–post by Molly
As the year comes to a close, it is time to compile as many lists as possible of our favorite books of the year. Here are my top ten – you’ll see quite a bit of overlap between my top ten international list and this one, but I’ll also profile a few books from inside the states. You may notice a paucity of female authors – one of my New Year’s resolutions is to read more female mystery writers, so you will see more on the list next year. The following books are in no particular order of preference – all are equally fantastic.
1. In The Morning, I’ll Be Gone by Adrian McKinty
McKinty brings his Troubles Trilogy to a (literally) explosive close as Detective Sean Duffy gets assigned by British secret service to track down an old classmate turned IRA bigwig.
2. The Fever by Megan Abbott
Abbott takes on middle class paranoia and the dangerous lives of adolescent girls in this modern update to the Salem Witch Trials. Teenage girls are falling ill in a small, polluted New England town and parents, teenagers, and the CDC work to find the cause before the contagion can spread.
3. Laidlaw by William McIlvanney
McIlvanney wrote this early Tartan Noir in the mid-1970s, and several decades later, it’s back in print and available on our shelves. DI Laidlaw is a dour but compassionate man, working to find a criminal and put him in custody before a murdered girl’s family can take their own revenge.
4. The Day of Atonement by David Liss
Liss takes a break from his Benjamin Weaver character to take us into a stand-alone tale of revenge best served cold – a Jewish Count of Monte Cristo, if you will. A young converso, after fleeing to England, embraces his Jewish heritage and returns to Lisbon to visit revenge upon the inquisitor who betrayed his family.
5. The Good Life by Frank Wheeler
Wheeler takes us deep into the messed-up head of a corrupt Nebraskan sheriff taking control of the drug trade in his small town. As the body count got higher, my willingness to ever visit rural Nebraska got steadily lower. But hey, that’s what people think of Texas, too.
6. Ghost Month by Ed Lin
Ed Lin sets his latest novel in Taipei’s historic Night Market as a college dropout/food vendor tries to find out who killed his ex- girlfriend. Full of vast conspiracies, bizarre foods, and a whole lot of Joy Division lyrics, Ghost Month is the best kind of international noir.
7. Last Winter, We Parted by Fuminori Nakamura
A reporter is assigned to write a book on a photographer imprisoned for burning his models alive in a quixotic attempt to capture their essence. As the reporter learns more about the photographer and the photographer’s sister, he begins to question the nature of reality while at the same time getting ever closer to discovering the pair’s nefarious secrets. The most literary noir I’ve read this year.
8. Rose Gold by Walter Mosley
Walter Mosley’s long-running protagonist Easy Rawlins returns to the page in this wild romp through the swinging sixties and the nascent Black Power movement. Mosely creates a sympathetic portrayal of characters marginalized by society and once again immerses us in his diverse vision of historic Los Angeles.
9. The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day
This was my favorite debut of the year. Rader-Day crafts an intricate mystery set in the echoing halls of the Ivory Tower, addressing school violence, battles over funding, and just about every other collegiate controversy you can name. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
10. The Final Silence – Stuart Neville
Stuart Neville has actually written a believable serial killer narrative set in Northern Ireland and seamlessly integrated into the history of the Troubles. I thought it couldn’t be done, and I was wrong. Thank you, Mr. Neville.
Honorable Mention: The Secret History of Las Vegas, by Chris Abani
I just started reading this one, so I don’t want to put it on the official list, but judging by the first ten pages, this will be one of the most beautifully written mysteries I have ever read. Given the psychopathic crimes, conjoined twins, and Las Vegas setting, this will also be one of the creepiest.
Copies of each book are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.