Anybody who knows me will be aware that I'm mathematically challenged. Besides, I hate giving numbers of stars as reviews and Top 5's or 10's or whatever numbers give me heartburn, so instead, I wanted to just re-mention some of the books that made my reading 2012. I was rather pleased to have hit the 120 that I set myself as a goal on Goodreads (in fact if I was up to date with reviews) I reckon that number will end up much closer to 140, which is not a bad effort given that it was a hellishly busy year all round. But enough waffle. The books that really worked for me this year, and that deserve another mention are...
THE COLD COLD GROUND, Adrian McKinty - right, well Irishman who lives here now, and that works to claim him as a local as far as I'm concerned. Regardless of where he lives, THE COLD COLD GROUND was, quite frankly, an absolutely outstanding book.
A DISSECTION OF MURDER, Felicity Young. Okay this wasn't a knock your socks off sort of a book, but it is definitely felt like a very welcome start to what's going to be a very good series. And because of the next book up in this list, I'm getting increasingly interested in historical mystery novels which, if you'd have told me I would a few years ago, I'd have been questioning your sanity.
PAVING THE NEW ROAD, Sulari Gentill. I love the Rowly Sinclair series. It's fun, it's got good plots, it takes me to parts of the world and into history that frankly, at school, I was so not interested in I lost consciousness on a regular basis in history lessons. If I didn't think it would take time away from the book writing game, I'd be suggesting somebody talk to her about school curriculum. But don't. Leave her alone. She's got more books to write.
AFTER THE DARKNESS, Honey Brown. Loved this book. Simple as that. Not just because for once, the victim wasn't your average threatened female, not just because the whole threatening scenario was so unexpected, and not just because it was flat out a very clever plot. It was because of the games the thing played in your head. Taut, terrific and very very clever.
PROMISE, Tony Cavanaugh. What is this doing here I wonder because I really didn't like the mad bad serial killer thing, but the rest of the book did work really well. Loved the central character, loved the gallows humour, loved the Australian-ness of the whole thing. Hopefully there will be a series.
THE MISTAKE, Wendy James. Another book I wasn't sure about to start off with, but it's sneakily challenging, disconcerting, compelling, car crash fascinating, and probably one of the best fictional reminders I've had in a while that public and media opinion should never be mistaken for the justice system, regardless of the ultimate outcome. Classic psychological thriller.
POET'S COTTAGE, Josephine Pennicott. I so wasn't expecting to like this book. It looked like it might be just a little too fantastical or something for my taste. Boy was I wrong about that.
IN HER BLOOD, Annie Hauxwell. I really couldn't quite get how this plot was going to work - the whole premise seemed a bit too much of a stretch. Until I started reading it. Worked like a dream.
COLLECTING COOPER, Paul Cleave. Okay, well I do have rather a thing for this author's books, despite a sneaking suspicion that he wants all of us scared to within an inch of our lives on a frequent basis. An unusual outing in that a central character makes a return in this book, but really, Cleave is definitely in my "would read his shopping list" category.
BLACK WATTLE CREEK, Geoffrey McGeachin. Another "shopping list" member. Evocative, beautiful storytelling with a plot inhabited by a fascinating, damaged central character.
HELL'S FURY, PD Martin. Do not let anyone tell you women can't write thrillers. They are talking through an inappropriate orifice.
A particular highlight has definitely been the rise of the local noir scene (well it's been rising away on its own for a while most likely, but I've just noticed it). In that group the standouts this year where GHOST MONEY
by Andrew Nette and DARK CITY BLUE
by Luke Preston.
LITTLE STAR, John Ajvide Lindqvist. Founding member of the "shopping list" category, this was another classic example of using a scenario to teach a gentle little lesson, wrapped up in pitch perfect story telling. Loved this book. Loved everything I've ever been lucky enough to read by this extremely clever author.
THE DINOSAUR FEATHER, Sissel-Jo Gazan. I still don't quite get how a 535 page book which starts off deep in discussions on paleo-ornithology was quite as good as it was. But it was. Fantastic.
THE SINNER, Petra Hammesfahr. Part thriller, part psychological study, a tricky book that requires a lot of attention, that I didn't mind devoting to it for a nanosecond.
RUSH OF BLOOD, Mark Billingham. Standalone, really interesting premise, combining a character study, a classic psychological thriller and a good old fashioned whodunnit.
SHATTER THE BONES, Stuart MacBride. Yes, well, no surprises about another "shopping list" entrant, but this really truly is part of a very favourite series, and there is the sneaking signs of a little forward motion, what with the sniff of a personal relationship that might work, expanding teams, promotions, oh and families being created. Luckily DI Steele isn't showing any signs of mellowing.
THE WOMAN BEFORE ME and THE SACRIFICAL MAN, Ruth Dugdall. The sorting algorithm for the "shopping list" category got very complicated when Dugdall's first book arrived, and then blown out of the water at the second. These are both fascinating psychological studies which just about ticked every known favourite thing of mine box.
A DARK AND BROKEN HEART, R.J. Ellory Another member of the "shopping list" group - this was a fascinating story, tightly written, descriptive, evocative, sparse and very very pointed. With a perfect ending.
In a sort general hat tip, if I could also say I'm really enjoying the Malcolm Fox, Complaints series by Ian Rankin, plus it's a nice feeling to know I've still got a couple of Camilla Lackberg's books stacked up on the shelves.
Another highlight has definitely been a wander back through the Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri, which I knew, but had kind of forgotten at the same time, just how good they are. It's also lovely to start out a new year with a new Cliff Hardy novel - THE DUNBAR CASE is the next review I must finish off.