Arthur Hailey or John Grisham?
For business fiction.
You may not know me as Your Uncle Ralph for non-fiction writing and business advice for entrepreneurs, but my mission of promoting and supporting enlightened entrepreneurship includes the Dale Hunter Series of crime thriller novels with an entrepreneur as the hero fighting crime and corruption.
The novels have hidden messages for entrepreneurs and a subtle plea for more sympathy and understanding from their critics, who usually accept the ugly stereotype of the greedy, ruthless capitalist exploiting employees, breaking the rules, and killing the planet, but the novels are primarily focused on being a more interesting and entertaining read than any business book. You’ll find them in the bookstore under Fiction: Mystery-Suspense-Thriller, not in the non-fiction business section under Management-Leadership-Entrepreneurship. (That’s where Uncle Ralph’s books may be found.)
So who do you think has written good fictional stories with an engineer, scientist, business executive, or lawyer as hero? My model writers for business-oriented crime novels with unconventional heroes are Ian Hamilton with his Ava Lee series, Kathy Reichs with her Bones novels, and of course, John Grisham for his legal thrillers. And in talking to some of my Canadian crime writer colleagues I was reminded of the original Canadian bestselling writer, Arthur Hailey, most famous for Airport, Hotel and Wheels. I recently finished his last novel, The Detective, written in 1997, forty years after his first.
The Detective is a long, complicated story of depravity, violence and moral issues as Sergeant Ainslie, the former priest and now detective, follows the trail of a serial killer that he put on death row. It’s not my favourite of Haley’s novels. And there’s not much to learn for my business crime thrillers in his 600 pages. Too much detail for modern readers, I think. Not boring, but it’s not my style.
John Grisham does it better in his novel, The Partner, also written in 1997. A better tale of mystery and suspense that maintains the sense of urgency and danger throughout it’s 468 pages. It is longer than my novels and very focused on legal issues and lawyers in the U.S South, but it’s a better model for my stories of entrepreneurs and gangsters in Montreal.
What do you like to see in a good book that keeps you reading and would recommend to others? Is it really as simple as a good story with appealing characters and some surprising plot twists?
If the writer adds social commentary and more background information on locations, political history and the technologies being used, do you find it to be a distraction from an entertaining and compelling read or does it add value and appeal for the reader?
I’m still learning, by reading and writing.