Living in an English village can have its ups and downs but one thing I do enjoy is the sense of community – and there’s no greater sense of community where we live than the local pub 🙂
Since moving here, I’ve discovered I’m not the only bookworm and I’ve spent some lively evenings chatting with other pub regulars about favourite books and authors. A few of us were discussing crime series we’d enjoyed at the end of last week, which resulted in everyone writing down recommendations of books and authors to try.
That got me wondering:
How do you find a new author to read? What inspires you to give a new series a chance?
I thought I’d cast my mind back to what got me into some of my favourite crime series, and why these landed on my bookshelf…
Michael Connelly: Harry Bosch
I started reading Connelly’s books in my twenties with his debut novel The Black Echo but I didn’t get a chance to discover the rest of the Bosch series until I was 34 and off work for six weeks following major surgery.
I wasn’t allowed to drive anywhere but I knew the surgery was scheduled so I made a point of buying as many of the Bosch series in order as I could find in one of my favourite second-hand bookshops in Brisbane, Archives Fine Books.
I’ll be honest – as soon as I’d recovered from the after-effects of the anaesthetic, I binge-read the entire lot over that six week period, and remain a huge fan of Connelly’s writing today.
Robert Crais: Elvis Cole and Joe Pike
In a quirky turn of events, it was actually my love of Michael Connelly’s writing that got me reading this series by Robert Crais.
I got my first Kindle in 2012 as I’d just published as an independent author and new books in Australia are expensive.
I read an interview of Connelly’s that mentioned he and Robert Crais were old friends, and that Crais had also been a scriptwriter on the old TV series, Hill Street Blues.
I thought I’d give his Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series a go, and by the time I’d finished the third book, Lullaby Town, I was hooked!
Jo Spain: Inspector Tom Reynolds
I’m in awe of librarians and bookstore owners. The sheer amount of information they carry around in their heads is staggering, and I’m always grateful to the ones I meet for the recommendations they give me.
My enjoyment of this series by Jo Spain is all thanks to Jo and Donna at Devizes Books in Wiltshire.
We were visiting the UK from Brisbane a few months before emigrating back here, and I’d dropped in to see Jo as we followed each other on Twitter. Of course, we all got chatting about favourite books and crime series, and Donna pointed out the Inspector Tom Reynolds series to me.
Suffice to say, I walked out the shop having purchased the first book in the series, With Our Blessing and have been hooked since!
It’s chance conversations like this and those in-person recommendations that I love, because you never know what you might end up reading next…
C.J. Sansom, Matthew Shardlake
This next favourite series of mine is a great example of the power of a book cover.
I remember when the first book, Dissolution, was published. The gorgeous depiction of a church window with the ornate lettering of the title just underneath it in a style akin to illuminated medieval manuscripts caught my attention the first time I saw it on a bookshop’s shelf, and I couldn’t resist picking it up to find out more.
Historical crime fiction has always been a go-to favourite of mine, and the Matthew Shardlake series is one of those that I have to buy as soon as the next title is out!
So there you have it – just a few of my favourite mystery series, and how I discovered them.
But there are so many books out there, that it’s hard finding a new author to read. Both the time and cost investment in trying out a new author can be a gamble, can’t it?
This problem is part of the reason why I created my Official Reading Guide and Checklist, so that readers could try a sample from each of my books before devoting time and a bit of cash to buying them.
It’s also why the Reading Guide is free.
How do you discover new authors and mystery series to read? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below – and your recommendations!
I literally google things like ‘best mystery series uk’ and see what the lists say. I’ll look through reviews in newspapers and goodreads and then have a look at scores on audible. I’m going through a detective series at the moment and the main character is quite weak but the story pace is pretty good and they’re interesting enough to finish and buy the next.
Google’s great for ideas, isn’t it Steve? I do that and add “2019” at the end of the search because there are so many books out, I always find a few that flew under my radar!
Which of your books would you recommend a newbie to start with?
Thanks, Steve – I’d suggest Look Closer, which is a standalone crime thriller. I really enjoyed writing it, and it gave me the confidence to try a full-on police procedural (Scared to Death). If you download the free Official Reading Guide referenced in this blog post, you can try the first two chapters for free to see if you like it!
I am hoping Marc Cameron will continue his USMS Arliss Cutter series after Open Carry. Alaska based.
That’s a series I’ll have to investigate, Kevin – thanks for the tip!
I get ideas from friends, my last discovery was Peter James
Julie, friends are great for recommendations, aren’t they? I’m glad to hear you’ve found Peter James’s books – I did a great interview with him on my blog here a couple of years ago. Here’s the link: https://www.rachelamphlett.com/author-interviews/welcoming-2016-cwa-diamond-dagger-recipient-peter-james/
I find I get recommendations from Amazon and Goodreads based on previous books I’ve bought/read. Another favourite go to of mine is to look up freebies on Amazon Kindle (or kindle promotional specials), Prolific Works, Kobo, etc. I have downloaded so many books this year I’m not going to run out for a long time.
