Gar Anthony Haywood knows something about being overlooked. Though the author of the Aaron Gunner series has received strong reviews throughout his career, and raves from his peers, he has spent long periods of time hovering near the edge of the reading public’s radar. After All the Lucky Ones Are Dead (2000), the sixth Aaron Gunner mystery, he tried reinventing himself under the nom de plume Ray Shannon (Man Eater, 2003, and Firecracker, 2004). That didn’t quite take, either, and at Booklist, we didn’t hear from him until last year’s very fine short-story collection, Lyrics for the Blues (2009), published with tiny publisher A.S.A.P.
Now he’s back again, with a new publisher and a new stand-alone novel, Cemetery Road. Not only has Cemetery Road won starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, it’s one of Booklist‘s Top 10 Crime Novels of the year. The newly resurgent author took time out to share his recommendations for two books he calls “underappreciated.”
Lover Man, by Dallas Murphy
A comic PI novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and couldn’t believe didn’t make Murphy a star. This was the first book I’d ever read that in my judgment struck the proper balance between oddball humor and suspense.
The Big Fix, by Roger L. Simon
Okay, so this book DID put Simon on the map, but I still feel like it hasn’t received its full due. Simon put a thoroughly modern, liberal spin on what was at the time a rather tired genre and in so doing, revitalized it. I loved this book. Great characters and an involving, if not overly complex, plot.