Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Happy Holiday Books

Although the year 2020 in many ways has been horrible, it has been a banner year for books. In keeping with our Seven Criminal Minds tradition, we’re recommending out favorite reads of the year. I’ve read so many good ones that I’ll keep the list long and the chatter short: Mystery: Who wouldn’t lead off with the “mystery book of the year,” Blacktop Wasteland, by S. A. Cosby? It’s been on every “best of” list, and deservedly so. The writing is perfection, descriptions and dialogue sharp, the story compelling. The Last Man, Jane Harper. Set in Australia, and gives a strong sense of the scoured landscaoe of the middle of the continent. Long after I finished it, I kept thinking about the characters and wondering what they were up to. Slow Horses, Nick Herron. It’s several years old, but I finally got around to reading it, and so glad I did. It starts off slowly, but grows more intriguing. In the tradition of LeCarre. Miracle Creek, Angie Kim. Winner of the Edgar for Best First Novel. One of my favorites of the year. It’s original, smart, with a fascinating look at Korean-American culture. Turn to Stone, James Ziskin Another winner in a terrific series. Set in Italy, you can lose yourself in the descriptions.
The Chain, Adrien McKinty. Continues his streak of remarkable books. A terrifying premise, with characters that are not superheroes. Everyday people stretched to the breaking point. Little Secrets, Jennifer Hillier. Dynamite! The twists were masterful, the characters absolutely spot on. The next five were all nominated for Edgar awards for Best Novel, and any one of them could have won: The Stranger Diaries, Elly Griffiths. Winner. An excellent book. Hard to put down. Good Girl, Bad Girl, Michael Robotham. A different premise, believable characters in a compelling situation. Totally absorbing. The River, Peter Heller Breathtakingly beautiful writing and riveting action. Fake Like Me, Barbara Bourland. Interesting look at the passion of art, besides being a solid mystery. An ending you will not see coming. Smoke and Ashes—Abir Mukherjee. If anything, it’s better than the previous one. The setting is fascinating, the story perfectly executed.
Thrillers: Dark Site, Patrick Lee—great thriller. Kept me completely hooked. Dark Tomorrow, Reece Hirsch. Hirsch writes smart thrillers that are no less compelling because they seem much more plausible than some “he man” thrillers. A Solitude of Wolverines, Alice Henderson. An environmental suspense novel. The writing is terrific. Action scenes are fantastic. Set in cold season, you get a strong sense of the environment. Historical: Probably my favorite of the year: The Last Tea Bowl Thief, Jonelle Patrick. Utterly absorbing, beautiful writing. Goes back and forth seamlessly between present and past Japan. Non Mystery: Olive, Again, Elizabeth Stroud. Poignant look at the later years of Olive Kittredge. Normal People, Sally Rooney. A coming-of-age novel. Really enjoyed the read and it stuck with me afterwards. Becoming Duchess Goldblatt, Anonymous—this little gem stole my heart. Totally unexpected. Not like anything I’ve ever read. EVER. What Are You Going Through—Sigrid Nunez. A wonderful reflection on the strange turns of life and death. Gentle humor and some surprisingly funny political comments.


Susan C Shea said...

Such an interesting and wide list. I'm sure every one on it is excellent, and I'm making notes about a few I hadn't heard of. Thanks!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks for the list, Terry.

Catriona McPherson said...

Ah, must read OLIVE, AGAIN. I adore her.

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