« Book of the Week: Victor Gischler's "Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse" | Main | CraftFest Talk: The Six Biggest Mistakes Even Bestselling Writers Make »

July 08, 2008



The bar has definitely been lowered. I'm sure many will show up here saying it's the best time ever for crime fiction, but they're just trying to make themselves feel better.

So many books are being published now that it's impossible for the bar not to drop. Add to that the fact that the pub industry has become (sadly) so much like Hollywood - where opening weekends and tent pole products mean everything, that brand name authors are cranking out mediocre stuff simply to meet the demand.

Thank God we still have the Burkes and Pelecanos out there who continue to put the art before the commerce.

Cosmo Vittelli

I think there are some great books being written right now. And some bad ones. Just like always. It's the same now as it was and will always be the same.

But then again, I'm not wearing any pants.

philip amos

I have to think you are referring only to American crime writing. Those of us who read European crime fiction are rolling over in the clover these days: Vargas, Nesbo, Theorin, Mankell, Camilleri, Tursten, Alvtegen, Suter, Perez-Reverte, Fossum, Akunin...an embarrassment of riches and not enough time.

David J. Montgomery

I think Guyot is right -- the bar has been lowered. There are so many books being published that the overall level of quality is bound to suffer. But there still should be some greatness, some cream rising to the top.

On the other hand, I actually find myself agreeing with Cosmo, no pants and all. There have always been good books and lousy books and never enough great ones.

I've never been particularly impressed with the European crime fiction I've tried, but that's probably just a matter of taste.

Scott Parker

Whether or not it's the best or not is debatable. My favorite new book this year is Christa Faust's Money Shot. My favorite old books (I'm self-educating myself on the back catalogue of crime fiction) are Day Keene's Home is the Sailor and The Sins of the Father by Lawrence Block. But, with new Lehane and Pelecanos on the horizon, I'm hopeful.


I was in a reading rut for two months. For the first time in my life, nothing appealed to me. I basically just re-read some Irving and Dickens and Bronte. Maybe I'm in the mood for fiction that returns to the model of exploring a whole life again.

Brett Battles got me out of that rut with The Cleaner. I just started reading Jeffrey Deaver. I've read some other things, but I've already forgotten what they are. Not a good sign, LOL.


I feel like I should add, though: it's me, not you. I've been asking myself what's wrong with me for months, LOL.

Terrance Jones

I have leukemia.

Cameron Hughes

The Finder by Colin Harrison is great, as is The Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow and Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler

I liked The Brass Verdict. A lot, but it wasn't great.

2006 was a GREAT year for crime novels though. Good God.

David J. Montgomery

I liked Go Go Girls, but I wouldn't call it great. The Dawn Patrol I thought was strictly ordinary. Of course, many of the books I see would have to improve 100% just to be ordinary.

What came out in 2006?

Rodney P. McManus


Norman Price

The one book that I have read this year that has stood out is Johan Theoren's Echoes From the Dead. It was voted Best First Mystery Novel by the writers and critics of the Swedish Academy of Crime and the country of Henning Mankell and Sjowall and Wahloo know something about crime fiction.

Cameron Hughes

The return of Wambaugh to fiction. Two Minute Rule by Crais, Grady's Mad Dogs, Henry Chang's Chinatown Beat, Dope by Sara Gran, The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson, Winter of Frankie Machine by Winslow, Mr. Clarinet by Nick Stone, The Night Gardener by Pelecanos, The Prisoner of Guantánamo by Dan Fesperman, Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell, Zero to The Bone by Robert Everz.

2006 was a GREAT year.


The best crime fiction book that I've read this year and which was actually published in '08 is Dave Zeltserman's Small Crimes. I highly recommend it.

C.T. Henry

What is the last book that stood out for you, David?

Elaine Flinn

I'm hoping my new purchases; THE GARDEN OF LAST DAYS, SWAN PEAK & THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE will perk me up until other fav authors are out this year.

2006? Who the hell can remember back that far? :) But 2007 sure had some winners.


Generally speaking, I agree that there's plenty of good stuff but nothing great. Because I'm between first drafts (I don't like to read mysteries when I'm writing them), I've been gorging on books everybody swore I would love. But I don't. Crais's THE WATCHMAN was overrated; the new Jack Reacher was so-so; and Pelecanos left me cold. I did enjoy Swierczynski's SEVERANCE PACKAGE, but I believe it was published in 2007.

I'm not complaining, though, as I have a permanent fallback: when in doubt, reread a Travis McGee!

Kerrie Smith

try these for size
SHATTER, Michael Robotham
DIRTY WEEKEND, Gabrielle Lord

Cameron Hughes

Ugh, I hate PD Martin. Far too right-wing and uptight

David Montgomery

I'm looking forward to the new Robotham, which hasn't been released here yet. I had a beer with Michael at ThrillerFest last year and he told me about the plot. Gave me chills.

Cameron, Sara Gran's Dope was vastly overrated... A strictly ordinary (although still enjoyable) pulp novel.

Elaine Flinn

I heartily ditto you David - Robotham gave me a run down as well last year at dinner between the appetizer and the main course - and I'm itching to get my hands on that book!

C.T. Henry

Are you talking about Robotham's SHATTER, which came out in Feb 2008 in the UK, or a new book?

David Montgomery

Yeah, I think it's Shatter. It's whatever book of his already came out in the UK, but hasn't been published in the US yet.

Roddy Reta

I really did love CHILD 44, it's the most exciting debut I've read since John Hart's KING OF LIES. Great concept, great writing, great everything.

dick adler

Geez, Louise -- or David, as the case may be. Any six months that includes Nina Revoyr's THE AGE OF DREAMING, C.J. Box's BLUE HEAVEN, THE FOREIGNER by Francie Lin, Michael Genelin's SIREN OF THE WATERS, Don Winslow's THE DAWN PATROL and Gene Kerrigans LITTLE CRIMINALS is by me a terrific first half. (Not to mention soon upcoming Chicago winners GOOD PEOPLE and THE FIFTH FLOOR.)

Elaine Flinn

I thought CHILD 44 was a waste of time and money - and one of the most pretentious and smug books I've read in a long, long time. The author treated the reader as if we were too dumb to get what he had to say about pre-Stalin Russia and repeated the mind set over, and over and over until I wanted throw the book against the wall. And then, he further introuded (as the author) and used 'in short' at least seven million times. I mean, come on here - we're not that dense,okay? We colonists are pretty quick.

And then the ending? Oh, please - that must have been a 'beat the deadline' dump.

Cameron Hughes

I didn't like The Fifth Floor. He over-did the Chandleristic preases.

Cameron Hughes

Preases? Was I drunk and didn't know it?


Karen Terry

Heartsick is a terrific read. It is by Chelsea Cain and it is a book you will never forget.

Roddy Reta

I know David M. didn't really like HEARTSICK (which got great reviews from almost everybody else). The sequel is coming out soon, I wonder if he's even going to try it.

David J. Montgomery

Saying I "didn't really like" it would be an understatement. I didn't read many reviews for it, but the one I recall in the Times was lukewarm (although even then a bit generous).

I don't have any plans to try the new one. If I don't care for a book, I generally won't read the sequel. Doesn't seem like much point in it.


One remembers that our life seems to be high priced, nevertheless different people need money for different things and not every man gets big sums cash. Therefore to get quick home loans or just small business loan would be good way out.

Historical Books

If you are a connoisseur of first edition books or are planning to buy some children's fiction, why not get a first edition children's book....

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

About Me

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.

Read the long-form version of David's bio.

Email David J. Montgomery

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner