New England Writers

New England – Gains and Losses, 2010 update

It has been a sad few years of loss for fans of three of the best creators of continuing character fiction writing about New England.

Robert B. Parker passed away January 10, 2010 at age 77. With him we lose Spenser and Hawk, Jesse Stone, Sunny Randall, Boston area crime fighters all, and all the fun of the old west with itinerant lawmen Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch.

William G. Tapply died after a two year bout with Leukemia on July 28, 2009. 24 books featuring Boston attorney Brady Coyne, three more Brady and also deceased author Phillip Craig’s J.W. Jackson character had Brady on Martha’s Vineyard in stories co-authored by the two of them. Last but not least the man with no past, Stoney Calhoun, a Maine fishing guide with only clouded memories of who he had been before, was featured in three recent novels, Essentially, a series that had just gotten started. Heads up to note that Mr. Tapply’s crime writing spouse, Vicki Stiefel is at work on her fifth Tally Whyte novel and a last Brady Coyne story is due out by year end.

Philip Craig, referred to above as co-author and indeed close friend of Bill Tapply, penned 20 books in addition to the joint projects, most featuring Jefferson Washington Jackson, Boston P.D. retired after being shot, to reside and build a life on Martha’s Vineyard. He passed away in 2007 but the loss of Bill Tapply made it seem the end of an era for their characters. Both Mr. Craig and Mr. Tapply wrote stories about the things they loved, nature, fishing, food, relationships, marriage, children, all with the back drop of New England and all centering around various crimes needing to be solved.

I, like many readers, feel I have come to know these characters personally. RIP.

Thankfully, the Boston area is not without a stable of young writers to take up the mantel. Dennis Lehane, whose books Mystic River and Shutter Island made it to the big screen, is back with his continuing characters Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro in this year’s Moonlight Mile. It is really nice to jump back in to the Dorchester roots of this author.

This year has also taken Chuck Hogan to the big screen. His Prince of Thieves has become the recent Ben Affleck film The Town. I have read five books by Hogan and each is unique and well worth the read.

Also on my reading list, David Hosp, whose continuing characters, attorney Scott Finn and investigator Tom Kozlowski have been featured in three Boston legal thrillers. Hosp, himself a Boston lawyer, has also written a Washington D.C. based political tale likely because he went to law school at George Washington U. His pro bono work with the Innocence Project, helping the wrongly accused and incarcerated has also fueled a novel.

In no way do I represent these writers as the only representatives of New England crime fiction. They are some of my personal favorites. Dear reader: if you would like to add other writers to the discussion, send an email with the name and the web link.

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