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The year best crime novels 2019 according to Bill Ott of Booklist Online has been announced.
For crime-fiction readers who were beginning to worry that psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators were going to overwhelm the genre, fear not. This year’s instalment of our annual salute to the best crime novels of the year is awash in variety—yes, there are some psychological thrillers, but there are also procedurals, comic caper novels, detective stories, espionage fiction, even a road novel with a dash of romance and a noir chaser. And, of course, mixing genres continues to be the recipe for success. (If you write mysteries, be sure you own a top-of-the-line immersion blender.) In short, the titles appearing here, which were reviewed in Booklist from May 1, 2018, through April 15, 2019, exhibit crime-fiction excellence in every form you can imagine.
Books held in the Waimakariri Libraries collection will be linked to the Catalogue.
Body & Soul by John Harvey. 2018.
“In the final episode of the series, retired Nottingham copper Frank Elder attempts to come to the aid of his estranged daughter. Elder, whose life has been defined by failure to protect his loved ones, struggles to muster his strength for one more attempt to save those who need saving. Harvey writes with great power about the disappointments and tragedies of living, and he always digs deep into the emotional recesses of his characters.”
The Border by Don Winslow. 2019.
“Winslow’s remarkable ability to translate the utter fiasco of our 50-year War on Drugs—the thousands of lives lost in cartel-driven violence, the journalists assassinated, the addicts dead from overdoses—into the most wrenching of human stories, tragedy seemingly without end, gives this third instalment in his epic Cartel trilogy its unparalleled power and marks the book’s publication as a landmark moment in crime fiction.”
The Bouncer by David Gordon. 2018
“Joe Brody is a Dostoevsky-reading bouncer at a strip club in Queens, but he serves as a fixer for his high-school pal, and now Mob higher-up, Gio Caprisi. There’s a lot of fixing to do this time, as Joe sorts out a gang of redneck gun enthusiasts and deals with a pair of rich-kid terrorists. This sublimely quirky book will have devotees of comic caper novels comparing Gordon to Thomas Perry.”
The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem. 2018.
“Lethem’s first crime novel since Motherless Brooklyn in 1999 is a funny but rage-fuelled stunner about a New Yorker tracking her mentor’s missing daughter to the Mojave Desert, where the members of an off-the-grid community have left the centre for the margins after seeing their own country grow alien. An unrelentingly paced tale where the protagonists’ developing relationships are just as interesting as the puzzle they’re trying to solve.”
Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott. 2018.
“Kit Owens and Diane Fleming, both research scientists working in the same lab, share a secret from high school in Abbott’s latest deep dive into a world of intense competition, finding life-or-death stakes where we wouldn’t have known to look for them. A brilliant riff on hard science, human nature, and the ultimate unknowability of the human brain.”
The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran. 2018.
“Gran’s unique mysteries are an irresistible blend of quirky philosophical quests, gritty fight scenes, and painful truths. Here Claire DeWitt finds herself on a rage-fueled hunt for the mysterious white man who attacked her and who could be connected to the childhood disappearance of Claire’s friend Tracy.”
November Road by Lou Berney. 2018.
“Frank Guidry knows too much about the JFK assassination, and the New Orleans Mob wants him dead. On the run, he heads west, picking up a woman and her two children along the way. In this mix of road novel and romance (with a noir chaser), Berney bends his notes exquisitely, playing with the melody, building his marvelously rich characters while making us commit to the love story, even though we can’t miss the melancholy refrain.”
Red, White, Blue by Lea Carpenter. 2018.
“This stunning, exquisitely subtle espionage tale about a young woman whose father was a spy is to fiction what pointillism is to painting, connecting its narrative dots to make a whole picture, one that merges a moving love story with details of a profession that, by its nature, involves both loyalty and duplicity.”
Transcription by Kate Atkinson. 2018.
“Atkinson again jumps between different periods in the mid-twentieth century to tell the story of a singular Englishwoman—an MI5 functionary during WWII, a BBC producer later—trapped in the vice of history. This is a wonderful novel about making choices, failing to make them, and living, with some degree of grace, the lives our choices determine for us.”
Unto Us a Son Is Given by Donna Leon. 2019
“Leon transforms what might have been a straightforward mystery into something much richer and more resonant—in this case, a meditation on love, loss, family, and prejudice. An 85-year-old gay man’s desire to adopt a much younger man as his son leads to murder, prompting police commissario Guido Brunetti to ponder how preconceived notions about gender and sexuality can erode even the seemingly strongest of relationships.”
Book descriptions and Booklist provided from Booklist Online.