Authors who can do no wrong

There are a lot of authors out there whose work I pretty consistantly enjoy, enough so that I am willing to try anything they write. It seems, however, that there are very few who have never disappointed me. This is purely subjective, of course. Often I will read a book that I can acknowledge is well-written, but fails to really grab me.

I can only think of two authors who have never left me feeling let-down or put-off at the end of a work: Terry Pratchett and Donald E. Westlake. I can’t swear I’ve read everything they’ve ever published - in fact I know that there are a number of Westlake’s books written under different names that I have never found at the bookstore or library. But I have never failed to enjoy any book or story by either of these authors that I have had the opportunity to read.

Who scores 100% with you? (It helps if they’ve published more than one or two books.)

So far - JK Rowling.

Others that come very close (like 90% or 95%) Pratchett, David Mitchell, Neil Gaiman, Asimov.

ETA: If you exclude Paratchett’s early work, then he’s 100%

Larry McMurtry, Jane Austen, Donald McCaig (although I haven’t read Rhett’s People yet), Irvine Welsh (90% for him).

90%+ range - Pratchett, John Ringo, Eric Flint, David Weber, RAH, Harlan, Bunch & Cole, Dan Jenkins, George Macdonald Fraser to name a few.

Ray Bradbury. When I read his stuff, no matter what it is, I feel like I’m eating sweet, tasty candy.

I’ve been looking for new books to read. I’ve never read a Ray Bradbury book. Can you reccomend one to start with?

John Sanford
CJ Cherryh

Tom Robbins.

I’m not sure anyone is 100%.

I own 66 books by Westlake, and I know of at least 25 that I’m missing. I’m not a fan of the five books he wrote as Tucker Coe, though the Samuel Holt foursome is fun. A few of his books as by Westlake flat out fail. Two Much is an example. Even some of his Dortmunder books are pretty tired. Overall, he has a fantastic batting average for someone that prolific and that varied in style.

Ed McBain is a similar case. I have 80 of his books, including those by his real name of Evan Hunter, but I still haven’t read his entire output. I can’t think of any of his 87th Precinct books that are failures, but some are so-so and many from the 80s are bloated to turn them into fat bestsellers. His Matthew Hope series got so pedestrian I stopped reading it. I haven’t read all his straight novels either. Again, fantastic batting average for someone so varied, but not 100%.

I’ve read a couple dozen of Pratchett’s books and I can’t think of any real failures, though he certainly improved since the early days. But the last couple of his I read (Going Postal and Making Money) are mechanical efforts, with the plots satisfied because “god was sitting in the author’s lap” in Raymond Chandler’s phrase.

There’s a real problem buried in this. No one, and I think that means literally no one, can write dozens and dozens of books over a 50-year career and not have a few clunkers. There might be some authors who have written a dozen plus or minus five and maintained that high level over a shorter career. (Rowling doesn’t do it for me, since I thought book 4 should have been bounced back and cut by at least a third and I stopped reading when book 5 was just as fat.)

And it’s nearly impossible for even fans to have read every book that an author like Westlake or McBain has written, so how would anyone know if they all are good? Has the OP read all of Pratchett’s YA books in addition to Discworld? What about his poems and plays, do they count? Do his collections of short stories count? Or are you limiting an author’s work to main series?

It’s an interesting question, but it runs into real problems with real world prolific authors.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Jonathan Lethem, Marky\ Kurlansky, Garth Nix, Jonathan Stroud, Chuck Palahniuk except for Haunted (which was a good idea even if the execution was poor). For that matter, it was only the last few of Heinlein’s that I didn’t care for.

Cormac McCarthy

Clive Barker. But then, I mostly read his “fantasy” stuff instead of his “horror” stories. Not that he draws the line very clearly :slight_smile:

Hey, why not the classic Fahrenheit 451? That was my first. You know how you read the first sentence in a book and you’re like, ‘‘Holy crap, this writer is a god?’’ That’s how I felt with Bradbury. His writing is haunting and one of those authors where I feel like every word counts.

I’m especially a big fan of his short stories. If you can get your hands on a collection of his short stories I would definitely recommend it. Googling is not coming up with the copy I read (borrowed from a friend) of his entire collection of short stories. It was a big, black book about four inches thick. There are plenty of good starts on Amazon. has it for £4.51 :smiley:

My list of never-fail authors* used to be a lot longer. Now it’s down to George R. R. Martin, Don Robertson, Owen Parry, and Pat Barker.

*Minimum five books read.

I’ve not regretted any of the fiction I’ve read by Cecil Scott Forester (although I found his factual history of the war of 1812 really tough going) or by Robert Heinlein, or Robert H. van Gulik.

Alice Munro.

Just to clarify, I wasn’t saying Westlake or Pratchett has never written a clunker. As Expano Mapcase points out, it’s almost impossible to find all of Westlake’s books. I have so far happily managed to avoid any that I might not have enjoyed. Even the lesser books have been worth a re-read.

As for Pratchett, I don’t count the books that only rehash other Discworld books (the “co-authored” ones), but I have read his non-Discworld YA books and enjoyed them. They aren’t all equal by any means, but there are none I would not read twice.

Actually, it doesn’t help. Harper Lee. One book, but it was great. Thomas Pynchon was 100% until Vineland, but that was only 3 books (until Vineland). ken Kesey was 100% until whatever the third book was…something set in Alaska…couldn’t finish it …

I’d vote for Patrick O’Brian.