Favorite Writers

01/02/12 at 06:55 AM | Published Under Some Personal Thoughts

People often ask, Who are your favorite living writers?  I got lots of favorites, many dead, some above ground, but I’d like to tell you about three still scribbling merrily: Stephen Hunter, Lee Child and Michael Connelly.  In my opinion they are the top three pros writing popular fiction today.  

Michael Connelly: This guy is the king of the police procedural, a sub-genre of mystery fiction.  He isn’t just the king, he owns the space these days, and has for about twenty years.  He has written at least twenty-three published novels.  Some feature one-off characters.  The books of his that I like best are a series starring Harry Bosch, LAPD homicide detective.  Harry’s life sure has its ups and downs, with girlfriends, a wife, then the wife gone, more girlfriends, trouble with his superiors, the press, colleagues screwing up or selling him out… Amid all this setting are some really good mysteries, and Harry peels the onions slowly.  New cases, old cases (including his mother’s murder) with a zillion unexpected twists, at least five per novel, and lots of suspense make these books riveting.  Michael Connelly.  Do yourself a favor–read this guy.

Stephen Hunter was a film critic for many years for The Washington Post.  You’d think a guy who spent his days watching movies and writing about them would relish the real world after dark, wouldn’t write fiction, but Hunter does.  Writes it extraordinarily well.  Another surprise, this staffer for one of the most politically correct newspaper in the country has a hobby: rifles.  Now he isn’t just any gun nut.  He knows as much ballistics as your average expert witness, and he knows how to write about snipers.  His novels are perhaps best described as a saga of the Swagger family.  His first creation was a Vietnam sniper named Bob Lee Swagger, but he has written a novel about Bob Lee’s dad, his son, and how Bob Lee solves his pop’s murder, among others.  Hunter is a craftsman of the first order: suspense, great plot, terrific, plausible shooting, and the good guys win in the end.   I love his books.

Lee Child is the author of the Jack Reacher series.  Reacher, a former Army MP, gets my vote for the most improbable hero in fiction today.  He is a loner whose only possession is a toothbrush, which he carries in his shirt pocket.  He rides around the country on buses or hitchhiking, a man going slowly no where, with the rest of his life to get there.  Sometimes Child’s character is so real I wonder what in the world he thinks about as he looks out bus windows and watches the world go by.  A man without a future or a dream. Still, he manages to get into deep and serious trouble in every book.  Reacher is big, fearless, and when he wants to be, brutal and ruthless.  This only works if the villains are really nasty, and Child’s are.  Absolute scum.  It’s an new twist on an old formula and, you will be amazed to see, really works.  Lee Child.  

These three are my favorites still above ground.  I watch for their books, grab them while the ink is still wet.  You should too.