Best Reading of 2019: Crime Fiction, Part One

December 16, 2019 at 3:48 pm (Best of 2019, books)

Paul Doiron

Deborah Crombie

Jane Harper

Stephen Mack Jones

Almost Midnight by Paul Doiron  Why is this Maine author so little known? Come on, crime fiction lovers: Grab The Poacher’s Son and get going on this excellent series!

Agent Running in the Field by John LeCarre. Pure LeCarre; i.e. pure delight.

A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie. Liked it, but not quite as much as Water Like a Stone

The Dry, Force of Nature, and The Lost Man by Jane Harper. Australia comes vividly to life in these novels. Jane Harper is new on the scene, but she has hit the ground running!

August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. This author is also on a roll. This novel, her fifth work of domestic suspense, is a sort of updated riff on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. In general, I liked it, but I had some issues with it as well. (See my review.)

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson. This is the fifth novel featuring private investigator Jackson Brodie, and in my view, it’s the best since the first one, Case Histories.

Dead Man’s Mistress by David Housewright

The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz. If you’re not yet on the Anthony Horowitz bandwagon – well, step right up! You can start with this one, but it would be better to begin with The Word Is Murder, the first entry in the Daniel Hawthorne / Anthony Horowitz series. (Yes, the author is also a character in these novels. After all, Hawthorne needs an amanuensis, someone to write up his exploits. Remind you of someone?)

The Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman. A rich stew of Baltimore history, as it played out mainly in the 1960s, this novel is yet another example of crime fiction authors utilizing actual crime as an element of their narratives. Not quite in a league with Lippman’s stunning What the Dead Know, but still very engaging.

Rules of Prey by John Sandford. It was about time I read one of Sandford’s ‘Prey’ novels; he’s been churning them out since 1989, when Rules of Prey first appeared. I was somewhat apprehensive; would the narrative be saturated with violence? Now I read this book back in February of last year, so my recollection is imprecise. I do know that in general I liked it and would happily read another entry in this long running series. (Number 29, Neon Prey, came out this year.) This is yet another example of a felicitous Usual Suspects selection. (Thanks, Chris!)

Overture To Death by Ngaio Marsh. Like me, Mike is fond of the Golden Age authors. Good choice, Mike!

Shiver Hitch by Linda Greenlaw. Our discussion of this title has been postponed until next year.  I read it some months ago and liked it, but by next August, I’ll have mostly forgotten the particulars. Hey – I already have! Anyhow, I do recall that it’s yet another title with the Maine setting put to effective use, and with a likeable and admirable protagonist called Jane Bunker (and yes, I had to look up that name).

Anthony Horowitz

John Sandford

David Housewright

Kate Atkinson

Linda Greenlaw


  1. Mary Ellen Mackin said,

    Love Paul Doiron’s work – especially because his plots include familiar places in Maine (Fryeburg!). Page-turners.

  2. Susanne said,

    Great list, I am adding the Horowitz and Le Carre books to my TBR list.

  3. kdwisni said,

    Thanks for turning me onto Paul Doiron’s Mike Bowditch series. In some ways, he’s the less violent East Coast version of C.J. box’s Wyoming detective. I just read Widowmaker and have downloaded Stay Hidden. He definitely deserves a wider audience.

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