ON HOLIDAYS, NEWSPAPERS, 07’S BEST OF AND THE YEAR TO COME

hi all from the Crimespree desk. I’ve taken over the ‘puter tonight and I’m “working” so naturally I have an urge to blog. I think it must be those recessive writer genes.

Happy Holidays!!

I’ll let Jon give you the blow by blow on all things Christmas but guys? Five days to go and all gifts but 2 are purchased and wrapped, decorating, baking, candy making and dipping scratched off except for Jon’s chocolate covered potato chips. We’re going into true holiday mode. Company is coming and going, we’re to-ing and fro-ing and all is well in our own little corner of mystery. As I hope it is in yours.

Newspapers……

This next bit is fairly close to what is known as B.S.P. but really it’s meant as an observation from the sidelines. I got a call from Jen4 last Saturday, my name was in a book review. I was declared “notable” in the Chicago Tribune. I have to say the warm fuzzies are staying with me (and for those of you who know Jon, yes he bought up every print copy left on the newsstand and no, I don’t scrapbook). EXPLETIVE DELETED was an ambitious project edited by my very own JEN4 and she included a story I wrote, took one look at, and knew had no publishing possibilities. That’s my own personal F@#K. I thought she was pretty darned kind to include it and worried over calls of the “N”(epotism) word. For that alone, “notable” was cool. But to see my name mentioned with the other contributors? Mind blowing. And now I know a little of the feeling writers must feel when mentioned and/or compared with others. And it’s way cool. Especially in a year where any mail I’ve gotten on things jotted down (print or net) have been on obituaries. Is this my forte? I guess we’ll all find out together.

I see best of lists beginning to appear on the internet and I confess, I’m a peeker. So I’m not sure where I’ll end up and thought I’d mention just a few books that inspired before I’m tainted by others opinions.

Ruth’s OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD…..

I can’t mention Laura Lippman who continues to be even better with every book but whom about I cannot be objective anymore. Read everything. Enjoy it all. Watch her growth. So…

First , that dreaded last week of Dec. release date made a truly great Crime Fiction book go not unheralded, but strangely unremembered last year and out of real competition this year. FIND ME by Carol O’Connell is a wonderful book. I’ve been mostly hot on the Mallory character since her inception but FIND ME brought us back to the sociopath Mallory is and took us all on a roadtrip that won’t be forgotten soon.

The long delayed American release of the GRAVE TATTOO by Val McDermid took a bit of wind out of all the hype but all the hype was well deserved and 2007 was when it came out. Outside of her Jordan/Hill series this is a book that takes place in several different locations, in several different timelines, with several different P.O.V. And yet GRAVE is an effortless read. Not many could do this but it is unsurprising that McDermid can. She is an unstoppable force.

March saw a fellow Scotsman’s book come out stateside as well. It was on my list last year and will remain on the list forever. THE NAMING OF THE DEAD by Ian Rankin is a must read in any year. EXIT MUSIC (U.K. 2007) is a great note for Rebus to go out on but every note is in play while reading NAMING.

THE WATCHMAN. Robert Crais has married his highly successful thrillers with the Elvis and Joe we all fell in love with. Combining all of his skills, this may be my favorite Crais read of all time. I suspect he’ll make me eat these words at some future point in time.

In the names I cannot understand missing files I’ll include:
Colin Cotterill(ANARCHY & OLD DOGS), Greg Rucka (PATRIOT ACTS), Michael Koryta (A WELCOME GRAVE),Mike Harrison (RUBY TUESDAY) & Vicki Hendricks(CRUEL POETRY).

THE “WOO” has legs, versatility, and depth file:

Could two books be more unalike then John Connolly’s THE UNQUIET and Charlaine Harris’s ALL TOGETHER DEAD? Not Really. Connolly’s thoughtfully drawn out story of decades of secrets and Harris’s seemingly “lite” story of a gal on an adventure may both get the woo label but THE UNQUIET is so literary in themes it cries for the author to be the next Jonathan Lethem inductee into the hallowed halls of literature that appeals to the masses and the other? Harris proves it is possible to laugh your way through a well crafted mystery until it is time to cry. Two very credible scribes writing beyond labels in very different ways.

Denis Mina’s Paddy series ( THE LAST BREATH) is still my favorite series of this decade. Several months after reading Greg Hurwitz’s THE CRIMEWRITER I can still quote passages. Declan Hughes(THE COLOR OF BLOOD) is huge in this house. Likewise fellow Irishman Ken Bruen. PRIEST is a book to break the heart. Bruen is a writer who makes that okay.

In the new kids category…. coming in early and giving “Killer Year” credibility are Sean Chercover (BIG CITY, BAD BLOOD) and Marcus Sakey (THE BLADE ITSELF). The joy of reading WHEN ONE MAN DIES by Dave White, a truly outstanding first mystery, after pub date was a highlight of my reading year. From Bleak House, two stood tall this year. Craig MacDonald’s HEAD GAMES & Bill Bryant’s KEEP IT REEL. Neither are new writers, but they are new to print and both delivered the goods. The folks at Bleak House continue to find talent. My other fav first has to be LAST RITUALS by Yrsa Siurardottir, although a translation it is my first experience with the author and I say it counts. (I didn’t read the Hart book yet).

Short Stories:

Three stand tallest for me (well four really but see the second part of this long winded blog) Hellman’s CHICAGO BLUES, Penzler’s THE BIG BOOK OF PULPS and Akashic’s WALL STREET NOIR.

Non-Fiction
okay, so the book about the serial killer guy who worked in L.A. and his home town that everyone is talking about? I threw it across the room when the author started to get clever, moving back and forth between timelines and adding too many point of view. It is a fascinating tale, but it did not sing out in execution the way two others did for me. First up is THE DAUGHTERS OF JUAREZ. The horror of it is awe inspiring. The culpability we all share when we buy a car or baby powder is horrific. Theresa Rodriguez deserves a lot of recognition for telling a story no one wants to hear. And my second selection? Published in 2006 (okay I was late finding it) THE PHILOSOPHY OF NEO NOIR is a must read for all who’ve ever taken part in the debate “what is noir?”. And for giggles, from the same press (University of Kentucky Press), I recommend THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE X-FILES (and yes the “N” (epotism) word applies here.

And with that I’ll leave you all with the words you can never go wrong with Bill James…

Ruth