Media roundup: Best mystery/crime/suspense of 2013

December 30, 2013 at 1:56 am (Best of 2013, books, Mystery fiction)

Oline Codgill of the Florida Sun-Sentinel picked her favorites for this year. I’ve only read one title on her list: Crime of Privilege by Walter Walker. This is an excellent legal thriller, which I’d recommend to fans of John Grisham and Scott Turow.  20731105cf64bb5c3f70c02b4ba18ad0

January Magazine had some well known crime fiction aficionados name their favorites. Bill Ott, Booklist’s long time mystery reviewer, has posted his favorites. (This particular list contains three books that I was not able to finish: The Beautiful Mystery, Gone Girl, and The Twenty-Year Death. Ah well – chacun à son goût…)

Library Journal and Publishers Weekly have both posted lists. Of the twelve titles cited by PW, two were also among my favorites for this year: Murder as a Fine Art and How the Light Gets In. Murder-as-a-Fine-Art


Jessica Mann, a crime fiction author who also critiques crime fiction for the British magazine Literary Review, has chosen her favorite titles for this year. They are as follows: Then We Take Berlin by John Lawton, The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson, Ostland by David Thomas, and The Riot by Laura Wilson. (I recommend A Private Inquiry by Jessica Mann. Her latest novel is Dead Woman Walking.)

inquiry3  Dead woman Walking

I was delighted by NPR’s somewhat idiosyncratic list, not least because Somerset Maugham’s marvelous Ashenden stories share pride of place with other terrific titles, not the least of which is Louise Erdrich’s The Round House, a book I absolutely loved and which I’ve been waiting in vain – until now – to see on one of these lists.  Ashenden5


I’m similarly pleased with the selections made by Seattle Times Critic Adam Woog. He also picked a book that I thought nobody noticed this year but me: Jo Bannister’s excellent Deadly Virtues. In addition, he includes Play Dead by the wildly original Bill James and The Ghost Riders of Ordebec by Fred Vargas, also highly original but in a completely different way. Among the honorable mentions, Woog mentions Hit Me, the latest entry in Lawrence Block’s hugely entertaining series featuring Keller the hit man. (Adam Woog is obviously a person of exceptionally good taste!) 9781250023445_p0_v1_s260x420


Finally, Carol of Usual Suspects put me on to a nice aggregation at The Rap Sheet.  I was particularly pleased to see Sarah Weinman’s name. Her blog Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind was one of the first crime fiction sites I used to visit regularly. (She’s not blogging there anymore, but she does post from time to time on her Tumblr site, Off on a Tangent.)
In honor of its sixtieth anniversary, Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association decided to name the all time best crime novel, best series, and best writer of crime fiction. Here are the short lists for each category, with the winner clearly designated:

CWA best ever crime novel

WINNER: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

CWA best ever author

WINNER: Agatha Christie
Raymond Chandler
Arthur Conan Doyle
Reginald Hill
Dashiell Hammett
Dorothy L Sayers
Elmore Leonard
Georges Simenon
PD James
Ruth Rendell

CWA best ever series

WINNER Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle
Adam Dalgleish by PD James
Dalziel & Pascoe by Reginald Hill
Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie
Morse by Colin Dexter
Philip Marlowe by Raymond Chandler
Rebus by Ian Rankin
Peter Wimsey by Dorothy L Sayers
Campion by Margery Allingham

The winners represent rather predictable and not particularly adventurous choices. Nevertheless, I was pleased with some of the names and titles that were included on the shortlists. That holds especially true for Reginald Hill, whose On Beulah Height, a bravura piece of work in any genre, will always have pride of place on any “best list” of mine. (And yes, I’m a huge fan of the entire Dalziel and Pascoe series.) On Beulah Height

Reginald Hill

Reginald Hill

Jake Kerridge of the Daily Telegraph makes some interesting observations on the CWA’s selections. He concludes his article with a list of his own devising.

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