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January 04, 2008



Phil Hawley's should win any and all Debut Awards this year.

But, of course, PBO's don't get to be included on Best First Novel lists, which is crap. I know for a fact that Hawley turned down a hardcover deal in order to do the 175,000 first printing PBO deal.

Come on, Montgomery, do a rant about that!

(I'm still cranky about it being '08)


One of my favorite debuts of 2007 that I don't think is getting enough attention is THE CLEANER by Brett Battles. I loved that book way more than I thought I would (not really a spy thriller kind of guy). A really great set of characters made for a fun and original story.

Clea Simon

I keep hearing good things about "Heart-Shaped Box" but I'll try to check out all these. How about a list of books/authors you didn't get to review but would like to (llike Oline Cogdill did on her blog)?

David J. Montgomery

What, am I supposed to steal all of Oline's ideas? :)

I agree that Stigma was the best debut of the year, regardless of what type of cover the book has.

I liked The Cleaner, too, Rob. (It was my Book of the Week on June 18th.) It would probably make my Top 10 for debuts.


I love The Cleaner and I was absolutely crazy about Marcus Sakey's The Blade Itself. He made it to my must-buy-as-soon-as-new-books-come-out list with his first book, so did Brett Battles.

There were lots of good books this year!

David J. Montgomery

The Blade Itself is another that was in my Top 10 debuts.


I thought The Last Striptease by Michael Wiley was one of the better debuts of 2007, and would definitely grab the sequel as soon as it comes out.

Cameron Hughes

Others that were great debuts:

Duck Duck, Wally by Gabe Rotter
Keep It Real by Bill Bryan
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
Head Games by Craig McDonald
Bang Bang by Theo Gangi

Roddy Reta

Thanks David! I've heard really mixed things about INTERRED WITH THEIR BONES, but I'll definitely give it a shot now, based on your recommendation.

David J. Montgomery

I had a somewhat mixed take on Interred as well. But I do recommend it, if the concept of the story sounds interesting to you. (And I did find it interesting, even if some of the writing is weak. But it is a first novel.)

David J. Montgomery

p.s. on Interred...

I thought Otto Penzler's take on it was right on.

David J. Montgomery

I should clarify that I was referring to the plotting being weak in places. The prose, as I recall, was pretty good.

karen terry

I like Deanna Raybourn Silent in the Grave. It was a great first novel. It had a lot of surprise twists. Her second novel is coming out this year.

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David J. Montgomery is a writer and critic specializing in books and publishing. He is an emeritus columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and The Daily Beast, and has also written for USA Today, the Washington Post, and other fine publications. A former professor of History, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two daughters.

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