Been accumulating a list of year-end lists of “Best Mystery/Crime/Thriller Novels of 2016.” A total of 75 books appears on the eight lists I researched. More than 60 of them appear only once, suggesting not only the tremendous volume of good writing in these genres but the wide range of reviewers’ personal tastes. I’ve read and reviewed 30 new crime books in 2016, and my favorites aren’t on any of these lists. They are:
- Dodgers by Bill Beverly – Los Angeles teenagers embark on a murder mission and much, much more
- The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock – ne’er-do-wells in the early 1900’s South meet the inevitable; not for the squeamish
- The Far Empty by J. Todd Scott – local law enforcement in Big Bend country fighting (or is it helping?) the Mexican drug cartels
Below are the books that appeared on three or four lists; tomorrow the books appearing on two and where to find these lists, if you want to investigate further.
For reviews of great new crime/mystery/thriller releases year-round, bookmark the U.K. website CrimeFictionLover.com. I’m one of the site’s reviewers, and the team there does a fantastic job!
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott – a book that surely benefited from exquisite timing. This story of an elite gymnast and the sacrifices she, her teammates, and their families must make coincided with the summer Olympics and enthusiasm around the gold-medal-winning U.S. women’s gymnastics team. The story is told mostly from the point of view of the young gymnast’s mother, and it’s full of teen-age angst, parental fixation, and gym-rat rivalries. But are they strong enough to precipitate and cover up murder?
Disclaimer: I’ve not read any of these. Note to self: get busy!
Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley – Mosley is in his element here, writing about Los Angeles in the uneasy aftermath of the deadly 1960s Watts riots. Says the New York Times review, Mosley’s protagonist, Easy Rawlins, is “an unconventional hero who’s unafraid to lower his fists and use his brain.”
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny – the twelfth outing of Penny’s popular Chief Inspector Gamache (I’ve listened to two of the audio versions and every time the narrator says “Gamache,” I hear “Ganache” and must go eat a piece of chocolate). He’s ensconced with his pals in Three Pines, Quebec, and charged with searching out corruption within the police academy, an investigation soon confounded by murder.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – The blurbs make this sound like Agatha Christie’s classic train case, The Lady Vanishes. In this story, a passenger on a luxury cruise ship thinks she hears and sees the body of a woman hit the water and sink beneath the waves. She swears she met this woman in Cabin 10, but no one believes her.
Have you read any of these “best books”? Were they among your favorites of 2016?
Tomorrow: the ten books that received two votes and how to find mention of the 60 others.