Thursday, November 1, 2012

D.J. McIntosh

D. J. McIntosh’s The Witch of Babylon has been sold in nineteen countries, was short-listed for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award, and won a Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award for best unpublished novel.

Last month I asked McIntosh what she was reading.  Her reply:
Because my second novel turns on the hunt for a rare 17th century book, I’ve turned to a book I first read some time ago written by John Dunning, an author who’s considered a master of the bibliophile mystery. He has a huge following and with good reason. Dunning’s ‘hero’ is Cliff Janeway, a book dealer and ex-cop. I always found this an unlikely combination but Dunning brings Janeway convincingly alive. In The Bookman’s Promise, Janeway takes pity on an elderly woman who claims her family is the rightful owner of a valuable first edition collection of works by the adventurer and historian, Sir Richard Burton. In the best tradition of quest novels, Janeway searches for both the collection and Burton’s mysterious handwritten journal that reveals a hidden secret - the spark that lit the American Civil War. I think history is often best illuminated through novels and Dunning’s book is proof of this. He held me enthralled all the way through.

Almost all my non-fiction reading is research for my novels and it’s why I picked up The House of Wisdom by Jonathan Lyons. The story of several Christian scholars who travelled to the Near East in the Middle Ages, the book documents how Arabic culture and learning transformed western thought. These ideas ultimately fuelled the Renaissance. Far from a staid historical account, this book had me ‘turning the pages’ as the saying goes, as though it was a thriller.

For a pure, engrossing, nail biting, experience I loved Michael Koryta’s The Ridge. I read a lot of suspense fiction and find many can be predictable but Koryta’s writing is superb. He takes a stock suspense character – the hard bitten sheriff with a vulnerable side – and turns him into a memorable figure. The sheriff has fallen in love with a woman who’s now in jail for shooting him. As a big cat preserve is established in isolated eastern Kentucky, people strangely escape what should be certain death. This is just for openers and Koryta’s magic is to make us believe every word.
Visit D.J. McIntosh's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.
The Page 69 Test: The Witch of Babylon.

--Marshal Zeringue