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.
Jane Harper uses nature to deepen and further her stories more than almost any writer I can think of. In her first novel, The Dry, the unrelenting heat and drought affecting Australia becomes a part of the story. In this novel, set in Tasmania, an island off the coast of Australia, the story takes place in a tiny seaside resort town, and the ocean and the caves surrounding the town are as much a character as any of the humans populating the book.
This is a story of long held grief, secrets, and family dysfunction. Ready to turn away? Not so fast. Kieran Elliott has brought his partner Mia and his baby daughter Audrey home to help his mother pack. His father has dementia and he’s moving to a home, while his mother is moving to an apartment near him. The house is chaotic and full of boxes, and often all Kieran and Mia want to do it escape.
Reading all kinds of lists about the best crime novels of the past decade, I, of course, being incredibly opinionated, felt I needed to chime in. Looking through this list one of the things that stick out, as far as my favorite reads are concerned, are a very specific sense of time and place. Sometimes place is pre-eminent , sometimes time, sometimes both. These books also contain some of the loveliest writing and most indelible scenes, things that remind me of why I love to read. So in alphabetical order, my favorites of the last decade or so: