We didn’t receive as much feedback on memorable scenes this month so instead I wanted to include a lot of the feedback we received about book recommendations, book reviews etc.

Celest: Read “The Confessor” by Daniel Silvia. Thought it was wonderful. Then started “The Last Mile” by David Balducci. It is one of the few books I read 3/4 of and threw it away. It just got worse and worse, so unrealistic. I will never know how it ended, but just could not deal with it. Reading another Silvia book ” A Death in Vienna”. Loving it already after only a chapter or two.

Maybe someone who completed the Balducci book will tell me how it ended.

Bill: I had skipped the Mickey Bolitar books because of the tag line. I took your recommendation and read them, loved them.

avaradachary: I read the two minute rule a few years ago. Very unusual story and a great mystery. I bought a few copies andgave them to friends who all liked it

Thanks for the reminder

Bob: Re: James Patterson. I truly believe that he has rented out his name to other authors.

This is similar to the clothing industry where designers license their name to manufacturers who sell the goods with the designer label.

He cannot possibly write as many books that appear with his name and a co-author. Maybe he is editing them the same way that a designer would approve and review a clothing line.

His recent book “Woman of God” is not a typical Patterson novel. It reads more like a story to be made into a movie for Lifetime Movie Channel presentation.

Just venting.

Clark: Subscribing to your newsletter was one of the best things I have done in a long time. You have turned me onto some authors and books that I might not have enjoyed. Right now I am ‘visiting’ a few authors from years ago and some of their books I never read …. Louis L’Amour …. Mickey Spillane … Max Brand … to name three. Thank you for the great job you are doing and the service you are providing.

Richard: Read the new reacher book in 2 ½ days as it was only a 10 day book from the library. I enjoyed it

Looking forward to the next volume

Thom: Hi Graeme –

Sorry to hear you are under the weather. At least you got nailed in between Thanksgiving and Christmas! Hope you miss both of them, so to speak (being sick, that is).

I was wondering about your Jack Reacher comments: if you are like most of us, Tom Cruise was a lousy pick for our most favorite, larger-than-life superhero (no pun intended… well maybe a little bit). Did this disappointment somehow color your perception of the book, or give it an extra-heavy load to keep you entertained? To be honest, I have not bought the book yet and if I don’t get it as a CMAS gift not sure I even will buy it. I just don’t like Tom Cruise that much. And yes, I understand when you have enough $$$ to buy any part you want, then Lee Child does not have much say in who get cast into what roles. But jumpin’ jellybeans, Tom “I’m 5’6”… really” Cruise??? And Mr. Reacher is only 6’5” or so…

OK, enough griping. Hope you feel better, and Santa has to make two trips to bring all your goodies!

Rudy: I can not agree more about Night School. I have loved every Jack Reacher novel and can hardly wait for the new ones to come on the market. Just finished Night School last week and was so disappointed! Nothing like the Jack Reacher I have come to love and want to read about over and over. This book could have been about any new character Lee would want to choose. Shame that he made Jack to be the main focus of this book. Not a terrible book but certainly not a Jack Reacher novel. I’ll continue to hope for a better result the next time. Hope it is soon!

Mary: Ptewy on new Jack Reacher book. I think Lee Child wrote it years ago and put the draft away. He found it and updated the people, places and so on. This is not the Jack Reacher we know and love. It is as bad as choosing Tom Cruise to portray him in movies.

Donna: Have been an avid Jack Reacher fan but the 2nd to last book just wasn’t him.. I was just uncomfortable with him. I think maybe most of the violence in the books (self defence) was next to outright murder in this one. I have been watching for the latest but will wait until the Library has it in. Then I think I’ll try one of authors you suggested. Peter May and “Black House” sounds like a good place to start.
Look forward to getting you “Order of Books” e-mail every month. Thanks so much for the input.

Dennis: I really enjoyed the latest Reacher!! Nathan Farrugia, Rob Sinclair, Tim , Andy Malsen L.T. Ryan!! All action packed thrillers!!

belgian: I am a Jack Reacher fan also..but the last book I put it away before finishing it. Very disappointing read.

