Thursday, December 16, 2010

Favorite books of 2010

2010 was an excellent year for books and the list of my favorites is more wide ranging than usual. Books are in no particular order:

Parker: The Outfit by Darwyn Cooke and Richard Stark. This was a a wonderful graphic adaptation of one of the best books in the Parker series. Cooke really catches the zeitgeist of America in the early 1960's and the underworld that Parker was a part of. Link

Heart Transplant by Andrew Vachss and Frank Caruso. This is a very touching coming of age story that deals with loyalty, dignity and heart in a way that people of all ages can understand. The artwork and the text blend perfectly and this is a very thoughtful and well written story. Link

Futile Efforts by Tom Piccirilli. This collection of short stories and poems shows him on the cusp of both genres (crime and horror,) making the transition and mining the best of both worlds with a tremendous amount of wit and emotional resonance. Link

Coltrane on Coltrane: The John Coltrane Interviews by Chris DeVito. The picture that emerges of Coltrane is a fascinating one, a man who was continually seeking and questioning not only the music he was making but but philosophy, religion and the nature of mankind. Link

The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women. by James Ellroy. Ellroy lays it all on the table: love, sex, spirituality and the need for companionship are examined in excruciating detail. What makes this palatable and even enjoyable is his absolutely unique command of language and writing style, born of hard-boiled crime fiction, but evolved as something all his own. Link

The Devil by Ken Bruen. This is the most over the top book in the series, with Jack Taylor confronting a man he believes to be Satan, but in a way it gets back to its noir roots, with flashes of David Goodis prevalent in Bruen's writing. Link

Savages by Don Winslow. To say this story was a wild ride is an understatement: fueled by sex, drugs and violence it is a real page turner. Starting out very funny and then turning progressively darker as the story builds to an explosive conclusion, Winslow really keeps the narrative pedal to the metal Link

The Whisperers by John Connolly. Detective Charlie Parker is hired by the father of one of the group of soldiers who has taken his own life, one of several in the group to do so. Parker slowly unravels the mystery by tracking stolen goods and smuggling from Maine to Canada, and the learning about the debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder the former soldiers are suffering from. Link

I'll Mature When I'm Dead by Dave Barry. Collecting the short pieces he has written since leaving the Miami Herald, he is in top form skewering everything from male-female relations to the "wedding-industrial complex." Every story in this book has laugh-out-loud moments (don't read it at a coffee shop like I did if you don't want people giving you dirty looks for giggling and snickering convulsively.) Link

The Killer by Tom Hinshelwood. This was a very exciting and action packed novel, Hinshelwood keeps the pace breathless throughout as we switch locations from the intelligence offices of the United States and Russia to the brutal killers that track Victor the assassin across Europe. Link

Sleepless by Charlie Huston. Charlie Huston is one of my favorite storytellers, and this is another feather in his cap. Splitting the narrative between two characters was a masterstroke and the story involving drug smuggling, computer game barter economies spilling over into the real world was engrossing.

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