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.
It’s amazing to me that Linda Castillo can work within such a tight construct and still, every time, produce an original and thoughtful book. Her set up: Chief of Police Kate Burkholder, who has grown up Amish, is the insider/outsider head of law enforcement in tiny, Amish centric Painter’s Mill, Ohio. She has connections with the Amish but they don’t fully trust her as she’s left the faith, but she still has insider knowledge of the culture that help her to solve the crimes that occur in her community.