Monday, December 29, 2014
Favorite Reads of 2014
I did read many great books by wonderful authors this year. I enjoyed almost all of them and it is hard to narrow it down to the ones that really resonated with me. But here is my stab at a list. I did go over 10 books but not by much.
The Danger Within by Michael Gilbert.
Published in 1952, it is an exceptional story of men incarcerated in a prison camp in Italy toward the end of World War II. The book also includes a mystery, featuring an amateur detective, a prisoner in the camp who is asked to look into the circumstances of the death of a fellow prisoner.
The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott
This is a historical novel set in the years preceding and during World War I (and the only non-mystery fiction on this list). It is the story of three sisters, teenagers as the story begins, who travel with their mother to support the family as a vaudeville act. I am very interested in vaudeville, and I don't know as much as I would like about the history of vaudeville. I found this book very readable, entertaining, with interesting characters.
Touchstone by Laurie R. King
This historical novel is set in the UK in 1926 and the story centers around the weeks leading up to the general strike. Harris Stuyvesant is an agent of the United States Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation, and he has arrived in England to track down the man responsible for terrorist bombings in the US.
The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer
A spy thriller, which takes place during the activities of the Arab Spring, in February 2011. Sophie Kohl's husband Emmett is currently working at the American embassy in Hungary, but his previous assignment was in Cairo. Both of them have friends still in Cairo, and when Emmett is killed, Sophie seeks the reasons for his death there.
Time's Witness by Michael Malone
This is the second book in a police procedural series. Cuddy Mangum is the narrator and the Chief of Police in Hillston, North Carolina. Cuddy is educated, but he is not refined, and to the powerful and rich inner circle of Hillston residents, he is a redneck. The book was published in 1989 and set around the same time period. The story in this book centers on George Hall, a black man arrested seven years earlier for killing a white cop. He is now on death row and supporters are seeking a reprieve or pardon.
Eleven Days by Donald Harstad
Carl Houseman is a deputy sheriff working the night shift in the small town of Maitland, Iowa. He is sent to the scene of a crime after a 911 call comes in. At the scene, he finds a dead man but the woman who made the call is not found. By the next morning, a second crime scene has been found with three more bodies, and the two crimes seem to be related. The small department, with the help of state investigative agencies, works for the next eleven days to solve the crime.
9tail Fox by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
This novel is fantasy blended with mystery, and the mystery elements were stronger in this novel than in many cross-genre novels. In addition to the noir thriller elements, this is the story of a journey of a man to understanding himself and his isolation from others. I enjoyed the book as much for the personal story of Bobby Zha as for the mystery.
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
I am very fond of espionage fiction, so it is no surprise that I liked this. The central character, the spy who has run an elite espionage unit in the past, has had many identities and many code names. Of those who even know of him, he is a legend. But he has reached a point in his life when he has left spying behind and is in a new untraceable identity. Then several events come together to force him back into the spy game.
World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters
Book III in the The Last Policeman trilogy, following the activities of policeman Hank Palace in a pre-apocalyptic world. An asteroid is headed for earth, and from the beginning of the series we know that it will be devastating. I also read Countdown City, Book II in the series, this year, and I rated it as highly as this one. In this final book, Hank goes on an odyssey to try to locate his sister before the asteroid hits.
Enigma by Robert Harris
Set in 1943, this book uses Bletchley Park and the code breaking efforts there as a background for a mystery. Tom Jericho had left Bletchley to recuperate in Cambridge after a nervous breakdown resulting from the stress of his work. Now he is asked to return to help in a new effort to break Enigma codes.
Garnethill by Denise Mina
Set in the city of Glasgow, this novel deals with tough topics: incest, patient abuse, drugs, unemployment, dysfunctional families. It is a very dark story. There is an optimistic resolution, but many of the characters in the book are not very pleasant people. Nor is there the possibility for a truly happy ending.
Kerrie of Mysteries in Paradise is collecting lists of top crime fiction reads for 2014. Check them out HERE.