Some people like to do these lists because everybody else is doing it. Others refuse to do so for the same reason. I'm a combination of the two: if everyone else does it, then I don't want to, but I'm going to anyway ... because it's what I actually want to do.

But enough with the Maxwell Smart jokes and on with the list. As always, it's based on my personal reading of the year, which has nothing to do with publishing date. Since tracking it, I've learned that I only read about thirty books a year, all chosen by a whim of the moment.

EVERY DEAD THING by John Connolly

Famed for its hourglass shaped plot (one story tapers into the next), the first Charlie Parker novel is filled to the brim with lyrical writing and beautifully gruesome imagery.

CITIZEN VINCE by Jess Walter

There are two novels in this list about crims trying to get clean or stay clean, with both having a decidedly literary bent. Walter does a brilliant job here of fleshing out so much in so few words that I really should get off my arse and read some of his other work as soon as possible.

NO DOMINION by Charlie Huston

Thankfully the world of books generally does a fair sight better with sequels than cinema does, but in the hands of Charlie Huston, disappointment seems to never be on the cards. Thanks to vampire private investigator Joe Pitt, I want to be Charlie Huston when I grow up.


Piano-playing spy John Harper has a damned fine sense of humour and a softer side when compared to more traditional protagonists in the genre and it's these differences that bring Terrenoire's debut floating up above the rest. It took me far too long to get around to reading this, but the day David writes another novel is the day I queue up for it.


Other than wanting to be the love child of Charlie Huston and Ray Banks, I can't say enough about this fine piece of work. But if I had to choose my absolute favourite of this list, it would be a close fight between this one and the next.


The retired hitman being pulled back into the biz is not a particularly new idea, but the depth of Frank "Frankie the Machine" Macchiano lifts this to the top of the foam from the cappuccino. Bob De Niro's working on a film of this and, as long as he doesn't stuff it up, I'll be one of the early viewers.


Only one classic this year, and it was one I'd seen the movie of, so I wasn't amazingly shocked by the unfolding of the plot. Still, I gobbled down this timeless and twisted tale of desire in a couple of evening sessions. And it tasted damned good, I tell you.

RAZOR by Larry Writer

This year I delved into non-fiction of various subjects, but this account of the razor gang wars of 1920s Sydney reads almost like fiction, so I'm including it here. The detail of the research is mind blowing and made even more impressive by being set in locations that I know well. Whatever the newspapers of today may say, Sydney is a far safer city than it used to be.

THE CONFESSION by Olen Steinhauer

In my blogging travels I've come across a number of authors whose work I've read, but this is the first time I've read a second book from any of them (that has more to do with my playing catch up than the quality of the writing). I'm extremely glad I did. Everything I liked about Olen's first in the series, THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS, is in its sequel, but the story is taken to another level here. I can't think of any better endorsement of this amazing Eastern European spy series other than saying I have the next two books waiting on my shelf.

I was very tempted to include Joe R. Lansdale's LOST ECHOES in the list, even though I'm only about a third of the way in. Although I doubt very much that I'll be disappointed with the rest of it, I have to be fair, so I've kept it to a simple mention.

Come on then, fess up. Who tickled your tockley this year? And why?

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Okay, I've got a question. Best of 2007, right? Why don't we do these lists in January? Or has everyone concluded they won't be reading for the next few weeks? I will be, and I hate to think that one of those books, that would have ended up on the list, will miss the list just because I posted early.

But then, perhaps I shouldn't post a list, because of the awards? Okay, all books nominated for the Spinetingler awards removed from the personal list, okay?

So, ten great reads, in alphabetical order by author.

Ammunition by Ken Bruen - Brant is back. Need I say more?
The Hackman Blues by Ken Bruen - Absolutely classic Bruen.

Sob Story by Carol Anne Davis - Davis is superb at getting into a character's head and really developing them. She's also a true crime author, very talented.

Money Shot by Christa Faust - The book everyone will be talking about in a matter of weeks.

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane - My first Lehane. Brilliant writer.

The Fever Kill by Tom Piccirilli - You know, there were lines that approached a Bruen-esque quality, the kind you'd write down and tape to the wall above your desk to remember...

The Darkness Inside by John Rickards - A fast-paced thriller that exposes old sins and threatens to be the end of Alex.

Salt River by James Sallis - My first Sallis, and one of those books that lingered on the senses long after the last page.

For the Dogs by Kevin Wignall - Some people crumble when faced with adversity. Some get even. And sometimes, someone has to stop them from going too far...

Who is Conrad Hirst? By Kevin Wignall - A tragic tale of love and loss.
It does make sense to do them in January, but I imagine that most people might slow down their reading in the last couple of weeks of the year. And then there's always the recovery from mass consumption that follows.

