Photo: Martha Pavlidou

1. Cark Hiaasen, Panhandle Pundit
His new book: Bad Monkey (Knopf) boils over with corruption and comeuppance. And yes, there's a monkey.

On writing: "I put my characters on a stage and let them bump into each other and see what happens. That's the way life is—there's no script."

On reading in summer: "Our house in Montana overlooks the Yellowstone River and the Rockies. During summer the sky stays light very late, and we often read on the deck while waiting for the moon to rise over the mountains."

Most looking forward to reading: "Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson. I've spent my life writing about the essentiality of protecting nature, and the greedy weasels who put profits or politics first. If not for Carson, we'd still be breathing DDT."

Background check: "I write about Florida because the material's superb—it's a fountain of sleaze and weirdness...pythons prowl the Everglades eating alligators, and sinkholes swallow people whole."
the bat

Photo: Martha Pavlidou

2. Jo Nesbø, Norway's Dark Knight
His new book: The Scandinavian sensation's first book, The Bat (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard), previously unreleased in the United States, is due out here this month—which means Inspector Harry Hole fans will finally discover how it all began.

On writing: "The murders are the least important elements—they're just the starting point for the novels, which are about what makes us tick, what makes our hearts beat faster."

On reading in summer: "When I was growing up in Oslo, summer was the worst time of year, because all my friends left the city. Reading was my escape from boredom and loneliness."

Most Looking Forward to Reading: "Pete Townshend's Who I Am and Ian McEwan's Sweet Tooth."

Background check: "Certain books take me to places I've never been—Mark Twain made America come alive; in Lolita, Nabokov made it possible to travel in an old man's mind with a young girl."
little green

Photo: Martha Pavlidou

3. Walter Mosley, "Easy" Writer
His new book: Little Green (Doubleday), in which Easy Rawlins returns after a life-threatening car accident and lets it fly in L.A., summer-of-love style.

On writing: "The job of the writer is to give somebody an escape but have them feel they are getting something more."

On reading in summer: "I read in the bathtub no matter the season—if I'm near water, a book is going to come out."

Most looking forward to readying: "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John le Carré. He's a wonderful writer. I recently saw the latest movie version and it made me want to reread all his George Smiley books."

Background check: "My father was a custodian at a public school in Los Angeles. I would wander around the library when there was no one there but me, him, and a couple of other people cleaning, and go through books. There was infinite time."

Photo: Martha Pavlidou

4. Stephen King, Master of the Macabre
His new book: Joyland (Hard Case Crime), a noir mystery set in 1973 in a North Carolina amusement park, where protagonist Devin goes to work and to mend his broken heart.

On writing: "By the time I was 14, the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled on it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing."

On reading in summer: "It's that feeling of long days without much to do, when I can finally catch up with just-for-fun books. I tend to read a little lighter in the summer, but there's always room for D.H. Lawrence."

Most looking forward to reading: "The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Söderberg."

Background check: "I was warped early. I first read Edgar Allan Poe's The Premature Burial at age 11, and between that and an episode from Alfred Hitchcock Presents, I was afraid of being buried alive from then on."
red moon

Photo: Martha Pavlidou

5. Benjamin Percy, ...Now Joining the Pack
His new book: Red Moon (Grand Central), a thriller in which werewolves and terrorism play a key role, by a newcomer to the genre.

On writing: "Stories I love operate on three planes at once—the popcorn element that gives you that swept-away feeling; the propulsive engine that enables readers to experience a thrill and be satisfied at the end; a depth that prompts you to an understanding of the artist's intention."

On reading in summer: "I grew up on 27 acres of land in the high desert of central Oregon. Summer for me was the looking glass, the rabbit hole. I fell into books."

Most looking forward to reading: "NOS4A2, by Joe Hill, and The Once and Future King, by T.H. White."

Background check: "In sixth grade, for a research paper, I followed the instructions in a library book and tried to transform myself into a werewolf."

Next: 10 dazzling debut novels to pick up right now


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