My pick for an overlooked, underappreciated novel is now up on The Rap Sheet, and I have to confess it was a tough question for me. I'll admit it readily: I haven't been reading crime fiction long enough to have much to choose from in terms of older books, or more obscure titles.
That said, I didn't mind selecting something more recent, because perhaps making mention of it actually gives the person a chance of benefiting from some sales.
I strongly considered John Rickards and Steve Mosby as well. In terms of full disclosure, I met John in person at Harrogate and know him a bit from the blogs. I think he gets better and better with every book out, and the good news is that some of John's Hardboiled Jesus will see print in the next Out of the Gutter issue.
Steve Mosby is a friend of mine, and his writing skirts the fringes of the genre more than the works of some others. Because of that, his stuff is always original, and I've gone on the record pegging him as the breakout author of 2007. If there's any justice he will be, and a US deal will follow. Steve and I have a lot in common, and soon we'll share a special day. He's getting married on my birthday, so no excuses for me not to remember and send a present.
Today, I've been working on Spinetingler stuff, and I wrote a review that made some predictions. It was truly one of the toughest things for me to put down. I believe what I said - no question - but one of the things about being out in the public domain is that if you end up with egg on your face, it happens publicly too. I think that's one of the things about the blogs, in a way, that helps people. You see, if you decide to write a novel and do so at home, quietly, and try to get it published by it never happens, if you haven't told anyone you at least don't have to face public humiliation.
But when you're out there, talking about it, if it never happens you carry that with you. People know you failed.
I think that's one of the reasons some people get really sensitive about blog conflicts and accusations. It's definitely the reason I don't read a few blogs. There's almost a sense of... gloating. I find that rather sad. Actually, one thing I found rather sad was an email from someone we're publishing in the next issue, talking about how embarrassed they were to submit work to me, convinced I'd think it was crap.
And it's one of the best stories we've ever had submitted to us. And that's not to dismiss other stuff we've published and accepted - it's just that this story is amazing and this email broke my heart. I think mainly because I completely understood. I got a piece of fan mail today for Suspicious Circumstances. It made me think of how, most of the time, we work in isolation and we don't really get to enjoy any sense of accomplishment.
And then I was talking to Jon Jordan today, and was reminded of how horrid I am about showing my own appreciation for the hard work others put in, and the fantastic job they do. The new issue of Crimespree is out, with the incredible Laura Lippman on the cover, someone I count as a major inspiration. (She's a top-shelf author in this house, a must-buy.) The Jordans do a fantastic job with Crimespree, and it is so important that we have wonderful magazines focusing on the genre. It's worth every cent, and if you don't subscribe you should. (Plus, ordering back issues of #13 from last July is the only way to get a copy of my short story, The Butcher.)
Anyway, I'll go back to my cave now, slogging away on this issue. I still have a few interviews to finish and several reviews to write, so if you don't see me around as much for the next few days you'll know why. And if a whole week goes by, send chocolate. Why is it thinking about failure always makes me want chocolate?