I am often asked to recommend books, so have decided to list some of my favorite novels. I selected five outstanding authors, whose work will captivate you from from the first word, to the final sentence. All of these books are also notable for their attention to facts and details.
NOTE: Purchasing a book from this page helps support Where Did My Brain Go? — Thanks!
Scudder is an alcoholic. He quit the NYC Police Department and left his family, after accidentally killing a young girl on the job. Scudder moves to a rooming house on West 57th Street in Manhattan, and supports himself as an unlicensed private investigator.
Alcohol is a central theme. Scudder is often in bars. He wakes up in Roosevelt Hospital a few times,instead of his room.
Scudder stops drinking midway through the series, and spends more time in A.A. meetings than bars. He also picks up a wife, partner and violent best friend in later stories. All of the Scudder books are worth reading.
When the Sacred Ginmill Closes is my favorite novel of this series. Scudder recalls events that happened ten years earlier, when he solved three crimes at nearly the same time. Scudder manipulated the evidence of a fourth crime, to catch the third criminal. Lawrence Block said:
“It’s a favorite of a lot of readers, and I frequently suggest it as a starting point for readers new to the series.”
After Matthew Scudder is released from the hospital, again, for drinking too much, he is hired by a prostitute, Kim, who wants to leave the business. Scudder is supposed to speak to her pimp, Chance, and obtain her freedom. Chance does not object, and the job seems completed, until Kim is found dead a few days later, and Chance is the prime suspect.
Scudder solves the murder and quits drinking! Hurray! This is an excellent book for anyone with an alcohol problem. Much of this book deals with Scudder’s struggles with alcohol.
Eight Million Ways to Die won the Shamus Award as “Best P.I. Novel” of 1983. It is also a terrible movie, which inexplicably took place in Los Angeles, and had little to do with the book.
“This is my most popular book. It still sells about 100,000 copies a year in paperback in the US, it was number one in the UK and Italy and it was on the German best seller list for six years. It’s overwhelmingly the book that readers talk to me about when I meet them in bookshops. It’s becoming a cult.”
The Pillars of the Earth will be released as a a television miniseries in 2010.
Gone, Baby, Gone is full of murders, shootouts and even pedophilia. I wish I could write like Lehane, who describes complicated scenes clearly, and carries the reader with a new plot twist every few pages.
Basically, almost everyone lies about almost everything. I have not seen Gone Baby Gone (DVD) but Lehane said:
“I saw the movie and it’s terrific, I wasn’t gonna say anything if I didn’t like it but it’s really terrific.”
When he well is enough to travel, he learns his name at the bank, and discovers that certain people, notably Carlos The Jackal, the world’s most famous assassin, want to kill him.
If you are interested in any of the three Bourne books, it is helpful to read The Bourne Identity first.
Jason Bourne is more “human” that other spy heroes. He often says, “sleep is a weapon,” and forces himself to sleep for a few hours, even while he is being heavily pursued.
This novel sets a record for plot twists as Ludlum tries to surpass The Bourne Identity. He nearly succeeds.
The Bourne Ultimatum is the third, and final, Jason Bourne novel. While all three Bourne books are worth reading, this is the weakest one.
Carlos The Jackal forces Bourne to come out of retirement again, after he discovers Bourne’s secret identity, and threatens his wife and children.
All three books are available as audio books on The Robert Ludlum Value Collection: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum if you would rather listen to them.
The kidnapping scheme is quite complicated, and believable.
Ludlum also introduces an Army lawyer, Sam Deveraux, who becomes Hawk’s unwitting, then unwilling, accomplice.
I enjoyed The Road To Gandolfo very much, and you will too! But Ludlum was not sure how the public would react to this novel, and originally released it under a pseudonym, “Michael Shepherd.”
It is helpful to read The Road To Gandolfo before The Road to Omaha. Ludlum published this novel under his own name.
An author interviews the leader of an American extremist group, who expected a complimentary article. However, author changed his mind, and wrote a critical review. After he exposes the organization, they seek revenge.
Without revealing more of the plot, I will just say that most of the book involves a spectacular chase, and leave you with the first sentence:
“It was the last morning the four of them would ever be together: the man and his wife, his daughter and his son.”