Thursday, August 06, 2009

Tattoo You

Every once in a while a plugola scandal wafts through the blogosphere--a blogola scandal, if you will--where somebody is blogging merrily along about how great a movie or gadget is and lo and behold it comes out that somebody might have given that something to said blogger for free, contingent of course on them blogging merrily about it.

I can promise that everything you read on here is my own two cents given freely, though loyal readers might suspect that there aren't a lot of people willing to give me freebies to blog about grassroots microcinema, obscure b-movies, old paperbacks, underground comics and zines, and the like. As Blogalicious once pointed out, I am prone to writing about "very weird and unpopular b-movies and comics"--many of which, as it happens, are my own.

That being said, I have been offered a DVD or two from time to time, though some Amazon and Netflix reviewers who have longed for my death--or at least a long incarceration in a b-movie Gitmo of some kind--might speculate that I would more likely be offered blogola to not mention their movie at all. Nonetheless I am glad to have stayed clear. The next time you see a horror or sci-fi movie getting talked about all of a sudden on all of your favorite genre blogs, you might stop and think about why. I'm just saying.

All this is a preface to the fact that Knopf emailed to ask me if I wanted to be one of only 250 bloggers to give away a free copy of The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson.

This is cool for a number of reasons. Loyal readers know I read and loved Stieg Larsson's first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and have pimped it mercilessly to the general reading public that I come across on the interwebs and in real life. I have nothing to gain professionally by sucking up to Stieg Larsson as Stieg Larsson is, unfortunately, dead and his books are being published posthumously.

I also liked that Knopf trusted me to give this book away and not ferret it under my pillow. Even though my name is going to be entered for a chance to win the third book for my very self to keep I have never done well in Vegas and am not holding out hope.

Even better, I get to come up with my own contest.

My first thought was that I would ask people to send in a picture of them holding a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and then I would put their names in a hat and draw one at random. That wouldn't mean that they had read it, but I think they should know it exists before trying to mooch the second one off me (Knopf, actually). And I believe if they read a teensy bit they would probably get hooked like I did.

But my wife nixed that idea, saying she thought I would get a lot of weird or inappropriate photos. She was right; I had simply forgotten how many hot young things flock to my blog regularly to read about old D&D games I have played and what comics I like and what I thought about the new Star Trek movie.

So she suggested a wiser alternative. Send me a list of five good mystery/noir/thriller books. Don't send me your top five because I probably have already read them. In fact I read five pretty good books last week on vacation and can on average read four or five a month. If you happen to include a couple of Scandinavian thrillers in there I will write your name down twice as I am trying to find some more of those for myself. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here is a current list of good ones I have already read:

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (natch).
2. The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
3. Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason
4. The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Erickson
5. Missing by Karen Alvtegen

Yes, I know there is no Henning Mankel or Karin Fossum on this list, I haven't read their works yet and that's why I want a recommendation.

So. A list of five books. Make it worth reading or I throw your crap in the trash. Your name can go in the hat twice if you include Scandinavian authors. I will pull the name out at the end of the contest, which will be when my ass finishes reading the book for myself. Knopf didn't say I couldn't read it! So your book is slightly used by me. It's free, what do you want?

Send contest entries to Good luck!


Laura, Queen of Mars said...

I coincidentally just finished reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo last night!

Here's 5 I liked a lot:

Kennedy's Brain by Henning Mankell (see, got that in there first!)
Gone South by Robert R. McCammon
Witch Hunt by Ian Rankin
A Mist of Prophecies by Steven Saylor
Bleeding Kansas by Sara Paretsky

Reg said...

Hi John, glad to see you hyping my translations. I don't need to enter the contest, since I was one of the 250 too, but here are some tips about 5 other Scando crime authors you might like (translated by me or my wife Tiina Nunnally):

1. Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell (the 1st and the least gory in the Wallander series), Sidetracked (#5), and The Fifth Woman (#6). I was Mankell's first translator as they published these out of order, so the subplot about Wallander's father makes no sense unless you read the others in between.

2. Unseen; Unspoken; and The Inner Circle by Mari Jungstedt -- read any or all in order. Set on Gotland, Sweden's summer party island and old Viking stronghold. A journalist from Stockholm is always getting the scoop before the investigating cops.

3. Betrayal; Shame; and Shadow by Karin Alvtegen. The first is my favorite, creepy as hell. Some fates are worse than death...

4. Don't Look Back; He Who Fears the Wolf; When the Devil Holds the Candle by Karin Fossum. If you like psycho killers and the like.

5. The Ice Princess; The Preacher; (both out in UK) The Stonecutter (coming next) by Camilla Läckberg. Small-town crime for young mothers (there's plenty of domestic stuff in them too).

And anything translated by my British pal Don Bartlett, who can do no wrong!

And an American (I think) author I just discovered, Brett Battles: The Cleaner, The Deceived, and Shadow of Betrayal. Has some of that Stieg Larsson feel, or a much less wordy Ludlum.

Have fun!

Reg Keeland

Reg said...

P.S. See you at Bouchercon in Naptown?

John Oak Dalton said...

Laura, Great List! I saw Kennedy's Brain at the library. Been meaning to try McCammon and Rankin.

John Oak Dalton said...

Reg, Also a great list ! Good translations of the work. A lot of Scandinavian translations seem to have a British feel and yours is more muscular.

Oddly, the Magna Cum Mystery Conference at Ball State--which I was on the founding committee for, and I still write reviews for their newsletter--is taking a hiatus this year so all of the attendees can go to Bouchercon. Hadn't thought of it for myself until now!

John Oak Dalton said...

Don't forget, you can also email me your entry at, like loyal reader Adrienne did.

Anonymous said...

Hi there John :)
Here is a good list:
UNCERTAINTY by Michael Larsen
THE BOMBER by Liza Marklund
MESSENGER MUST DIE by Kjell Bornemark
DIVIDING LINE by Kjell Bornemark

PS I would love to win "The Girl Who Played With Fire" hint hint :)

Rue said...

five good mystery/noir/thriller books

1. LA Confidential - The movie was good, the book is better.
2. Kitty and the Midnight Hour - It's supernatural thriller and kinda fluffy, but still a fun read.
3. Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs - I like Kathy Reichs Temperance Brennan books and think that Cross Bones is among the best.
4. Grave Peril - Jim Butcher. Book three in the Dresden Files books. Again, supernatural thriller. This is where the series gets good.
5. Airframe - Michael Crichton. A fun thriller for an afternoon and he pokes for at aerospace engineers. (My chosen profession. Scary how well he has us pegged.)

Thanks for the chance to win.
ruthann (dot) francis (at) gmail (dot) com

John Oak Dalton said...

Anonymous: Good list! I found two of your suggestions on and may end up spending my credits on those. Email me your name so I can enter you! JOD

John Oak Dalton said...


Really enjoyed LA Confidential, a bit lukewarm on Jim Butcher and Michael Crichton. Still, two new authors I haven't tried, thanks!


Peter O'Keefe said...

All right, what the heck, I'll play:
3 Classics:
A couple of my Motor City home boys:
CITY PRIMEVAL, Elmore Leonard
Bonus Book:

Esme said...

I cannot think of 5 but just finished reading

Angels's Game by Carlos Ruiz
and I like all of Daniel Silva's novels.

chocolateandcroissants at yahoo dot com

gaby317 said...

This is great - getting a lot of recommendations for my TBR pile.

Here are 5 that I enjoyed:

(1) Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti Mysteries. One good one was Death at La Fence

(2) Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair OR The Daughter of Time

(3) I Can See You by Karen Rose

(4) Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. One good one is "Die Trying".

(5) Katherine Neville's The Eight

Thanks for the entry!

gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

John Oak Dalton said...


Read everything there but Goines and Eco. Any list with Eric Ambler is hard to pass over. A fan of old Elmore Leonard crime stuff (and his Westerns ain't bad either). Carr was a bit ahead of his time, I think. Have always wished I could find some Donald Goines somewhere.


John Oak Dalton said...

Esme--I once had a great D&D character by that name! I like Daniel Silva but has never tried Ruiz--thanks for the leads! JOD

John Oak Dalton said...

Gaby, Good list, I agree. Except for the very first Lee Child, which I thought was entertaining enough, I haven't read any of these authors. John