I had a really, really hard time keeping this to 10 books – hence my lengthy honorable mention list this year. This is the first year this list is all women! That was my goal when I closed the store – to cover new series and books by women and it looks like that’s what’s happening organically. These are the books that stuck with me all year, books that when I read them, I was entranced and transported. They appeared in different ways. Mariah Fredericks pressed an early advance copy of The Lindbergh Nanny into my eager hands at Malice Domestic last spring – it was a book I was very excited to read and I was not disappointed. I saw the cover of Blackwater Falls and it called to me – again, I was not disappointed. I was interested to see Deanna Raybourn doing something so different – again, no disappointment. It’s such a fun journey of discovery. Some on this list are veterans turning in great books, some are new series or standalones – all have that great, memorable sparkle. What a wonderful year to be a reader. I did include one reference book this year, one so exceptional it would be criminal not to give it a shout out.
Lately I’ve felt few hardcovers are actually worth owning, but there are always exceptions. I’m sure many of us have our collections – all of Agatha Christie or Michael Connelly or Sue Grafton, for example – but Martin Edwards’ new reference book, The Life of Crime, is the exception to the rule. First of all, it’s beautiful. The paper is smooth and creamy; the jacket is simple and elegant; and the endpapers – a collection of classic crime covers – are to die for. But while the cover draws you in, it’s what’s between them that’s the point.