Saturday, January 21, 2012

Discovery by Jen Forbus

Jen Forbus is above all else a crime fiction reader and fan. She’s been blogging at Jen’s Book Thoughts for the past four years and is always concocting schemes to encourage awareness of great crime fiction. When she isn’t doing that, she’s probably vacuuming pet hair from her two chocolate labs and four rescue cats. 

by Jen Forbus

We as humans, by nature, like what we know, what’s safe and comfortable. Our reading choices don’t tend to be different from that. We have our “must reads” from those authors we’ve come to know well.  And if we’re honest with ourselves, many of us continue reading an author religiously long after he/she has started “phoning it in.” It’s safe and comforting. Sometimes that’s exactly what we need.

But what about the new authors you discover? How do you go about that? Do you seek it out actively or do you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time for a new author; all my favorites take up my reading time”?

Part of the fun of reading for me is discovering new authors.  Last year I read 97 novels and of those 97, 51 were from new-to-me authors. Some I’ll not likely read again. Not that they were bad, necessarily, just that they weren’t the right fit for me and my reading preferences. But a good number of those new-to-me authors are going to be authors I look for in the future.  And I’m thankful I took the chance to read them.

Let’s face it, it IS taking a chance. You’re giving up more than the money you might spend on the book; you’re giving up hours of your life on something you don’t know about yet.

I say “new-to-me” because many of my “new” discoveries are authors who have been around awhile: Mike Lawson (, Laurie King (, Ace Atkins ( These are fun because you don’t have to wait for them to write more if you want to read more immediately. There’s already more available.

Other “new” discoveries were 2011 debut authors: Daniel Palmer (, Sara Henry (, James Barney ( There’s something special about getting in on the ground floor with a brand new author.

I come across these “new-to-me” authors in a plethora of ways: I may be assigned a book for review or receive a pitch letter that is too enticing to pass up. I may agree to participate in a blog tour. Or I might encounter that individual on social media and establish a relationship of sorts. I get to know that author as a person and then want to read his/her work. And then of course there are recommendations from people I trust.

2012 is already taking off like gangbusters in the new-to-me department. I’ve experienced Kyle Mills (, David Ellis (, Charlie Newton (, and Dana Stabenow (, as well as debut author G.M. Lawrence (

I’m looking forward to Owen Laukkanen’s THE PROFESSIONALS ( and Robert Greer’s ASTRIDE A PINK HORSE ( 

I’ve been reading a lot more non-American authors of late. I intend to add more new-to-me authors from this category as well, among them: Sarah Blædel ( and Liza Marklund (

I’ll continue to be a devoted fan to my tried and trues. Elvis Cole still makes my toe curl and Ellie Hatcher will always be my hero. Visiting Absaroka County and Sea Haven are bonus vacations. But I’m going to continue to take chances as well because at one time, all my tried and trues were brand new, too.

How about you? What was a great new discovery for you in 2011? Do you know someone you’re going to take a chance on in 2012? How do you decide which books to take a chance on?


Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Jen Sweetie - Hey!!!

Welcome Welcome Welcome - Always fun to have you here.

I did have some discoveries last year. You were directly responsible for one of them, as a matter of fact. Michael Koryta. Wow!!!!

Along with Tana French, Susan Hill and Sarah Addison Allen.

Always huge fun to discover new authors - even when they've been around for awhile and I'm just late catching up.

Thanks, Jen - Hugs!!

Peter Rozovsky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Rozovsky said...

I had a good year for firsts:

1. Ronan Bennett
2. Eoin McNamee
3. Anne Zouroudi
4. David Hewson
5. Agnete Friis & Lene Kaaberbøl
6. Anders Roslund & Börge Hellström
7. David Montrose
8. J.G. Ballard
9. Ibne Safi
10. Benjamin Black
11. Wallace Stroby
12. David Corbett
13. Jon Cleary
14. Daniel Woodrell
15. Gerard O'Donovan
16. Harri Nykanen
17. David Ignatius
18. Ray Banks
19. Ross Macdonald
20. William Campbell Gault
21. George MacDonald Fraser
22. Martin Limón
23. R.J. Ellory
24. Thomas Kaufman
25. Derek Raymond
26. Charlie Stella
27. Jim Tully
28. Anthony Neil Smith
29. Ross Thomas

Ronan Bennett is the highlight of that strong list. His Havoc, in Its Third Year is probably the finest novel I've read since I started writing about crime fiction (even though it's more historical than crime).
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

le0pard13 said...

Great piece, Jen. I think it's bloggers like you that help me, as a reader and listener, discover new authors. Last year it was Stuart Neville, Peter Spiegelman, and Anthony Horowitz. This year? I'm open for more. Perhaps, some of the very same ones you and others are mentioning here. Thanks so much, my friend.

MysterLynch said...