I just like seeing other people's lists so I can make Mount TBR reach ever higher.
Well, from memory (and I'm bound to forget some so may add some when I get home):
Joe Lansdale - LOST ECHOES (Daniel - you really really won't be disappointed)
Declan Burke - THE BIG O (well worth waiting for but about bloody time too)
Ken Bruen - AMMUNITION - classic Brant
Kevin Wignall - WHO IS CONRAD HIRST?
Steven Torres - CONCRETE MAZE
Gil Brewer - A TASTE FOR SIN
Mark Haskell Smith - SALTY

I have this huge niggling feeling that I have forgotten one of my very favourite books of the year...oh well, it will have to niggle until I get home.
I almost bought Ellis' book on the weekend, but it was $40! That's just way too much for a little hardback.

DONKEY PUNCH should probably be on my list too, but I decided to only have one per author.
My year-end lists are always my top reads, but NOT necessarily those released in the current calendar year. Also, not all of these are front and center crime, or even crimey, but all truck in genre, many park in the same garages, and all knocked me flat. Without further disclaiming:

Come Closer -- Sara Gran
The closest thing to Rosemary's Baby I've ever read. Scary scary scary. Manages the same razor-wired tiptoe between psychological and supernatural horrors as Ira Levin, while also a much better mediation on a NYC woman's midlife crisis than 99% of so-called chick lit.

The Keep -- Jennifer Egan
Every sentence of this is perfect and it assembles like a neat, modern Gothic, cerebral puzzle. But it's the emotional impact once the pieces mesh and the penny drops that makes this book stick in your brain.

Taming the Alien -- Ken Bruen
Cross and Ammunition and American Skin and Slide all could have made this list. But "Alien" tops them all because of the brilliant and transcendent respite in this novel when Brant visits Dublin and lodges with his distant relations. It stuns and surprises like a prism'd ray of sunshine in the middle thickness of a slate grey gloomy sky. As perfect and poetic as haiku.

Pig Island -- Mo Hayder
Scary, blunt, and a sychological wallop. Could be a more raw and visceral sister of The Keep.

Hard Man -- Allan Guthrie
This is extremes in equal measure. My knuckles were white with every turn of the page -- I was jamming my entire hand into my mouth in horror or hysterics -- usually at the same time and for the same reasons.

Contract -- Simon Spurrier
Small-press hitman hybrid. It goes supernatural and supernova as the events careen towards Grand Guiginol. But it's the narrator that sticks the landing with his pitch perfect social commentaries that rivals the best riffs of Fight Club.

The Imago Sequence and Other Stories -- Laird Barron
Direct line can be drawn from Lovecraft to Laird Barron, who makes the Pacific Northwest his Arkham. His stories gank from various genres, including hard-boiled western, homage to eldritch, J-horror, atomic future, and straight up gore horror.

Thirteen -- Richard K. Morgan
His best most complete novel yet -- a sum-total of all the elements he's known for in his other cyber-noir. A fat and creamy world-building narrative that channels the most lyrical and coherent glimmers Philip K. Dick.

The Blonde/The Redhead -- Duane Swierczynski
My blurb entry for Duane's contest: "A bombshell that grabs you by the throat, the heart, and the balls. Swierczynski's prose is steely and surgical. His plot thunders like the Cyclone with its shuddering climbs, gasping drops, and two-rail caroms on fierce curves. Call it a full palette of nano-noir: platinum blondes, white knuckles, black hearts, and one hell of a Redhead."

Let Me In -- John Ajvide Lindqvist (author) and Ebba Segerberg (translator)
Cross Smilla's Sense of Snow with Salem's Lot and you get an idea of this atmospheric and original take on traditional vampire fiction -- without resorting to cross-pollinating the genre with romance, noir, sci-fi, or Die Hard sequel pitches. You can feel the cold and the claustrophobia coming off the page while you leave the nightlight on after its surprisingly grisly passages.
I'm including books I read since Jan. and ones outside the mystery/crime genre:
Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly
Autumn Dead by Ed Gorman
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Black Castle by Les Daniels (horror)
Oh goodie, this saves me a blogpost in Jan.

QUEENPIN by Megan Abbott - Absolutely fantastic. Strong, clear and disturbing noir. I forced my husband and another friend to read this and both were impressed and disturbed by the novel. Don't get bettah than that!

THE UNQUIET by John Connolly - Best yet, I literally could not stop reading this book. Read it over a day and a half, took it with me wherever I had to go and got very pissy when I had to put it down to do normal life stuff.

