Hey there you sexy pilgrims. I hope everybody is well. I’ve bought a bunch of books recently and figured, hell, why not do a suggestion post of some of my favorites old and new to help you with your merry holiday shopping list! Keep in mind that most of these are dark, heartbreaking tales, not feel-good reads, although there are a couple on the list that have moments of wonderful humor (like Grendel, Beautiful Sorrows, and Savage Season).
Darkfuse Book Club: It’s a hell of a deal! Top-notch writing from established writers on both sides of the pond, as well as up & comers like myself. They used to be Delirium Books and have since branched out into Dark Fiction of all styles, which I think is truly awesome. Got a hankering for Horror, Sci-fi, Mystery, Techno-Thriller, Noir, Coming-of-Age, etc., Darkfuse has you covered!
GRENDEL by John Gardner: Easily in my top-three of all-time favorites. Beautifully written, tragic and funny.
THE LAST KIND WORDS by Tom Piccirilli: Pic is a master of Noir. The sequel to his novel was released recently. Check them out!
WILLY by Robert Dunbar: A truly underrated author who, with this novel, captures some of my favorite things a great story can produce. This novel still sticks with me.
THE BLEEDING SEASON by Greg Gifune: Another underrated author. This novel is extremely atmospheric, as is all of Gifune’s work, and the story is a perfect example of why craft is so important.
THE RAPIST by Les Edgerton: This is one wicked read but don’t be scared by the title. It’s a terrific book!
THE DAMNED by John D. MacDonald: I heard of John D. MacDonald through John Connolly’s BOOKS TO DIE FOR… MacDonald quickly became my favorite of the old pulp crowd. He’s a master of characterization and most of his stories zip along. This one is brilliant in a very subtle way, kind of like WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson. He was one of Stephen King’s and Dean Koontz’s favorite authors too.
WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen: Still one of my favorites, and the book is a thousand times better than the movie. Read it!
MORDRED, BASTARD SON by Douglas Clegg: Like EDGERTON’S The Rapist, this short novel will not set well with the PC crowd, but it’s brilliant and I think Clegg’s best.
BEAUTIFUL SORROWS by Mercedes M. Yardley: Mercede’s first short story collection. Dip your toes and imagination into an assortment of tales that are at once disturbing and humorous. This gal is a sweetheart and so incredibly talented.
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jack Ketchum: Ketchum’s novel pulls off that tough to do ‘I want to punch this protagonist in the face,’ thing. At it’s heart it demonstrates the damage done when we stand by and watch horrible things happen. Sadly, I think this is one of the truest novels there is.
SAVAGE SEASON by Joe Lansdale: The first Hap & Leonard novel and a great introduction to these two raw-boned characters. What a great series!
SHARP OBJECTS by Gillian Flynn: A short novel with a terrific punch!
THE END OF EVERYTHING by Megan Abbott: Still my favorite of her novels. Haunting and fast-paced and has a perfect ending.
THE CYPRESS HOUSE by Michael Koryta: I met Michael at Bouchercon and he signed a book for me. Such a nice guy and terrific writer. In many ways he reminds me of a cross between two other favorites–Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane.
WHITE DOVES AT MORNING by James Lee Burke: Great novel!
CABAL by Clive Barker: This was one of the first Barker books I read and certain moments are still vivid in my memory. He’s such a talent at showing how our hunt for excitement and pleasure can transform us.
THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS by John Connolly: Still my favorite of Connolly’s!
THE HAUNTING OF HOOD CANAL by Jack Cady: Read it!
And for a shameless plug, add WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL by me. It’s my most popular release so far and a quick, powerful read that heroes like Tom Piccirilli and Jack Ketchum read and blurbed.
Happy holidays to all!