Fifth Offender

I mentioned recently that I’d been disappointed with the last few thrillers I’d read. Well, I finally found a pair that pleased me immensely and oddly enough, their both from the First Offenders blog.

I got a galley of Jeff Shelby’s new book Wicked Break in the mail yesterday afternoon and by last night I was done with it. Now I liked his debut book Killer Swell quite a bit, but it had a slower pace and the ending was nothing spectacular. This new one though, wow. The PI/Surfer Noah Braddock takes the case in the first chapter. The next chapter there’s a dead body. Then the next chapter there’s a shooting. And then there’s another dead body. All within the first 40 pages or so. And the pace keeps up like that. With short chapters, and engaging, action-packed scenes. The book just zips right along and even has time to develop a side plot about Noah’s relationship with his alcoholic absentee mother. Highly recommended.

The other book came to me through a more interesting route. I’ve been a big fan of the First Offenders blog since its debut. I met both Karen Olson and Jeff Shelby in Chicago and enjoy them as writers and people….well, at least as writers. But I’d never read books by the other two bloggers. In one of her most recent posts though, Alison Gaylin was talking about the humor in her books and I thought, “I like humor” so I started digging a little more into her books.

I have to admit that I had drawn some pretty fault conclusions from the cover and general assumptions that she was Alison Brennan. I figuredit was one of those melodramatic women in jeopardy romantic suspense novels like Tami Hoag or Mary Higgins Clark which aren’t my cup of tea at all. But as I started reading about her books and reading some sample chapters I was hooked. Not only are they funny, they have a wonderful off-off Broadway theater setting and some great characters. They are indeed fast- paced thrillers, but not in the manipulative and artificial way many other thrillers are. Now I’m not quite finished with her first, Hide Your Eyes, so it could all go to hell at the end and fall apart, but I don’t think so. She’s exhibited clever and engaging writing from the start and hasn’t flagged yet.