Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Exercising Judgments

Keeping track of every list purporting to name “the best crime fiction of 2021” is impossible. The most we can do is hit the highlights, and try to bring you a respectable range of choices from publications and Web sites that have demonstrated their value over the years.

We’ll begin here with MBTB’s Mystery Book Blog. Although the fine bookstore with which it was originally associated, Portland, Oregon’s Murder by the Book, shut its doors back in the spring of 2013, this blog continues to supply informed and thoughtful commentary on the crime-fiction genre. Former co-owner of the store Barbara Tom recently posted a roll of eight books—all but one of which can be easily categorized as a mystery or thriller—that she says were her particular favorites of those published during last 11 months:

In the Company of Killers, by Bryan Christy (Putnam)
The Windsor Knot, by S. J. Bennett (Morrow)
Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir (Ballantine)
The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz (Celadon)
Smoke, by Joe Ide (Mulholland)
Exit, by Belinda Bauer (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Bryant & May: Oranges and Lemons, by Christopher Fowler (Bantam)
Pickard County Atlas, by Chris Harding Thornton (Bantam)

READ MORE:MBTB’s Favorite Books Through the Years.”

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The renowned New York Public Library reportedly claims an almost century-long tradition of its librarians making their preferences of new books known annually. This year’s picks cover an extensive cross-section of fiction and non-fiction works for adults, teens, and children, together with comics and poetry. The following 15 titles made its Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense register:

All Her Little Secrets, by Wanda M. Morris (Morrow)
Bullet Train, by Kotaro Isaka (Harry N. Abrams)
The Burning Girls, by C.J. Tudor (Ballantine)
Clark and Division, by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Crime)
The Echo Wife, by Sarah Gailey (Tor)
56 Days, by Catherine Ryan Howard (Blackstone)
Finlay Donovan Is Killing It, by Elle Cosimano (Minotaur)
Hostage, by Clare Mackintosh (Sourcebooks Landmark)
The Jigsaw Man, by Nadine Matheson (Hanover Square Press)
Mirrorland, by Carole Johnstone (Scribner)
Never Saw Me Coming, by Vera Kurian (Park Row)
Northern Spy, by Flynn Berry (Viking)
Razorblade Tears, by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron)
Rock, Paper, Scissors, by Alice Feeney (Flatiron)
Ruby Red Herring, by Tracy Gardner (Crooked Lane)

(Hat tip to Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine.)

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Sticking with librarian recommendations, we turn finally to the Seattle area’s King County Library System, which has just posted its own “best books of 2021” selections. The KCLS offers no separate crime and mystery rundown, but three of its 25 “best fiction” nominees certainly belong in that category: While Justice Sleeps, by Stacey Abrams (Doubleday); The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz (Celadon); and Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday).

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