Robert: Also didn’t care for night school. Got 100 pages in & thought why waste anymore time. Just something about it that I found boring.

George: I agree that the latest Reacher book is not very good. Besides the descent into sex sensationalism to “attract” readers, it just wasn’t interesting. I prefer stories show Reacher reacting to modern times rather than dredging up old times.

Pam: I agree about the Reacher book. I love them, but this one wasn’t up to par. It was okay, and much better than the movies, but did take longer to read than normal.

Thanks for sharing the comments and introducing me to many new authors.

Sharon: Hello Graeme

I am wishing you a speedy recovery.

I just wanted to say that last month I devoured a good portion of the Mo Hayder Jack Caffrey series starting with Birdman; wow they were scary and thrilling. I don’t know if you recommended them or not but I certainly was reading voraciously into the wee hours of the morning. And, the next morning, having my coffee and saying to myself, would read only a few pages and then get on with my day. Well, I needn’t tell you when you get into a mystery, you just can’t put it down.

One of my favourite things is finding an author I haven’t read before and loving their work. It’s like meeting a new friend.

Amy: A scene that has stuck with me for many years was in John Lescroat’s “A Certain Justice” written in the 90’s. A black man in jogging clothes is picking up clothes at the cleaners. He locks his keys in the car, and in frustration slams his fist on his fancy car setting off the alarm. There’s a lot of racial tension in the city at the moment over a jury verdict. In a display of mob mentality, some men leaving a bar, assume he’s stealing the car and grab him and lynch him. A young white man runs and tries to lift him up to prevent the hanging and is trying to hand up a knife to cut him free. A reporter snaps a picture. It appears as if he’s helping lynch the man instead of trying to save him. It was a graphic example of how you can’t always accurately interpret circumstances and motives from a picture. A lesson we all need daily with the rise of social media since that book was written. It’s also a graphic lesson on mob mentality and jumping to conclusions in the heat of the moment. That scene haunts me.

Leona: I totally agree with you about Lee Child’s Night School. It also took me 2 weeks to read it. I kept putting it down and reading anything else; usually, I just picked it up to finish a bit more. Any other character, and I would have just set the book aside – never to be finished. I love Jack Reacher but I absolutely dislike Night School.

Elizabeth: I loved the last scene is Presumed Innocent by Scott Turrow.

Margaret: Love your site! It is so amazingly comprehensive that I am a little surprised to be able to offer a series for consideration. I am happy, however, to suggest Peter Grainger’s “A DC Smith Investigation” series which I recently discovered on Amazon.

DC (initials, not rank: one of the author’s little jokes) is a Detective Sergeant who used to be of higher rank. His past experiences are gradually revealed through the books, so reading them in order is particularly rewarding. Like many series, these can be read as a single, unfolding narrative, but there are also separate, satisfyingly intricate, cases solved within each of the books. These are well written, subtly funny, with a cast of well-drawn characters. The first two are also currently available on Audible with a really good narrator. So far there are six:

1 – An Accidental Death

2- But for the Grace

3- Luck and Judgement

4- Persons of Interest

5- In this Bright Future

6- The Rags of Time

Doug: Hi, Graeme:

Thanks so much for your newsletter. I look forward to it every month. Earlier in the year, I sent you a list of all my personal “five-star books”, and I thought I’d update the list…………unfortunately I only find the time to read 1-2 books a month, with all the newspapers and sports magazines I read, but here are the additions to the list in the past six months or so:

1. “ Defending Jacob” by William Landay: I think this book was written in 2012 but I was looking for a good legal thriller on my book shelf, and this one has been compared to “Presumed Innocent”, which for my money is the best legal thriller ever. I really enjoyed “Defending Jacob”. The courtroom scenes were very good, and I enjoyed the plot and the writing style. It was about a parent’s anguish as his son is accused of murdering a classmate at school………I will definitely be trying out his other two books. I recommend it for anyone who likes Grisham (this was quite a bit better than most of Grishams).

