WYSO

Books - Fiction

Don't you love it when somebody has the good grace to go out at the top of their game? It can be depressing to watch former star performers embarrassing themselves because they didn't know when to quit. We have all seen them, the baseball players who strike out on pitches they used to hit or the lead singer who wrote the lyric "I hope I die before I get old" still out there on stage 50 years later gamely strumming away. Some writers keep plodding along, putting out books long after inspiration has faded.

This book is the debut in a new crime fiction series set in Columbus. Roxane Weary is a private eye with lots of issues. Her dad was a hard drinking cop who died recently while fighting crime. The two of them didn't get along. His sudden death has left his daughter with unresolved "Daddy" issues. He drank a lot. So does she. Her love life is a mess, too. Her father's demise has even served to complicate that aspect of her existence. Business is bad.

Over the years that I have been hosting this program I cannot recall ever feeling like I could declare that a particular book is the hottest book of the summer. Well, I'm pleased to be able to finally say that this is it; "The Force" by Don Winslow is the hottest book of the summer and perhaps will prove to be the hottest book of 2017.

Peter James returned to the program to talk about his latest novel in his series that features his police detective Roy Grace. The previous dozen books in the series are fast paced thrillers and we usually knew who the killers were and spent most of our time wondering how Roy was going to apprehend them. In this latest book in his "Dead Series" Peter James has constructed his first absolute who-dunnit Roy Grace mystery. A woman has been found dead in the bathtub. We don't know who the murderer is in this one and the author tosses out lots of red herrings along the way to confuse us.

Writing a novel can be an arduous endeavor. "Crossing the Street" by Molly Campbell went through numerous rewrites before the author felt that she had gotten it right. This is the story of Beck Throckmorton. Beck works as a barista at Starbucks-this is merely a cover for her real occupation writing steamy erotica that she publishes.

Every day I try to learn something new. Hopefully this process will keep my mind sharp-I plan to continue doing it. In 1994 I conducted what was to become my first interview in what would later be known as "The Book Nook." It wasn't actually a show yet. It was just my first interview with an author. After I had conducted a few more author interviews at random times on random days during the music program that I was hosting every weekday on WYSO I thought that I had better come up with a name for the interview segments. I started calling it "The Book Nook on Afternoon Excursions."

Johnny Earl was a star athlete in high school but he hasn't accomplished too much since. His attempts to play professional baseball fizzled. He got involved with illicit drugs. He went to prison. And while he was incarcerated he made the mistake of letting his gigantic neo-Nazi cellmate know about the stash of drug money that he had hidden away before they locked him up.

Malcolm Mackay lives on a remote island in Scotland. The crime rate where he lives in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis is almost non-existent. Most of the crimes that do occur in the area have taken place exclusively in Mackay's imagination. He writes crime novels and they are populated by criminals who are running rampant in the Scottish city of Glasgow. In Mackay's novels the police make an occasional appearance but they usually are not doing that much to prevent crime. In some instances they are permitting some bad things to happen. Looking the other way. Getting paid off.

People will ask me; "what was your favorite author interview?" or "what is your favorite book?" I cannot answer those questions. When it comes to crime novels I have many favorite writers. If I felt obligated to admit which writers I think are at the very top of their game in that genre right now I would name Philip Kerr along with a few others.

Kerr's latest novel "Prussian Blue" features his noir detective Bernie Gunther. This is the 12th book in this series.  I'm pleased to report that "Prussian Blue" is also the best Bernie Gunther book so far.

Greg Iles has published the highly anticipated third book in his monumental "Natchez Burning" trilogy. Over the course of these three books and 2300+ pages Iles has taken readers through a complex and expansive tale of racial tensions that played out over the course of decades in Natchez, Mississippi. These three novels are a massive and memorable work of the author's imagination. This final book went straight to #1 on the lists of best-selling fiction.

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