Andrew Coburn

I just finished reading OFF DUTY by Andrew Coburn, which was strongly recommended to me by Ed Gorman….and for good reason. It’s a great book.

I’d never heard of the guy, and I like to think of myself as fairly plugged in to the mystery/thriller scene.  It turns out that Coburn has written several well-reviewed thrillers and was even nominated for an Edgar a few years back…and yet, he’s  virtually unknown. As far as I know, he doesn’t have any books that are still in print and hasn’t had a new title out in several years.  Which is a damn shame, because he’s as good, or better, than many of the bestselling authors working today.

All of which got me thinking about the shadow class of mystery/thriller writers… solid pros who’ve written fantastic stuff  and yet toil in almost complete obscurity… if they are lucky enough to still be writing, and having their work published, at all.  Robert Sims Reid, Robert Reiss, Gary Disher, James Colbert, Tom Kakonis, William Hoffman, Gaylord Dold, Robert Ray and Clay Reynolds are other authors who come to mind (you might know a few, too).  I would have put Kent Harrington on that list… but, thankfully, his new book has been getting enough attention that he might finally step out into the light. 

So why is it that some authors never show up on the public or critical radar despite writing top-notch mysteries and thrillers?  Are they not marketing themselves enough? Are they victims of poor distribution and promotion? Or are they writing stuff that’s too narrow in appeal?

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts… and learning about any authors you’d add to the list of the shadow class…

13 thoughts on “Andrew Coburn”

  1. I’ve never heard of the names you list.
    Clearly, their publishers aren’t getting the word out there. Which means the writers have to do it themselves.
    That has really become the case in recent years. If you want to become successful, you have to pound the pavement.

  2. Well, you know what Theodore Sturgeon–who?–said:
    Ninety-four percent of everything is crap.
    So we get to wade through a lot of crap to get to the good stuff, and when we do, we should cherish it that much more.

  3. Terence Faherty is a great writer. His Owen Keane series is excellent and though-provoking. Owen is original character: a man who dropped out of the seminary to pursue life’s unsolved mysteries. His debut novel, Deadstick, was nominated for an Edgar.

  4. I just read Birthright by Andrew Coburn and want to get my hands on everything this man has ever written. I have not been so involved in a book for years and cannot believe I’ve never heard of this man. Then, again, most books that make the Bestseller list aren’t even worth reading. This author is an amazing talent.

  5. Tell him! This is a pivotal time in Andrew Coburn’s life. He is my dad. He’s written, I think, 14 novels and though he hasn’t stopped writing (been writing lots of short stories published online and in university periodicals), he is struggling with a life-threatening illness. His family is around him, of course, but he needs to be reminded there is life beyond the four walls.That his work has been –and more importantly, still is–his lifeblood. I can forward any mail: Cathleen Coburn; 4 Patricia St, WIndham, NH 03087. My email is Thank you! If his words have inspired you, touched you or mattered in some way, please let your words do the same for him.
    My father’s daughter,
    Cathy Coburn


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