Okay, maybe we didn’t discover them, but here are writers,
old and new, that we wish more readers knew about.
Librarians have been known to carry concealed weapons; Craig Holden’s 1999 crime novel Four Corners of Night is one of mine. The dark, complex story concentrates on the relationship between a pair of cops, straight arrow Max Steiner and brooding renegade Bank Arbaugh, assigned to solve the perplexing kidnapping of a 12-year-old girl. Both detectives are obsessed by the case, but Arbaugh’s involvement veers into unhealthy places, fueled by the unsolved disappearance of his own daughter a decade earlier. The setup sounds conventional enough for hardboiled suspense, but Holden delves ever deeper into his characters’ histories and psyches, unleashing revelations that will cement this in readers’ minds as a devastatingly effective and affecting piece of suspense. The best/worst twist of all? Nobody knows about it.
Holden’s other titles measure up to this high standard. His debut The River Sorrow tells of a small town emergency room doctor who has emerged from the nightmare world of heroin addiction only to find it is stalking him in the form of dying junkies mysteriously winding up in his hospital. The Narcissist’s Daughter is a twisted psychological thriller about a young pre-med student who is manipulated by his egomaniacal boss and decides to turn the tables. Holden’s best known work to date is The Jazz Bird (featured on our If You Like Boardwalk Empire list), an historical crime novel based on the real life trial of bootlegger George Rebus for the murder of his chanteuse wife Imogen, a crime to which he freely confessed. Leave it to Holden to wring plenty of moody, perplexing intrigue out of this seemingly open and shut case. We’ve all read novels with endings that don’t live up to their beginnings: suffice it to say that Craig Holden’s novels never end that way.