2018 was a great year for reading. I finished, and this is an amazing number for me, 64 titles, which is nine more than last year’s mark and eight more than 2016’s. The majority of the titles were fiction, but I did increase my nonfiction intake significantly over last year, which is good because my only reading goal for 2018 was:
Read more non-fiction!
Whew. I love it when a plan comes together.
My fiction reading is littered with the old and familiar. If there is an author in general, or a novel or story in particular, I like, I will read it over and over. While my fiction reading in 2018 was dominated by my obligations to Mystery Scene Magazine—thirty titles, novels, collections, and anthologies, plus a bunch of magazines, which aren’t included in my reading totals (and that may change in 2019)—I was still able to read some old favorites. I read two novels by Stephen Mertz, including his excellent private eye novel, Say it Was Murder, the first Wyatt novel, Kickback, for the second time by Australian author Garry Disher. I re-read Jack M. Bickham’s Overhead (my fourth or fifth reading of this title), and Ed Gorman’s The Day the Music Died.
But I also read a bunch of authors new to me—25 in total—including impressive works by Richard Prosch (Peregrine Returns), J. Michael Orenduff (The Pot Thief Who Studied Edward Abbey), Matt Wesolowski (Hydra), Linwood Barclay (A Noise Downstairs), Steve Goble (The Devil’s Wind), Joe Ide (Wrecked), Helene Tursten (An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good), Graeme Macrea Burnet (The Accident on the A35), Henry Kane (Frenzy of Evil), and Ralph Dennis (Atlanta Deathwatch and The Charleston Knife is Back in Town).
And my reading list in 2018 featured a few titles that rose to the top, which I skimmed (with some difficulty) down to five titles. With that said, my five favorite fiction titles that I read in 2018 are (and in no particular order):
· The Red Scarf, by Gil Brewer, is pure, wonderful noir, about a man with a penchant for losing. And his every decision assures him a disastrous fate. Look for a more detailed discussion of this title in an upcoming feature at Mystery Scene Magazine’s website.
· The Charleston Knife is Back in Town, by Ralph Dennis, is the second outing for former disgraced Atlanta police officer, and unlicensed P.I. Jim Hardman. A seamless tale in the vein of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels, but with a working class vibe. Look for a more detailed discussion of this title in an upcoming feature at Mystery Scene Magazine’s website.
· An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good, by Swedish writer Helene Tursten, is a collection of five tales with octogenarian Maude doing what she does best, murdering her neighbors for some well-deserved peace and quiet. I reviewed this title for my review column, “Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered”, and you can read it at Mystery Scene’s website.
· Wrecked, is Joe Ide’s third novel featuring private eye and general good guy, IQ. A furious and fun private eye novel that is as much thriller as anything else. You can read my review at Mystery Scene.
· Say It Was Murder, by Stephen Mertz, is a private eye novel for the 21st century. Stylish, modern, and it turns a trope or two upside down. Read my Gravetapping review.
And here are a few honorable mentions. Hydra, by Matt Wesolowski, Word of Honor, by Nelson DeMille, Rape: A Love Story, by Joyce Carol Oates, The Peacemaker, by Andrew McBride, The Devil’s Wind, by Steve Goble, Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane, Bryant & May: Hall of Mirrors, by Christopher Fowler, and Frenzy of Evil, by Henry Kane.