Book Report, or What I’ve Been Reading

Though I write Regency Historical Romances, while I am writing I tend to read grittier, darker stuff. What can I say? My witty banter fires are fueled by suspense…

Over the past couple of months while I’ve been finishing up the first book in my new trilogy, I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries and thrillers. And by a lot, I mean almost exclusively. (I did take a small detour to read Lisa Kleypas’ Dreamlake, because, hello! It’s Kleypas!) So, like any avid reader, I’ve been dying to dish about my new discoveries, and what better place to share than here with my Kiss and Thrill brethren? Or sisthren? Or whatever.

First up, is Karin Slaughter. OMG, where have I been? I first started reading Slaughter when the first book in her Grant County series was a freebie on Kindle. But then I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to read Karin Slaughter because she’d killed off a beloved character.  (I’d gone through that before with Elizabeth George and I didn’t want to do it again.)

So I made myself stop cold turkey. Right in the middle of the book. But I kept hearing things about her Will Trent character. And I had really liked the writing in that first book. So I decided to try one of the Will Trent books, thinking I’d be okay since the character that was killed off was in the Grant County series.  Boy am I glad I did. I simply adore the Will Trent series. Will himself is a fascinating character. He grew up in the foster system in Atlanta, is a dyslexic and to my delight he’s having a romance. The books are set mostly in and around Atlanta, which I also enjoy since I’m somewhat familiar with the city. If you like a good police procedural with strong characterization, you really can’t go wrong with this series. The first book in the series is called Triptych.

Next, is a series set in and around the Boston area, the Darby McCormick series from Chris Mooney. Darby McCormick is a CSI investigator for the Boston Police department, and she is one badass lady. With her BFF Jackson Cooper (whom, I don’t mind telling you is my choice for her to hook up with), who is a fingerprints expert, she navigates the sometimes choppy waters of the Boston political machine while also doing her best to solve crimes. So far the mysteries have ranged from your typical psychosexual serial killer madman, to the Irish Mafia, to a creepy cult. But they always keep me on the edge of my seat, and I am desperate for Darby to get some happiness in her private life. Unfortunately for US readers, only the first book in the series, The Missing, is available in the United States, but the rest of them are for sale at  I’m hoping that soon they’ll be brought out in the US soon because I want other folks to read them and dish with me!

I’ve also gotten off my duff, so to speak, and finally read some Tami Hoag. She’s one of those authors I’ve heard about for years but never tried. But when I kept seeing her Oak Knoll trilogy on my list of recommended reads on Amazon and Goodreads, I decided to give her a try. And I’m so glad I did. The Oak Knoll trilogy, which starts with Deeper than the Dead, is set in the 80s. It’s the time before the CSI effect, before the prevalence of DNA, and even before the internet.  The first book follows an elementary school teacher and a few of her students as they deal with the aftermath of finding a serial killer’s victim in the local park, and the detectives of the sheriff’s department as they conduct their investigation. Hoag tells the story from multiple points of view and the technique works quite well—especially when it comes to the children. Though I think the first book is the strongest, all three are edge-of-your-seat mysteries.

Last but not least, I’ve just finished up the second book of Amanda Kyle Williams’ Keye Street mysteries. Set in Atlanta, these books are told from the point of view of former FBI profiler, Keye Street, who was kicked out of the FBI in disgrace after one too many alcoholic episodes. Now she’s a private investigator and sometime bounty hunter who does consulting work from time to time for the APD, often at the request of her BFF, Detective Aaron Rauser.  At times hilarious, at times poignant, these books are compulsively readable, and I especially enjoy Keye’s circle of friends, who include her pot-smoking hacker associate Neil, and her cat, White Trash, so named because she is white and Keye found her rooting around in the trash. Add in her neurotic mother and henpecked father and you’ve got the typical southern family with a twist. The twist is that Keye and her brother were both adopted—Keye is Chinese American and her brother is African American.  This series is easily one of my best reading finds this year. In case you’d like to try it, the first book is called The Stranger You Seek.

So, there you have it. What I’ve been doing with myself—besides writing like a fiend. Let’s take a day to dish about our favorite reads. What have you been reading? Anything new and fun? I know I’ve got quite a few things to look forward to on the romantic suspense front from the month of October. Do tell! Inquiring minds want to know!

Posted on October 2, 2012, in book recommendations. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Manda, I’ve been watching all your reviews fly by on Goodreads and I thought you were just updating books you had read in the past. I had no idea you were plowing through all of these books right now. Wow, that’s a lot of reading! Thanks for the recommendations. Some of these sound really intriguing. I started reading a new suspense book by a favorite author of mine and am sad to say the I just can’t get into it. So, I switched gears and re-read two old Scottish historical a that I adore-Ransom and Saving Grace by Julie Garwood. They are so funny and emotional they just make me feel happy. Now I’m reading a paranormal by Christine Feehan called Dark Desire. Not my favorite of hers so far but still a good read. It has uber-sexy alpha males and is extremely emotional, so it kind of helps me refill the well for my own writing. Thanks again for your awesome recommendations today.

    • I’ve been reading Christine Feehan for years, Lena and I love her Dark series. She is a master at emotion and my favorite Dark books Dark Prince and Dark Gold.

      • Sharon, my favorite ‘Dark’ book is the one with Jax or some name like that for the heroine. I have no clue which book that is. It’s where the heroine’s family was killed on a military base when she was a child and she has a life-long stalker. I would love to re-read that one. Do you have any idea which one that is?

    • mandacollinsauthor

      Thanks, Lena! I can really fly through some books when I’m on a roll. Glad you found something to replace the one you couldnt get into. 🙂

  2. Oooo, I was so into Karin’s Grant County series, but when I read Triptych, I actually threw the book against the wall. I cried and cried and swore I would NEVER read another book she wrote. But I did, and I love Will Trent too. See, a great author can just suck you in!! I have been reading Linda Castillo’s series about a female police chief who grew up Amish. Really dark but good series. You have given me a few new authors to try.

    • mandacollinsauthor

      I’ve heard lots of great things about that Castillo series, Trish. I need to add it to my list:) Glad to hear I’m not the only one sucked in by Karin Slaughter’s writing. I’m glad I decided to give her a shot. Will Trent is worth it::)

  3. Thanks for the recommendations, Manda. While I’m revising my RS manuscripts I usually read paranormals. I can never read what I’m writing but once this revision is done and I can’t wait to read some of the books on your list!

  4. That’s a long list, Manda! I used to plow through books like that, but now I’m down to one or two a week, plus whatever nonfiction research I’m working on.

    I’ve been rereading parts of my favorite Suzanne Brockmann books for inspiration on deeper POV. I’m also reading BAND OF SISTERS (about women who fought in Iraq) and UNTIL TUESDAY (about a service dog that helped a veteran with physical injuries and PTSD).

    When I need a break from RS, I read historicals. They’re such a different feeling, and usually aren’t as dark, but still give me the HEA I crave. =)

    • mandacollinsauthor

      Those non fiction books sound great, Gwen! And omg how I love those early Brockmann’s. I can still remember how blown away I was by the first one I read. Cant remember the title but it was Ken Carmody and Susannah’s book. So great!

  5. Curse you, Manda, for adding to my TBR pile!

    Like Sharon, it’s hard for me to read romantic suspense when I’m writing (especially a first draft) and I’m closing in on the end of a first draft right now, so I haven’t been reading RS for entertainment. Lucky for me, I’m always critiquing and I LOVE my critique partners’ work, so even though critiquing is part of the job, I always enjoy the read.

    To that end, what fabulous reads have my CPs sent me lately?

    TO LOVE A THIEF by Darcy Burke – a delicious regency novella with a bit of mystery.

    Elisabeth Naughton’s next installment of her Eternal Guardians series, ENSLAVED – Gryphon’s story is a wonderful, sexy read.

    And Naughton’s 2nd novella in her Firebrand series: SLAVE TO PASSION. – If you love the show Spartacus, you’ll love this novella.

  6. Fantastic book report, Manda–A+++ I am especially intrigued by the Keye Street Mysteries.

    As for what I’m reading, I’m midway through the second book of the epic George RR Martin series. I’m totally blown away by his complex plotting.

  7. Great blog, Manda! I’m balancing more books on my tbr pile as I type. While you’ve been reading darker, I’ve been reading lighter 🙂

    Most recently I’ve read a wonderful romantic suspense that’s on the sweeter side called Random Acts by my fellow Samhain author, Alison Stone

    and a terrific feel-good rock star romance, AS YOU WISH by new author Elyssa Patrick

    To feed my dark side I’ve got GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn queued up!

  8. I am constantly amazed at how different all of our reading preferences are!

  9. Love your list of reads.I am a full time student studying history and when I am in a term full of history course my historical romance tends to take a back seat to paranormal and suspense romances. Some of my favorite authors include Karen Rose, Allison Brennan, Roxanne St. Claire, Lena Diaz (loved the first two) and many other talented suspense writers. Tami Hoag was actually the author who introduced me to the suspense genre with her Guilty as Sin and Night Sins. Both are fantastic reads, however after Kill the Messenger I kind of dropped off of reading her books as they felt like they lacked the romance that I need when I’m reading a killer of a book. This weekend I actually picked up a copy of Deeper than Dead and wondered if I could still cut through her books like I used to. I’ve yet to start it as I am reading Karen Rose’s latest release, but your review has given me hope that it is just as good as some of her earlier works.

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