10 Crime Writers I Hate (Because They’re Too Good)

#MysteryMonth special to The Booklist Reader

Bestselling romantic suspense author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne duMaurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly four million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Her new novel, The House at Saltwater Point, publishes this summer. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website at www.colleencoble.com.


Like most novelists, I love to read. I’ll read a cereal box if nothing else is handy. But sometimes, I read a book that makes me want to slam my computer shut and never write another word. The following ten authors have written books that fit the bill. In truth, I hate them because I love them so much. If you haven’t read them, you might not want to, and if you’re a novelist, they might make you feel like giving up. But one of the great things about writing is that you never arrive; there’s always something you can learn to do better, and these masters teach without standing at a podium.


Dean Koontz

I know, I know: Most people think horror when they see the name Dean Koontz, but if you haven’t read his suspense, you’re missing out! Intensity is a nail-biting thriller with one of the creepiest serial killers you’ll ever come across—and one of the most gutsy heroines. The Silent Corner is another excellent thriller that could be all too real.


Stephen King

No one can write like King, and reading him provides a crash course in how to write. He was writing in the close third-person point-of-view when no one else even knew what that was, and he totally immerses readers in the story. Sure, he’s the king of horror (sorry), but consider The Stand: although it has supernatural elements, it’s not really horror. In fact, it’s a thriller in all meanings of the word, pitting an almost-invincible villain against ordinary people. I’ve read it well over 30 times. If you haven’t read it, get the edited version, not the bloated, “uncut” version released in 1990—you might have to buy it used. Even the king needs an editor!


Lisa Gardner

Sigh. I have a girl crush on Lisa because of her stellar writing. She can take the strands of what seem to be two different stories and wrap them up until your head is reeling and you don’t know what’s going on. The first Lisa Gardner novel I read was Touch and Go, which got me completely hooked, and I’ve been making my way systematically through all her books. I want to write like her when I grow up! Okay, she’s younger than me, which makes it so not fair.


Lisa Scottoline

Where has she been all my reading life? I’d heard her name many times—you’d have to live in a cave not to have heard of her. Somehow, I hand’t actually read her until last year, when I brought Keep Quiet on spring break with my granddaughter in Gulf Shores. In making my way through her backlist, I discovered characters who face truly hard decisions and writing that sings.


C. J. Box

Since his first novel, Open Season, I’ve loved the word-pictures Box conjures of Wyoming, a state I love (well, except in winter). My brother’s death in a freak lightning accident propelled me into writing, and Randy loved Wyoming, so I had to visit after he was killed. Standing on the parade ground at Fort Laramie, my first novel dropped into my head. So Wyoming is special to me, and Box has made it magical to millions of people.


Kathy Reichs

Oh my, the richness of her books! Through them, I’ve learned way more information about forensic anthropology than I could ever absorb. Every time I read one of Reichs’ novels, I wish I had some kind of grisly training myself. A reader can recognize an authentic voice, and she has it in spades.


Karin Slaughter

Karin, really? Why did you kill off Jeffrey Tolliver? I’m seriously mad at you and been permanently scarred by the ending of Beyond Reach. I loved him and Sara. Poor Sara will never be the same. I mean, if you were tired of writing about them, let them retire happily with their adopted baby. But no—you had to murder Jeffrey at the worst possible moment. I’ll never get over it. And this is why you’re a master—we readers care. But that doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven you yet.


Paul Doiron

I’m a sucker for novels set in remote places with interesting characters, so naturally, I love Paul Dorion. He writes with real authenticity just like C.J. Box, plus he’s been a guide to the Maine wilderness, and you can tell. He so immerses readers in the setting that I have to have a blanket on my lap whenever I read him. I found him while researching my own Maine series and nearly threw in the towel.


Louise Penny

The master! If you can believe it, I’d never heard of her until about two years ago, when my publisher handed me a copy of The Long Way Home. She raved about Louise, and since the protagonist was male (I tend to like females protagonists), I wasn’t sure I’d like it. Her wonderful writing immerses the reader immediately, but again, I wanted to quit writing after reading her. She’s too hard on my ego!


Dana Stabenow

There’s something mysterious and magical about Alaska. I was there on a cruise and fell in love with the majesty of the place. (That’s hardly worth mentioning, I know. Dana, don’t hurt me.) I could never live in Alaska, but I can experience it vicariously through Stabenow’s wonderful novels. I love it when an author can teach me something about a setting with which I’m unfamiliar.





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1 Comment on "10 Crime Writers I Hate (Because They’re Too Good)"

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  1. Marilyn Carlson says:

    Love most of these authors.

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