Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Guest Blogger Christpher Farnsworth Talks About His Favorite 2010 Reads

**Christopher Farnsworth is the author of Blood Oath, and The President's Vampire, coming out in April, 2011.**

Authors love it when you read their books. The tragedy is, there are always more great books from great writers than there are hours in the day.

I think it's also an author's job to read. And I take it seriously-- maybe a little too seriously for a guy who writes about vampires and mad scientists and spies. This past year, I've spent a lot of time buried under titles like The 80 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time and Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA for my next book, The President's Vampire.

But I find myself putting aside the serious research--right now, Raising Hell: An Encyclopedia of Devil Worship and Satanic Crime and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72-- to indulge in books that take me away. These are the titles that were worth every second I invested in them in 2010, and paid massive returns besides. They're in no
particular order, and you should buy one even if you don't think you've got time to read it. As it turns out, that makes authors pretty happy, too.

Bitter Seeds
An alternate history featuring a Third Reich that uses super-powered commandos against a Britain protected by warlocks. A remarkably gripping adventure, made even more compelling by the realistic characters struggling to deal with a more-than-human World War II.

The Whisperers
The latest in Connolly's Charlie Parker series, about a private detective driven to
battle shadowy forces. Connolly's prose alone is worth the cover price, but he also has the gift of using that prose to write beautifully about awful deeds, and the awful things Parker will do to avenge them.

61 Hours and Worth Dying For
Judging by the time he spends on the bestseller list, you don't need me to tell you to read Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. Not only is he prolific (Two novels in one year,Lee? Really?) but he always manages to paint his hero into a corner--and then fly him right out.

The Devil's Alphabet
A small town is hit with a mystery virus that turns its people into deformed monsters--and years later, one of the few residents who wasn't altered comes back. A surprisingly touching story about how hard it is to return to the places where we grew up, and how we don't change nearly as much as we'd like to think.

A journalist for Rolling Stone, Taibbi asks questions with answers that make most people turn away. Taibbi doesn't. His smart, vicious account of the financial meltdown shows us, in gory detail, just how badly we're all getting screwed by the banks and the government. Necessary reading that's never boring.

Blood's A Rover
All good things must come to an end--and all evil things, too--as Ellroy wraps up his Underworld USA trilogy. A lot of bills come due in this massive tale of the secrethistory of America, and while some people get payback, nobody gets away clean.

This book had me pre-ordering the sequel before I was halfway through. A sci-fi thriller firmly grounded by its main character, an ex-cop and ex-con who stumbles onto a possible world-ending threat.

Some breathtaking talent on display here, including Gaiman, Joe Hill, Joe R. Lansdale, and others. One story was so painful I couldn?t bear to read anything after the first paragraph. But my favorite was Elizabeth Hand?s lovely piece about old friends and the many strange and wonderful ways man has attempted to fly.

I, Lucifer
Satan gets a chance to tell his (scathingly funny) side of the story while living in the mortal form of a failed screenwriter. It's perhaps unsurprising that, freed from any scruples or decency, his career suddenly skyrockets. But what's really interesting is how Duncan manages to make Lucifer's final decision--reign in Hell or stay human--a real guessing game, right to the end. Filled with wit so dry it can suck the humidity out of a room, I found myself hearing the narrator speaking with the voice of Hugh Laurie.

Feed and Patient Zero
I've read a lot of zombie novels. And watched a lot of zombie movies. I thought I'd seen every variant, but Feed and Patient Zero were not only surprising in their takes on the genre, they were well-crafted and smartly written. Feed is a look at what happens after the zombie outbreak, told through the lens of a team of bloggers following the presidential campaign. Patient Zero is the story of terrorists using zombies as weapons,and the kick-ass squad assembled to stop them.

There are so many levels to Finch it's almost dizzying to step back and look at them all. This deceptively slim novel is private-eye noir, the revisionist history of a conquered nation, and the record of what happens when humans meet a truly alien culture. Just amazing.

Mieville tosses off concepts as one-liners that other writers could use to fill whole books. His sprawling adventure is set in an otherworldly London where cops with occult training grapple with mobsters who command demonic forces, both searching for the preserved body of a giant squid that might trigger the Apocalypse.

As in Heart-Shaped Box, Hill makes the supernatural seem immediate and real with the genuine humanity in his characters. A man wakes up with devil's horns, and suddenly people are telling him their ugliest secrets and desires. He tries to use this dubious gift to discover who killed his girlfriend and ends up learning far more than he ever wanted to know. You can read it as allegory, as commentary on knowledge and the nature of man, or you can just enjoy the ride.

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