Saturday, March 20, 2010

Female Suspense Authors . . . Add Two

I'm bustin' my buttons with excitement. It's kind of like when you learn a new word and suddenly notice that word everywhere you look.

(Okay, yeah. The picture has nothing to do with buttons. But I promise you, if you go to Morgue File and put in "buttons" this little fella is in the pile of pics to choose from. And I couldn't say no.)

A few weeks ago, I shared a conversation my friend Leslie and I had regarding top-notch female suspense writers and the apparent lack thereof. Like magic, I've found two to add to a list I hope to see growing as the year goes by.

These women should be household names. Seriously.

I recently completed Angel's Tip by Alafair Burke. It was terrific. A strong—but still vulnerable—female protag in a solidly written suspense involving a serial killer . . . what more could one hope for? In fact, based on that read, I've preordered her new one, 212.

Today at lunch I opened the cover of The Bone Chamber by Robin Burcell. I only had time to read one chapter, but I know this is going to be a fabulous story filled with high energy, suspense, and authoritative juice. In only a few short pages, I'm wowed.

The connective tissue, aside from fantastic writing, is the flavor they each lay down in their stories. Authenticity. It doesn't come from detailed, textbook data strewn across the page, but rather from subtle imagery and assumption that the reader is neither a dummy or a frustrated student of minutia. They don't have to show me how much they know, because by achieving a brilliant balance I trust them both implicitly. They don't allow facts to get in the way of the story.

I'm hooked.

It's all better with friends.


  1. Can't wait to check those out--thanks for the recs, Peg! If you like serial killer books, you might like Chelsea Cain. I also love Gillian Flynn and Laura Lippman's standalones for female suspense (Gillian is more literary, less fast-paced plot). And of course, one day I hope I will receive the honor of your reading my (been called fast-paced) suspense and me reading yours!

  2. Buttons will be flying all over the universe when we read each other's books!

    In the meantime, I've made a note of Cain and Flynn and Lippman. I tried a Lippman once and it was a DNF, but anyone can have an off book, and it could have just as easily been me being an off reader.

  3. Was it the Tess series or a standalone, Peg? I prefer the standalones (then again, I often choose them over series). Try WHAT THE DEAD KNOW (if that wasn't the DNF--I was wowed by it). One of my favorite psychological suspense novels by a woman is WINIFRED by Doris Miles Disney, written in the seventies. I still re-read this book when I want to remind myself about suspense-building techniques and how quiet eeriness can be far scarier than dark basements and car chases...

  4. I think I tried both, but can't be sure I've read a Tess. The one that was a DNF was (I think) THE POWER OF THREE. I kept waiting for it to get better and finally gave up.

    Okay. Added WINIFRED to my list.

    Yesterday was a reading day at our house, and I'm about 1/2 through THE BONE CHAMBER. One of these days, I'll be able to build a story like that girl (Robin Burcell) is building a story. So far, no sagging middle, that's for sure!

  5. Best four books I've read in a long long time:
    Sharp Objects & Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, and In the Woods & Faithful Place by Tana French.

  6. Oh, thank you whoever you are! I've just added them to my list. Heard good things about both authors, but sometimes my brain is a seive.

    Thanks again!

  7. Yay! It's nice to know I'm not the lone female suspense/crime thriller author out there!

  8. Don't forget about Lois Duncan. I fell in love with the suspense genre reading her novels in junior high. :-)

  9. Regardless of genre or target audience, when an author touches something in a reader, it often sticks.

    I love that.

  10. Just came across your blog. I love it when great female suspense novelists are recommended to me. Like Jenny Milchman, I prefer standalones, and can't wait for Jenny's 'Cover of Snow'. Already ordered.
    Presently reading 'Hostile Witness' by Rebecca Forster. Enjoying it very much. Got this one free, which in itself seems a crime.
    Best, Joan
    Joan Hall Hovey

  11. Thanks for your comment, Joan. I'm thinking it's about time for a new post about female suspense novelists!

  12. Just noticed your comment here, Peg. Well, if I can add anything to the boiling pot please feel free call on me. I'd be honored. Wishing everything wonderful in this magical season.