Josh Bazell, Beat the Reaper – funniest book I’ve read in years.
Brett Battles (all three: The Cleaner, The Deceived, Shadows of Betrayal) – a terrific new series with a character who is like no one else that I’ve read.
Jess Walter, The Financial Lives of Poets – cynically comical look at modern life and financial catastrophe
Steig Larsson (all three: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest) – it is a crime and a shame that he died without having written 30 books, at least.
Mike Lawson, House Secrets – can’t get enough of DeMarco, Emma and the Speaker.
Jedediah Berry, Manual of Detection – strangest book of the year, but enchanting
George Pelecanos, The Turnaround – noir master, yes, but one of the rare white guys with soul.
Walter Mosley, The Night Falls – how can you not love a world-weary, middle-aged PI with 80,000 songs on his iPod?
Joe Gores, Spade & Archer- a perfect prequel to The Maltese Falcon, as if he channeled Hammett.
Philip Kerr, The One from the Other and A Quiet Flame – one of the great pleasures of the new Century is that there are new Berney Gunther novels.
Boston Teran, Creed of Violence – ruffians and killers with an oddly formal way of speaking! Great!
Cornelia Read, A Field of Darkness, The Crazy School, and Invisible Boy -- sorry I waited so long to read her, she’s a string of pearls in the rough.
Gillian Flynn, Dark Places – best of the year, good lord what a masterful piece of writing.
The Samaritan, third in Omar Yussef Sirhan series by Matt Benyon Rees, eerily echoes breaking news stories, this time from Nablus.
The Dead of Winter, third in John Madden series by Rennie Airth, with haunting, elegant, powerful writing about 1944 London and rural England.
Buried Strangers, second in Brazilian chief investigator Mario Silva series by Leighton Gage, a cop who dirties his hands to solve violent crime.
The Case of the Missing Servant: A Vish Puri Mystery by Tarquin Hall skillfully guides perplexed Westerners through the seeming contradictions of contemporary India.
The Widow’s Revenge, 14th in Charlie Moon series by James D. Doss, with wonderful writing and gentle humor sustains a breakneck pace among Ute, Apache and Anglo cultures of southern Colorado.
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Debut Dagger Award-winner Alan Bradley presents a precociously intelligent 1950s youngest daughter “to the manor born” with a penchant for chemistry.
The Silent Spirit, 14th in Arapaho lawyer Vickie Holden and John O’Malley, S.J. series by Margaret Coel, seamlessly uses split-time between 1920s movie making and contemporary reservation crime.
The Alpine Uproar, 21st in Emma Lord series by Mary Daheim, lacks all the right things: extraneous words, misleading clues, cloying characters, and implausible situations.
The Dark Horse, fifth in Sheriff Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson, the confessed murderer of an arsonist who killed horses locked inside a barn doesn’t ring true for Walt.
Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog by Boris Akunin, introduces a vivacious 19th century rural heroine as physically clumsy as she is mentally adroit with writing as scholarly as any classic Russian literature.
Sue Henry came in to sign her latest Maxie and Stretch novel, The End of the Road, and we compared notes on how cold it's been. Considering she's from Alaska, she wasn't too impressed by our brief cold snap, which made perfect sense to us.
And she told us lots of great stories, including the one about the mistake in the dedication in The End of the Road. If you'd like to know what itis, come on in and we'll tell you. We bet, though, that you can figure it out!