Monday, December 28, 2009

LIST: Best Crime Fiction Reads of 2009

If I had to pick my favorite genre, I would have to go with mystery. Some of the best series I've read were crime and mystery. It's that suspense quality, the clues, trying to figure out what happened. A great series will have a detective that makes you want to know them better. And they have their own issues to deal with, generally some terrible event in their life that leads them to make order in the world.

At Mysteries in Paradise, Kerrie has a great blog that is all about mysteries. I only recently found this site, but have been hanging around, getting lots of great new mysteries to read. There is an ongoing event, Crime Fiction Alphabet highlighting authors, or titles that begin with a particular letter. She also is looking for lists of your best crime fiction reads of 2009. She is taking lists, collating and listing them, and then making a big ole list. Here's my little effort for the year, in order of excellence, according to me.

1. Wife of the Gods, Kwei Quartey
First in a series with Det Darko Dawson, this mystery set in Ghana was a wonderful find. Darko was a great character, and the juxtaposition of present world and old traditions really worked.

2. Inspector Erlendur series
The Draining Lake, Indridason
Arctic Chill, Indridason
Hypothermia, Indridason
I'm putting all these books together, the Icelandic mystery series. I give these books to everyone who likes mysteries, as the setting, and characters, and the mystery all work so well. A flawed lead detective, two other police on the team who have their own interesting back stories, and the cold, dark Iceland: what are you waiting for?

3. Still Life, Louise Penny
A new to me series set in Quebec, I like when I find a mystery series that already has 4 or 5 books written. Inspector Gamauche solved a wonderful little crime, and is a detective in the Poirot mold - smart, cool, and ideal. I have to go back to Three Pines again soon.

4. Sacred Cows, Karen E Olson
Another first in a series for me. It reminded me a lot of Stephanie Plum by Evanovich, but I preferred Annie Seymour's humor and romantic leads in this book. Great mystery as well.

5. Excursion to Tindari, Andrea Camilleri
The Smell of the Night, Camilleri
Rounding the Mark, Camilleri
The Patience of the Spider, Camilleri
Every now and then I need a trip to Sicily and a little visit with Inspector Montalbano. Salvo is rude, and crude, and a bit obnoxious. He knows what he needs to do and doesn't let the actual law get in his way of solving the crime. He also enjoys his food, and reading these books is fun, and makes me hungry.

6. Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris
The book where Sookie Stackhouse, mindreading waitress of True Blood fame, got her start. She meets Bill, a vampire whose mind she can't read. She ends up solving a murder to help clear Bill. I prefer Harris' Shakespeare mystery series, but when I want to read another vampire book/mystery, I'll continue with this series.

7. Three Bags Full, Leonie Swann
The idea of the book is a bit better than the execution, but it was worth a read to see how sheep think. The flock of sheep solve the murder of their shepherd in Ireland.

8. December Heat, Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
Continuing my 'around the world one mystery at a time', this one is set in Brazil. It was a great feel to the book, the hot December in Rio deJaneiro with another slightly flawed detective. I do plan to go back and read another mystery by this author - there are a few in the series.


  1. Thanks for your contribution. The list is growing nicely. 10 contributors so far

  2. I look forward to the Erlendur series. I'm just wild for cold climates! Have you seen the movie, The Girl in the Café set in Iceland? It made me want to go there. I'll head over and check out this mystery list thing and try to put one together.

  3. What a great list! I really liked Wife of Gods too. :-)

    I love Indridason's novels. I've fallen behind in the series though and so haven't read the three books you mention. Soon though! Hopefully. :-)

    Still Life is one I really want to read. I've heard such great things about it.

    I'm so glad Sacred Cows made your list! I love that book.

    And I love Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire series. Sookie is such a great character.

  4. kerrie - thanks for organizing the lists

    nan - the Erlendur series is taking off, I'm noticing his books listed in more places, such a great series.
    I haven't seen that movie. I don't watch a lot of movies, but anything I've seen of Iceland makes me want to go there.

    wendy - I'm sure I got most of the titles from you in one way or another, certainly the Indridason and Sacred Cows. I'm really looking forward to another Darko mystery.

  5. I'm in definite agreement with you about:

    (1) Kerrie and her blog!
    (2) Wife of the Gods-- I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
    (3) I've read all her books-- Louise Penny is FABULOUS.
    (4)I love Montalbano!


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