My Favorite Authors in My Genre

I hope everyone's new year is starting out well!  I am keeping all appendages crossed that good writerly things happen to each one of us this year.  In the meantime, I've begun preparing blog posts based on all the awesome suggestions I got in the comments section of my 100 Followers post. 

One of the blog topics that was suggested to me was by the brilliant and fascinating L.G. Smith:  who are my favorite writers in my genre and who is hot right now?

I'm not sure I can say who is hot right now.  I don't necessarily read books that are really current and I'm forever behind in my reading.  I can, however, tell you who my favorite writers in my genre (crime/suspense) are.  Please note that this is certainly not an exhaustive list.  There are countless authors out there whose books I have yet to read.  But here's a sampling of my favorites so far:
Karin Slaughter

She is easily my favorite crime writer.  Her first several books were part of the Grant County series featuring Dr. Sara Linton and her smoldering ex-husband and local Chief of Police, Jeffrey Tolliver.  Nasty cases.  Dangerous crime-solving ensues.  I can tell you that Slaughter's work is gritty as hell.  It's unflinching and dark.  But that's why I like her--because she's honest.  Things are not gift-wrapped neatly at the end of each book.  When violent crime touches your life, it changes you irrevocably and I think that Slaughter's books are very sensitive to that.  Her characters are complex and well drawn.  You'll get deeply attached to them.  You'll be invested in their struggles and their triumphs.  After several successful books in the Grant County series, Slaughter began writing stand alone books, all featuring a new character, Will Trent.  Recently she's brought the characters from the Grant County series and the Trent books together and the sheer awesomeness of it is putting me at risk of spontaneous combustion.

Although her books are all interrelated, you can definitely read any one of them out of order and not be confused.  But I think it will mean more to you if you read them in order.  My favorites are Blindsighted, Triptych, Undone and Fallen. 

Gregg Hurwitz

Gregg Hurwitz is crazy talented.  He has a bunch of incredible stand-alones (The Crime Writer is probably my favorite of those) and a series featuring U.S. Marshall Timothy Rackley.  The Rackley novels are my favorite.  Mention these novels and I will begin salivating.  They are that good.  Again, the subject matter is extremely, extremely dark and there are some things that are very hard to read about, especially if you're a parent but Hurwitz is such an amazing writer that you can't help but get sucked in.  The thing I love most about Hurwitz is that he has mastered that whole economy-of-words thing.  He uses only what is absolutely necessary to tell the story and nothing more and the result is that his books are very powerful and very suspenseful.  Sometimes it's like a punch to the gut . . . but in a really good way.  You can read the Rack novels out of order--in fact I read the second book first--but as always, they will make more sense and mean more if you read them in order.  Start with the Kill Clause and don't stop because these books get better and better.
Gillian Flynn

I'm not sure that Flynn is marketed as a suspense or crime writer.  In fact her novels read a lot like literary fiction but I can tell you that her first novel, Sharp Objects was so suspenseful, it literally left me physically breathless.  I had an actual physiological reaction to that book.  I read her second book, Dark Places and it did NOT disappoint.  It is every bit as good, if not more suspenseful.  It's just different.  Really gripping, haunting stuff.  I blogged about how I feel about her first novel in my When Good Isn't Good Enough post.  I'm a lifelong reader.  I will hang on to every one of her written words until she stops writing.  So good.  Also, after I read her first book, I wrote her an email to tell her how much I enjoyed it and she responded with a pretty lengthy email of her own which I thought was pretty cool!

Connolly writes a series of books about a former NYC detective Charlie "Bird" Parker.  Bird comes from some pretty tragic circumstances which he deals with in the first book Every Dead Thing (A Shamus Award winner).  What I love most about these books is that the plots are extremely intricate.  I love a good, really detailed, intricate plot.  I know the publishing industry frowns upon it, especially for first-time writers but I just love it.  When I want to really disappear into a book, escape into the fictional world, I pick up one of Connolly's books.  I've only read four of them but I've loved them all.  Really great mysteries, very suspenseful, wonderful, complex characters.  These books are very haunting which is fitting since they have a kind of supernatural slant (i.e. Bird can see dead people).  I intend to read them all.  My favorite thus far is Dark Hollow

Two time Edgar Award Winner.  John Hart will blow your freaking mind.  I haven't read his first or latest but I plan on doing so.  I've blogged about him on my website here.  If you want great writing and stories that are going to keep you up reading all night long, Hart is your man.

