Friday, November 22, 2019

A Record 10 Years in the Making

What were the highest quality—or most interesting—crime, mystery, and thriller novels published during the last 10 years? As we rush toward the beginning of a new decade, it’s understandable that various publications have already or will soon consider that question. The latest to do so is CrimeReads, which earlier this week published a feature titled “The 10 Best Crime Novels of the Last Decade.”

Setting aside the reality that any such compilation is subjective, and the word “best” in this context makes a promise it cannot hope to keep, the fact is that the top works cited by CrimeReads all have their fans, even if I didn’t read or wasn’t particularly enamored of every one. (I actually found many more to appreciate in the “Notable Selections” section at the bottom of the feature—and was reminded by that list of several books I’d forgotten about over time.) I look forward to other Web sites and blogs assembling their own, undoubtedly dissimilar end-of-decade choices. Between them all, some agreement might (I repeat, might) be found on which crime-fiction yarns readers will still recognize 20, 50, or perhaps 100 years on.

Meanwhile, the CrimeReads piece sent me back to look over which novels I have mentioned as personal favorites during every twelvemonth since 2010.

As you will see by clicking on the year-by-year links below, I started out posting these sorts of picks in January Magazine (to which I have contributed since 1997), but moved from there to Kirkus (which asked for top-10 tallies), and eventually to The Rap Sheet and CrimeReads. Studying the 78 titles here, I find myself smiling at memories of those that once held me in singular thrall, such as Peter May’s The Blackhouse, Antonia Hodgson’s The Devil in the Marshalsea, Derek B. Miller’s Norwegian by Night, and Steven Price’s delightful doorstop, By Gaslight. And I confess to being rather puzzled now by my decisions to not also include such exceptional tales as House of the Hunted, by Mark Mills (2012); Solo, by William Boyd (2013); The Stone Wife, by Peter Lovesey (2014); Invisible City, by Julia Dahl (2014); The Storm Murders, by John Farrow (2015); and the long-overdue Bertha Cool/Donald Lam private-eye novel, The Knife Slipped, by Erle Stanley Gardner (2016). The time or space pressures that forced that cataloguing economy must have frustrated me, indeed.

(see here and here)

The Anniversary Man, by R.J. Ellory
City of Dragons, by Kelli Stanley*
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, by Tom Franklin*
The Death Instinct, by Jed Rubenfeld
Gone ’til November, by Wallace Stroby
Peeler, by Kevin McCarthy*
A Razor Wrapped in Silk, by R.N. Morris

(Works marked with asterisks above were reviewed by others in January Magazine that year. I’d have liked to applaud them, too, but did not in order to avoid duplication.)

City of Secrets, by Kelli Stanley
The Cut, by George Pelecanos
The End of Everything, by Megan Abbott
Field Gray, by Philip Kerr
The House of Silk, by Anthony Horowitz
The Keeper of Lost Causes, by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Stealing Mona Lisa, by Carson Morton
Stolen Lives, by Jassy Mackenzie
White Heat, by M.J. McGrath
A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion, by Ron Hansen

The Blackhouse, by Peter May
Broken Harbor, by Tana French
The Candle Man, by Alex Scarrow
Disappeared, by Anthony Quinn
Dominion, by C.J. Sansom
The Gods of Gotham, by Lyndsay Faye
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, by Stephen L. Carter
The Paris Deadline, by Max Byrd
Prague Fatale, by Philip Kerr
The Yard, by Alex Grecian

A Commonplace Killing, by Siân Busby
The Confessions of Al Capone, by Loren D. Estleman
Dead Man’s Land, by Robert Ryan
Death on Demand, by Paul Thomas
Irregulars, by Kevin McCarthy
Little Green, by Walter Mosley
A Man Without Breath, by Philip Kerr
Norwegian by Night, by Derek B. Miller
Perfect Hatred, by Leighton Gage
Tatiana, by Martin Cruz Smith

After I’m Gone, by Laura Lippman
Children of the Revolution, by Peter Robinson
Darkness, Darkness, by John Harvey
The Devil in the Marshalsea, by Antonia Hodgson
The Lewis Man, by Peter May
An Officer and a Spy, by Robert Harris
Really the Blues, by Joseph Koenig
The Secret Place, by Tana French
Sometimes the Wolf, by Urban Waite
Sweet Sunday, by John Lawton

The Axeman, by Ray Celestin
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
Inspector of the Dead, by David Morrell
A June of Ordinary Murders, by Conor Brady
A Killing in Zion, by Andrew Hunt
The Lady from Zagreb, by Philip Kerr
Little Pretty Things, by Lori Rader-Day
The Mulberry Bush, by Charles McCarry
Quarry’s Choice, by Max Allan Collins
The Whites, by Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt

Beloved Poison, by E.S. Thomson
Better Dead, by Max Allan Collins
By Gaslight, by Steven Price
Charcoal Joe, by Walter Mosley
Darktown, by Thomas Mullen
Heart Attack and Vine, by Phoef Sutton
The Invisible Guardian, by Dolores Redondo
Little Sister, by David Hewson
The Other Side of Silence, by Philip Kerr
Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters
You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott

The Dry, by Jane Harper
The Force, by Don Winslow
If We Were Villains, by M.L. Rio
Lightning Men, by Thomas Mullen
Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz

American by Day, by Derek B. Miller
Greeks Bearing Gifts, by Philip Kerr
The Ruin, by Dervla McTiernan
Gallows Court, by Martin Edwards
Sunburn, by Laura Lippman

(My choices in 2018 were limited to five. But two other works really deserved to be included: A Gentleman’s Murder, by Christopher Huang; and The Second Rider, by Alex Beer.)

I’m currently struggling to narrow down my candidates for “favorite crime novels of 2019,” without which my final assessment of the decade’s top-notch entries to this genre cannot be achieved. Watch for those on this page in early December.

While you wait, contemplate the question: Which crime, mystery, and thriller novels—first released during the last 10 years—do you remember most fondly? Please let us all know your answers in the Comments section at the bottom of this post.

READ MORE:The Crime Fiction Series That Defined the Last
” (CrimeReads).


Lesa said...

Now, I'm going to have to dig up my journals from all those years to check on my favorite crime novels. Before I do that, I wanted to say I agree with you about CrimeReads list. I was more impressed with the Notable Selections than with some of their Top Ten titles.

Robin Agnew said...

This list appeals more to me than the crime reads list - I loved Ordinary Grace by Krueger; The Dry by Harper; Magpie Murders by Horowitz.