Friday, July 17, 2009

It’s a Start, Anyway

I’ve been debating with myself whether to mention the Omnivoracious blog’s list of “The Best Books of the Year So Far.” I am always skeptical of such mid-year assessments, especially when they are delivered by book sales sites, such as Amazon, which produces Omnivoracious. (See Linda L. Richards’ comments on such matters.) Is it really all that valuable for critics to say halfway through a year what books they prefer, when they might well change their minds by the time November or December roll around?

But Amazon’s list did start me thinking about what books I have most enjoyed during the opening six months of 2009. And since The Rap Sheet hasn’t a financial stake in promoting books (other than the negligible revenue generated by links to the Powell’s Books and Amazon Web sites), I needn’t worry that readers might misconstrue my motives. So I have put together my own rundown of favorite 2009 reads--so far. Undoubtedly, other people will want to quibble with my picks, and will want to add their own choices. (Please feel free to do so in the Comments section of this post.) I might even abandon some of my selections by the end of the year, which I consider my prerogative as a conscientious reader.

Putting aside the numerous older works I’ve read this year (in my continuing effort to fill out my education in crime fiction), these are the 2009 books that have already delighted me most:

Crime Fiction
Blood Money, by Tom Bradby (Bantam Press)
Bury Me Deep, by Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)
Darkness Rising, by Frank Tallis (Century)
The Dead of Winter, by Rennie Airth (Macmillan)
The Devil’s Company, by David Liss (Random House)
The Devil’s Garden, by Ace Atkins (Putnam)
Drood, by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown)
Gutted, by Tony Black (Preface)
In the Shadow of Gotham, by Stefanie Pintoff (Minotaur Books)
Spade & Archer, by Joe Gores (Knopf)

General Fiction
The Angel’s Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Doubleday)
Sunnyside, by Glen David Gold (Knopf)
The Women, by T.C. Boyle (Viking)

A Bright and Guilty Place: Murder, Corruption, and L.A.’s Scandalous Coming of Age, by Richard Rayner (Doubleday)
Eiffel’s Tower: And the World’s Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count,
by Jill Jonnes (Viking)
The Love Pirate and the Bandit’s Son: Murder, Sin, and Scandal in the Shadow of Jesse James, by Laura James (Union Square)
Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America, by Adam Cohen (Penguin Press)
Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line, by Martha A. Sandweiss (Penguin Press)

Again, this is not to say that these are the same books I shall choose as my favorites half a year down the road. I still have a spate of interesting works to read from the last few months. However, I am starting to get a good sense of how the volumes I’ve already read balance against one another in terms of quality.

Would anybody else like to name some of their own favorite books published during the first six months of 2009?


Sandra Ruttan said...

Adrian McKinty, FIFTY GRAND.

Cameron Hughes said...

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston