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Recommended Reading
Tartesterone Volume I

by Katy Munger (with help from the most fabulous Lise McClendon)

...in which Katy unearths a few diamonds amidst the dark recesses of the male mystery gods.

Male authors. Can't live with them.... Can't live without them... and you damn sure can't kill them, at least not without ending up as character in a true crime book written by one of them. What's a girl to do?

Well, here's what I did to save the rest of you a hell of a lot of trouble: while attending author conventions over the last several years, I have selflessly devoted myself to extensive research into the male mystery author population. It has been a great sacrifice on my part, true, but no amount of suffering on a bar stool is too much when done in the name of great literature.

Thus, after careful analysis and selected field experiments, I have come to the conclusion that:

· 10% of all male mystery writers are alpha dogs seeking to piss higher than the next alpha dog (these are the men who read NO ONE else's books, male or female).

· 10% are furry little toads who wear bad jackets and refuse to read a book written by a woman. Or, if they do, feel compelled to mention the breast size of the protagonist in their review of it.

· 40% are completely clueless about everything, primarily because they are traveling without their wives and it's all they can do to get their trousers on unassisted in the morning.

· 20% are fun and enjoyable guys, but can't quite drop the competitive gauntlet long enough to truly connect with another writer.

Conclusion: That leaves us 10% of the male mystery author population to play with. These are men who are confident enough in their abilities as writers and human beings to read other people's work, who relate equally well to male and female writers, and who happily support their peers in their endeavors.

Six such rare creatures follow. They were chosen because 1) they are the creme de la creme of mysterious men, 2) they have demonstrated a support and respect for female authors, 3) they are all fine writers in their own right, and 4) because I think they're pretty damn cute.

Review their profiles, memorize their names, buy their books, and incorporate their faces into your literary fantasies. There will be a test in the morning.

Ladies and gentlemen -- I present the good guys:

Gary Phillips

Writing trademarks: political themes; contemporary settings; not afraid to delve into issues like racism; books reflect the classic hardboiled tradition; clean, evocative writing.

Books: Only The Wicked, The Jook, High Hand, Violent Spring, Perdition USA, Murder in My Suite, Bad Night Is Falling

Bonus Attributes: a laugh like rolling thunder; could pick you up and throw you over his shoulder and march you to bed, no matter HOW much you may weigh; dedicated poker player; left wing community activist; eyes disappear when he is toasted; great sense of humor; can't play basketball worth a damn and doesn't really care.

John Westermann

Writing trademarks: realistic cop settings tempered by black humor; smooth, contemporary writing; fast-paced plots; treats women characters with respect in his books; avoids virtually all female cliches.

Books: Exit Wounds, The Honor Farm, High Crimes, Sweet Deal, Ladies of the Night
                                                   
Bonus Attributes: former cop; mellow voice; killer smile; great sense of humor; nice legs; smart as hell; cool scar on stomach; looks good in blue jeans; on the side of the angels when it comes to politics; just had his book Exit Wounds made into a movie starring Steven Seagal.

Tim Cockey

Writing trademarks: unusual, very fluid style that sometimes borders on stream-of-consciousness; tongue-in-cheek humor; fast-paced plots; breezy dialogue; colorful characters; black humor; known to engage in slapstick; features a nymphomaniac as a positive character.

Books: The Hearse You Came In On; A Hearse of a Different Color
                                                   
Bonus Attributes: he's got the long-and-lanky look nailed; could charm the birds from the trees; it's fun to watch the hyperventilating women left in his wake; a real smart ass; looks incredible in a tuxedo -- and even better in jeans and a sweatshirt; smart as a whip; not a chauvinist bone in his body; thinks the Tarts are "the best thing between sliced bread...with hearseradish, of course."

 

Gar Anthony Haywood

Writing trademarks: writes both a cozy series and a hardboiled series; knows when to be funny and when to hit hard; creates fabulously contemporary characters; ultra-realistic plots; wonderful emotional subplots; very smooth writing style.

Books: All the Lucky Ones Are Dead , It's Not a Pretty Sight, When Last Seen Alive, Not Long For This World, You Can Die Trying, Fear of the Dark, Bad News Travels Fast, Going Nowhere Fast

Bonus Attributes: defines the adjective "suave"; a true gentleman; intelligent and well-spoken; extremely respectful of both his readers and peers; exceptionally good-looking; always looks well-groomed enough to inspire a Tart to thoughts of licking him from head to toe.

Kent Krueger

Writing trademarks: fabulous characterizations; hunky protagonist; lyrical writing; fascinating settings; fast-moving plots; good local color; nice plot twists.

Books: Boundary Waters, Iron Lake
                                                   
Bonus Attributes: twinkly eyes; wonderful smile; he's actually in shape and can run up and down a basketball court without wheezing; fabulous legs; sweet disposition; wicked sense of humor; manages to rise above the testosterone-pissing contests mounted by many other male authors while still remaining one of the guys; cheeky as hell; appreciates the feminine mystique.

Jeff Abbott

Writing trademarks: sly looks at southern small towns; tackles the cozy like a woman, but with a manly touch; known far and wide as Cozy Boy, but known to be slightly embarrassed by it; his cozy-with-a-bite style tackles hard issues with humor and style; nice plot twists.

Books: Promises of Home, The Only Good Yankee, Do Unto Others, Distant Blood

Bonus attributes: DIMPLES!; mischievous grin; hordes of little old ladies begging for autographs can be thrown aside by a good strong girl; DIMPLES!; infectious laugh and flashing eyes; can make you laugh at the drop of a hat; inserts sly comments into conversations while looking like a choir boy the entire time.

NOTE: More Tartesterone volumes will follow as we tabulate the results of a completely unscientific poll and find ourselves bored enough to get around to putting it in writing.

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