Gardner started out as a romance writer and got into writing crime/suspense novels later in her career.  So there is a lot of her early work I haven't read but what I have read is pretty awesome stuff.  What I love about her stuff is you're always, always guessing.  I mean I love a mystery where I cannot figure out what the hell is going on.  I also love Gardner's novels because they are very tightly constructed.  She is a master of pacing.  My favorites are Say Goodbye, The Neighbor and Hide

Admittedly I haven't read all of Unger's books but the few I have read are awesome.  Complex characters and tightly woven mysteries.  Very suspenseful.  What I love about her books are even if you have an inkling of how things are going to go down in the end, she'll still keep you on the edge of your seat.  My favorite is Die For You.  So good.

Greg Iles likes to push the envelope.  Talk about gritty and dark.  His novels are usually complicated but so suspenseful you won't be able to stop reading.  But be prepared for violence, graphic sex and dark subject matter.  But again, I love dark writers so Iles is right up my alley.  He will totally rock your world.  My favorites of his which are also some of my favorite books of all time are Blood Memory, Dead Sleep and Turning Angel.

I consider Harlan Coben the king of the twist.  The twist at the end of the novel you totally didn't see coming.  I haven't read his series about the sports agent but I've read his other books and they are incredible.  Every time I read one of his books I say to myself I'm going to figure out the twist before I get to the end and I never do.  I can never do it.  Never see it coming.  I don't know how he does it again and again.  His books are like that movie The Usual Suspects.  When you get to the end, your mind is blown, you're saying "holy effing crap" and thinking you'll now need to reread the entire book!  It's awesome.  I credit him for getting me interested in writing in the crime/suspense genre. My favorites are Tell No One, The Woods and Just One Look.

Minette Walters is a British writer.  I haven't read all of her books but the ones I have read are amazing.  Crazy psychological suspense.  Real page-turners that usually have scandalous twists that you never saw coming.  My favorite is The Sculptress.  
So there are a handful of my favorite writers in my genre.  As I said, this list isn't exhaustive. Do you have any suggestions for who else I should try? 

Who are your favorite writers in your genre?


  1. Wow, what a great list. John Hart spoke at the Pikes Peak writer's conference here in Colorado last spring. I think he said he wrote four or five novels before he finally wrote one good enough to get published. It was a little daunting to hear, but it was also a lesson in what perseverance can get you. His message: never give up.

    I'd only heard of a couple of these people, so thanks for introducing me to some new authors. I like a good crime novel once in awhile.

  2. I really liked Lisa Gardner's Say Goodbye. And you know that Greg Iles is my very favorite writer. His novels ARE gritty & often very violent, but the dark psychological nature really appeals to me. So you do John Connelly is one of the keynote speakers at BoucherCon, right? How exciting for us! We'll get to hear him speak in person! Great list, Lisa!

  3. Great post! Greg Iles is one of my all-time faves, love his voice and love his characters (I could pretty much echo everything Nancy just said, lol).


    I haven't tried Flynn. Must add her to my list of to-be-read authors.

    Great post, my friend! :) Happy new year!

  4. Great post, Lisa! It helped me add a few books to my 2012-outside-my-genre-TBR-list. :)

  5. Have you read any of Elizabeth George's books? She is my absolute favorite mystery/thriller writer. Very cerebral, tho, so a bit different from your favs.

    And if you like twists, Dennis LeHane is a must. Shutter Island was superb.

  6. I really do need to read more! Between writing and working I run out of time. :(

  7. More books to add to the TBR pile! : ) All of these writers sound interesting and their books intriguing.

    I don't have any favorite authors in my genre. Favorite books, yes, but not favorite authors.

  8. Should I feel like a fool that I've read none of these authors? Thanks for expanding my scope!

  9. Gillian Flynn's work sounds intriguing, I'll definitely have to check her out. I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of Slaughter's, but maybe I just got the wrong book.

    Big Stephen King fan here. Even as he's moved further away from his horror roots, I love the way he spins a tale.

  10. I haven't read that genre in awhile. I need to look a few of these up.

    The old sci-fi masters remain among my favorites.

    I love Margaret George, but she doesn't write in my genre. :)

  11. Brandon Mull, JK Rowling (of course), James Dashner are all just awesome!

    And I left you an award on my blog :)

  12. Followed Cassie's blog here! :)

    So nice to *meet* you! :)

  13. Totally agree with your Coben and Iles selections, especially Greg. The guy rocks with his words and always leaves me waiting for his next.


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