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August 1, 2008 / C.T. Henry

REVIEW OF THE WEEK: Triumph of the Thriller

Finally, a book reviewer who tells it like it is!  In his new book, The Triumph of the Thriller, Washington Post reviewer Patrick Anderson gives his assessment of today’s best and worst thriller writers.  His standards are pretty high, and coincide with my own.  He credits Scott Turow as inventing the modern legal thriller and Sue Grafton for creating the first great female private eye.   He loves hard-boiled crime fiction from the likes of Raymond Chandler, John D. MacDonald, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, James Lee Burke, and Charlie Huston. Nonetheless, I respect him even more for castigating the popular dribble of James Patterson, David Baldacci, and Patricia Cornwell. He writes: “The sin of most of [these] people…is not that they write clunky sentences, although some do, but that they treat their readers like idiots. They deal in cliches, stereotypes, cheap thrills, and ridiculous plots.” My favorite parting shot is from his review of Patricia Cornwell: “You couldn’t pay me to read another of her novels.” Anderson pays homage to the truly great mystery and thriller writers in the hopes that readers won’t “surrender $25 for some piece of crap.” This is a wonderful, quick read for anyone who loves the genre.  (In addition, my “To Read” list increased threefold after reading this wonderfully modern survey of crime fiction.)


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  1. Chrissy / Aug 9 2008 6:14 am

    Looking forward to reading this book. I really enjoyed this post so thank you for that!
    I recently read a well written thriller/mystery by Ellis Goodman called Bear Any Burden. It’s a nicely paced book that describes historical events in such great detail that you live them with the characters and feel their emotions as the story develops.
    My husband brought it home and read it cover to cover/a>. I had to see what all the fuss was about!

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