Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Second Chance at First Choices

When I asked Rap Sheet contributors to submit their “favorite crime fiction of 2017” lists, I limited them to five choices. I’ve done the same thing every year since 2014, when I moved this selection process from January Magazine to The Rap Sheet. However, I’d also been in the habit, during my long stretch as a blogger for Kirkus Reviews (which ended last January), of annually naming a rather more generous 10 favorites from the genre. Barry Forshaw allowed me that same higher count when he invited me to participate in Crime Time’s critics’ choice feature of 2017 releases. But when it came to cutting the roster in half for The Rap Sheet … well, it caused me considerable angst and regret. I think this was an outstanding year for crime, mystery, and thriller fiction, and I was sorry not to be drawing attention to more excellent offerings.

Then something unexpected, and quite fortunate, happened. Months after they’d issued their “Top 12 Mystery Novels of 2017” rundown, editors of The Strand Magazine—seemingly having their own second thoughts on the culling process—posted a longer list of 25 nominations. Suddenly, there was a precedent for expanding on my original preferences. So below, you will find my new, 25-strong register of favorite crime novels published since the beginning of this year. The first five titles are those I already mentioned in The Rap Sheet. The remaining 20, logged alphabetically, also left me a delighted reader. (I have provided Amazon links in order that you can find out more about any books here with which you are not yet familiar.)

The Dry, by Jane Harper (Flatiron)
The Force, by Don Winslow (Morrow)
If We Were Villains, by M.L. Rio (Flatiron)
Lightning Men, by Thomas Mullen (Atria/37 INK)
Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz (Harper)

The Ashes of London, by Andrew Taylor (HarperCollins)
Arrowood, by Mick Finlay (Mira)
August Snow, by Stephen Mack Jones (Soho Crime)
The Birdwatcher, by William Shaw (Mulholland)
Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke (Mulholland)
Dark Asylum, by E.S. Thomson (Pegasus)
Dead Man’s Blues, by Ray Celestin (Pegasus)
Double Wide, by Leo W. Banks (Brash)
The Irregular, by H.B. Lyle (Quercus)
A Legacy of Spies, by John le Carré (Viking)
The Man in the Crooked Hat, by Harry Dolan (Putnam)
Murder in the Manuscript Room, by Con Lehane (Minotaur)
A Negro and an Ofay, by Danny Gardner (Down & Out)
The Pictures, by Guy Bolton (Oneworld)
Prussian Blue, by Philip Kerr (Marian Wood Books/Putnam)
A Rising Man, by Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus)
The Shadow District, by Arnaldur Indridason (Minotaur)
She Rides Shotgun, by Jordan Harper (Ecco)
Sleep Baby Sleep, by David Hewson (Macmillan)
Wonder Valley, by Ivy Pochoda (Ecco)

* * *

As the curtain goes down on 2017, there are also a number of other blogs and Web publications reviewing their recent book consumption. The “social cataloguing” site Goodreads has posted the results of its readers’ choice awards for mystery and thriller fiction, with Paula Hawkins’ Into the Water—the follow-up to her mega-seller, The Girl on the Train—taking top honors. Meanwhile, Euro Crime’s Karen Meek identifies her “favorite British/European/translated reads of 2017”; Crime Fiction Lover co-founder Garrick Webster names his own top-five books of 2017, including Andrew Martin’s Soot and Jonathan Lyon’s Carnivore; Shots’ Ayo Onatade recommends a dozen yarns; Jen Forbus mentions five crime novels in her account of special 2017 works; Spanish blogger José Ignacio Escribano serves up a baker’s dozen of tasty narratives, some of them older; and librarian-reviewer Lesa Holstine makes 11 picks, almost all of them crime fiction yarns. In a different vein, Criminal Element chooses what it says are “The 12 Best Cozy Mystery Title Puns of 2017.”

1 comment:

Marvin Minkler said...

Personal favorite from the master of noir, and who proves it once again with The Ghosts of Galway.