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The Perfect Read???

I just finished VERMILION RIFT, the upcoming Cork O’Conner book from William Kent Krueger. As I passed from the living room through to the “Crimespree Offices” I paused to look at my sleeping husband. He was lying against the pillows, eyes closed, cat curled up against his knees. I stopped for a moment to take him in, watch his chest rise and fall. I reached down to pet our cat and then brought my hand to his chest. Grateful for his beating heart. Glad we were going to have a day. I realized at the moment what makes a murder mystery move from good to great for me.

A great Crime Novel doesn’t leave you wallowing with the dead. A great Crime Novel leaves you feeling connected to your own life.

It’s been a great reading year. Diverse. Book after book, the ones that have stayed with me have this one theme in common. I felt more whole when I had finished them than when I started. The feeling comes from many places and many kinds of writing.

My biggest adrenaline rush this year was probably HELLO KITTY MUST DIE from Angela Choi. A new author with a new voice that is grunge rock. Her story is disparate. A culture I’m not familiar with. A set of circumstances I found entirely unbelievable but so truthful in the prose I did believe. The fact that the book was also so humorous it had my dark side snorting in glee throughout has me looking forward to whatever Choi offers up the reader next.

That said, the moments of joyful reading have been bountiful. I so I will present a blog in five acts..

What makes a read spectacular to you? The argument can be made for voice. The cry can be made for plot. A crime fiction novel should contain characters, setting, social relevance. Whodunnit and whydunnit are parsed out in a great book for you to absorb. While there are many authors who are clever and knowledgeable; being allowed to arrive at the end of a story rather than being led to the end of a book are two different things.

Perhaps that’s why THE PASSAGE only almost worked for me. Too much story was tossed at me in the wrap up, too many plot points left dangling for book two. It had an everything including the kitchen sink vibe to it.

THE THOUSAND by Kevin Guilfoile is a rare book. A grand conspiracy wrapped up in legal thriller, with the feel of a great disaster movie, THE THOUSAND is so well written. You’ll race through the pages with our heroine. It is the story of a young woman who wants her life back. The fact that the tools she has to accomplish this are extraordinary and the created mythology unparalleled are a marvel. I felt like a super hero for at least a day after reading this book.

Both the Choi and the Guilfoile were wonderful. They were pure escapism. They allowed me outside of my day to day. They gave me the energy to slough through work and chores and errands and keep a smile on my face for days on end.

The list of books I want to read as opposed to those I have read, let alone should read is very different. It’s a lot shorter.

Escapism. It’s an underappreciated attribute. It’s something shared throughout fiction but nowhere more than thriller.

Last week NPR published a list of the top 100 Thrillers. Three weeks ago ITW released a list of 100 books every thriller lover should read. The one thing I learned from both of these lists is the definition of “thriller” is broader now than it’s ever been, schizophrenic. I’d recommend both of these lists to people who want to delve into Crime Fiction. I cannot say I agree all are thrillers.
I’ve read a couple of old time thrillers this year that I enjoyed immensely they are the Escapism by definition, Fredrick Forsyth has used that old time thriller pen to deal with the ultimate drug war and human corruption in COBRA. Nelson DeMille’s THE LION was a great tale. Lee Child gave us Reacher in a small town with a tale of international repercussions all while beating the clock and the weather in 61 HOURS. Child is the epitome of the contemporary Thriller writer. The past meeting the present if you will.

Tess Gerritson’s ICE COLD: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel falls into thriller for me. Her series moves to fast to be called anything else. So does Daniel Silva’s THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR. Jamie Freveletti won the debut thriller award for last year’s RUNNING FROM THE DEVIL. With this year’s RUNNING DARK she is well on her way to becoming an excellent thriller writer.

This year’s Thriller reading started with the excellent ADRENALINE from Jeff Abbott. Up next I have BLOOD OATH from Christopher Farnsworth (I told you I was behind). I’ve rifted with Coben and dabbled with Meltzer. I’ve found that even in my thriller I need a little bit of soul. The above folks deliver.

Next up on our way to Ruth’s perfect reads? Peeling back the outer skin of “the thriller”.