seductive Nights” series, was “really dirty.”

EdanCaliforniaAfter appearing on a reviewers panel with LJ fiction editor Wilda Williams, LJ reviewer Jeff Ayers, and other book review bigwigs, RT Book Reviews Senior Editor Regina Small recommended Men Explain Things to Me (Haymarket) by Rebecca Solnit and Edan Lepucki’s California (Little, Brown), the book that’s getting a lot of buzz after Stephen Colbert took it up as a cause célèbre.

Chevy Stevens, whose latest novel, That Night (St. Martin’s), received a starred review from LJ, confided that she doesn’t usually read fiction when she’s writing, but a recent book tour afforded her the opportunity to feast on titles by Liane Moriarty (The Hypnotist’s Love Story, Penguin) and Jojo Moyes. She said she had I Am Pilgrim (Atria), screenwriter Terry Hayes’s thriller debut, lined up in her e-reader queue next.

Working as a ThrillerFest volunteer allows Robin Stroy to meet some of her favorite authors, as well as discover new favorites. Author Chevy Stevens is in the former category and Sandra Brannan is in the latter—Stroy liked Brannan’s latest Liv Bergen thriller, Noah’s Rainy Day (Greenleaf).

Adams.AtlantisLJ staffers joined the Dutton team at the ThrillerFest Awards banquet on Saturday night. Gracious hostess Amanda Walker, Dutton’s Director of Publicity, talked about an upcoming nonfiction title from Mark Adams, author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu. The best-selling author’s next destination is the most famous lost city ever: Meet Me in Atlantis: My Quest To Find the 2,500-Year-Old Sunken City is scheduled for a March 2015 release.

After discussing story-line building on a panel headed by author Kelli Stanley, romantic suspense author Evonne Wareham, whose novella, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” was recently released by UK-based Choc Lit, said she is researching World War II, specifically the war in Italy. “It was my father’s war, but he didn’t speak of it,” she said. Wareham, who is also studying for a doctorate in history, is getting some answers about a particularly bloody battle in historian Peter Caddick-Adams’s Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell (Oxford Univ. Press).

Liz French About Liz French

Library Journal Senior Editor Liz French edits nonfiction and women's fiction reviews at LJ and also compiles the "What We're Reading" and "Classic Returns" columns for LJ online. She's inordinately interested in what you're reading as well. Email: efrench@mediasourceinc.com, Twitter: @lizefrench