2. “Fool me Once” by Harlan Coben: Coben is on the short list of my favourite authors, and this was one of his best in my opinion. His story lines are always good, the plot moves fast, and the characters are interesting. I purchased the three Mickey Bolitar books and I will give them a try as well. Whenever I go into a “slump”, and read a couple lousy books in a row, I always go to either Harlan Coben or Linwood Barclay for a pick-me up.

I am currently about 3/4 of the way through “The Kind Worth Killing” by Peter Swanson. I am really enjoying it, and it has a chance to get my five-star ranking unless the last 25 % peters out. It’s kind of a modern twist on the old “Strangers on a Train” plot where two strangers who meet by chance plot murder…………..he is releasing another book in January which I plan to try as well.

Next on my reading list is “I am Pilgrim” by Terry Hayes. Have you read that one? It gets great reviews, and is compared to a Robert Ludlum book (he was my favourite author in the 70’s and 80’s)……….

Joyce: Re: Philip Margolin. I’ve just started reading his series and really enjoy the plots. I’ve also read all the Mitch Rapp and can’t wait to read the latest.

KK: I was traveling and missed reading the November newsletter, so I am now reading all the comments about Jack Reacher. May I chime in about Tom Cruise? My husband & I just heard Lee Child speak at a local library’s ‘Meet the Author.’ Inevitably the question came up. LC has no problem with Cruise! His point is (to paraphrase) the book is the book is the book, forever. The movie is someone’s else interpretation.
It was an interesting 90 minutes!

Rhea: One of my most memorable scenes in a book came from a Karin Slaughter novel. I don’t want to get into specifics because it could ruin things for people who haven’t yet read them but this particular scene brought up so many emotions, mostly negative – sadness, grief, anger, confusion, etc. The author was kind enough to explain her reasoning for what she did and it gave me a whole new understanding from the writer’s point of view. Now, whenever I read a book, I don’t just think about the progression or ending I might want but also what is best for the story. That has helped me get through lots of books where the story doesn’t go the way I might want it to but I understand the why.

marianne: thomas perry has a new book coming out in jan. i have preordered it; he is an author i cant wait to read. i love his jane whitefield series but his stand along books are great. i have all his books on one shelf and need to clear out space on another shelf. in anticipation.

Vic: After many years, I decided to reread (again) the Christopher Hinz “Paratwa Saga.” My inspiration, in part, was from the unexpected appearance of a new novel “Binary Storm,” a prequel to the original series. (I’m in the process of converting my extensive hard-copy editions with e-book versions as an alleviation to vision problems attendant with aging. As I progressed through the shelves, I came across the set and made a note to revisit them.) This is sci-fi at a very high level, interweaving apocalyptic events, societal changes, personality dynamics and, of course, high-tech of which there is more than a little uniqueness. I am finding that much of what I read previously has disappeared from my memory and the “discovery” of the events and persona are as fresh and intriguing as they were before. Note that this is not a fast read, especially considering that I normally go through a book in a day or two (which is reason for me to reread and enjoy after several years). If you’ve not read them yet, I encourage you to do so; if you have, but not recently, look at them again.

Phoebe: Rivers of London by Ben Aronavich there are 6 books in the series. I really enjoyed them and am on my third trip through them again.

Theresa: I just finished reading a book by Allan Eskens called ‘The Life We Bury’. It was a good read! I am now starting his second book ‘The Guise of Another’ and I am enjoying that as well.

One of my favorite scenes just happens to be in Lee Child’s 2012 “A Wanted Man”, one of his best. Reacher is hitchhiking and is picked up by two men fleeing a homicide, and a woman hostage. His silent communication with the hostage, by blinking, is very clever.

Recent favorite: Lisa Gardner’s 2016, “Find Her.” Flora Dane, who had been a kidnapping victim for 472 days, has been kidnapped again. [removed due to potential spoilers] Aces!


My newest discovery is UK author Claire North.

