Friday, December 26, 2008

Top Five Reads of 2008

It’s nearly 2009 and that means one thing—well several things, but the most exciting is the Gravetapping top five reads of the year. The rules are simple. There are really only three. The first is, the novel can be published anytime, anywhere. The second is, I have to have read it in 2008. The third is it has to be new to me, which means that I can’t use the same old book year after year.

So, without further ado, drum roll please. And now imagine your favorite celebrity at the pulpit with a cheesy smile and overdone hair. Here it is—in ascending order—the top five Gravetapping reads of 2008 are…

5) Archangel by Robert Harris. I love the occasional thriller. I enjoy the fast-paced style and the deep backstory that many well-written thrillers provide. Unfortunately many of the current crop of thrillers skip backstory altogether and the fast-paced style seems less fast-paced and more contrived and tedious. However, a few months ago I read a terrific thriller by Robert Harris. It is a modern story of Joseph Stalin and it is filled with historical insight, adventure, suspense and enough twists to keep even the most jaded thriller readers—me!—satisfied.

4) Red, White, and Blue Murder by Bill Crider. I discovered the work of Bill Crider earlier this year and I’m getting dangerously close to declaring Gravetapping as his unofficial fan club. His Sheriff Dan Rhodes stories are terrific and Red, White and Blue Murder is no exception. Click Here to read the review.

3) The Other Side of Silence by Bill Pronzini. Bill Pronzini is a regular on this list. His novel The Crimes of Jordan Wise won the top honor a few years ago—I still think about that one. It was terrific. And The Other Side of Silence is right up there with it. The first chapter is actually the short story “Engines” Pronzini wrote for Tony Hillerman’s The Mysterious West back in the mid-1990s and the story follows the recently separated Rick Fallon to Death Valley where he saves the life of a young woman who is in trouble. His journey takes him from the desolate desert to Las Vegas to Bull City, Arizona, and then into the southern climes of California.

2) A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson. This is a masterpiece of psychological horror. The amazing thing is it is also a brilliantly created view into suburban American life of the 1950s. The characters are rich and the story is perfect. Click Here to read the review.

1) Death Ground by Ed Gorman. I can’t say enough about this novel specifically or Ed Gorman’s work as a whole. He is a favorite writer of mine and Death Ground is one of the many reasons why. It is dark and pessimistic, with an overcast of sly humor and unruly humanity. Click Here to read the review.

This year it was particularly difficult to narrow the list down to five. I very easily could have made a list of ten or fifteen. Ed Gorman had another novel that barely missed the list—Sleeping Dogs—as did Bill Crider with Gator Kill. A few other honorable mentions are: Breeding Ground by Sarah Pinborough, Baby Moll by John Farris, Zero Cool by John Lange, Luck Be a Lady, Don’t Die by Robert J. Randisi, The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson and Stephen Mertz’s The Korean Intercept.

An excellent year in my reading chair. And here is to 2009. I bet it’s even better.

1 comment:

Bill Crider said...

Wow, thanks for including me!