Thursday, December 23, 2010

One Final Read on 2010

Plenty of lists have been published recently, promising to identify the best crime novels of 2010. Heck, I was responsible for one myself: January Magazine’s two-part assessment of mystery and thriller works (Part I is here, Part II is here). None of these “bests” is the best, of course, and none of them is perfect. There will always be readers who scoff at the choices being made by others, but that’s because even among folks who believe they possess good taste in books (and are paid to express their opinions), individual preferences can differ dramatically. Some of us enjoy historical mysteries, others prefer tense thrillers with forensic or foreign backdrops, still others tend to pick up softer stories with connections to crafts, cats, or cooking. It’s up to each of us to determine who we’ll believe when it comes to accepting recommendations in this arena.

My reading this year was all over the map, mixing new books with old, mysteries with history, long works and much shorter ones. Without intention, I seemed to read less mainstream fiction than usual; I’ll have to do a better job of evening things out in 2011.

Of the works I did consume this year, some really stood out. Several of my favorites I wrote about in January’s Best of 2010 package, but others I couldn’t comment on, primarily because I lacked the extra time of late to do so. But with January’s picks all posted now, and ignoring the possibility that I might stumble across some outstanding 2010 release between now and New Year’s Eve, I have listed below my expanded list of the 25 books--fiction and non-fiction--that brought me the most enjoyment over the last dozen months. These are listed alphabetically, not in order of my preferences. Where the book was not released originally in 2010, I have included its date of publication.

Crime Fiction
The Anniversary Man, by R.J. Ellory
The Big Bang, by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Body Work, by Sara Paretsky
Cat of Many Tails (1949), by Ellery Queen
City of Dragons, by Kelli Stanley
Deadly Communion, by Frank Tallis
The Death Instinct, by Jed Rubenfeld
The Detective Branch, by Andrew Pepper
The Detroit Electric Scheme, by D.E. Johnson
Gone ’til November, by Wallace Stroby
Infamous, by Ace Atkins
The Information Officer, by Mark Mills
Moonlight Mile, by Dennis Lehane
Owls Don’t Blink (1942), by Erle Stanley Gardner
Peeler, by Kevin McCarthy
A Razor Wrapped in Silk, by R.N. Morris
The Underbelly, by Gary Phillips
Unholy Awakening, by Michael Gregorio


Judging from the catalogues that have made their way to my mailbox thus far, there will be plenty of interesting reading choices available in 2011, both for folks who read primarily crime fiction and others, like me, who claim more omnivorous reading habits.

One final matter before 2010 breathes its last. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to The Rap Sheet over the last year, both this blog’s energetic regular contributors and the guest wordsmiths who’ve enriched our Books You Have to Read series about forgotten works worth discovering. I couldn’t possibly carry the load of keeping up The Rap Sheet by myself, nor would I wish to do so. It’s the diversity of voices that keeps this humble page lively and interesting. I look forward to continuing my association in 2011 with the contributors I’ve depended on since The Rap Sheet launched in May 2006, and hearing from others who might like to add to our mix.

In order to enjoy this festive season (and it’s about time we did), The Rap Sheet is signing off for a bit. Unless something monumental takes place in the interim, we will let our computers rest and instead concentrate on wrapping paper, family get-togethers, and vessels of celebratory ale, with the plan to return to business early next week.

Happy holidays, everyone.


Max Allan Collins said...

Very pleased to see THE BIG BANG make your top 25.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Have a great holiday, Jeff.