I read The Road BEFORE it became the latest Oprah fad, thankyouverymuch. It knocked my socks off in the first 20 pages, after I realized that the writing was not as simplistic as I believed - I was not "allowed" to burn through it, as I usually do on first reads, but was instead required to savor each sentence and paragraph in order to get to the end. That was just amazing.
Had a similar experience when I read "To the Power of Three," which is a very complex book for different reasons. The prose is not as spare but the characterizations are very finely detailed. Again, I had to slow down. I'm looking forward now to "What the Dead Know."
Lipmann does amazing work with fine-grained characters. I really thought To the Power of Three was powerful. I also liked her latest - it moves around in time, with all the little bits and pieces clicking into place, bit by bit.
Thanks to all of you for your suggestions - I've added to my list of books to seek out.
I am fickle also but in the last couple of months the books that have really stayed with me and yes knocked the socks off were....Nick Stone's Mr. Clarinet, Peter Temple's Broken Shore, Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone and David Corbett's The Devil's Redhead. These are just since the first of the year....but they all had that wow factor that I can't put into words.
Adrian Hyland's Diamond Dove sat me back on my heels, took my socks off and tied them in a bow.
Ken Bruen's Cross had me doing happy dances, which sounds decidedly weird when you consider the central characters propensity for self-destruction.
Louise Welsh's The Bullet Trick was nearly as good as The Cutting Room, definitely sock threateningly good.
Fred Vargas' Wash This Blood Clean from my Hands blew what little sock I had left out the window - now I know this isn't going to be to everyone's taste because, well the central character's mildly bats, but I loved it.
And I keep saying it, and I'll keep saying it until I'm sure everybody's got their own copy .. Let the Right One In was sock shredding, toe endangeringly good.
Broken Skin was a joy, but by that stage I'd run out of socks, so Ice Moon by Jan Costin Wagner just made me emotional.
I read The Cutting Room a couple of years back and it was a sock blaster also...and I felt like I needed a shower after it to wash off all the grit and seediness a real wow read and I agree with you on Jan Costin Wagner's Ice Moon it really was a character study in emotions but a very good book that has stayed with me.
Stuart MacBride's Dying Light was a darn good read for me. I think he has the whole package--a great protagonist, a perfectly described setting, and plenty of gruesom descriptions to keep me happy.
I think Sharp Objects by Jillian Flynn was a "WOW" book for me mostly because of the shock value of the protagonist with a voice so very unusual and quite unforgetable. Not everyone will care for this novel, but it was very original, especially the body art!
"The Attack" by Yasmina Khadra - about the aftermath of a suicide bombing in Israel. The lead character is a Bedouin Israeli surgeon who is horrified because his wife (who died in the bombing) is suspected to have been the bomber.
"Vixen" by Ken Bruen - my very first Ken Bruen, finished yesterday. Effortlessly fluent.
The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill really knocked my socks off, and I really can't tell you guys why without revealing the ending. In addition to that unexpected ending, the book is my type: the characters, even the victims, are richly drawn, and you are drawn into the life of this village. It's been my favorite book so far this year.