There are two authors whose work is so consistently excellent I don’t add them to my best of lists anymore, but I can tell you that William Kent Krueger’s prequel to his Cork O’Connor series, Lightning Strike, is beautifully written, felt and told; and Louise Penny’s The Madness of Crowds, a sly look at devotees of a flawed charismatic leader, is a beautiful read. Both writers have a quality of heart and spirit that give their books an extra something, and their main characters, Cork O’Connor and Armand Gamache, are beloved by readers. Soon to join these two are Elly Griffiths and Ann Cleeves, both of whom turned in stellar reads this year (see below). I invite readers to cast their reading nets a bit wider and consider some of these other fine titles. These are all books that stayed with me and left me thinking after I finished them.
This stand alone from Jane Casey is whip smart and terrifying. I am a big fan of her Maeve Kerrigan series, with its combination of character, complex plotting and nuanced look at police work. In this standalone, the central character is not a policewoman but a barrister, youngish Ingrid Lewis, happily involved with Mark.
As Ingrid goes through her court routine in the opening scene, which sets up not only the legal surround but some of the relationships and events that carry through the book, she lends a colleague her umbrella. As she’s hurrying out later to another case, she sees that the umbrella borrower has been a victim of a hit and run. As she is interviewed by a police officer about her colleague, she mentions a stalker from her past. She’s afraid the man saw her umbrella and pushed the wrong woman under a bus.