Hmm, who did 2011 bring into my world?

Russel McLean
Declan Hughes
Brad Parks
Gerard O'Donovan
Wallace Stroby
Daniel Woodrell

I am sure I am forgetting some, but those are the names that quickly come to mind.

jenny milchman said...

I love those new discoveries, Jen. You're right, they're utterly different than the books from which we know what to expect--and await it eagerly--but for me one of the purest pleasures in life is cracking open a book, reading the first line, and thinking, This is an author I'm going to be reading for a long, long time. This happened with Harlan Coben in 1999 or so--now he is an "old favorite/must read"!

Patty said...

I did a big "new to me" author year about two years ago, I think I added a couple of dozen or so, so the last two years I've spent a lot of time trying to get caught up with some of them. Having said that, I still delve into new authors, two this year I remember well are Dennis Palumbo and Charlotte Hinger. As for where I find them -- DorothyL, Kaye Barley, and some $.99 or free Kindle books.

Peter Rozovsky said...

I forgot about Lester Dent. Add him to my list!

Jen Forbus said...

Ahhh yes, I'm seeing some favorites and some new names for me. Thanks for sharing everyone!

Kaye, I'm so very glad you discovered Michael. Isn't he amazing?

Janet Rudolph said...

Thanks, Jen, and I have you to thank for many of the new authors. Love following you on Twitter, and, of course, reading your blog. This year more face time.. but in the meantime, I'll definitely read the books you recommend. You've expanded my horizons.

Bobbie said...

Hi Jen, I read your blog very often, read this one very often, great to see you two together today!

New to me authors in 2011, had to check my masterlist of reads so don't forget some.

Meg Gardiner, new to me this year, read her first, ready for more!

Sally Spencer's Woodend series-long series, tried first one, am hooked! In fact now reading #5. Love this find.

A. D. Scott, great debut book A Small Death in the Great Glen, the 2nd is here screaming at me from my tbr shelf.

Lisa Lutz, the Spellman Files series, read first one, will read more.

Darynda Jones, First Grave on the Right-interesting paranormal mystery.

Sara Henry's Learning to Swim was a great story for me.

Paul Doiron's first book The Poacher's Son really kept me interested, ready for second!

Edward Marston's railway detective series is one I started last year, really like them and ready for #4 now.

Milton T. Burton's The Rogue's Game blew me away, what a story, so different than I expected, so good.

Simon Kernick's The Business of Dying-what a different main character, what a story!

Another very different protagonist, and so noir--loved it--Ray Banks's Saturday's Child.

Another one I'd not heard of before picking it off the library's shelf, and loving it lots: James Thompson's first, Snow Angels, set in Finland-what a story, culture so very well done, glad I found this!

Phoenix by John Connor, set in Northern Ireland, a flawed main protagonist, what a good story!

Joseph Heywood's series about the upper Minnesota woods cop was a great find for me in 2011, first one is Ice Hunter, love these!

Bruce DeSilva's Rogue Island was a great find, such a tale about Rhode Island-loved it!

Martin Walker's Bruno Chief of Police is start of an interesting series set in rural France, glad I found this!

Bill Frank's Crimes in Southern Indiana was a wowser for me-dark, a place with no hope, gets right into the bad things people do when no money or future. Amazing writing.

L. J. Sellers was a new try for me, first is The Sex Club, and it was so well written I immediately ordered the 2nd, ready for more.

Mark de Castrique was a great find for me in 2011, thanks to Kaye Barley's having him as a guest here. Tried first on both his series, Blackman's Coffin and Dangerous Undertaking. loved them, want more!

Martin Edwards' series set in the Lake District in England was a great find for me, first is The Coffin Trail and have already read the first four after finding them in 2011.

Sandra Parshall was another new find for me, read her first In The Heat of the Moon, really liked it, will read more.

Ok that is certainly enough! How do I decide to try a new author? Recommendations from well-read mystery friends, reading blogs of folks I trust such as you two, reading the recommendations in the Indie News brochures, and I have a few trusted friends who have the same reading dna as I do, and if they really like one that is very high recommendation for me to try them. I'm quite eclectic in my tastes, will try something new if the premise sounds like something I'd like--but I'm quite picky too, and am always glad when a new try works out well!

Besides all the new ones listed above, I have a lot of known top faves that I'd read the cereal box if they wrote there, and always recommend them when people are asking for an idea of what to read--and then out comes Koryta, Woodrell, Michael Connelly, Jan Burke, Jacqueline Winspear, Deborah Crombie, Robert Crais, Colin Cotterill, Val McDermid and on and on and on. Can you tell I love reading mysteries?


Jen Forbus said...

Hi Bobbie! Thanks for stopping by...and you go, girl!! So happy to see you reading lots of new authors. Aren't they great fun. :-)