Sunday, November 20, 2022

Five top novels with memorable, morally complicated characters

Charles Salzberg is a novelist, journalist, and founding member of the New York Writers Workshop.

His first novel, Swann’s Last Song, was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel. After losing, he swore he’d keep writing crime novels until he won something.

After four more novels in the Henry Swann series, he wrote two successful stand-alone novels, Devil in the Hole (named one of the best crime novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine) and Second Story Man (nominated for another Shamus and a David Award, both of which, true to form, he lost). He finally broke the losing streak when Second Story Man was named winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award.

At Shepherd Salzberg tagged five favorite novels with memorable, morally complicated characters, including:
Monument Road by Michael Wiley

This is the first in the Franky Dast series and it was nominated for a Shamus Award. Dast was convicted and sentenced to Death Row when he was 18, for the rape and murder of two adolescent boys. Eight years later, the verdict is overturned, in part as a result of the relationship Dast has established with the Justice Now Initiative, an organization specializing in cases of wrongful imprisonment. On his release, Dast joins the group and becomes involved in a case that hits close to home: the cop who arrested and coerced a confession from him is accused of shooting the son of a prominent judge. In Dast, Wiley has created the kind of complex character I’m drawn to, both as a writer and a reader. Wiley’s ability to dive deep into the psyche of complicated characters is something I’m always striving for.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue