Recommended writers of fiction - and why


Book Reviewer
Leading on from the thread about ranking John le Carre's books (and the kicking we seem to have given him forhis later efforts), just who are the best reads out there?

I tend to be a creature of habit when I find someone good - the missus always laughs that there'll suddenly seem to be a glut of books by the same author kicking around the place. I've just come out of another Len Deighton-fest, for instance.

But, in the interest of expanding my and others' horizons, who's good... or good right now?

I'll lead with a long-standing favourite in Martin Cruz Smith. His books featuring Arkady Renko (the central character in the film Gorky Park) have been very consistent over the years, as have his others, and I can't recommend him enough. I've also been a fan of Alan Furst over the years; although his inter-war espionage tales tend to take some getting through they do sustain to the end.

I know though that I tend towards the same genres (espionage and crime). But who/what is worth a look elsewhere?
For comedy and farce I recommend Tom Sharpe, highlights being The Wilt series, Indecent Exposure and Riotous Assembly for a farcical satire on Apartheid and The Throwback for nasty characters trying to plot and scheme to get one over on each other.


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The Bernie Gunther series of books by Philip Kerr. "Berlin Noir" at it's best. If you liked the Alan Furst books, try David Downing's John Russell and Effi Koenen series (Zoo Station et al).
The Bernie Gunther series of books by Philip Kerr. "Berlin Noir" at it's best. If you liked the Alan Furst books, try David Downing's John Russell and Effi Koenen series (Zoo Station et al).
Yes, indeed. The Bernie Gunther series gets better with every new book. 'Field Grey' was brilliant IMO.
I'd also recommended Stuart MacBride's Logan McRae series starting with 'Cold Concrete'. Very dark humour set in an Aberdeen so wet and windy the local tourist board got a sad on with the author.
Craig Russell's 'Lennox' series is very good. Gritty 50s Glaswegian noir, with black humour and Gangland über violence aplenty.
I always end up back with GMF, Bernard Cornwell, or Tom Sharpe when I want to be entertained in between the heavier reading required not to look too much of a twat here.
The Bernie Gunther series of books by Philip Kerr. "Berlin Noir" at it's best. If you liked the Alan Furst books, try David Downing's John Russell and Effi Koenen series (Zoo Station et al).
Both these authors are excellent, I have read all of the books by both authors. I am now reading "Child 44" by Tom Rob Smith, which I am really enjoying. Are his other books any good?

I like Lee Child's books, though I concede that they are formulaic (I just happen to like the formula).

The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris is very good, set in '40s Glasgow (as are the Lennox books by Craig Russell which I liked).

Sam Eastland's Inspector Pekkala series set in Stalinist pre war Russia aren't bad.

CJ Sansom's Shardlake books are interesting, set in Tudor England.

As a wild card "Gray Eagles" by Duane Unkefer, USAAF & Luftwaffe vets duelling under the Arizona sun in 1976 in restored ME109Gs


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Jeez, that is like asking what is your favourite painting! There are so many different areas of fiction that it would be impossible to pin down to one area and all depends on your own tastes. However it is worth going outside your reading comfort zone now and again to try something different, you may find your tastes head in that direction.

Recently I have been enjoying the plethora of Ancient Rome books with authors such as MC Scott, Ben Kane, Tony Riches, Richard Foreman and several others. This era is currently being well serviced and there is a lot of good material there ranging from the in-depth story to light hearted fiction. Worth a look through.
Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, James Herbert, Wilbur Smith, Harry Harrison (Stainless Steel Rat). Crikey, where do I end! Why?Because they write totally engrossing tales. Ooh! Ooh, don't forget Frank Herbert of Dune fame, plus the war authors...bloody hell! What a question!
Read the posts of Tropper66.

Works of complete fiction that are so fantastical and unintentionally funny that Gore Vidal once said "That Troppers a right **** ain't he?"
I've enjoyed all of Robert Ryan's books, particularly One Fine Morning (about two real pre-war racing drivers who ended up int he French Resistance) and Signal Red (about the Great Train Robbery). I recently found Gordon Ferris, the Hanging Shed and sequels set just post war.
Surprised no one has mentioned Ken Follett.

Bernard Cornwall produces good works, though I never got into the Starbuck chronicles.

Gerald Seymour, but not read one for years.
Dean Koontz is an excellent horror writer. Some of his books I've boshed out in a day or two they're that good.
I've been making the effort over the last few years to make up for being a dick at school, and consequently getting a pretty wretched education, and fire through some 'proper literature'. While I still enjoy the odd bit of pulp fiction, usually found abandoned at an APOD somewhere, what I've genuinely discovered a liking for is:

Hemingway: Men's men and reeking of testosterone. Ernest is largely responsible for my desire to jack it all in and live on a game fishing boat in the Caribbean on a diet of cheap rum and expensive women. Not sure if that'll survive contact with AFPS 15 though.

Dumas: The Count Of Monte Cristo may be heavier than a troop of RLC drivers but it is, IMHO, a serious contender for 'The Best Story Ever Written'. Betrayal, revenge, politicking, greed, ambition it's got the lot. The Three Musketeers is another epic if you can get past the unlikeliness of heroic Frenchmen.

Jules Verne: The bloke invented Sci-Fi and because it's so preposterously Victorian it somehow doesn't feel that geeky.

Evelyn Waugh: The 'Sword of Honour' trilogy is superb.

There's a host of other 'one offs' as well from the late 19th - mid 20thC. It sometimes takes a bit of an investment of time to get past a slightly older style of language but it's been worth every minute for me.


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