Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Year Over

Well, it took longer than expected, but January Magazine--for which I serve as crime-fiction editor--has finally posted all of its “best books of 2008” lists. It’s a very diverse and often eclectic collection of titles, running the gamut from children’s books and cookbooks, to art and culture titles, and lists of best non-fiction and fiction. The sections I’m most proud of, though, are the two posts in which our crime-fiction critics write about their favorite new reads from the last 12 months. Part I of that crime-fiction section can be found here, while Part II is here.

My own modest contributions are scattered across several categories, but I’ll list them all below:

The Given Day, by Dennis Lehane
The Little Book, by Selden Edwards

American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century, by Howard Blum
The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York, by Matthew Goodman

Crime Fiction
The Black Tower, by Louis Bayard
Dancing for the Hangman, by Martin Edwards
A Quiet Flame, by Philip Kerr

Of course, those meager contributions represent only the books about which I had time to write at length. Other works that I was especially pleased to read in 2008, but had no time to comment on, given the deadline, include (in no particular order):

Crime Fiction
A Pale Horse, by Charles Todd
The Black Dove, by Steve Hockensmith
Fatal Lies, by Frank Tallis
Stratton’s War, by Laura Wilson
A Vengeful Longing, by R.N. Morris
Steel Witches, by Patrick Lennon
Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith
Rapscallion, by James McKee
Murder on the Brighton Express, by Edward Marston
The Dawn Patrol, by Don Winslow
Killing Frost, by R.D. Wingfield
Moriarty, by John Gardner
Second Violin, by John Lawton
Fifty-to-One, by Charles Ardai
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, by John McFetridge
Paying for It, by Tony Black

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, by Jane Mayer
American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White: The Birth of the "It" Girl and the Crime of the Century, by Paula Uruburu

Every December 31, I swear to myself that I’m going to read more in the next year than I did in the previous one. But given what else was on my plate this year, I think my achievements for 2008 have been more than respectable. There are other books, too, that I read but that either weren’t published originally in 2008, or that, in retrospect, I should’ve left unread on the shelves. My only hope for 2009 is that I can be better at weeding out those works that are destined to disappoint. If I just had a functioning crystal ball ...

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