This news will undoubtedly come as no surprise to Ali Karim, The Rap Sheet’s British correspondent, who began touting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo even before the first appearance of its English translation in the UK, but that 2008 novel by Swedish journalist-author Stieg Larsson has been chosen in a poll of this blog’s readers as the Best Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade (2000-2009). With 292 ballots having been cast, Larsson’s thriller came out on top with 82 votes, or 28 percent of the total.
Second-place honors go to Dennis Lehane’s 2001 novel, Mystic River. It racked up 78 votes, or an extremely close 27 percent of the total. The third- and fourth-place positions in our survey were strongly contested as well. In the end, Irishman Ken Bruen’s initial Jack Taylor detective novel, The Guards (2001), captured the No. 3 slot with 52 votes (18 percent), while Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s first adult novel, The Shadow of the Wind (2001), slid into the No. 4 position with 46 votes (16 percent). Standing at the back of the winner’s circle: The Lincoln Lawyer (2005), by Michael Connelly, which came in at No. 5 with 21 votes (or 7 percent of the total), and Canadian author Louise Penny’s Still Life (2005), scoring 13 votes (4 percent).
The six books featured in this poll were taken from Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine’s new list of Barry Award nominees. Its Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade category is a special one for 2010.
Predictably, there were many people who expressed disappointment that their favorites weren’t among the contenders on Deadly Pleasures’ docket, and therefore weren’t featured in The Rap Sheet’s poll. Alternative book suggestions included Peter Robinson’s Aftermath (2001), Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects (2006), Arnaldur Indriðason’s Jar City (2000), Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore (2005), Martin Cruz Smith’s Wolves Eat Dogs (2004), Philip Kerr’s A Quiet Flame (2008), Nancy Pickard’s The Virgin of Small Plains (2007), Louis Bayard’s Mr. Timothy (2003), Craig Holden’s The Jazz Bird (2002), Stephen Booth’s Blood on the Tongue (2002), and Megan Abbott’s Queenpin (2007). Some of the folks who commented on this survey didn’t identify specific works they would have liked to see in the running, but instead named authors they thought deserved to be mentioned, people such as George Pelecanos, Robert Crais, Laura Lippman, Reginald Hill, Max Allan Collins, Fred Vargas, Robert Littell, James Lee Burke, and Kate Atkinson.
There was nothing scientific about this poll, and there’s obviously plenty of room for disagreement. We just thought it would be interesting to know whether Deadly Pleasures had chosen anything close to being called the Best Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade in its latest Barry Award nominations. It’s now up to the magazine’s readers and subscribers to decide which one of the half-dozen nominees in this category deserves top honors. All they have to do is e-mail their pick to editor George Easter at email@example.com. (Selections in six other Barry categories can also be sent to that same e-mail address.)
Feel free to voice your own opinions on the results of our poll and on Deadly Pleasures’ picks in the Comment section below.