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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Why You Should be Reading More Thrillers by Women--and a CONTEST

I don't often go on tilt, as my boys say, but once in awhile, I get frustrated with the book industry. Case in point: A conference I once loved posted their line up of "star authors." There wasn't a single woman in the bunch! When I asked why, they told me, "Oops. We couldn't come up with any women's names who would be big draws, especially since we usually feature thriller writers."

They must be drinking their own Kool-Aid, something spiked with testosterone, because my bookshelves are full of thrilling reads by fantastic women writers.

1. Heather Graham -- I just finished Let the Dead Sleep. Graham is a writing masterclass on the page. This book has it all: a slightly paranormal twist; a fantastic New Orleans setting done right; strong female protagonist; and interesting secondary characters. Oh, and did I mention a rollicking plot?

2. Meg Gardiner -- Her newest book The Shadow Tracer combines a couple of fascinating female protagonists with a glorious panorama of a setting and adds a current topic (fanatic religious sects) in a fast paced adventure that I couldn't put down. And yeah, I consider Meg a friend. She's fantastic.

3. Kathy Reichs -- Somehow I missed Deadly Decisions, so I picked up a copy and I'm having trouble tearing myself away. I always learn so much from Reichs, and she's as impressive in person as she is on paper. Her entire Temperance Brennan series makes for chilling, thrilling, and thought-provoking reading.

4. Lori Armstrong -- Her "Mercy Gunderson" series is superb, and a great example of how a character can grow and change as a series progresses. Mercy's backstory makes her a compelling character.

Here are a few other reasons I value these authors--

1. They didn't choose to write under a pseudonym. Yup, they are women and they don't care who knows it. Got to admire that!

2. They don't indulge in gratuitous violence/perversion toward women in their books. Too many "thriller" authors take the low road by indulging all their blackest, most foul imaginings and frankly, scare the bejeebers out of me. These talented authors stay within the bounds of good taste while offering great reads.

3. Their female protagonists are appropriately strong and weak, rather than super humans.

4. Nobody immediately has sex with the first man who wanders across her path. Honestly, I've had it with books by men where the male protag beds every woman on every page. I mean, REALLY?

Here's the thing: Most women buy hardback books for their husbands/boyfriends to read. Why not buck the trend as exhibited by the-conference-that-shall-not-be-named? Why not buy a hardback by one of these fine women authors and hand it to the guy in your life...

After you read it, of course.

CONTEST

To make it easier on your wallet, I'll send one lucky commenter a copy of Let the Dead Sleep. Just tell me who your favorite female thriller writer is!

35 comments:

Jody said...

I love all of those authors, even though I don't read a lot of thrillers.

Jody said...

Forgot to add that Kathy Reichs is my favorite. I DO read her books.

RV said...

Nevada Barr! Love the National Parks settings and she writes great tension.

Mary Ihla said...

What exactly defines the thriller sub-genre? How does it differ from suspense, crime, or regular mystery? I'm confused, so I guess I can decide for myself who would be considered a thriller writer. When I was young, I read everything Helen McInnes wrote, later I devoured Lisa Scottoline's work, and when the "Bones" series debuted, I discovered Kathy Reichs, but these days I read mainly cozies.

Barbara T. said...

Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cormwell and Catherine Nelson's cozy was more over the top action than expected, but thoroughly enjoyed.

Joanna Slan said...

Jody, Kathy Reichs is great, isn't she?

Joanna Slan said...

RV, I've never gotten into Nevada Barr. Must try it.

Joanna Slan said...

Mary, it is confusing, isn't it? There are no hard and fast rules, so here goes...

Crime novels usually focus more on the crime itself, and it's often more of a police investigation. Think Oceans Eleven, the movie.

Suspense is often a single person in a dangerous situation or a psychologically compelling situation. Often a trick is being played on someone. Think of Silence of the Lambs.

A regular mystery could be any of these, but almost always there's a death and a sleuth must figure out whodunnit or how to prove who did it. Think Hitchcock's Rear Window.

A thriller usually has a lot of action with twists and turns where the protagonist escapes dangers. Think of the DaVinci Code or even any of the Indiana Jones movies.

Is that helpful?

Marla H said...

Catherine Coulter FBI series is one of my favorites.

Joanna Slan said...

Barbara, Catherine Nelson is a new name to me. Thanks for sharing!

Marla H said...

Okay, based on your definition of thriller series, I would have to say Mary Higgins Clark!

danielle estes said...

I love heather graham but Kathy Reichs is my favorite i have all her books and cant wait for the next one i have read them about 3 times lol

traveler said...

My favorite author is Deborah Crombie. I have read all of her novels.

petite said...

Woman mystery author who is great is Tess Gerritsen.

Terri Bischoff said...

Excellent post Joanna. I bet it took you all of five seconds to come up with four headliners. Another 30 seconds and you could add a dozen more. Anyone who proclaims there are not any big name female thriller writers is simply wrong.

Sue Farrell said...

Tess Gerritsen is a favorite of mine.
suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

Joanna Slan said...

Marla, I know I've read Catherine Coulter, but I can't recall the titles, so I'll have to check them out.

Joanna Slan said...

And Marla, I once met MH Clark. What a cool lady.

Joanna Slan said...

Danielle, I was with Kathy Reichs at the Virgina Festival of the Book, and I saw her interact with her grandbaby. If I hadn't already thought her wonderful, I would have been convinced then.

Joanna Slan said...

Traveler, I'm not sure I know of Deborah Crombie. Will look her up.

Joanna Slan said...

Tess is a doll, and you know she wrote romance before she wrote The Surgeon.

Joanna Slan said...

So, Terri, what's the deal here? As an editor, do you receive a lot of thriller manuscripts by women?

Joanna Slan said...

I'll tell y'all the truth, I was totally disgusted. And then I read that ANOTHER conference was all boys. And then I went to a third conference that should have been held in a men's john. No kidding. All testosterone all the time...

scottylover said...

I can't say I have any one favorite. I love just picking up a book and reading. I have read a few Heather Graham books and loved them. If you count JD Robb (Nora Roberts) as a thriller writer, I do love the Eve Dallas series.

Sandy A

Loretta said...

My favorites are Tess Gerritsen, Tami Hoag, Nevada Barr and Minette Walters.

Rebecca said...

My favorite is Tess Gerritsen. Love the books and the television series.

susan beamon said...

add Iris Johansen to that list

Joanna Slan said...

Scotty, I just met Nora at a party held by my publisher. She's really like a rock star, isn't she?

Joanna Slan said...

Loretta, I think I've read Minette Walters, because the name is familiar. I'll look her up.

Joanna Slan said...

Rebecca, yes, it's great how well the books translated onto the TV screen, isn't it?

Joanna Slan said...

Susan, how could I have forgotten her? She's brilliant!

Joanna Slan said...

That reminds me of another: Linda Fairstein.

Oh, and my pal, Jamie Freveletti.

Marla H said...

I think I've got a great list for winter reading now :) Thanks Joanna!

Oh, here is a link to the list of the FBI thriller novels by Catherine Coulter:

http://www.catherinecoulter.com/books/fbi

Joanna Slan said...

You are most welcome!

Jan said...

P.J. Tracy writes wonderful books. The writer is actually 2 women - a mother and daughter team.