Thursday, October 21, 2021

Barnes & Noble Plays It Safe

I must agree with Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine editor George Easter, who contends that book retailer Barnes & Noble’s picks for “The Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2021” are less than representative of the many fine works released this year. Its choices:

Silverview, by John le Carré (Viking)
The Madness of Crowds, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
The Man Who Died Twice, by Richard Osman (Pamela Dorman)
False Witness, by Karin Slaughter (Morrow)
While Justice Sleeps, by Stacey Abrams (Doubleday)
The Heron’s Cry, by Ann Cleeves (Minotaur)
Mrs. March, by Virginia Feito (Liveright)
The Guilt Trip, by Sandie Jones (Minotaur)
The Maidens, by Alex Michaelides (Celadon)
Clark and Division, by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Crime)

I haven’t read every one of those novels, but have enjoyed several, with another among them set to benefit from my undivided attention before the end of this month. I’m sure they all have individual merits, though only a single title here is so far in serious contention for my own list of 2021 crime-fiction favorites. But the disappointment is that none of Barnes & Noble’s top 10 are remotely surprising; indeed, almost all of them received heavy publisher promotions.

I guess I shouldn’t expect anything different from a chain operation, since its goal is, first and foremost, to make money. However, wouldn’t there be value in challenging readers to explore lesser-known yarns, rather than simply validating their narrow experience of the genre? Couldn’t that boost annual sales overall?

Yeah, yeah, call me an idealist.

READ MORE:Barnes & Noble’s Top Books of 2021,” by Jamie
Canaves (Book Riot).

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