I dont know how others do it but by sticking with already established favorite authors and mixing in new ones(not to mention the odd blind grab) I had a successful reading year. In actuality there were about 25 books or so that I read and really liked and what follows is my unranked top 15.

YA - 1

Comic - 1

Mystery/crime fiction - 8

Horror - 2

SF/F – 2

Non-fiction - 1

The Blood of Paradise by David Corbett - I really like the works of David Corbett. He has an assured and confident authorial voice that builds strong, complex, tragic characters up in stories that are a slow building crescendo that leaves us twisting in our seat waiting for the wave to crash. His characters ache and hurt and so do we right along with them. The antagonist of the book has a fantastic name, Bill Malvasio and I even went back and re-read Corbett's first novel, The Devil's Redhead

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall - Like I said before I had this sitting on my shelf for quite a few months before finally jumping into it and I'm sorry I waited. This is one of the more imaginative books that I encountered all year. The story left me breathless, thinking and desperate to start it again as I haven't had this many textual questions (in a good way) since reading The Book of the New Sun all those years ago.

Linger Awhile by Russell Hoban- I love Hoban's work and this one may just rank as one of my favorites by him in recent years. Quite possibly one of the oddest books of the year and I'd be willing to bet that it flew under the radar of most readers.

Mr. Clarinet by Nick Stone- No less then Ken Bruen sent me an email one day telling me to read Nick Stone. Am I glad that I listened. Fully developed characters, a unique setting, a tinge of the real-world supernatural and some brilliantly written scenes that scared me and rank as some of the years best written. I've got the second book sitting on my shelf and can't wait to jump into it.

The Shotgun Rule by Charlie Huston - Huston's first stand alone is a doozy. Wild characters in even wilder situations. The best part comes around page 80 or so when yanks the rug out from the characters, and us, forcing us to stop dead in our tracks, re-reading the passage to see if he really did what he just did. Yep he did. Maybe his middle name is "No Fear"

Head Games by Craig MacDonald- When I first heard of this book I knew that I wanted to read it, if only for the fact that a work of fiction was promising that a sitting president was going to be an element. Not to mention the secret histories, road trip and pulp era adventures. Head Games never disappointed and proved to be so much more.

Scalped by Jason Aaron- I stayed away from the monthlies because I just dont read them much anymore and instead waited for a collection. And damn what a collection it is. Dare I say it that Scalped is one of the **hush my mouth** best crime fiction novels of the year AND its a **shush don't tell anyone** comic book.

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff - I love Matt Ruff and this book baffled me while reading it and I can't get the ending and some other scenes out of my head. This one is screaming for a re-read.

Shakedown by Charlie Stella- Quite possibly Stella's strongest to date. To be reductive: This book is for all of you fans of The Sopranos when it was firing on all cylinders. But getting down to brass taxes Shakedown has great characters, dialogue, plot -- the whole shebang.

Paper Trails by Pete Dexter - One of my fav's of the year bar none. Love Dex and wish he was more prolific but that just makes each of the columns all the more delectable.

Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand - A haunting and lovely book that I think missed a lot of peoples radar screens. Just an all around fantastic book. I hope that Elizabeth Hand will be writing other books mystery/crime fiction books in the future as her take is an interesting one.

Terror by Dan Simmons- Just one of the flat out best written books all year with scenes that just kill you.

Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge- My surprise pick for the year since I picked it up as a throw away Halloween book and wasn't expecting much. Man was I surprised though when this turned out to be one of my more enjoyable books of the year. The usage of the second person narrative was perfectly done and added the right tone to the book. Also one of my favorite covers of the year.

Half-Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer- Another surprise pick. I never would have thought that a hard-boiled YA PI tale would have worked after being weaned on the amateur sleuthing likes of Encyclopedia Brown and The Great brain in my younger reading days but damn did it ever.

And finally, a long running, critically and commercially popular, seven book series came to an end this year. It was a sad day to close the book and realize that this beloved cast of characters wouldn't be seen any more. The conclusion of the series sent me back into the other books of the series once again, reveling in their madcap adventures. What? No you big dummy, not that scar-faced choad Harry Potter I mean that bad mutha Brant. Geesh. Ammunition by Ken Bruen was one of my fav's of the year. Did she (Falls) or didn't she? is the fiction question haunting me most this year.

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