Tough Guys

January 15, 2007

After last weeks piece on wrestling books, I received a ton of email asking me what else I read. It is no secret that I am a huge bookworm and read a ridiculous amount, not that there is anything ridiculous about reading, but in the Video generation I definitely read more than the national average.

Last year (2006) I read 68 books. Actually it was 67 novels and a dozen or so short stories, which I figure amounts to the equivalent of 68 books. I’m pretty much strictly a fiction reader. I read for entertainment purposes not education. I started reading when on the road wrestling, and enjoy it far too much to ever give it up now.

My book club Book Marks has forced me to expand my horizons and discover new authors but I looked back at the books I’ve read and realize there is definitely a trend to what I read most. I read a lot of Tough Guy novels. Perhaps I’m more of a muscle head at heart than I care to admit because I enjoy living vicariously through what I read and I definitely read a lot of books with strong Tough Guy characters.

This past year I discovered Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. There are 34 books in the Spenser series to date, 23 of which I read last year and I expect to be done the rest of them by spring. Parker has two great Tough Guys in this series, Spenser, obviously, and his frequent cohort Hawk. Hawk is definitely in my Tough Guy top 10.

Another great series for Tough Guys, which is actually quite similar to the Spenser series, is Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole series. We read the first in the series “The Monkey’s Raincoat” for Book Marks. Cole qualifies as a Tough Guy but his partner Joe Pike is the true Tough Guy of the series and one of my all time favourites. Crais is releasing the first Joe Pike book next month and I will be the first in line the day that is released.

I read 8 Lawrence Block books this year (48 of them to date lifetime. I think the most I’ve read of any one author) and he too delivers his share of Tough Guy novels. We read “Burglar in the Closet” the second in his Bernie Rhodenbarr series for Book Marks, but Bernie is one of the few non-tough guys Block writes. I discovered his Matthew Scudder series in 2005 and have read all 16 books in that series, and Scudder is a grade A Tough Guy.

I have two favourite Tough Guy Jacks, which I read religiously and even named my dog Jack after. Jack Reacher by Lee Child and Repairman Jack by F. Paul Wilson are absolute must-reads and books I count the days each year till their release. We did the first in each series for Book Marks.

A few of my other favourite Tough Guys are Greg Rucka’s Atticus Kodiak, Dan Simmons’ Joe Kurtz, Richard Stark’s Parker, Robert Ludlum’s Jason Borne (way better than in the movies), and Janet Evanovich’s Ranger (from the Stephanie Plum series. My favourite Author, David Morrell, has written numerous top-notch Tough Guys but since Morrell has avoided committing to a series character there isn’t one specifically that stands out; his most notable obviously would be John Rambo.

One last Tough Guy author I think deserves mention is Marcus Wynne. We read his Warrior in the Shadows for Book Marks, and while he does not stick with a series character either, his books are chalked full of Tough Guys. Marcus is unique in that he is in fact a legit Tough Guy in his own right having been among other things a Paratrooper as well as a Federal Air Marshall, which is likely why his Tough Guys read so genuine.

If you are looking for a good read you should give the above authors a try, I’d love to hear from you with your thoughts if you do. Also check out my Book Club “Book Marks” as we are always checking out great books and there are usually some prizes and give a ways involved.

Till next week, Good Reading
Lance Storm

P.S. You can check out the above authors on their websites:

My "Book Marks" Book Club

Robert B Parker
David Morrell
F. Paul Wilson
Lawrence Block
Lee Child
Dan Simmons
Greg Rucka
Marcus Wynne
Robert Ludlum
Robert Crais
Janet Evanovich