Monday, November 30, 2020

Picking and Nitpicking Ahead

Of all the screwed-up years, 2020 definitely ranks among the screwed-upest. International tensions, health-care inequities, and uncertain economic markets have all been made worse by a pandemic that’s not only killed 1.5 million people worldwide—including more than 266,000 Americans—but has also brought about school closures, shuttered myriad small businesses, curtailed most travel, heightened unemployment, and restricted social gatherings in the extreme. Meanwhile, Britain rushes toward an exit from the European Union for which it is not wholly prepared; a persistently whiny Donald Trump continues to tell his followers that he actually won the November U.S. presidential election—facts be damned!; and violence in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and elsewhere fills newspaper headlines.

Whole books are likely to be written about the privations we have all witnessed during these last dozen months. How history ultimately views our actions—and inactions—will likely remain a mystery to many of us, but those judgments aren’t likely to be kind.

Fortunately, 2020 has not been wholly disastrous. Those of us who haven’t been completely consumed by concern for our basic necessities (food, shelter, and the like) have found time amid the rolling lockdowns, much-heralded TV series debuts, and Twitter screeds to appreciate an abundance of excellent books published this year—some of which actually came out on time, others being delayed by COVID-19’s spread. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and other newspapers have weighed in on their favorite new releases of 2020. I’ve tried to keep track on this page of crime-fiction picks named by assorted sources, with more surely to come.

And today brings a start to The Rap Sheet’s annual roll-out of our critics’ favorite selections from among the crime, mystery, and thriller works originally published since last New Year’s Day. Early this afternoon, you will find here the first of a planned six posts, each of those composed by a different contributor to the blog, and each containing an idiosyncratic inventory of preferred reading choices. There will be 55 book recommendations in all, with minimal duplications—presented just in time to help you choose presents for other crime-fiction readers on your holiday buying list.

Please stay tuned.

No comments: