This is an email I received from a fellow reader and lover of the genre, named Beth Soles. Follow her on Twitter here, and a special thanks to her for all the kind words about The Real Book Spy.
Prior to The Real Book Spy’s emergence on the world wide web, finding a new author to read was always a crap-shoot. I’d get panicky when picking up the last book by a author I’d come to love, wondering how long I’d have to wait before the next installment. Or, if there would even be a next installment, because my love of reading came about before Al Gore (bless his heart) invented the Internet.
As a female, I was weaned on books such as the Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables and Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew series. I read every book in each series, some more than once because I had no idea what to read next. The library consisted of a visit to the Book Mobile. (If you don’t know what that is, it’s a mobile library in a converted bus that rarely had anything new for kids my age, and it came to town once a month.) I’d always get a stack of books, but with only the jacket covers for an indication of the contents, I’d end up with a lot of stinkers.
Then, in fifth grade, Miss Marr began reading a chapter a day of a book called Rifles for Watie, by Harold Keith, and I was hooked on “thrillers.” It might be a stretch to call Rifles a thriller, but to me it was. I’d never read anything like it, and it opened up a whole new genre to me, one that I’m sure at the time was considered to appeal to mostly the male gender. I would have never thought I’d enjoy a “guy’s” book before. And, because Miss Marr was taking so long to read it, of course I had my mother request it for the Book Mobile and I read ahead. It was a harbinger for what was to come.
However, it was still a few years before Vince Flynn’s Term Limits, and Brad Thor’s Lions of Lucerne, were even twinkles in their authors’ eyes.
Before Flynn and Thor there was Rick Boyer, my writing professor, and creator of Doc Adams, an oral surgeon who found more trouble than teeth to pull, and his “former” mercenary-come-martial arts instructor and friend, Liatis Roantis (pronounced Light-us Ro-want-is if you’re interested). These mystery/thrillers pulled me deeper into the genre, and inspired me to attempt penning my first thriller for my writing class. Let me just say, writing a thriller is HARD WORK, and no, I never finished it. Jack Boston will forever wonder where those diamonds in the hull of his boat came from.
It was after I finished Boyer’s books that I landed a copy of Term Limits. I don’t even remember where I found it, or how long I waited to read it, but once I did, Vince Flynn had a fan for life. Of course, the internet was a toddler at the time – though a fast-growing one – and it still didn’t offer a lot in the way of reviews or anything like what we have now with social media and the mega-retailer Amazon (which was still a baby), so I had no easy way of knowing when a new book was coming out, or what other authors I might like. I just had to keep checking the bookstore and the library. While it was always a treat to find a new offering by Flynn, the waiting was torture. Eventually, 2003 rolled around and Thor’s Lions was released. An independent bookstore owner whom I’d come to know, told me, “if you like Mitch Rapp, you’re going to love Scot Harvath,” Truth. Now I had two thriller authors – similar but very different – and it kept me quite happy. But it just wasn’t enough. I needed more than two authors to read. I couldn’t find anything in the library, and there wasn’t room in my budget for hit-or-miss chances.
Yes, I found Flynn and Thor before The Real Book Spy, but it was a sheer luck, and now the field is over-crowded. With self-publishing and sorry publishing companies that opt for flash over substance (e.g. Fifty Shades of Stupid, I mean, Grey) there are more stinkers than diamonds out there begging to be purchased or borrowed, making it incredibly difficult to vet all these authors and their works one’s self. Time is a premium, and I don’t want to waste a second of it. The Real Book Spy helps me with the vetting process. Because our taste in books, writing style, and genre is so similar, I know I can trust Ryan Steck’s reviews. If Steck gives a book thumbs up, I’m pretty darn sure I will enjoy the read.
A good example of this is new thriller (or, should I say, “Search and Destroy”) author, Joshua Hood. Though his book, Clear by Fire, was published prior to The Real Book Spy’s official blog launch, Steck’s review on the Vince Flynn Fans Facebook page introduced Hood’s Mason Kane to a thrller-fan audience, and though Hood is too modest to acknowledge it, he can sit at the table with Flynn, Thor, Bell, Coes, Baldacci, Coonts, and Box any time. He’s that good, and the public hasn’t even read his really good stuff yet! (Go ahead, pre-order Hood’s Warning Order now, you can thank me later. You can trust me, I’ve read it.)
If you’re a reader of the thriller genre and you haven’t bookmarked The Real Book Spy, you are probably wasting precious time and missing out on some great books. If you’re a writer in this genre and haven’t sent TRBS a copy of your best work, you’re missing out on thousands of thriller-readers just waiting for the next best-seller. It could be yours! If you’re a publisher, you definitely want to pay attention to this blog. It’s where we thriller-fans flock for the inside scoop, and there’s not much better for you than rabid fans waiting for the next book to take them to that reader’s high.