Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Finding Favor

With just three weeks yet to go before we ring in the new year, critics and publications of all sorts are rushing out their “best books of 2020” endorsements. The New York Times’ “Crime Columnist,” Marilyn Stasio, published her 10 choices this last weekend:

The Rabbit Hunter, by Lars Kepler (Knopf)
Shattered Justice, by Susan Furlong (Kensington)
The Evil Men Do, by John McMahon (Putnam)
The Truants, by Kate Weinberg (Putnam)
Perfect Little Children, by Sophie Hannah (Morrow)
Don’t Turn Around, by Jessica Barry (HarperCollins)
Hard Cash Valley, by Brian Panowich (Minotaur)
Please See Us, by Caitlin Mullen (Gallery)
The Forger’s Daughter, by Bradford Morrow (Mysterious Press)
Lady Chevy, by John Woods (Pegasus Crime)

Not many of those works seem to have turned up among selections made by other reviewers this year, and several passed me by entirely. George Easter, the editor of Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine, proclaims himself “underwhelmed by this list.” Yet the fact that Stasio didn’t plump for familiar picks such as S.A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland or Stuart Turton’s The Devil and the Dark Water may simply suggest she has different tastes than others of us. There are no “right” choices for these sorts of opinionated inventories.

* * *

Because I do not subscribe to The Times of London, I am left to rely on Easter’s blog for that newspaper’s rolls of favored 2020 titles. According to him, The Times Crime Novel of the Year is Denise Mina’s The Less Dead (Harvill Secker), while The Sunday Times Crime Novel of the Year is Troubled Blood (Sphere), by “Robert Galbraith,” aka J.K. Rowling. Other crime-novel preferences:

The Mist, by Ragnar Jónasson (Penguin)
Silver, by Chris Hammer (Wildfire)
The Guest List, by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins)
The Aosawa Murders, by Riku Onda (Bitter Lemon Press)
Eight Detectives (aka The Eighth Detective), by Alex Pavesi
(Michael Joseph)
Bobby March Will Live Forever, by Alan Parks (Canongate)
Three-Fifths, by John Vercher (Pushkin Vertigo)
Trace Elements, by Donna Leon (Heinemann)
Three, by D.A. Mishani (Riverrun)
Cry Baby, by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown)
A Song for the Dark Times, by Ian Rankin (Orion)
Darkness for Light, by Emma Viskic (Pushkin Vertigo)
Hi Five, by Joe Ide (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Snow, by John Banville (Faber and Faber)

Simultaneously, The Times chose Three Hours, by Rosamund Lupton (Penguin), as its Thriller of the Year. For that same honor, The Sunday Times selected Squeeze Me, by Carl Hiaasen (Sphere). The papers’ other thriller picks are:

Broken, by Don Winslow (HarperCollins)
City of Ghosts, by Ben Creed (Welbeck)
The Last Trial, by Scott Turow (Mantle)
Play the Red Queen, by Juris Jurjevics (No Exit Press)
House of Correction, by Nicci French (Simon & Schuster)
The Dead Line, by Holly Watt (Raven)
A Double Life, by Charlotte Philby (Borough Press)
The Stranger, by Simon Conway (Hodder & Stoughton)
Code Name Hélène, by Ariel Lawhon (Headline Review)
The Kingdom, by Jo Nesbø (Harvill Secker)
The Searcher, by Tana French (Viking)

* * *

The Open Road-affiliated Web site Murder & Mayhem gives a rousing thumbs-up to 15 works of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction that first appeared over the last 12 months. Included are The Missing American, by Kwei Quartey (Soho Crime); First Cut, by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell (Hanover Square Press); The Law of Lines, by Hye-young Pyun (Arcade); and The Body Double, by Emily Beyda (Doubleday).

* * *

Last but not least, now that The Rap Sheet has concluded the weeklong rollout of its reviewers’ “favorite crime fiction of 2020” lists, let me just provide a handy list of links to all of those:

Stephen Miller
Jim Napier
Ali Karim
Jim Thomson
Kevin Burton Smith
J. Kingston Pierce

No comments: