Tuesday, December 07, 2021

And the Hits Just Keep on Coming

New York Times critic Sarah Lyall posted her top-10 list of 2021 thrillers yesterday. This morning brings us (at least online) Times crime-fiction columnist Sarah Weinman’s “Best Mystery Novels of 2021” offerings. Her 11 new novels are:

Dead Dead Girls, by Nekesa Afia (Berkley)
Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews (Little, Brown)
Razorblade Tears, by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron)
U Up? by Catie DiSabato (Melville House)
Five Decembers, by James Kestrel
(Hard Case Crime)
Clark and Division, by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Crime)
How to Find Your Way in the Dark, by Derek B. Miller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Velvet Was the Night, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)
The Man Who Died Twice, by Richard Osman (Pamela Dorman/Viking)
The Comfort of Monsters, by Willa C. Richards (Harper)
Murder Under Her Skin, by Stephen Spotswood (Doubleday)

In the latest edition of her e-mail newsletter, The Crime Lady, Weinman explains that “I wanted this favorite books piece to be a guide, in some way, to my past year in reading as well as what I’m planning for the column in 2022 and beyond. I’m always eager to see series mysteries of every stripe and subgenre, and reissues are absolutely my jam. Psychological suspense will mostly be given space elsewhere (though I’ll be reading many of them anyway, I suspect.) And if a book is eligible for the Best Critical/Biographical Edgar award category, I am very interested as well.”

* * *

British author-critic Natasha Cooper presents her eight “crime novels of the year” selections on the Literary Review Web site:

Phosphate Rocks, by Fiona Erskine (Sandstone Press)
Edge of the Grave, by Robbie Morrison (Macmillan)
Bullet Train, by Kotaro Isaka (Harvill Secker)
The Waiter, by Ajay Chowdhury (Harvill Secker)
The Hunt and the Kill, by Holly Watt (Raven)
Black Drop, by Leonora Nattrass (Viper)
The Russian Doll, by Marina Palmer (Hodder & Stoughton)
The First Day of Spring, by Nancy Tucker (Hutchinson)

Goodness, I think this is the first such roll I have seen that includes no books I read during these last 12 months. However, Black Drop was already on my Christmas wishlist.

(Hat tip to Fraser Massey.)

* * *

Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine has issued 11 lists of crime, mystery, and thriller favorites from this last year, from that same number of its regular critics. I shan’t post all of them here (and will allow leave Ali Karim to make extended comments in The Rap Sheet next week), but below are two collections of particular note. Let’s start off with UK novelist and Shots columnist Mike Ripley’s picks.

Best Crime Fiction:
Razorblade Tears, by S.A. Cosby (Headline)
Girl A, by Abigail Dean (HarperCollins)
Garden of Angels, by David Hewson
(Severn House)
The April Dead, by Alan Parks (Canongate)
The Trawlerman, by William Shaw (Riverrun)
The Dark Remains, by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin (Canongate)
The Killing Hills, by Chris Offutt (No Exit Press)
Turf Wars, by Olivier Norek (MacLehose Press)

Best Thrillers:
Triple Cross, by Tom Bradby (Bantam Press)
How to Betray Your Country, by James Wolff (Bitter Lemon Press)
The Mercenary, by Paul Vidich (No Exit Press)
The Cover Wife, by Dan Fesperman (Head of Zeus)
Red Traitor, by Owen Matthews (Bantam Press)
Judas 62, by Charles Cumming (HarperCollins)

Best Re-issue of the Year:
The Passenger, by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz (Pushkin Press)

To a somewhat lesser extent than Ripley’s list, the following one—from DP editor George Easter—contains a number of the same books I enjoyed over the course of this year.

Best Novel:
Five Decembers, by James Kestrel (Hard Case Crime)
Razorblade Tears, by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron)
Billy Summers, by Stephen King (Scribner)
We Begin at the End, by Chris Whitaker (Henry Holt)
The Dark Hours, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
Dead Ground, by M.W. Craven (Constable)
The Trawlerman, by William Shaw (Riverrun)
The Housemate, by Sarah Bailey (Allen & Unwin)

Best First Novel:
Steel Fear, by Brandon Webb and John David Mann (Bantam)
Suburban Dicks, by Fabian Nicieza (Putnam)
Falling, by T.J. Newman (Avid Reader Press)

Best Paperback Original:
The Hunted, by Gabriel Bergmoser (HarperCollins)
Black Coral, by Andrew Mayne (Thomas & Mercer)
The Good Turn, by Dervla McTiernan (Blackstone)
How to Kidnap the Rich, by Rahul Raina (Harper Perennial)
Bound, by Vanda Symon (Orenda)

Best Thriller:
Slough House, by Mick Herron (Soho Crime)
Dead by Dawn, by Paul Doiron (St. Martin’s Press)
The Island, by Ben Coes (St. Martin’s Press)
Savage Road, by Chris Hauty (Simon & Schuster)
Island Reich, by Jack Grimwood (Michael Joseph)

Finally, Deadly Pleasures has posted the 2021 crime-fiction selections from two other publications, Esquire and Time magazines.

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