Thursday, December 22, 2011

Speaking of Lists ...

Well, the reading and writing, sifting and sorting processes that all go into producing any end-of-the-year list of “favorite books” have finally been completed, and January Magazine has posted its critics’ rundown of the crime novels they most enjoyed during 2011. This isn’t a “perfect” compilation, of course; each reader has his or her idiosyncratic tastes, and they often don’t overlap with those of reviewers. However, I think the choices are fairly representative of what the genre had to offer during the last 12 months.

Because so many books were chosen--34!--they’re broken down into two separate posts, part I here and part II here. You can look in those posts for the editorial comments about each novel, but here’s the no-frills roster of winners:

The Accident, by Linwood Barclay (Bantam)
A Bad Night’s Sleep, by Michael Wiley (Minotaur)
Bad Signs, by R.J. Ellory (Orion UK)
Bloodland, by Alan Glynn (Faber and Faber UK)
Buried Secrets, by Joseph Finder (St. Martin’s Press)
The Cut, by George Pelecanos (Reagan Arthur)
A Drop of the Hard Stuff, by Lawrence Block (Mulholland)
The End of Everything, by Megan Abbott (Reagan Arthur/
Little, Brown)
The End of the Wasp Season, by Denise Mina (Reagan Arthur)
Falling Glass, by Adrian McKinty (Serpent’s Tail)
The Fatal Touch, by Conor Fitzgerald (Bloomsbury)
Feast Day of Fools, by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster)
Field Gray, by Philip Kerr (Marian Wood/Putnam)
The Fifth Witness, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
Fogtown, by Andersen Gabrych and Brad Rader (Vertigo Crime)
Fun & Games, by Duane Swierczynski (Mulholland)
The Gentlemen’s Hour, by Don Winslow (Simon & Schuster)
Heads You Lose, by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward (Putnam)
The Impossible Dead, by Ian Rankin (Reagan Arthur)
The Keeper of Lost Causes, by Jussi Adler-Olsen (Dutton)
Liar’s Kiss, by Eric Skillman and Jhomar Soriano (Top Shelf)
Perfect People, by Peter James (Macmillan UK)
Ranchero, by Rick Gavin (Minotaur)
The Retribution, by Val McDermid (Little, Brown UK)
The Revisionists, by Thomas Mullen (Mulholland)
San Diego Noir edited, by Maryelizabeth Hart (Akashic)
The Sentry, by Robert Crais (Putnam)
Spycatcher, by Matthew Dunn (Morrow)
Thick as Thieves, by Peter Spiegelman (Knopf)
The Thieves’ Labyrinth, by James McCreet (Macmillan UK)
White Heat, by M.J. McGrath (Viking)
You're Next, by Gregg Hurwitz (St. Martin’s Press)

I’d like to thank my fellow January critics for their enthusiastic participation in this annual ritual: Declan Burke, Cameron Hughes, Ali Karim, Brendan M. Leonard, Jim Napier, Anthony Rainone, Linda L. Richards, and Kevin Burton Smith. Sadly, Dick Adler--who has contributed regularly to this endeavor for the last few years--was unable to take part this time around. It’s to his memory that I would like to dedicate this year’s “best books” list.

In addition to these many crime-fiction picks, January Magazine is offering inventories of favorite books from 2011 in the categories of fiction, non-fiction, art and culture, cookbooks, books for children, science fiction and fantasy, and biography. Details about the magazine’s annual selection process are available here.

* * *

Of course, January is far from the only print or Web publication to deliver a “best crime fiction of the year” collection this month. Some other lists also worth your attention:

Amazon’s Best Books of 2011: Mystery & Thrillers
The Boston Globe’s Best Crime Novels of the Year
Crime Always Pays’ Favorite Novels of the Year, which includes the Crime Always Pays Novel of the Year Award
Crime Fiction Lover’s Top Five Books of 2011
Grift Magazine’s Best Books of 2011
House of Crime and Mystery’s Top Five Crime Books of 2011
Kirkus ReviewsBest Mysteries of 2011
Kirkus ReviewsBest Thrillers of 2011
Library Journal’s Best Books 2011: Mystery
Library Journal’s Best Books 2011: Thrillers
Loitering with Intent’s Top Five Books of 2011
Musings of an All Purpose Monkey’s Top 10 Reads of 2011
New York Times critic Marilyn Stasio’s notable crime books of 2011
Publishers’ Weekly’s Best Books 2011: Mystery/Thriller
Poe’s Deadly Daughters’ Favorite Books of 2011
Pulp Pusher’s “Best of the Best,” parts I, II, and III.
The Seattle TimesBest Mysteries of 2011
The Wall Street Journal’s Best Mystery Novels of 2011
And my own list, in Kirkus Reviews, of The Rap Sheet’s 10 Favorite Crime Novels of 2011

Brian Lindenmuth, an editor at Spinetingler Magazine, has been compiling best-of-the-year lists from sources large and small. His rundown can be found here. Related lists include the Favorite Sons of 2011 list from Sons of Spade, and 2011: The Year in Villains, by Ransom Notes’ Jedidiah Ayres. Meanwhile, Grift is asking readers to name their own “five favorite books of 2011.” If you would like to participate in that survey, click here.

UPDATE: Also worth checking out, if you’re in the mood for assessing “best of the year” lists, is Death by Killing’s assortment of short crime fiction. These stories appeared in books and online during 2011, and are recommended by other writers.


Chris Rhatigan said...

Thanks for the name check. Anyone who wants to send in a list of their top five stories to Death by Killing is more than welcome. The more the merrier and all that.

Bill said...

Top 11 Mystery Books for 2011
Traditional Mysteries