[bksvol-discuss] NY Times Notable Crime Fiction of 2008

  • From: Cindy Reece <cindyreece524@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 6 Dec 2008 12:33:11 -0500

From the NY Times again. I checked and only found "The Genius", "Brass 
Verdict", and "Winter Study" in the collection.
December 7, 2008
Notable Crime Fiction of 2008 

Friends don’t let friends struggle through the winter without a good mystery. 
Looking back on this year’s books, I see that thrillers about 
frothing-at-the-mouth serial killers appear to be in decline, but there are 
choice offerings in just about every other category of crime novel. 
While it’s tempting to slap a bow on whatever’s at the top of the best-seller 
list, it’s more gratifying to introduce people to an author they might not 
already know. I’m high on Jesse Kellerman, whose offbeat novels show real 
originality. THE GENIUS (Putnam, $24.95) is a meticulously executed 
psycho-chiller about an art dealer who becomes obsessed by a monumental work 
depicting five little “cherubs” who turn out to be murdered children. 
There’s also something gemütlich about sharing a favorite author with a friend. 
Denise Mina, one of the tried-and-true novelists on my list, paints another 
study of Glasgow’s smudged face in SLIP OF THE KNIFE (Little, Brown, $24.99), 
as seen through the eyes of a tough-minded young journalist, Paddy Meehan. 
Michael Connelly continues to deliver the goods with THE BRASS VERDICT (Little, 
Brown, $26.99), his second legal thriller about Mickey Haller, an endearingly 
sleazy criminal defense lawyer. And EXIT MUSIC (Little, Brown, $24.99) may be 
the last we hear of Ian Rankin’s moody Edinburgh cop, the unfathomable Rebus, 
so grab this one before it gets away. 
High among his peers, George Pelecanos has a standout book in THE TURNAROUND 
(Little, Brown, $24.99). Like his other crime novels set in blue-collar 
Washington neighborhoods, this one has a strong father-son dynamic and a stern 
message about the generational cycles of urban crime. But Pelecanos takes an 
unusually tender approach to the two families in his novel, one black and one 
white, and extends them the rare hope of redemption. 
When you’re playing with the big guys, it’s easy to overlook little gems like 
THE GRIFT (Shaye Areheart, $23.95), a cunning whodunit by Debra Ginsberg about 
a fake Florida psychic who discovers her true gifts after she moves to San 
Diego. Or there’s Christine Barber’s first novel, THE REPLACEMENT CHILD (Thomas 
Dunne/St. Martin’s Minotaur, $23.95), a regional mystery that brings to vibrant 
life the community culture of Santa Fe. 
But enough of the warm climates. My pick for the crime novel with the bleakest 
setting is Nevada Barr’s WINTER STUDY (Putnam, $24.95). This rugged 
environmental mystery, which unfolds in the middle of a blizzard, finds a 
ranger working on a research project at Isle Royale National Park, on the 
Canadian border, where a killer is hunting along with the wolves. 
Indoors, the best adventure is a devious intellectual puzzle. Something along 
the lines of MASTER OF THE DELTA (Otto Penzler/­Harcourt, $24), in which Thomas 
H. Cook allows a high school teacher to become carried away by a class project 
on the nature of evil. When this eager-beaver educator finds that one of his 
students is the son of a murderer, he encourages the boy to research his father 
for his term paper. Not a good idea. 
Andrew Pyper comes up with an unnerving yarn in THE KILLING CIRCLE (Thomas 
Dunne/St. Martin’s Minotaur, $24.95), in which a young widower tries to give 
voice to his grief by enrolling in a writing workshop. Not only are his fellow 
scribblers a bizarre lot (the best submits a horror story about “a terrible man 
who does terrible things”), but one of them might be a killer. 
This has been a great year for historical novels, starting with BUCKINGHAM 
PALACE GARDENS (Ballantine, $26), a graceful Victorian drawing-room mystery 
from the dependable Anne Perry. But this year’s period pieces also include 
exotic specimens like COMPANY OF LIARS (Delacorte, $24), Karen Maitland’s 
grimly realistic tale about a band of medieval pilgrims trying to outrun a 
plague that’s sweeping across England, and THE SERPENT’S TALE (Putnam, $25.95), 
the further adventures of Ariana Franklin’s 12th-century heroine, a woman 
schooled in the esoteric art of performing autopsies and clever enough to be of 
service to the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine. 
Many centuries later, in Philadelphia, another young physician finds himself in 
the anatomy room of the Blockley Dead House in an atmospheric first novel, THE 
ANATOMY OF DECEPTION (Delacorte, $24), by Lawrence Goldstone. And in VIENNA 
BLOOD (Random House, paper, $15), Frank Tallis’s gentleman sleuth attends 
meetings of the Psychological Society held in the privacy of Sigmund Freud’s 
One choice entry among all this vivid historical storytelling is THE LOST 
LUGGAGE PORTER (Harvest/Harcourt, paper, $14), the latest book in Andrew 
Martin’s series featuring a detective who works for the great railways that 
crisscrossed London in the industrial age. His pursuits of thieves, con men and 
organized gangs take him on distant train journeys through a network of vast 
terminals and labyrinthine tracks, but to such a railway enthusiast, just 
climbing into the engine of one of those steam-snorting beasts is adventure 
If there’s any kind of mystery that’s a natural for winter reading, it’s the 
suspense story, especially one like WHAT WAS LOST (Holt, paper, $14), which has 
you questioning your own sanity. In this captivating first novel by Catherine 
O’Flynn, a lonely 10-year-old who fancies herself a private detective roams a 
local shopping mall, snooping in everybody’s business — until the day she 
The missing-child plot staple is also handled with sensitivity by the Norwegian 
novelist Karin Fossum. In BLACK SECONDS (Harcourt, $24), she uses the 
disappearance of a 9-year-old girl (so sweet she’s “like a child in a fairy 
tale”) to examine the quiet cruelties of rural life. And if that doesn’t break 
your heart, pick up Donna Leon’s somber police procedural THE GIRL OF HIS 
DREAMS (Atlantic Monthly, $24) and watch her compassionate Venetian detective 
weep when he discovers the body of an angelic child floating in a canal. It’s 
enough to make you long for a good serial killer. 
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