December 18

Guest Post – Michael Malone: Serial Heroes

Day four and another chance for me to find out which books the authors like to read. My curiosity extends beyond a single title or a novel which inspired – I want to know which characters my guests like to follow and see developed over a period of time. I want to know the ongoing series that they look forward to reading or to revisit when the chance arises.

This week-long feature began with Douglas Skelton and Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct.  Next was Angela Marsons discussing Val McDermid’s Tony Hill books. Yesterday Helen Giltrow shared her love of Mick Herron’s Slough House books. 

Today I am delighted to welcome Michael J Malone, author of the phenomenal Guillotine Choice and creator of the DI Ray McBain series.  Michael’s latest book Beyond The Rage has been receiving rave reviews (including my own 5 star review) and in 2016 his next novel, A Suitable Lie, will be published by Orenda Books.

I am particularly pleased that Michael was able to take part in this feature – his encouragement of my book obsession ultimately resulted in the creation of this blog. I am always keen to know what Michael is reading…over the years he has directed me to some fantastic books.



The Neon RainJames Lee Burke’s story is one that all writers should heed. His first book was published in 1965. Other books followed in 1970 and 1971. Then the publishing world turned their back on him and he couldn’t publish a word for love, money or whisky. His fourth book, The Lost Get Back Boogie was rejected 111 times – that’s not a typo – over a nine year period. Eventually, when it did get published it was nominated for Pulitzer Prize.

Proof it it’s needed in the William Goldman quote, “Nobody knows nothing.” Goldman was of course talking about the movie industry, but he might as well have been talking about publishing.

In 1984, while fishing, JLB’s friend suggested he should try writing a crime novel. Burke later decamped to a coffee shop and started scribbling on a yellow, legal pad. The Neon Rain, the first novel to feature Dave Robicheaux was born.

Once an officer for the New Orleans police department, Dave Robicheaux constantly breaks the ethical code during the course of just about every case he works on and in the current run of novels pursues cases in New Iberia, Louisiana as a sheriff’s deputy. He is a recovering alcoholic who is haunted by his service in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and his impoverished, tough childhood in Louisiana; his mother abandoned the family (and was later murdered) and his father was killed in an oil rig explosion.

He may break the expected code of police ethics, but Dave has a strong moral compass and through the course of the books is continuously exercised by the abuse of power, social inequalities and the battle between good and evil.

When you crack open the spine of a James Lee Burke novel you are never in doubt that you are in for something special. There is a richness to this man’s writing that cannot fail to delight. His words transport you so that you feel you are on location with the characters and that poetry combined with the vitality and violence of his characters is a potent combination.

Light of the WorldBurke specialises in imbuing his characters with certainty of action, even while their motives are conflicted. He has the talent to work his way under the skin of his characters; to cut into the underbelly of the human psyche and display it in all its many guises. Whether that be those individuals who succumb to the power and pulse of quotidian evil or those struggling to make sense of their lives and make peace with their lot

His set pieces are sharp and effective and his prose swoops and soars with a lyricism that would make a poet’s heart ache with envy. The plot continues to drive you forward but you force yourself to slow down: to savour the quality of the words arranged on the page.

James Lee Burke has won an Edgar award twice and he is acknowledged as one of America’s finest living novelists. If you haven’t already done so, you owe it to yourself to check him out.


You can find all of James Lee Burke’s novels at his Amazon Page:

MjMMichael Malone also has a handy page over at Amazon to let you track down his books easily too:


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Posted December 18, 2015 by Gordon in category "Guests