What books are currently on your nightstand?
There are a couple of soon-forthcoming releases -- Art Taylor’s On the Road with Del & Louise and Mark Coggins’ No Hard Feelings -- along with several books that are currently available: Kill Me, Darling, by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins; Orient, by Christopher Bollen; Rubbernecker, by Belinda Bauer; A Pleasure and a Calling, by Phil Hogan; and Gary Krist’s Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans. But since I tend to read books in a variety of places, I should note that there’s a copy of Robert Kyle’s first P.I. Ben Gates novel, Blackmail, Inc. (1958), in my car and one of Peter Lovesey’s latest Peter Diamond mystery, Down Among the Dead Men, calling to me from my downstairs bathroom drawer.
Who is your all-time favorite novelist?
That’s an impossible call. But I can say that the authors I go back most often to reread--which means they speak to something inside me that most writers don’t--are Ross Macdonald, Larry McMurtry, Gore Vidal, Raymond Chandler, Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clarke, and E.L. Doctorow.
What book might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
On a Grander Scale: The Outstanding Life of Christopher Wren, by Lisa Jardine. Actually, I have two long shelves filled with books about modern and historical architecture. My father was an architect, so I developed an interest in the subject early in life. At one point I even considered becoming an architect myself … until I discovered how much algebra was involved (algebra being my least favorite subject of all time).
Who is your favorite fictional character?
This is certainly your most challenging question. I’m going to go with Nate Heller, Max Allan Collins’ Chicago-based private eye. Much of the reason has to do with Heller’s proximity to the famous and infamous characters of the 20th century. I’d love to have met Al Capone, Sally Rand, Bugsy Siegel, Bobby Kennedy, and Amelia Earhart, as Heller has over the years.
What book do you return to?
There are three novels that I’ve reread more than any others: Ross Macdonald’s Moving Target, his first Lew Archer adventure; Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, which I first bought as a teenager; and Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, a slim paperback that stunned me as a boy, and still feeds my imagination. The books I most want to reread sometime in the future are Lonesome Dove and Larry McMurtry’s sequel and prequels to that work. This time, however, I plan to enjoy those books in chronological order of their story, rather than in the order they were first published.
J. Kingston Pierce is a longtime journalist in Seattle, Washington, and editor of The Rap Sheet, a crime-fiction blog that has won the Spinetingler Award and been nominated twice for Anthony Awards. He also writes the book-design blog Killer Covers, holds forth as the lead crime-fiction blogger for Kirkus Reviews, serves as the senior editor of January Magazine, and has published more than half a dozen non-fiction books.