Happy New Year, everyone! It’s a new day in a brand-new year, but before we move on, let me note that January Magazine just completed posting its Best Books of 2009 lists last night in advance of the fireworks going off and the champagne corks popping.
I had the privilege of editing January’s Best Crime Novels of 2009 compilation, as I have done with the magazine’s annual crime-connected picks for the last decade. And I’ll tell you, it’s often a surprise to see what the various reviewers will determine to be their favorites. Occasionally, I’m able to guess what they’re going to choose, based on those works they have touted over the preceding months. But more often than not, there will be a few selections winging in from far left field, novels that may have been overlooked before, and that help to enliven the feature as a whole.
And in the end, all of us who contribute must leave out books we’d like to have mentioned appreciatively, but that exceed our traditional limit of five or six choices (a restriction that exists only to save the other editors and me from sleepless nights of putting this whole package together). With the finishing touches now made, though, let me offer my expanded list of the books, published in 2009, that I found most intriguing, both within and outside the crime-fiction category. These titles are listed alphabetically, not in order of my preferences.
• Bleeding Heart Square, by Andrew Taylor (Hyperion)
• Blood Money, by Tom Bradby (Bantam Press UK)
• Bury Me Deep, by Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)
• If the Dead Rise Not, by Philip Kerr (Quercus UK)
• The Dead of Winter, by Rennie Airth (Macmillan)
• The Devil’s Garden, by Ace Atkins (Putnam)
• Drood, by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown)
• Gutted, by Tony Black (Preface UK)
• The Ignorance of Blood, by Robert Wilson (Houghton
• In the Shadow of Gotham, by Stefanie Pintoff (Minotaur)
• Quarry in the Middle, by Max Allan Collins (Hard Case Crime)
• Shadow and Light, by Jonathan Rabb (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
• Spade & Archer, by Joe Gores (Knopf)
• Village of the Ghost Bears, by Stan Jones (Soho)
• A Visible Darkness, by Michael Gregorio (Minotaur)
• The Angel’s Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Doubleday)
• Homer & Langley, by E.L. Doctorow (Random House)
• Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann (Random House)
• That Old Cape Magic, by Richard Russo (Knopf)
• Sunnyside, by Glen David Gold (Knopf)
• The Women, by T.C. Boyle (Viking)
• The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, by Timothy Egan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
• A Bright and Guilty Place: Murder, Corruption, and L.A.’s Scandalous Coming of Age, by Richard Rayner (Doubleday)
• Eiffel’s Tower: And the World’s Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count, by Jill Jonnes (Viking)
• Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)
• L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City, by John Buntin (Harmony)
• The Love Pirate and the Bandit’s Son: Murder, Sin, and Scandal in the Shadow of Jesse James, by Laura James (Union Square)
• Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America, by Adam Cohen (Penguin Press)
• Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line, by Martha A. Sandweiss (Penguin Press)
So, with all of that said and posted, we move on to a new year. I hope 2010 will bring Limbo’s loyal readers considerable happiness, hope, and prosperity--as well as lots of free time for reading, of course.