2010 has been a pretty good year so far for crime fiction. We’ve seen the launching, for instance, of Needle: A Magazine of Noir, an ambitious print magazine for short, suspenseful stories (spearheaded by Steve Weddle) that rolled out with its first issue this last spring, and has a second edition due to appear soon. The onetime Australian print mag Crime Factory has been reborn as Crimefactory, a Web-based PDF-format publication filled with short tales, features, and reviews having to do with crime/mystery fiction and the people who bring it to us. Several new blogs have contributed to the reading public’s focus on this genre, among them New Zealander Craig Sisterson’s Crime Watch, author J. Sydney Jones’ Scene of the Crime, and Nicolas Pillai’s Squeezegut Alley. In March, once issue-based Spinetingler Magazine was re-launched in a continuous publication format.
And of course there have also been some excellent new crime, mystery, and thriller novels released over the last six and a half months.
When it comes to choosing “best books,” I generally prefer end-of-the-year appraisals. However, after seeing Maxine Clarke of Petrona and Kerrie Smith of Mysteries in Paradise both reveal the five to 10 crime novels--new and old--that they enjoyed reading during the first half of 2010, I was provoked to do an assessment of my own experiences. What follows, then, are the 10 crime novels (all currently available) that I most relished reading over the last six months:
• The Big Bang, by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
• The Case of the Fiery Fingers (1951), by Erle Stanley Gardner
• City of Dragons, by Kelli Stanley
• The Convertible Hearse (1957), by William Campbell Gault
• The Detective Branch, by Andrew Pepper
• Gone ’til November, by Wallace Stroby
• Infamous, by Ace Atkins
• The Information Officer, by Mark Mills
• Peeler, by Kevin McCarthy
• A Razor Wrapped in Silk, by R.N. Morris
This list deliberately leaves out several books I have enjoyed, but that aren’t yet available to the general reading public; I’ll save those for later mention. And keep in mind: Just because I am enthusiastic about a novel at this point in the year doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed a place on my “best books of 2010” roster in December. I still have stacks of books I am hoping to get through by Thanksgiving Day.
Besides crime and mystery fiction, I have also had the pleasure of reading a variety of non-fiction books since January 1. This roster of favorites I’ll keep at six titles only:
• Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt, by Edward P. Kohn
• Mark Twain: Man in White--The Grand Adventure of His Final Years,
by Michael Shelden
• Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910, by Jeffrey H. Jackson
• The Promise: President Obama, Year One, by Jonathan Alter
• Scoundrels in Law: The Trials of Howe & Hummel, Lawyers to the Gangsters, Cops, Starlets, and Rakes Who Made the Gilded Age,
by Cait Murphy
• Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War, by James Mauro
So what do the rest of you think? If you’re willing to share with other Rap Sheet readers your own five to 10 favorite reads from the first half of 2010, please do so in the Comments section of this post.
We can all benefit from your recommendations.