Her current book, “The Sudden Appearance of Hope” is fresh and imaginative. Definitely a 2016 favorite. Hope’s unusual quality is that as she becomes an adult nobody remembers who she is, although the world and people around her are normal. Unable to hold a job, she becomes an international criminal, jewel thief and corporate spy. I hope she becomes a series protagonist. North brings a great deal of emotion to her palette. Her mother forgets ever having given birth to Hope, yet her brain-damaged sister never fails to recognize and love her. The brief family scenes are a wonderful contrast to the iciness of the “Perfection” plot, a computer program that evolves into mind control. It is hard to categorize this story – reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s or Kate Atkinson’s works – but “speculative fiction” comes closest. So impressed! I’ve now gone back to read her 2014 novel “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.” This is definitely science fiction, and it is brilliant.

(Then later)

When I wrote you the other day about Claire North, I had not yet finished reading her first book, “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August,” so I did not give you the gist of the book. Loved it! Quite an achievement.

As 78-year old Harry August lay dying in a hospital, he gets a visit from a seven-year-old with an urgent message: “The end of the world is getting faster. We cannot prevent it. So now it’s up to you.” In her first adult novel, Claire North wows us with a science fiction / detective novel that’s a variation on time travel. With some similarity to Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life,” North creates the kalachakras, humans who die but get reborn with their memories of past lives intact. By the time Harry enters his 15th life, born on the same date each time, he has lived over 900 years and has become a complex and appealing character. North’s style is robust yet tight, and packed with historic and scientific detail that she makes accessible to the average reader. I look forward to reading her 2015 book “Touch” next. FYI, these are all stand-alone novels, so readers may find 2016’s “The Sudden Appearance of Hope,” more widely available right now. SciFi fans who treasure the Cixin Liu trilogy, “The Three-Body Problem,” will also find a lot to like here.

Rhea P: I think it was Beyond Reach in her Grant County series which later becomes a Sara/Will series. If you’re not going to read it, she kills off a very central character right when Sara and her husband are going to be happy and adopt a baby. It’s shocking and sad and horrible and Sara grieves for books. The author wrote a special note for fans on her web site to explain herself and you had to go through 3 passwords to get to it because she was worried about spoilers.

But I did learn from it. Had he not died, they would have adopted a baby and been happy until they weren’t and then what? His death showed us multiple layers of the main character as she grieved and of other characters who were effected as well as made room for new relationships. So from now on, when characters are killed off or relationships are broken off, I know it’s to move the story to more exciting places, even if it hurts.

Ila: Author Paul Cleave is not for the weak at heart – but he’s not a horror author. He writes about serial killers and psychopaths but he does not sugarcoat the details.

His website: http://www.paulcleave.co.nz/index.php

I love his books so I wrote to him and the result is below, I hope you’ll add him to the site when you have time.

Thank You so much for all you do for us, the reader.

Hey Ila,

Thanks for the email. Hmm… you make a good point – I should put something on the website about the order of the books – rather than just putting the latest one at the top…

So – here we go…

The Cleaner
The Killing Hour
Cemetery Lake
Blood Men
Collecting Cooper
The Laughterhouse
Joe Victim
Five Minutes Alone
Trust No One
A Killer Harvest (which comes out next year).

Ha! Thanks for the kind wishes. The Frisbee thing is fun – I’m up to 28 countries now where I’ve thrown it… hopefully I can get to some new ones soon…

Barb: Hope you are feeling better – its a bummer to not be feeling well anytime of the year, but especially during the holidays.
I have read most of the Grisham books and have liked most – especially those that really look at the law and how it impacts ordinary people. I had started the newest Reacher book, Night School, got bored and put it away for now. However, I have just finished one of the very best books in a long time – ‘The Chemist’ by Stephenie Meyer. I have never read anything by her in the past, but this was a superb read.

Sam: It’s funny I see you mention Vince Flynn and the Mitch Rapp series so often. It’s one of my personal favorites. And, one of the most memorable book scenes for me comes from the end of Consent To Kill. I’ll follow instructions and not describe it here so as to not give spoilers. But look, I am not a cryer. I was definitely crying in that scene. What’s intriguing about it is most of Flynn’s writing is action, suspense and such. Here was a moment where he showed the world he could do emotional too. What’s more – my wife is not a reader, but a day or two after reading this we were standing in line in a Starbucks and I started describing to her this particular scene. Then she started crying just from my narrative. It earned me a nice “thanks a lot” swat on the back of my head for making her do that. But, there you have it.

