Roberta Recommends: Best of 2007, Part Two

December 6, 2007 at 2:57 pm (Best of 2007, Book clubs, books, Mystery fiction, The British police procedural)

Favorite Crime Fiction: Mysteries, Thrillers, etc.

indian-bride.jpg The Indian Bride, By Karin Fossum. I’m cheating a bit on this one; it was published in 2005 in the U.K. as Calling Out for You! and was acquired by the library under that title, at which time I read it.calling.jpg But it was “officially” published here this year as The Indian Bride, so I’m considering it as a 2007 title. At any rate – whatever the pubyear or the title, it is well worth reading, featuring as it does one of the most poignant love stories I’ve encountered in quite some time. And of course it benefits greatly by being set – vividly – in the author’s native Norway.

arsenic.jpg The Arsenic Labyrinth, the third in Martin Edwards’s atmospheric series set in England’s Lake District;

fall.jpg A Fall from Grace by Robert Barnard an author that always delivers the goods;

suffer-children.jpg Suffer the Little Children by Donna Leon, an author who is also reliably excellent. IMHO, this is one of the best of the Guido Brunetti novels.

raven.jpg Raven Black by Ann Cleeves, whom we had the pleasure of meeting while touring the U.K. in September. This mystery has a uniquely remote, exotic setting: the island of Shetland, off the Scottish coast.

hangman.jpg The Secret Hangman by Peter Lovesey, an author of police procedurals set in Bath. I read them all; they never disappoint;

broken1.jpg The Broken Shore by Peter Temple. Granted, it took me a while to get into this book by one of Australia’s premier crime novelists, but once I did, I was fairly riveted.

savage5.jpg The Savage Garden by Mark Mills. Italy’s glorious art heritage and the beautiful, mysterious countryside surrounding Florence are the real stars in this tale of love, betrayal – and murder.

tinderbox5.jpg The Tinderbox by Jo Bannister. A community of the homeless living beneath London’s highway overpasses becomes realer than real in a novel peopled by completely believable and immensely sympathetic characters.

water-stone.jpg Water Like a Stone by Deborah Crombie. Okay, it was a bit too long, but it’s always a pleasure to spend time with Gemma James, Duncan Kincaid and company. And I especially enjoyed the canal boat lore that was liberally salted throughout the novel. (Plus Crombie was a such a delight at the National Book Festival!)

bad-quarto.jpg The Bad Quarto by Jill Paton Walsh. Yet another delightful academic mystery! Though set in Cambridge rather than Oxford, this novel, with its redoubtable protagonist Imogen Quy, put me happily in mind of Gaudy Night by the formidable Dorothy L. Sayers.

zugzwang.jpg Zugzwang by Ronan Bennett. I haven’t quite finished it, but already I know that this thriller set in St. Petersburg in 1917 belongs on this list.

I was trying to decide on one title in this category as THE best of the year – but it was too hard! And I’m glad of that fact – glad that I enjoyed so much high quality crime fiction published in 2007. So…in addition to the excellent novels enumerated above, these four were, for this reader, truly outstanding:

whatdeadknow.jpg What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman. Basing her story on the actual disappearance of two sisters from a mall in suburban Maryland in 1975, Lippman has written a novel filled with the pain of irreparable loss.

water.jpg The Water’s Lovely by Ruth Rendell. What can I say except – she’s still got it! – “it” being the knack for creating volatile, unstable, injured characters, throwing them together, and mesmerizing the reader as the pressure builds and builds… One of this amazing author’s best, IMHO – and that means the best, period.

fat.jpg Death Comes for the Fat Man, By Reginald Hill. I can never stop singing the praises of this writer, especially with regard to the Dalziel/Pascoe novels. They are literate witty, and superbly plotted.

careful1.jpg The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith. My only hesitation in placing this novel in this category is that the plot features only the barest hint of a mystery. Otherwise, I absolutely loved it! The author combines a great cast of characters with an intriguing story and a setting – Edinburgh – brought vividly to life. Who would have thought it would be so stimulating to spend time with a woman – Isabel Dalhousie – who evaluates everyone’s actions, including her own, as to their ethical and moral implications? (Notice I said evaluate, not judge.) Add to this the fact that at the age of forty-two, she is a new mother and is still embroiled in a passionate love affair with the infant’s 28-year-old father. Who could resist this set-up? And the writing is gorgeous.

[There are some good book discussion candidates on this list, in particular The Indian Bride, The Arsenic Labyrinth, Suffer the Little Children, Raven Black, The Tinderbox, and The Careful Use of Compliments. ]








1 Comment

  1. Lourdes said,

    Wonderful list of books, many of which I haven’t read. You’ve inspired me to try to pick them up next year!

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