Friday, December 29, 2006

Crime on My Hands

In the best cases, technology can make things easier. But when something goes wrong, coping with the hurdles technology may present becomes a frustration. January Magazine’s “Best Books of 2006” feature has temporarily fallen victim to high-tech snafus. The plan was to post that feature earlier this week, but computer problems and the unexpected need to replace our old Web site management program have caused a delay in that schedule. Editor Linda L. Richards (bless her techy heart) is overcoming the complications even as I write these words, and with any luck, our mammoth package of mini-reviews should be posted later today, or perhaps early tomorrow sometime.

Meanwhile, I’ll take advantage of this lull to reveal (in alphabetical order) my own top-10 list of crime-fiction picks from the last year. Some of these novels I have written about for the “best of” package, but others are critiqued by my fellow January/Rap Sheet critics:
The Blonde, by Duane Swierczcynski (St. Martin’s Minotaur)
Critique of Criminal Reason, by Michael Gregorio (Faber and Faber UK)
The Hidden Assassins, by Robert Wilson (HarperCollins UK)
The Interpretation of Murder, by Jeb Rubenfeld (Headline Review UK)
The Night Gardener, by George Pelecanos (Little, Brown and Company)
The One from the Other, by Philip Kerr (Marian Wood/G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Pale Blue Eye, by Louis Bayard (HarperCollins)
Red Sky Lament, by Edward Wright (Orion UK)
Winter’s Bone, by Daniel Woodrell (Little, Brown and Company)
The Wrong Kind of Blood, by Declan Hughes (Simon & Schuster)
This wasn’t a terrific year for fiction, in general; but it was a particularly satisfying 12 months of mystery and crime fiction offerings. I had a devil of a time paring my selections down to 10. Had I allowed myself to exceed that limit, I’d also have chosen A Piece of My Heart, by Peter Robinson; Ratcatcher, by James McGee; Holmes on the Range, by Steve Hockensmith; Crippen, by John Boyne; and The Railway Viaduct, by Edward Marston. All of these provided me with great delight, and sometimes overwhelming anticipation, throughout 2006.

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