– List compiled by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
Usually I only pick five novels in this category, but this was such a great year for new voices, the list needed to be expanded. I even had to cheat a little and allowed two to tie for the top.
Both these authors proved there is still a lot of life in rural noir. Writing with the skill and emotion of seasoned pros, they bring the mountains of South Carolina and Georgia to vivid, poignant, and painful life with their tales of fate, family, and violence.
Harrison, a practicing Mormon, uses a true crime as a springboard to dive into the culture and politics of her religion, both good and bad. She skillfully balances dialogue and interior monologue for her title character who feels she can not always speak her mind publicly.
The most sordid mother-daughter relationship since Mildred Pierce. Abbott uses the incident of a mother talking her 13 year old daughter into taking a murder rap for her, then moves back to their life leading up the incident, then the fall-out after. A skillful use of mood and point of view.
A great story of a hero tempted by his darker nature when he returns home from the Army to find his grandfather, who was also his criminal mentor, beat into a coma. A great mix of grit and poignancy.
An utterly unique tough guy novel with a dyed-in-the-wool Brooklynite looking for his lost love in a world of gentrification and odd yet dangerous criminals. If you love hard boiled and hate hipsters this book is for you.
6. Soil by Jamie Kornegay
Another great rural noir. When a failed farmer finds a body on his property on his flooded land it sets a chain of events involving paranoia and obsession that are sometimes funny and often violent. It also has one of the most lurid uses of cornmeal in a book.
A strong hard boiled historical with a cop in 1950s New York going up against the FBI, CIA, soviets, the mob, and Roy Cohn as tries to solve the murder of a Broadway chorus boy. Great use of time and place.
A strong look at desperate characters in Los Angeles on a path to collide together in one violent moment. If only Altman were around to do the movie…
A woman searches for her missing daughter even though she has no memory or evidence of her being taken. Told with rich psychology and a touch of biting satire, this story is sweet and sharp.
When a young American in Japan gets a hold of a diary that could rock the country he has the government and yakuza chasing him across The Land Of The Rising Sun. An engaging thriller with a rich sense of Japan and its people.
You can find copies of the above-listed books on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.