Every month, the Writer’s Bone crew reviews or previews books we've read or want to read. This series may or may not also serve as a confessional for guilty pleasures and hipster novels only the brave would attempt. Feel free to share your own suggestions in the comments section or tweet us @WritersBone.
Daniel Ford: As I said before my interview with Taylor Brown, perhaps I was destined to fall in love with his debut novel Fallen Land. What more could I ask for than a pair of star-crossed lovers during the Civil War (one of my favorite areas of study)?
Holy roller coaster of emotions, General Grant! I had to stop every five pages to catch my breath or fervently hope tragedy didn’t strike the main protagonists (I’m not telling you whether my hopes were answered or not).
Fallen Land is achingly beautiful and its characters will break your heart in all the right ways. Ava and Callum’s banter—much needed levity as they tried to escape a “band of marauders”—was as lyrical as it was romantically sassy. In fact, I read so slowly at the end because I didn't want to put it down and leave their love/adventure story behind.
I received an advanced copy way back in August, and I’ve been impatiently waiting to champion this work from a breakout writer ever since. The book goes on sale on Jan. 12, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better read, more perfect read in 2016.
Sean Tuohy: The current master of crime fiction gives us a glimpse into his past with this collection of pieces collected from his time as a reporter in South Florida and Los Angeles. What really makes this book special is the introduction, which describes Connelly's indoctrination into the world of crime and cops. The opening chapter’s brutal honesty is stronger then a heavyweight boxer’s punch.
Daniel: Author Don Winslow’s sprawling epic about Mexico and the “War on Drugs” landed on plenty of top 10 lists at the end of 2015 with good reason. There was never a point when I felt burdened by reading the 600+ page novel. It’s thrilling from DEA agent Art Keller’s first appearance to the final page.
Spanning four decades, The Cartel explores every angle of a struggle that has claimed far too many lives in both the U.S. and Mexico. Winslow’s style is bare bones, but manages to teach and illuminate the myriad issues facing both nations more effectively and coherently than any news article or historical tome.
I’d heard some compare him to Elmore Leonard, and while I can see where someone might settle on that comparison, I’m not so quick to dub him the heir to Elmore’s throne (For one thing, I can’t imagine the late crime writer sitting down to write a book that’s close to 700 pages long). However, Winslow’s morally ambiguous characters and pitch perfect phrasing puts him awfully close to that level.
Sean: Gabriel García Márquez’s fast paced and well-researched book covers the impact that 10 kidnappings had on Columbia during the heated war between the drug lords and the government. Providing an insight into the bloody conflict, the Noble Prize-winning author transports the reader into the world of gunmen, kidnappers, and hostages. Written in a simple, but beautiful style, this book showcases a wonderful storyteller tackling a brutal topic.
Daniel: I mentioned to Peter Sherwood in our recent podcast interview that he had been working on Friendship Fog in some capacity since I first met him way back in 2009ish. After watching Sherwood publish several other novels in the past couple years, I was thrilled that this one finally made it to print!
The novel features all the hallmarks of a Sherwood yarn: theatrical characters with terrific names, snappy dialogue, and a sense of humor that allows lands the right joke at the right time. I know how long Sherwood spent writing, editing, and re-writing this work
There’s one “scene” in particular that made me long for a day of drinking in New York City. Clifford Bowles and his friend Van Dillon meet at a watering hole and spend the rest of the day, and into the early morning hours of the next day, talking, drinking, and interacting with a bartender who doesn’t bat an eye at their increasingly sloppy and slurred behavior. Plenty of weighty issues confound the novel’s protagonists, but this episode added the right amount of comedic relief that perfectly summed up these two men’s friendship. I look forward to the day I can raise a glass with Sherwood in the Big Apple and then choke him for being such a good writer.