Janet M: I nominate Step on Crack by James Patterson for the best scenes. It’s the first in the Michael Bennett series. Between his family life and the very detailed plot line, it’s a page turner. Toss in few unexpected characters and you have comedy, drama, tragedy and mystery. You never know what the next chapter will bring.

The next best scenes are the plot setting sessions, the plan execution and the endings of any of the Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels. Each time the girls exact justice is priceless. If you haven’t read one you need to. There aren’t deep intellectual works, but rather fluff for the brain. Like watching mindless entertainment on the boob tube.

One last one, of course it a Reacher scene. He’s adventures in Never Go Back, the events in helping Susan with her legal troubles and the ending.

I was looking forward to Night School, but now I am not so sure. But then again you didn’t care for Grisham’s Gray Mountain and I did.

I just want to add one thing. I love authors that challenge my vocabulary. Stuart Wood is good for that. Am reading Family Jewels and came across perspicacity. I had to look it up . Maybe I am just weird, but I love to be challenged with vocabulary. I grew up with the magazine Reader’s Digest (RD) and it was a family thing to do the Word Power quiz. Now it’s not as fun, since Mom is getting older. I can still get the RD quiz online, but I think dictionary.com is more fun with the word of the day and weekly quiz The RD quiz actually was what gave me the word to win the Oregon State spelling bee in 5th grade (1972 or 3) with appendicitis.

If you aren’t familiar, RD did a book club thing years ago with condensed books. Here is the online link to the current version. http://www.rd.com/culture/word-power-art/1/

Maybe for a future query ought to consider what author is the most demanding with vocabulary.

Phoenix: You’ve asked about our favorite scenes from books we’ve read. Mine is from “The Peaceable Kingdom,” by Jan de Hartog. It’s an old book, long since out of print, but can still sometimes be found in libraries or second-hand book stores. The first part of the book details the life of Margaret Fell, friend and companion of George Fox, who started the Quaker movement in the mid-seventeenth century. The scene to which I refer (and that gets me every time I read it), is Margaret Fell’s first foray into the prison system, hoping to help the children imprisoned there. Upon first seeing the appalling conditions in which the children live, Margaret runs to George Fox, demanding proof of how a loving God can allow such a thing. While I cannot quote the actual passage without breaking copyright laws, George, in essence, tells her to stop crying for proof of God’s love. How else does she think God manifests His love except through His people? It’s a powerful, powerful moment in the book, and one that moves me to tears every time I read it. “The Peaceable Kingdom” is a book I re-read every few years, and it never fails to move me in different ways, and to spiral me into a new understanding of God and His people.

ANd finally from the author Mary Beth Magee:

With my wishes for a great year in 2017 for you and your work!

A Writer’s Christmas List

I’ve been good this year, I promise, so I’m sending you this note.

Santa, dear, please pay attention to these simple lines I wrote.

First, a fresh idea or two for novels I can write with ease.

Lay the plan out clearly for me, with killer plot twist, if you please.

Cover art to catch the eye of every reader in the land,

Tempting copy for back cover once it’s in a buyer’s hand.

Quotes from Patterson and Grafton, Iles and Grisham would be great.

I know they’d gladly write them for me if you’d could just get me through the gate.

Is there an agent for me, Santa, somewhere in your magic sack?

One who’ll get me to the people who can set the market tack

To steer my volume to the big time? Once on course, I know I’ll cruise

My way to writing stardom quickly. I’m a rocket, light my fuse!

Do you have a movie deal there, one with script approval, please?

I could write the screenplay, too, with lots of class, panache and ease.

A monster hit would be so nice, sir. New York Times bestseller list

Or USA Today – I’m easy. I’d just like to pump my fist

In a victory salute. One more thing, dear Santa. Look,

Could you please give me a schedule with time for me to write the book?

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Memorable Scenes

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