Finding a great new book or an exciting new author is like discovering gold – or, since we’re talking crime here, stealing some gold and getting away with it! Everyone has their favorite MO, and here are several ways of finding exciting new crime books. It’s a bit like solving a crime, really, and you can add these methods to your regular visits to Crime Fiction Lover.
Word of Mouth
Have you ever read an amazing book and can’t wait to share it with friends? Organise these random book recommendations scribbled on the backs of envelopes and ink-ringed cocktail napkins in a folder, with the name of the recommender, so you know whom to thank/blame. Sometimes even a casual introduction ends up as a long-term relationship. You end up devouring every last chilly page of Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson‘s Dark Iceland series. Or, maybe you’ll discover MP Wright’s Heartman, a fascinating race-against-time debut set in Bristol in the 1960s.
Friends’ recommendations are helpful because, though they may be alike in the degree of their enthusiasm, the authors and books they are passionate about are likely to be very different – everything from the latest thrillers to books like Black Wings Has My Angel, a reissue that read as if the author were channeling the best literary talents of 1930s noir, to Georges Simenon’s classic Maigret tales.
Awards lists provide clues
A quick way to develop a solid ‘to be read’ list is by scanning nominees for the major crime book awards – not just the winners, but books that show up on more than one list, too. These prizes all have best first novel categories that spotlight new writers, whereas their best novel nominees suggest which of the more established authors are currently doing good work (no tired franchises, please!).
If you listen to audiobooks, you probably already know Audible.com can do a lot of the detective work in identifying new audio thrillers. You can sample the book, too, whereupon you might find the delicious narrations Gerard Doyle does for Northern Ireland writer Adrian McKinty.
Clues to good new crime and thriller authors sometimes appear in media not focused solely on books – for example, a climate change story in Wired included a reference to Paolo Bacigalupi’s futuristic thriller The Water Knife – reviewed here in 2015. Similarly, newspapers and radio interviews profile interesting new authors, and a story in the Washington Post about former state department diplomat-turned-writer, introduced the debut novel of Todd Moss, whose two subsequent political thrillers – Minute Zero and Ghosts of Havana – have been reviewed here.
Anthologies and magazines are a goldmine
If these recommendations don’t quite do the trick, another way to find new writing you like is by sampling the author’s work – like the little bites of cheeses put on the deli counter – by reading short stories. Art Taylor’s popular short stories in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine – which has been doing the work of bringing good mystery and crime writing to light for 75 years – were compiled into the novel On the Road with Del and Louise, and subsequently received several debut novel prizes.
In addition to EQMM and its sister publication, the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, here’s a partial list of anthologies and magazines that offer short mysteries by a diverse array of authors, many of which are new blood. In recent years, several publications in this arena have bitten the dust, but new ones continue to appear supported by enthusiastic publishers and hardcore genre fiction fans. Several are electronic only, some don’t pay the authors, but supporting them does encourage the development of a talented crop of new writers for your future reading pleasure:
The Akashic Noir series
Try the international noir anthologies published by Akashic Books. They range from Brooklyn Noir to Mumbai Noir, and the list of cities is growing all the time. Click this link.
The third collection of short stories about ‘kickass women in crime fiction,’ from authors based in the US and UK, recently came out. Try it here.
The biggest crime fiction festival in the US – and possibly the world – publishes a volume each year. For 2016’s convention in New Orleans, the anthology was entitled Blood on the Bayou and it has stories by 22 authors, some of whom are well known on the pulp and noir scene, and some of whom aren’t. Yet.
Dead Guns Press
This publisher offers a magazine as well as books, promising the ultimate in crime fiction literature. The books each have a theme and about a dozen widely varied stories – women and crime, westerns, detectives, and the like. You can buy the magazine on Amazon.
Flash and Bang mysteries
Really small bites of mystery fiction are found in the Flash and Bang anthology These 500 to 750 word stories were compiled by the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Some of the organization’s best known members appear. Flash and Bang is available on Amazon.
Level Best Books
This publisher recently released the 14th edition of its Best New England Crime Stories, entitled Windward. Usually the books collections have some kind of maritime theme. Coming up in April 2017, the theme is Busted: Arresting Stories from the Beat, tales by or about law enforcement professionals. Try Windward here.
Keep on the lookout for this new annual online literary journal edited by two Minnesota writers, one a former criminal defense attorney who’s written award-winning fiction. You can read issue one (February 2016) online.
This is a monthly publication that includes both established and emerging authors, but it also offers short fiction in its weekly newsletter. The October issue is full of Sherlock Holmes stories and even has an illustration of Jeremy Brett in the role, on the front cover.
Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine
Though not all of SHMM issues feature the great consulting detective, the most recent issue did. The publication typically includes reader-solvable mysteries, contemporary and classic crime stories, and non-fiction articles. You can buy a copy on Amazon.
You might discover a new writer or two with the online journal, Spinetingler. They post short stories by up and coming authors, as well as interviews and other articles.
Sisters in Crime
Sisters in Crime has chapters all over the US and Canada, some of which publish occasional anthologies of works by women writers. They generally include both published and unpublished authors. You could try Chesapeake Crimes’s This Job is Murder and the Toronto chapter’s The Whole She-Bang.
This monthly electronic and print publication for suspense, thriller, mystery, and horror short stories contains work by debut authors as well as established ones, along with interviews and articles.
A publisher of print and ebook anthologies, which feature a whole range of writers you’re unlikely to have come across before. The latest is The Killer Wore Cranberry, an annual US Thanksgiving celebration of pure mayhem around the family dinner table, which you can order here.
If you’ve got a great source of new, indie, self-published or alternative crime authors that you think we should know about, post a comment below.