Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best of 2011

I met my challenge of reading 50 books again this year, and for those interested wanted to take a second to list my top ten favorite reads of 2011.

Embassytown by China Mieville

The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbo

Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

Robbie's Wife by Russell Hill

The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer

The Painter of Battles by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Nobody's Angel by Jack Clark

Up in the Air by Walter Kirn

Nineteen Seventy-Four by David Peace
Bossypants by Tina Fey

And five honorable mentions:

Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt

Our Kind of Traitor by John LeCarre

This list is fairly heavy on crime, mystery, and thriller, and I admit to feeling a bit of ennui when making this out.  I'm getting an itching in my mind to read a little better, or at least smarter, for a while.  We shall see how it goes, but based on what I bought with my Amazon gift cards, I am going to try.

I have also now mastered this challenge for, unbelievably, four years in a row.  Here are my lists of favorite reads from 2010, 2009,  and the first go-round in 2008.  To maybe spice it up in 2012, I will be taking suggestions from readers.  Let me know what you think is good and I will try to mix a few new ideas.

Cracking IQ 84 by Haruki Murakami tonight!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

#50: The Drop by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch works two crimes at once in Michael Connelly's The Drop; first, a cold case about the long-ago murder of a young woman and second, a politically-charged case featuring the death of the son of one of Bosch's old foes.

The Drop refers to the possible murder or suicide of the young man, who went out the window of a hotel; but it also refers to a slang term about Bosch, Connelly's world-weary and only slightly tarnished L.A. cop, nearing retirement.

I was glad I reached my 50th book of the year with one of my favorite authors and his latest novel.  After a bit of a lull, I think Connelly's books have been consistently strong over the last few years.  He is a former reporter, evident in his clipped prose and hard-nosed style, which I enjoy. 

I think the Harry Bosch novels will stand as one of the great contemporary mystery series when Michael Connelly finally closes the last chapter.  Recommended for mystery fans.

I borrowed this from the Farmland Public Library in Farmland, Indiana, and consumed it quickly.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

#49: Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver

James Bond is back in action against a recycling magnate with a death fetish in Jeffrey Deaver's low-stakes initial outing with 007, Carte Blanche.

Despite some globe-trotting through Eastern Europe, England, and South Africa, overall this is a bit of a banal spy story, whether the name of James Bond is attached or not.  And yet it is hard to identify this retooled Bond, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who still likes fast cars but has more politely contemporary views on drinking and women.  The main character really could have been any protagonist of this type of story.

Although I have enjoyed Deaver's crime fiction from time to time, I was a bit put out by a mechanic in this story that kept cheating the reader by holding back key plot elements until later reveals, almost as one might see in a screenplay.  That being said, if Deaver does another Bond novel I will probably check it out to see where he goes with it next.

It might be unfair to critique Deaver's take on Bond so quickly on the heels of Sebastian Faulks' superior Bond novel Devil May Care, which fits directly into Fleming's original series where he left off in the 60s.  I would have loved to see Faulks do another one that fit directly into the canon.

I started reading this borrowed from the Morrison-Reeves Public Library, put it down, then picked it up on audio book and finished it on a long drive back and forth to Chicago.  Recommended for Bond completists.