Friday, December 16, 2011

Best of 2011, Part 1: Books

10. Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke - Burke makes beautiful observations about the folly and stupidity of warfare, and the fallible nature of human beings in this excellent story.
9. Wyatt by Garry Discher - Like Richard Stark's great American anti-hero, Parker, Wyatt is a cold and calculating thief, looking for ways to ply his trade in an increasingly digital world.
8. The Sentry by Robert Crais - Crais keeps the action moving briskly and the complex storyline is logical and compelling. This longstanding series continues to produce interesting stories, flipping the perspective between Pike and Cole keeps things fresh and the Southern California setting is always alluring.
7. Devil Red Joe R. Lansdale - In this story, Hap and Leonard are helping a former cop friend of theirs who has recently started a detective agency. When a series of murders is committed that appears to be attributed to a vampire cult, Hap and Leonard investigate and stumble into much more than they bargain for.
6. Headstone by Ken Bruen - This was a fantastic novel in one of the best series going in contemporary crime fiction. Jack Taylor is such a compelling character, that whatever happens, you can't stop rooting for him and be simultaneously repulsed and fascinated by his deeds.
5. Rule 34 by Charles Stross - Charles Stross, one of the premier science fiction authors in the genre ties all of these threads and many more involving rouge artificial intelligence, international criminal syndicates, smuggling, human greed, culpability, and the unceasing march of technological progress.
4. The Gentlemen's Hour by Don Winslow - This is another excellent Winslow adventure, a sequel to The Dawn Patrol (although reading that book first is not necessary.) The protagonist is a very appealing character, someone we really we really want to root for to win against all odds.
3. You'd Better Watch Out by Tom Piccrilli - When a nameless young man witnesses his mother being murdered on Christmas Day by his crooked cop father, he vows one day to have revenge.
2. The Killer Is Dying by James Sallis - While James Sallis ostensibly writes crime novels, the crime itself becomes almost incidental to the haunted and melancholy lives of the characters he composes.
1. Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran - Claire is about as far from Nancy Drew and Stephanie Plum as you can get, but if you are looking for a gritty and well written crime novel, this is one of the year's finest.

Send comments to Tim.