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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, May 07, 2003 - 11:51 am:   

OK, we'll see how this goes. As Rick Klaw attests to, there's nothing more worthwhile than a good book recommendation. As he'll also attest to, it's a real talent to be able to accurately recommend a book to someone, even if you've never read the book yourself. Despite the fact that recommendations fly around this board like shrapnel, I felt like starting yet another little place for questions and answers about, "If I like so-and-so, who else should I read?" I'll start with both a recommendation and a question.

First, if you like authors along the lines of Jeff VanderMeer, Jeffrey Ford, and China Mieville, you'll do yourself a great disservice if you don't pick up and read a copy of KJ Bishop's THE ETCHED CITY. It's the strongest first novel I've read since A SCATTERING OF JADES (which I read in 2000) and it's filled with beautiful, evocative prose.

My question is to help me find an author for my wife. She loved Wilkie Collins' THE MOONSTONE and THE WOMAN IN WHITE (if you like thought-provoking detective stories, THE MOONSTONE is one of the best). In fact, I'd be almost willing to say they are her favorite books (A PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY is her favorite, yes, she loves Victorian literature). She enjoyed them so much she picked up other Collins work, only to find them good, but not as good. We've tried unsuccessfully to find another author who writes something similiar to THE MOONSTONE (several different characters telling the same story, each revealing their own version of the events, while the reader is the only one who is learning the whole story). We tried Anne Perry, and P.D. James, but they didn't hold up after a few books. We have Caleb Carr's first two novels, but she hasn't had time to read them (she teaches High School and can only read for pleasure during the summer).

Who else would you recommend for my wife to read?

JK
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Jack Haringa
Posted on Thursday, May 08, 2003 - 04:17 am:   

On some of the more horror-oriented boards I frequent, I've been lambasted for being rather fanboyish over the novels of Phil Rickman, so clearly he's not to everyone's tastes, perhaps because of the strong Victorian/Edwardian feel to them. He writes doorstop-sized supernatural mysteries (one group of books--the Merrily Watkins series--is referred to as "Spiritual Procedurals"). Most are set on the English side of the Welsh borderlands--a setting central to the stories and lovigly rendered--and remind me of faster-pased M. R. James and Arthur Machen tempered by a central mystery to drive the plot. All of the books are peopled by distinctive characters, and Rickman has a flair for dialogue that captures regional accents without becoming an exercise in dialect transcription.

The supernatural is not always at the forefront of the books, and a reader's interpretation of some of the ambiguous events hinges on what level of disbelief you're willing to suspend. I'd suggest starting with Curfew (Crybbe) and The Chalice for stand-alone novels, and the first Merrily Watkins book, The Wine of Angels, to see if you like Rickman's style. My least favorite of his books, December, is often the one most read by Americans, and it can be a turn-off.

Rickman has also written two novels under the pseudonym "Will Kingdom", which feature somewhat more action and a troubled policeman who's suffered a disturbing resuscitation experience. Neither are available yet in the States.

Hope your wife finds one of these to her liking.

~Jack~
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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, May 08, 2003 - 06:02 am:   

Thanks Jack! This is exactly what I'm looking for. I've seen the Rickman books on the shelves, but didn't know anything about him to pick one up. To maybe help explain what I'm looking for, we spent last week watching "Manor House" on PBS. This is the stuff my wife loves. She loved "Gosford Park" and wants this A&E DVD set [http://tinyurl.com/ba35] desparately.

Thanks again!

JK

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