Guest Blogger: Karin Slaughter

I’m supposed to write about my new book, Fallen (trust me, it’s great!) but I’d like to use my blog opportunity to talk about some of the fabulous books I’ve read lately. In a bountiful fortune of good luck, I got two different books from two of my favorite authors last week. The first was Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder and the second was The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina. Now, it might seem odd to squander my blog space on two other authors, but I’d like to point out that these are two other FEMALE authors. Women. Like Kathy Reichs, Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner, Megan Abbott, Lisa Unger and any other number of ladies who sell a heck of a lot of books but don’t tend to get mentioned in those critical summer round-ups. Am I the only person who noticed Stephen King’s Summer Reading List in Entertainment Weekly featured eleven men and one woman, and that woman was Kate Atkinson, which I have no problem with whatsoever, but the book Mr. King told folks to read was one she wrote seven years ago? Did no woman write a good summer book this year?! Really???

So, let me tell you about two phenomenal women writers. I am only half-joking when I say that Denise Mina is a god to me. She’s written all over the board—plays, graphic novels and some of the best crime fiction to see the light of day. She first got me with her Garnethill series, which was published around the same time my first novel, Blindsighted, came out. I wish I could say that I looked upon Denise at the competition, but I was just blown away by what she was doing. Her main character in what became the Garnethill trilogy was a beautifully awful woman named Maureen, who wakes up from an alcohol induced black-out to find herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Denise thrives on making you love unlikeable characters. Her recent work has taken a turn toward understanding the criminal mind. As you read her work, you understand why people do the awful things they do, and then she works just as hard to make sure you understand that the cops out there catching the bad guys are flawed human beings, too. I think the End of Wasp Season is one of her best books yet, which—considering her past titles—is saying a lot.

If Denise Mina is a god, then Mo Hayder is reminiscent of Zeus with a little Hades and Aphrodite thrown in. It’s hard to explain the gut-punching, roller-coaster ride of books like Birdman and the Treatment. The Devil in Nanking is the kind of book that makes you nervously touch the top of your head to see if your skull has actually blown off. Pig Island was an amazingly gripping, hilarious story about the idiocy of the media and the base stupidity of crime. With Hanging Hill, Mo has taken on another seemingly everyday story—a young girl is found dead in a field—and turned it into a horrible exploration of family, childhood and the class structure that still grips Britain. And she manages to pull off an ending that I didn’t see coming, which made me feel thrilled and foolish at the same time (after all, this is my trade; I shouldn’t be so gullible).

So, while I fervently hope you’ll all run out and get Fallen, if you don’t, these other books are well worth checking out. At the very least, you can send them on to Stephen King when you’re finished with them.

Karin