The first of my favourites comes out of the 2007 traps tomorrow. Carl Hiaasen returns to the UK with the publication eleventh book in a series that might be labelled Florida Crazy, his first adult book since the excellent Skinny Dip in 2004.
Hiaasen is not to everybody's taste. His plots and cast of characters always appeared caricatured to the point of fantasy, even if, as he says, the inspiration for most of them is drawn from Florida reality. (Not a reality that most of us would recognise as befitting that particular word).
Nature Girl is predicated on the attempts of unstable single mother Honey Santana to turn the tables on an unscrupulous tele-marketer. Cue a raucous romp through the Everglades.
The novel has drawn predictably varied reviews. Ed Caesar in the The Independent puts himself en route for Private Eye's Pseuds Corner by crediting Hiaasen with combining "the comedic energy of Molière with Mark Twain's lightness of phrase" and finds it so "funny that in places the physics of simultaneously holding a book while suffering a seizure become irreconcilable". A familiar problem for many Hiaasen devotees.
Meanwhile over at the London Evening Standard, Mark Sanderson is disappointed that despite the presence of most of the elements that have made Hiaasen's name, his "trademark trademark fizz is missing".
I'll reserve judgment until I get a chance to read it. The problem, however, is that I don't know when that will be. I am now under a self-imposed moratorium on book-buying - which I actually broke yesteday, but under extreme circumstances - and may not get my hands on a copy for a while.
How I pine for the heady days of 2004, where not only did I receive a review copy, but as an occasional crime fiction writer for the Financial Times, actually to interview Hiaasen himself, over a lunch of what looked suspiciously like the sort of roadkill that his famous character Skink might roast over an open fire. Those were the days.
The Dark Tower and the breaking of the moratorium
I cannot get on a train without a book. I just can't. It makes me bored and miserable. So what happens when you take a return business journey and unexpectedly finish one book on the outbound trip, but have promised your wife you won't buy any more books for the time being?
Well, um, you break the promise obviously. It is bad planning on my part - nothing more nothing less. I should have recognised that the end of John Irving's Until I Find You was in sight and had the next book on my list (Christopher G Moore's The Risk of Infidelity Index, kindly sent by him last week) with me. But I didn't.
So with limited time available I nipped into WH Smith and picked up a book that's been on my wish list for some time: The Gunslinger, the first volume of seven in Stephen King's Dark Tower saga. Nobody writing today does quests quite as well as King, who has been on rare form lately with the fascinating Cell and the excellent Lisey's Story, but Dark Tower takes us back to 1982 when King was coming off the back of some of his memorable work such as The Stand, The Shining and Salem's Lot.
King is such a master of his art that I had little doubt that I'd be quickly hooked (and so it proved, 18 hours on I've read half of it already) but that presents a second moratorium problem: how to get hold of Volume 2 without breaking further promises.
Patrick Henry, DCI Barnaby and female authors
There are a great many things to love about the internet, but I think my favourite is its ability to bring into contact people who otherwise would not meet.
I had a fascinating e-mail yesterday from a reader who had come across the Midsomer Murders entry because a Google alert picked up a reference to wild flowers and sent it through.
The reader asked two interesting questions: why is only one of my favourite authors listed a woman? And why do I list my wife last in the list of entries in the interests section of the About Me page. And in doing so this reader exposed some oversights on my part that have now been amended.
The first of which was to add Karin Slaughter, Mo Hayder and Sue Grafton to the favourites list. Generally, my favourite authors are men, and I've never given much thought to why. It is entirely possible that as a man I am programmed to believe that they are writers better suited to my tastes and that has stopped me trying some female novellists.
But I do read plenty of women writers. Alongside the three novellists now listed, I am growing increasingly to like Lisa Gardner and Tess Gerritsen as previous posts suggest. Outside of crime fiction I love the work of Anne Tyler, Anita Shreve and Alice Hoffman but don't list them here for the obvious reason.
But there are gaps in my reading, encompassing the grandes dames of British crime fiction. I have never read anything of PD James, Martina Cole, Ruth Rendell or Val McDermid (although The Grave Tattoo by the latter is queued for reading). I will get round to PD James but neither Rendell nor Cole particularly appeal.
I also wonder, however, whether there are simply fewer female writers published and therefore a narrower choice available? I'm tempted to head for Waterstones at Trafalgar Square this evening to do an unscientific poll of their excellent crime section. (A dangerous mission for somebody with a moratorium on new books).
In response to my rather forward correspondent I have also moved my wife up my list of interests.
But what was particularly fascinating about this exchange was that within a couple of e-mails we were trading some ideas about the Civil War (the correspondent is a Virginian descendant of Patrick Henry and is related to the famous Confederate General Robert E Lee), and you can't beat that.