Saturday, December 28, 2013

Everybody Wants in on the Act

Each year at this time we see publications and their individual critics earnestly releasing lists of their favorite crime and thriller novels published during the previous dozen months. (I’ve done it twice already--see here and here.) This can be an enjoyable exercise, at least so long as everyone concerned--and that includes readers--understands that there’s nothing remotely scientific about the list-making. Such picks are a matter of opinion, and each reader is likely to differ about what he or she likes best. With that in mind, here are some additional rundowns of 2013’s “bests” to consider:

• Like me, critic-editor Sarah Weinman takes a couple of shots at identifying her favorite genre novels of the year. For Canada’s National Post newspaper, she catalogues what she thinks were 2013’s top picks in Canadian crime, including works by Owen Laukkanen, A.S.A. Harrison, and Louise Penny. Meanwhile, in her blog, she chooses her 10 favorite mystery and crime novels of the year, regardless of where their authors reside--a rundown that features Alafair Burke’s If You Were Here, Hallie Ephron’s There Was an Old Woman, and Derek B. Miller’s Norwegian by Night (which also figured prominently among my best-of-2013 choices).

• Philadelphia blogger Peter Rozovsky steers clear of the “best” designation by listing “some good books I’ve read so far in 2013”--not all of which were first published during the last twelvemonth, and some of which don’t even fall under the crime-fiction rubric. Included among his choices are J. Robert JanesTapestry, Charlie Stella’s Maifya, and The Hunter and Other Stories, by Dashiell Hammett.

The Boston Globe today announced its “Best 2013 Crime Fiction” list containing 10 titles, some of which are: Rage Against the Dying, by Becky Masterman; Shoot the Woman First, by Wallace Stroby; and A Tap on the Window, by Linwood Barclay.

• Sarah Ward, who blogs at Crimepieces, delivers what she calls “My Top Five Crime Reads of 2013.” Among her favorites: Leif G.W. Persson’s Linda, As in the Linda Murder, Mark Oldfield’s The Sentinel, and Fred Vargas’ The Ghost Riders of Ordebec.

• The Austin, Texas, bookstore MysteryPeople has posted two separate mystery-fiction lists. First up: Its employees’ choices of the “Top 10 Novels of 2013,” among which can be found George Pelecanos’ The Double and Daniel Woodrell’s The Maid’s Version. Then we’re treated to the shop’s “Top 5 Debut Novels of 2013,” a list that includes Todd Robinson’s The Hard Bounce and Anonymous-9’s Hard Bite.

• London-based journalist and author Woody Haut presents his “Best of 2013” list in the Los Angeles Review of Books. The works that made his cut include Ask Not, by Max Allan Collins; Under the Eye of God, by Jerome Charyn; and Others of My Kind, by James Sallis.

• Australian Andrew Nette, who writes fiction as well as the excellent blog Pulp Curry, reviews his last year of reading and comes up with a list of five books he particularly enjoyed, among them two genre classics: The Last Good Kiss, by James Crumley, and Dorothy B. Hughes’ In a Lonely Place.

• Scottish crime-fictionist Tony Black asked some of his fellow wordsmiths to submit their “Best of 2013” choices to his blog, Pulp Pusher. Click here to see what releases Matt Hilton, Dave Zeltserman, Paul D. Brazill, and other found most intriguing.

• Over at the Euro Crime blog, editor Karen Meek suggested that her stable of reviewers reveal their favorite crime-fiction discoveries of the past year, whether they were books, films, or television series. Already she’s heard from Rich Westwood, Norman Price, Amanda Gillies, and Geoff Jones, with more lists still to be posted.

• Among its “Editors’ Picks for 2013: Fiction,” the online Barnes & Noble Review features at least three novels that could be designated crime and mystery fiction: Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, Philip Kerr’s A Man Without Breath, and Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge.

• Pynchon’s latest novel also finds a spot on Gizmodo’s “Best Books of 2013” compilation, though most of the choices are from the non-fiction stacks.

• Rhian Davies (aka CrimeFicReader) split her “Best of 2013” coverage into three posts. Click here to find her favorite non-fiction release, her favorite discovery, and her commendations for best “developing police procedural series.” Click here for Davies’ remarks about authors and tales that took unexpected directions. And see this post to learn which thriller and debut works she most enjoyed.

• British author John Harvey has announced his four favorite novels of 2013, none of which is a crime- or mystery-related work.

• On the other hand, Curtis Evans (Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery) has commenced compiling a rundown of the 20 best classic crime novels he’s reviewed this year in his blog, The Passing Tramp. The first installment appears here; the second is here.

• Oh, there always has to be some contrarian in the bunch. This year it’s the pseudonymous TomCat, who offers up seven of the worst mysteries he read all year. Surprisingly, Ed McBain’s name appears on that list of losers.

• And to finish off this post, let me direct you toward the pseudonymous Puzzle Doctor’s picks of the “top five underappreciated authors” in the mystery/crime field. Mark Billingham and Stuart McBride are included, but you’ll have to click the link to find out which other names earned his respect in 2013.

Have you spotted other lists of what critics claim are the best crime, mystery, and thriller novels of 2013? Then, please, let the rest of us know about them in the Comments section of this post.

UPDATES: In Beneath the Stains of Time, blogger TomCat now presents his list of “the best mysteries read in 2013”--almost all of them older titles, heavy on locked-room mysteries. Author Heath Lowrance has just “two picks for best novels of the year,” both from the crime-fiction shelves. Over at The Poisoned Martini, Brian Abbott ponders whether the mystery novels most frequently checked out from the library at which he works also qualify as 2013’s “best.” Finally, in Confessions of a Mystery Novelist …, Margot Kinberg shares “some great releases from this year in case you missed ’em.”


Sarah said...

Thanks for the link to my blog. Happy New Year to all your readers. Here's to a fruitful reading year in 2014.

TracyK said...

Thanks for this list of "best of" or favorites for the year. I don't read a lot of newer books and this is a good way to keep up.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the link, Happy New Year, and don't underestimate, "Damn, I need something to post today" as a motive for some of those lists, at least for mine. I did have fun thinking back on some of the books I'd read this year.
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
Detectives Beyond Borders