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Authors Unite for United for Libraries and the Association of Rural and Small Libraries

One author was in London, another in Los Angeles, and the third was in Chicago, as was I. We all convened virtually on September 30, 2020, coming together as the United for Libraries Author Panel at the 2020 Association of Rural & Small Libraries Conference.

I was honored by the invitation to moderate this discussion and excited for many reasons, high among them the chance to read books I ordinarily wouldn’t since I don’t review a whole lot of crime fiction. I loved jumping into Joe Ide’s spectacularly popular, award-winning IQ crime series, featuring Isaiah Quintabe, the Sherlock Holmes of East Long Beach, L.A., and Juanell Dodson, his would-be Watson. So far, each book in the series (IQ,  Righteous, Wrecked, and Hi Five) has received a starred review in Booklist. Joe joined the panel to talk about the fifth book in the series, Smoke, due out in March. Watch for the Booklist review!

Reading and speaking with debut authors is one of the great pleasures of our work at Booklist, and talking with Londoner Nadine Matheson was delightful and illuminating. Nadine is a criminal solicitor, so it makes some sort of twisted sense that her first novel is a serial-killer thriller, The Jigsaw Man. It features the compelling Anjelica Henleya, a Black detective inspector in the sometimes too lively (or is it deadly?) southeast London neighborhood along the Thames. This smart and hard-hitting tale launches a series so promising it has already been optioned for television.

I’ve always wanted to read Melanie Benjamin’s historical novels because they feature intriguing women protagonists based on actual women, such as Anne Morrow Lindbergh in The Aviator’s Wife, and silent film star Mary Pickford and her close friend, Frances Marion, who rose to prominence as a screenwriter in The Girls in the Picture. Her newest, The Children’s Blizzard, is a bit of a departure as Benjamin retrieves a largely overlooked yet intensely dramatic piece of Great Plains history. As Benjamin explains, this story affected her deeply, resulting in a riveting tale that offers a fresh and frank look at the true story of the West.

Please enjoy this conversation with three outstanding novelists:

I send heartfelt gratitude out to Joe, Nadine, Melanie, their publishers, the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, and United for Libraries.

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About the Author:

Donna Seaman is adult books editor at Booklist. Her radio interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books (2005). Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Donna.

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