According to Goodreads I read just over 150 books in 2012, about three quarters of which was crime fiction. I reviewed 102 books on crimepieces and discovered some great authors whose books, although not published in 2012, were highlights of my year. These included Deon Meyer’s Trackers, Ashes by Sergio Gakas and Aly Monroe’s Icelight.
However, I’m going to restrict my best reads of 2012 to those published this year. The benchmark as to which books made it onto my list was not whether I had recommended them to other readers but whether I had also actually forced a copy onto someone who I thought would like it. With the exception of Where the Devil Can’t Go which is (for the moment) available only as an e-book I have done this with all of these titles.
So here are my top 5 reads of 2012.
1. Ben H Winters – The Last Policeman
A great concept very well executed. Who would have thought the end of the world could be so interesting?
2. Adrian McKinty – The Cold Cold Ground
The first in a series featuring Catholic policeman Sean Duffy. Set in 1981 during the Troubles, I wanted to read the sequel immediately.
3. Anya Lipska – Where the Devil Can’t Go
A murder set in the heart of the Polish expat community in London. Great depictions of London and Poland and some memorable characters.
4. Elizabeth Hay – Alone in the Classroom
I’m not sure if this is a crime book at all, but death and retribution feature strongly in the narrative. A beautifully written book.
5. Louise Welsh – The Girl on the Stairs
Genuinely spooky and with a strong sense of malevolence, it gives an alternative view of Berlin’s bleak suburbs.
So five great books and if I had just to choose one it would be Adrian McKinty’s The Cold Cold Ground. The sequel I Hear the Sirens in the Street is out in January and I’m already looking forward to it.
What was your favourite crime book of 2012? I’d love to hear what was your best read.
This is my first review of an audio book because, although I’m a subscriber to Amazon’s Audible account, to date I’ve only ever downloaded books that I’ve already read in print form. But last month, stumped for something to listen to, I contacted Bernadette from Reactions to Reading. As readers of Bernadette’s blog will know, she regularly reviews audio books and she suggested I try Adrian McKinty’s Falling Glass. McKinty is a relatively new author for me, although I enjoyed the excellent Cold Cold Ground, so I was interested to give one of his earlier books a go.
Rachel Coulter, the ex-wife of the famous Irish airline entrepreneur Richard Coulter, has disappeared with their two children. Although he has information that she is hiding out at one of Ireland’s caravan parks, an attempt to seize back the children ends disastrously. Killian, fresh from a successful debt collection job in New Hampshire is called in by Coulter to track down Rachel and retrieve the missing children. Killian is confident that he will find the missing family and is successfully on Rachel’s trail when Coulter’s team realise that she is also in possession of an incriminating laptop. They hire a tougher enforcer to follow Killian and ensure the laptop is retrieved at any cost. Markov, a former Russian soldier and veteran of the Chechen conflict ensures that a routine job becomes a murderous spree.
The early part of the novel takes you from Boston on St Patrick’s Day, to a wealthy beach town in New Hampshire and a gang leader’s ranch in Mexico. However, when the threads of the story start to come together, it is the descriptions of Ireland that leave a lasting impression. As Rachel runs from one hide-out to another we are given descriptions of windswept holiday parks teetering on the edge of Europe with the sound of the Atlantic roaring in the background.
The pace of the story comes and goes which I thought was a clever way of presenting what could be just a straightforward thriller. Markov is clearly the villain of the story although the damage caused by his participation in the Chechen conflict is also made clear. The scenes where he and Killian battle it out provide plenty of tension although Killian seems forever out of his depth. In the final part of the book, leading up to the denouement, the pace slows right down and we are given an insight into the Pavee culture that is Killian’s background. This interesting section highlights the history of the Irish travelling community and its identity distinct from the Romany culture.
My only regret is that I would have preferred to read this first. Audio books will never replace the written word for me, but listening to the novel has made me want to read more of the McKinty’s earlier books featuring Michael Forstythe who plays a minor but memorable role here.
I bought my copy of the audio book. Other reviews (of the print version) can be found at Eurocrime and Review from the Blue House. The author’s website is here.