~Post by MysteryPeople Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
We’re halfway through 2011, and it’s already been a strong year for crime fiction. Since I know other great books are coming out soon by some of my favorite authors and new unknowns come out with something every season that always blows me away, I thought it would be a good idea to list some of the best books out so far, so they don’t get lost in an end of the year list.
Note that there are some books I haven’t had time to read yet, like Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt And The City Of The Dead, and two from CJ Box, one of my favorites, (Cold Wind and Back Of Beyond), as well as Thick As Thieves, a heist book by Peter Spiegelman, who’s first five chapters have already drawn me in. Here’s what I HAVE read and highly recommend:
1. The End Of Everything by Megan Abbott– I’m one of many readers raving about this pitch perfect book that looks into the dark side of adolescence and emotion. Just try to shake this one.
2. Hell Is Empty by Craig Johnson– Craig uses his trademark humor, characterization, and strong action sequences as Sheriff Walt Longmire tracks down a group of ruthless killers in The Big Horn Mountains with only a homeless Crow Indian and a copy of Dante’s Inferno as his guide. An entertaining adventure that looks at the broken spirituality in men.
3. Cold Shot To The Heart by Wallace Stroby – Stroby continues his brand of hard boiled pathos to deliver a heist book with true human emotion.
4. The Adjustment by Scott Phillips – A sometimes filthy and always funny look at the underbelly of the Midwest and The Greatest Generation. Phillips is an author that may go to Hell for our own personal entertainment.
5. The Ranger by Ace Atkins – A wonderful mix of redneck pulp and subtle politics with an Afghan war vet cleaning up his Mississippi town. Great action and dialogue. Atkins puts you in his world like no other.
6. The Complaints by Ian Rankin– This is a moody start to Rankin’s new series character Charlie Fox, a Scottish internal affairs investigator, with a lot of baggage. The story is rich in character and its look at the perception of character.
7. The Rock Hole by Reavis Wortham – Wortham puts you in the summer of ’64 in Texas with a small town constable teaming up with a black deputy to find a killer in their midst. Told from a child’s point of view, this book has echoes of To Kill A Mockingbird as it views race and the the nature of evil from a unique perpespective.
8. Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski – A wild ride through LA life with a messed up actress, a group of assassins that make murders look like accidents, and an ex-cop they all run into. For pure fun, it’s hard to beat.
9. Black Orchid Blues by Persia Walker – Walker uses the backdrop of the Harlem Renaissance and the kidnapping of a blues singer to explore class within race as well as giving us some great gunfights.
10. One True Sentence by Craig McDonald – Craig McDonald takes his Navy Colt-packing Texas crime author, Hector Lassiter, and looks at his days in Paris with The Lost Generation, when he and Hemingway had to find out who was murdering the city’s editors. Entertaining and poignant, McDonald paints a colorful portrait of artists as young men and women.
There were other books that I could have just as easily included, like Janice Hamrick’s fun chick lit mystery Death On Tour, the super cool thriller Adrenaline by Jeff Abbott, or Brad Parks’ Faces Of The Gone. If was tough to pick. I’m already trying to figure out how to cheat on the end-of-the-year list.