Author Picks
Author Picks


Joshua Kendall, editorial director of Mulholland Books, recommends five books that were recommended to him that are sure to keep you turning the pages. Continue the tradition and send this list on to another reader in your life.


 

When it comes to recommendations, I believe in two things: first, try to suggest great books that are overlooked or misunderstood; second, pay it forward. I remember just as keenly who recommended these books to me as I do the books themselves. 

 


 

Cutter and Bone

by Newton Thornburg

(recommended by Tom Wickersham)


A California hippie/nihilist mystery set in 1970 Santa Barbara. Rather than explain how sharp, how funny, how energizing the writing is, I will simply give you the first sentence: “It was not the first time Richard Bone had shaved with a Lady Remington, nor did he expect it to be the last.” Think Inherent Vice meets Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

 


 

The Car Thief

by Theodore Weesner

(recommended by Stewart O’Nan)

 

I’m cheating, because Stewart recommended Weesner’s other great novel, The True Detective. When Weesner recently died, I noted the New York Times obituary gave special mention to his coming-of-age novel, The Car Thief. This was one of the most finely written, heartfelt, gut-wrenching stories of adolescent delinquency I’ve ever read. It’s about a white teenage boy in 1960s Detroit, who eponymously steals cars, gets caught, tries to do good, fails, and slowly claws his way out. Crystalline writing on crime and young love.

 


 

Breaking & Entering

by Joy Williams

(recommended by Elliott Holt, Ron Carlson & Rebecca Fitting)


Where to start? If you want something slow and sexy, and bizarrely funny, and also somewhat sick and degrading, read Joy Williams’s early novel about a criminal husband and wife who break into vacation houses throughout the Florida Keys. This book gets my award for #1 Driftiest Crime Novel. There is little suspense, but instead a kind of queer anticipatory doom that keeps you gnashing your teeth, trembling, and turning the pages. Think Twin Peaks if the show had stayed good.

 


 

Red Dragon

by Thomas Harris

(recommended by Michael Koryta first, and nearly every crime novelist I’ve met since)

 

If you read one thriller, make it this one. The film adaptations don’t come close to the experience of reading Red Dragon. On the level of entertainment, no novel approaches its measure of thrill, beauty, terror, and intellectual satisfaction. On the level of craft, it’s without peer. Red Dragon is one of the exceedingly rare thrillers that you can read multiple times, and every time it will jolt you anew.

 


 

Deliverance

by James Dickey

(old hardcover given to me by my first boss, George Witte) 

 

George knew what he was doing, which was sending me down a path of transcendent darkness. Dickey, even more so. As with some of these others, forget the serviceable but derivative film. Deliverance is still, after nearly fifty years, probably the best written, most emotionally centered thriller in existence. Dickey was, believe it or not, the Poet Laureate of America when he wrote this stunning, divisive, and yes gorgeously written novel. In this last year of cultural and political upheaval, I thought back again and again to Dickey’s masterpiece and how it predicted the violent split between town and country, haves and have-nots, and rooted this violence not in American mythical landscape, but in the dusky landscape of the human soul.

 


 


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Joshua Kendall is an executive editor, as well as the editorial director of Mulholland Books, where he's edited The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst’s S., Lauren Beukes’s internationally bestselling The Shining Girls, as well national bestsellers like the debut Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and crime fiction legends like Lawrence Block, Joe Lansdale, Charlie Huston, and Jim Thompson. At Little, Brown, he published the acclaimed literary novel Neverhome, as well as New York Times bestselling authors Michael Koryta and Dan Simmons. Prior to Little, Brown, he worked at Viking/Penguin and Picador with authors and titles as diverse as Tana French, Stewart O’Nan, Ron Carlson, and Jasper Fforde. He has also edited a variety of nonfiction projects, such as The Boys In the BoatMoby-Duck, and Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning.

 


BUY THESE BOOKS

 


Cutter and Bone

 

 

The Car Thief

 

 

Breaking & Entering

 

 

Red Dragon

 

 

Deliverance