THE BLONDE by Duane Swierczynski - Wow! Even the hubster dug this one. Breakneck pace, lean and mean.

HARD MAN by Allan Guthrie - Ow, Mommie, ow! Loved it, loved it, loved it.

MONEY SHOT by Christa Faust - Another holy shit read. This book's gonna be huge when it comes out next year.

GUN MONKEYS by Victor Gischler - Rocked hard, made me laugh hard, too. one classic read o' the year

THE KILLER INSIDE ME by Jim Thompson - I wanna write half as tight and creepy as this master of psychotic noir.

I'm sure there were others, but those are the ones that really stand out right now...
While my reading is way down this year, 153 as of today, here are some of my favorites, the ones who really stuck with me: For favorite first novels, The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz, funny, and I cast Constance Zimmer (on Boston Legal last year) in the lead, in the movie that should be made of the book. Also, Keep It Real by Bill Bryan another funny one, that is sooo not politically correct. A jab at reality TV (not a fan of reality TV other than Dancing With the Stars, which is more entertainment).

For old favorites, Donna Andrews, The Penguin Who Knew Too Much This is a very funny series, and I thought my ribs would break from laughing. Lee Chld, Bad Luck and Trouble (what can I say, he can't write a bad book) and Play Dead by David Rosenfelt A funny legal thriller, with a golden retriever on the cover, perfect for me.

Sophmore efforts I enjoyed are Baby Crimes by Randy Hicks, and One Minute Assassin by Troy Cook

There were sooo many others, but these are what come to mind,
Is flesh eating a crime? If so, then I have throw in my 2 cents for Max Brook's WORLD WAR Z - AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE ZOMBIE WARS.

Not only the best book I read in 2007, but the best novel I've read in a long, long time.
Very good list; I've added a couple to my "wish list"! Here's my top 10 of the year:

Kockroach, by Tyler Knox. This is a first novel that takes what seems like a sophomore writing exercise and turns it into an interesting debut. A cockroach wakes up one day and finds he's a man. The skills that make him a survivor as a cochroach then serve him well as he pursues a career in crime, business and politics.

Still Life with Crows, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I recently discovered the Pendergast series and have consumed the whole series this year. Could easily have listed The Cabinet of Curiousities or The Wheel of Darkness both of which were excellent stories but Still Life with Crows with its unique Kansas setting just struck me as the best of the series so far.

Consent to Kill. by Vince Flynn. Those who read Flynn consume his novels like fine chocolates. They are guilty pleasures because Mitch Rapp is such a complete, unapologetic and politically incorrect bad ass! Consent to Kill was my first Flynn novel and I'm looking forward to dipping into the rest of the series.

Map of Bones, by James Rollins. I have been in two or three airports this year and would often see passengers with their noses stuck in a James Rollins novel. A small reading group to which I belong selected this novel and I was completely absorbed. This is a true thriller; it starts out at 90 and does nothing but pick up velocity. I'm nearly finished with Black Order and again plan to dip into this series throughout the new year.

The Power of the Dog, by Don Winslow. This is a haunting novel. The phrase tour de force is so over-used by reviewers as to be almost hackneyed but if you dig the dictionary out and look up the meaning, you'll agree that The Power of the Dog deserves such praise.

Shotgun Opera by Victor Gischler. You know, if Gischler blogged his grocery list, I'd read it. Every word in this novel has been carefully selected and the whole book carries a well-crafted heft . The most highest praise I can give an author is to buy his books as gifts for friends. I did that with Shotgun Opera.

Free Fire by C.J. Box. I love Box and this novel shows him developing and moving his character -- everyman Joe Pickett -- into a new direction. I recommend Box highly.

Scavenger by David Morrell. Morrell is a master. Scavenger is excellent.

Black Water by T. Jefferson Parker. I've read a couple of Parker's novels this year and look forward to his next work. This novel turns on the investigation of a young deputy sheriff suspected of killing his wife and shooting himself in a botched suicide attempt that's not what it appears to be. Very smoothly done.

The Unquiet by John Connolly. Once again Connolly's character Charlie Parker finds horror and mystery in the past. This novel has one of the best opening chapters you'll find in fiction.
Fine choices, all. I, too, liked POWER OF THE DOG. BTW, in case you didn't know, Tyler Knox is actually William Lashner.
No, I didn't know that. And I've been telling folks it's a debut and to watch for this Knox guy. Course I had my suspicions; when I first read the novel I tried to contact the author and ended up emailing his agent who said Knox wasn't on a book tour but would be more than happy to sign the books if I sent them to her.

Oh well. One born every minute . . .

It was still a very good novel.


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