Friday, April 22, 2011

Russel D. McLean

Russel D McLean writes for Crime Spree Magazine, The Big Thrill, At Central Booking and Crime Scene Scotland. His short fiction has been published in crime magazines in both the US and the UK.

His debut novel was released in the UK in 2008 and the US a year later. His latest novel The Lost Sister is now out in the US.

A few weeks ago I asked McLean what he was reading. His reply:
In preparation for a Reader's Day at a Scottish Library later this year, I've been asked to select two books to discuss with readers. One of them has to be mine. The other is a book of my choosing. This has meant a lot of searching on my part. Here in the UK, so many authors I love (such as Lawrence Block) seem to be hard to find at the moment, while certain other titles have been rejected on strict terms I've set for myself. But it's been fun immersing myself in the books I love.

In the last week, I've read George Pelecanos's Drama City, which reminded me just why I love this man's work so much - the style, the attitude, the sheer power of his writing. Even on a second or third reading, you're suckered into his world. Drama City is especially good as the story of someone just trying to do the right thing in a world where everything is stacked against him.

After this, I re-read California Fire and Life, which was my first introduction to the words of Don Winslow, one of the finest writers I've had the privilege to read. CF&L was a revelation to me back in the day. It was the first time I realised that crime fiction could be deadly, dangerous and utterly unpredictable. His is the first voice I remember taking me by surprise. And despite a denouement that doesn't quite match the incendiary power of the opening, CF&L retains its magic.

But my decision as to which book to choose was made today when I finished my third alternative. Megan Abbott's Bury Me Deep blew me away on a first reading, and coming back to it again I'm suckered right into its tale of a life gone wrong, of a world just a slip away from respectability. I said when I first reviewed the book that it's all about the seduction of sin, and a re-read confirms this hypothesis. With its tight prose, perfect period detail and that beautiful depiction of one person's descent from everyday life into something altogether more terrifying, it's perfect for the discussions you want to promote at these events.

As to what's next? Well I need a break from crime fiction so I'm eyeing up the slipstream/literary novel Boxer Beetle which is either going to be brilliant or disappointing (Taking a chance on books is something I love to do; I'd rather feel passionate that simply shrug and move on to the next book) or a biography of Marlon Brando I've been meaning to get to for years - mostly having been put off by its sheer size!
Learn more about The Lost Sister at Russel McLean's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Son.

--Marshal Zeringue