In the I Read/I Wrote series, authors introduce a book they loved–in the genre in which they write–and share one of their own books.
GENRE: Traditional Mystery
I READ: In the Woods by Tana French
For me, choosing just one mystery book that I loved is akin to picking a favorite child. Impossible! There are several books that had a significant impact on me as a writer, however, including In the Woods by Tana French.
Strictly speaking, I write medical mysteries/thrillers. Not-so-strictly-speaking, I consider myself an author of traditional mystery, a genre that fits the bill for In the Woods.
What made this book so compelling for me was the writer’s voice. Ms. French not only captured the musicality of the Irish accent and dialect, but also bridged the gap between literary and genre fiction with a distinctive style that kept me turning the page to discover the next beautifully-turned phrase, as well as the next plot point.
The book pulled me in right from jacket copy. The premise: three children fail to return from a shadowed wood. The police find only one child, a boy wearing blood-filled sneakers, who is unable to remember anything of the terror in the trees. This boy grows into a homicide detective who must investigate a case that is remarkably similar to his own unsolved mystery, giving him a chance to untangle the case before him and resolve the past that’s haunted him.
I thought so, and have re-read the book several times hoping the author’s rich, atmospheric prose will rub off on me.
In the Woods isn’t Ms. French’s most popular book, nor is it her most celebrated. However, I find it one of the finest examples of how voice transcends genre and elevates craft.
I WROTE: Protocol
My debut mystery novel is called Protocol. It’s about freshly minted college graduate Maggie O’Malley, who embarks on a career fueled by professional ambition and a desire to escape the past. As a pharmaceutical researcher, she’s determined to save lives from the shelter of her lab. But on her very first day she’s pulled into a world of uncertainty. Reminders appear on her phone for meetings she’s never scheduled with people she’s never met. People who end up dead.
With help from her best friend, Maggie discovers the victims on her phone are connected to each other and her new employer. She soon unearths a treacherous plot that threatens her mission—and her life. Maggie must unlock deadly secrets to stop horrific abuses of power before death comes calling for her.
I’ve been writing for more than 20 years, first as a nationally award-winning copywriter and now as a mystery novelist. A firm believer that deadpan can be dead-on, I combine funny with frightening to craft page-turners of mystery and suspense.
My debut mystery, Agatha- and Lefty-nominated Protocol, examines the flaws of technology, the price of modern medicine and the depths of greed to uncover what happens when the invisible among us disappears. In my second book, 39 Winks, my protagonist Maggie O’Malley comes to the aid of her best friend’s aunt after she discovers her husband murdered during a sleepwalking episode.
I live in Oregon with my family, where I pretend to enjoy running.
For more information, please visit www.kathleenvalenti.com.