NTN: The seven new stars of American crime

USAbandana875NTN_2015_100In a year with notable new releases from so many established US crime and thriller authors, newcomers continue to push the genre forward with strong writing, memorable plots, and compelling characters. The debuts of seven such authors make them writers to read today and keep an eye on in the future.

Remarkable about this list of up and coming American authors is how many of them like writing about rural settings. Rural life in America is not the pastoral paradise of lore and yore… if it ever was. Life there has indeed become difficult for many people, with failing farms, poor education and poor incomes, demographic change, and markedly increased use of hard drugs. When crimes occur, communities have fewer resources to deal with them, and the investigators who try to solve them often find themselves in a world with its own rules. Family and community histories tend to shine through a great deal as well, with detective novels less prevalent.

So, let’s move along and meet the seven rising stars of American crime…

amystewart200Amy Stewart
In Girl Waits with Gun, Amy Stewart has created a vivid tale that artfully assembles historical facts and fills the gaps with fiction. In real life and in the novel, a drunken automobile driver runs down the carriage of three spinster sisters – Constance, Fleurette, and Norma Kopp. Recovering their loss seems doubtful because the driver is the wealthy owner of a New Jersey silk mill and has ties to the Black Hand gang. Sheriff Robert Heath teaches them how to defend themselves and eventually offers Constance a job: first female deputy sheriff of Paterson, New Jersey. The story occurs against a backdrop of social upheaval: the silk strikes of 1913, which involved some 50,000 workers, and the transition of society out of the Victorian era and into the modern age.
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LauraMcHugh200Laura McHugh
A 2014 release, Laura McHugh’s The Weight of Blood won the 2015 International Thriller Award Winner and Barry Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Set in Missouri’s Ozark mountains, the story centers on Lucy Dane, left motherless and now approaching adulthood, whose best friend is gruesomely murdered. Haunted by these two losses, which gradually she expects may be linked, Lucy is determined to uncover the reasons behind her friend’s death and finds much more. Our contributor Keith Nixon reviewed The Weight of Blood here.
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GlenErikHamilton200Glen Erik Hamilton
Van Shaw, the protagonist in Hamilton’s debut thriller Past Crimes has the skills he learned in the military as well as those of a thief. When his gangster grandfather is murdered in Seattle, Shaw knows he will be the likely suspect. In order to find out the true origins of the crime, he must reconnect with the ruthless criminals of his grandfather’s world, while staying one step ahead of the police. If it sounds interesting, read our review of Past Crimes here.
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HesterYoung200Hester Young
Charlotte Cates, devastated by the death of her only child, leaves her job at an upscale Manhattan magazine to take an assignment from a true crime publisher in Hester Young’s The Gates of Evangeline. She’s to write a book about a notorious event from 1982: the disappearance of toddler Gabriel Deveau from his family’s Louisiana estate, Evangeline. Since her son’s death, she’s had clairvoyant dreams about children under threat – dreams that have proved true – and one of her dreams may provide clues to Gabriel’s fate. Many secrets litter the past of the Deveau family, some of them may imperil even this curious outsider.
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leonardowild200Leonardo Wild
Leonardo Wild’s The Galapagos Agenda will set your pulse racing with political intrigue, greedy corporations, the uber-wealthy, and the plain old ruthlessly wicked combine. A wonderful debut thriller, it explores the personality traits of powerful people in society and the high prevalence those in the top tiers who disregard law, social mores, and others’ rights without remorse or regret. In the story, the son of a corporate tycoon must confront not only the reality of his father’s psychopathy, but also the larger question of how frequently such people rise to prominence and the damage they do.
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BrianPanowich200Brian Panowich
Reviews of Brian Panowich’s Bull Mountain emphasise the quality of the prose and smart construction, including ours which you can read here. The story focuses on a backwoods Georgia family that has adopted a harsh code of survival. Over the generations, it has traded in the illicit – from moonshine to marijuana to meth – while keeping the surrounding community under its thumb through violence and revenge. Then one son turns away from the past to become the county sheriff. Bull Mountain is one of Crime Fiction Lover’s Recommended books.
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TomBouman200Tom Bouman
Tom Bouman’s debut Dry Bones in the Valley won the 2015 Edgar Award for Best First Novel as well as the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the mystery/thriller category. A corpse is found under the melting snow on the land of an elderly, possibly deranged rural Pennsylvania man, and police officer Henry Farrell is called on to investigate what turns out to be a series of murders. This part of northeastern Pennsylvania has been disturbed not only by the clamour of gas drilling, but the possibility of sudden fracking wealth has changed the dynamics and social balance of the community, one with a big dose of gritty underbelly in the form of meth cookers, dope dealers, and drugs uses. You can read Andre Paine’s review of the book here.
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Who’s your favourite new American author? Do let us know in the comments below.

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