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…