I usually have an author discovery of the year category, but didn’t really stumble on anyone that new to me this year. So, I’d like to honor a couple of authors for the body of their work, not just for a best=of-the-year book or two.
First of all, Elmore Leonard. His death set me off on an exploration of his writing that’s not over yet. Still, I count seven books that I burned through this year, and I have more than that to go. It’s fun having a partner–relative and colleague Dan Barth–along for the ride. Odd that we sometimes wait for a death to get to the life of someone. I also did a little essay on his place in literature (https://www.carlrbrush.com/elmore-the-great-or-not/) A lot of time and energy spent with Elmore in 2013, and every minute and ounce a delight.
None of C.J. Samson’s books made it to my best of list this year, but as a whole his works made a big impression and had an influence on our lives that I thought worth recognizing. Samson writes mysteries set in Henry VIII’s England. The main series involve a hunchback lawyer named Shardlake, and they’re all intriguing and well-written pieces. He’s also proved his versatility in his excellent Winter in Madrid, set during the Spanish Civil War. We felt his influence during our journey to Britain this year, appreciating particularly the stories set in and around York and its huge minster. I read five of his in 2013, putting him just a step behind Elmore in that category. I should probably reconsider whether one or more of his novels belongs on the top of the heap, but let’s just be satisfied with honoring the writer, shall we? Consider yourself honored, Mr. Samson. And bring us more.
Rebecca Pawel doesn’t rise to the level of either Samson or Leonard prose power, but she’s done a pretty masterful job of creating a unique series of novels set in Spain during and immediately after the Civil War. Her invention of a marriage between a soldier/policeman in the employ of the crown and a “red” who leans heavily in the direction of democracy is skillfully presented and played out. She’s a historical fiction woman with a lot to offer, so from one historical fiction author to another. Salud.