I too love Michael Connelly’s books – I think I may have looked up his books after being a fan of the tv show Castle, where there were often cameo appearances in a poker game with Michael Connelly, Denn ius Lehane and James Patterson (who was one of the first authors series I really got into – the Women’s Murder Club & the Alex Cross series). I stumbled across Harlan Coben by accident when I found a book of his in an op shop (second hand opportunity shop for those who don’t know what an op shop is). I fell in love with his Myron Bolitar series. I can’t remember how I came across Jonathon Kellerman & his Alex Delaware series, but I have read all of that series too (although I was a bit disappointed with the last couple if books). I love forensics so of course I have a good collection of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs books (also a fan of the Bones tv series based on her books). Somehow I came across Jefferson Bass – the body farm series. It is actually a collaboration of two writers Jon Jefferson and Dr Bill Bass who is actually the founder of the real “body farm” in USA where they study decomposition etc of human remains. If that isn’t gritty enough, I then came across Chris Carter (Robert Hunter series) about a criminal behaviour psychologist turned homicide detective, solving truly macabre cases.
I like to read the blurb of a book, take note of the cover (although covers can be deceiving) and if it interests me (especially if it is a freebie) I will read it and if I like it, I will read the rest of the series. Most of the kindle promotions I find are often the first book of a new series and I have read some fantastic debut novels. I’ve bought second hand books by the boxful and discovered authors that way too, as well as recommendations from friends. I have too many favourites to list here (help! I think I’ve just about written my own novel here)… but I have to mention Heather Graham’s Krewe if Hunters series if you like the idea of an elite FBI team that can talk to ghosts, or the Blackwoid security series by Elise Noble – highly recommended. Deadly assasins getting the bad guys but some humour thrown in aling the way and vety colourful characters.
I forgot to add Facebook is how I found you Rachel, and a lot of other authors too. I can’t believe I missed saying that in all my long winded posting! ??? Trish x
Trish, I love this comment on how you discovered so many authors! I know what you mean about secondhand books – we used to go along to the LifeLine BookFest in Brisbane once a year to top up our bookshelves with authors “new” to us, and I’ve added to those over the years with new purchases when I’ve found series I’ve fallen for!
I used to go to the library or bookshop and spend ages browsing , I still do that sometimes but mostly I have recommendations from my online book group !
Plus I’ve built us such a long list of my own I can barely keep up with the latest from them !
Online book groups are dangerous, Jennifer – and I don’t think my TBR list will ever be under control 🙂
Rach, gidday from a very cold and wet Geelong. Mel Comley books are my obsession at the moment, as I eagerly await another Kay Hunter book. Like you I have read all the Bosch series and have just binge watched the Bosch tv series here in Australia. Trust you and your fur baby are well xx
Hi Jim! Great to hear from you – yes, we’re about to complete season 5 of Bosch here and eagerly await #6. Mel’s books are quick reads, aren’t they? I’m loving the covers of her latest ones!
Friend recommendations, kobo recommendations and just scrolling through its categories, library, googling things like “ recommended Scandinavian mysteries” (that brings up different peoples lists that can be interesting). With kobo you can usually get a preview chapter to see if the writing style agrees with you or something grabs your interest. I also have picked up recommendations by reading reviews in the local paper written by someone with a similar taste. And finally…twice now I have been walking by a shelf of books, once at a bookstore, once at the library, and a book has fallen out as I have passed. On picking them up, both times I paused to read the “blurb” on the back and ended up taking them home. So I guess you could say even the bookshelves recommend books I might like!
I forgot to add I discovered you, Angela Marsons and Rachel Lynch all through kobo “recommended for you” thing…all good ones so their algorithm works!
Helen, that’s great to hear – I’m a huge fan of Kobo, and you’re right – it’s great to hear that our books get recommended by them!
I love how you use Google to find specific book genres you’re interested in. I do the same sometimes, and as you say it’s the spin-off lists that come up that are interesting to browse through. I love the idea of bookshelves thrusting books under our noses, too!
If you love Connelly and Crais, 2 of my favorite authors, you will also love Amos Decker series by Davis Baldacci. 1st book is “Memory Man.” Thanks, I’ve noted two possible new reads!
Thank you – I’ve read the King & Maxwell series, so I’ll investigate further!
Now that we have social media, especially Instagram, I am continuously bombarded with series recommendation.? But I don’t let that dictate my decision to buy and read those books completely. I check the books out on Google and Goodreads to see if they’re my kind. If I find them interesting I’ll download the sample or go to my local bookstore and read a couple of chapters. If I start enjoying the book within a couple of chapters I buy it or atleast add it to my wishlist to buy when the opportunity arises.
Sometimes I stumble upon book series myself and get my mind blown away – I found Hercule Poirot that way.? I found the Lee Child books that way.? I found the Lars Kepler books that way.? I found your books that way.?
Instagram is to blame for my out of control TBR pile, Rubina – I’m always discovering new books, and often in non-crime genres, to read!