At the beginning of the New Year I finally managed to put together a list of my favourite reads of 2012, though it’s really far from complete and I hate that I have to leave out so many talented writers whose books I enjoyed last year…
It was a very tough decision anyway and so this is not a list naming the places 1 to 7 but those books are my seven favourites which are all sharing the number one place of my hit list of the must reads of 2012. One of the best reads of the last year was definitely Wulf Dorn’s brilliant ‘Mein Boeses Herz’ and the only reason I didn’t add it to this list is simply because unfortunately it is only available in German language.
Hell, if you haven’t read them yet there is nothing holding you back to start brightening your 2013 and read them this year!
(You can see in one of the above pictures that even literary moggy Lucky approves of my choices and who’d want to get into an argument with a cat anyway?)
THE WRATH OF ANGELS by John Connolly
Marielle Vetters and Ernie Scollay meet with Charlie Parker in the ‘Great Lost Bear’ to seek his advice. On his deathbed Marielle’s father told her and her brother the story about how he and his friend Harlan, Ernie’s deceased brother, discovered a plane that had crashed deep in the Maine woods. They had found money in that plane and eventually taken it. Vetters and Scollay also they tell Charlie about papers and a list with names the men had seen in the wreck.
At the same time a woman who hasn’t done a lot of good in her life seeks redemption by sending a list of names to an old acquaintance of Charlie. A list some dangerous people also want to get their hands on.
Before Charlie knows it he’s deep in trouble. The list features his name. Soon he has lost the trust of some old allies as they are questioning his motives and his very nature.
Additionally an old and very dangerous adversary of Charlie resurfaces again dying to get revenge. To make matters worse he is in the company of a very devious woman.
So Charlie has no other choice to start searching for that list and the wreck of the plane and as expected he makes the call to some special gentlemen from New York…
The Wrath of Angels is a very dark tale from the masterfully skilled pen of John Connolly, with villains that are as colourful as they are malicious. Connolly’s descriptions of characters and surroundings alike make his stories literally come to life.
As always it’s a pleasure to lose oneself in Connolly’s tight and enthralling writing and there is a terrible sense of unease and dread throughout the whole narration. You can almost feel the darkness in the deepest gloomy woods reaching out for you with its damp fingers.
Halfway through the story I was even beginning to fear Connolly might have done the unspeakable thing…But you’ll have to read for yourselves to find out more!
THE CLEANER by Paul Cleave
The mentioned cleaner is Joe, who’s working at the local police station in Christchurch. Everybody believes him to be a little slow and a simple guy – while he is actually the notorious serial killer called the ‘Christchurch Carver’ that everyone is looking for.
Yes, Joe is a killer, but he has his problems like we all do. His Mom tries to make him feel bad when he doesn’t visit her as often as she thinks he should. And there is Sally who works in the same building and who is overly attached to him.
Joe knows he has killed six women so far but the police think it’s seven. Joe is mad at the man who tries to pin a murder on him he didn’t commit and so he delves into his own investigation to find that guy. Even a killer has his principles.
The Cleaner doesn’t introduce Joe as the antagonist like most would think. Joe is actually the protagonist of the story. And Cleave masterfully succeeds in making Joe very likeable, despite of what he’s done, readers will instantly relate to him.
Cleave is a born storyteller and has a great narrative style and thankfully unlike his idol Stephen King he doesn’t blab endlessly about his characters’ life story. The plot is fast paced and quirky with great characters and there are scenes that are just as perverse as they are funny – I think I may have inappropriately laughed during all the wrong scenes. Cleave’s humour is as black as a dragon’s arsehole and The Cleaner features one of the most notorious and deviant sex scenes ever!
If you like your books a little off the usual roads than Cleave’s books are right up your alley.
THE KILLING HOUSE by Chris Mooney
Rico, the son of the Herrera family, has been abducted four years ago. After all this time Rico’s mother never gave up hope. One night a strange woman shows up at the Herrera’s house and tells the mother her son is still alive. Mrs. Herrera receives a phone call and the young man on the other end of the line answers questions to which only Rico himself could’ve known the answers. But before Mrs. Herrera can finally see her son again there is one task the woman demands of her: she has to kill her husband first!
Malcolm Fletcher turns up at the Herrera’s doorstep the same night, having been sent there by his friend and part-time employer Ali Karim who offered the Herreras to take another look at Rico’s case. As Mrs. Herrera opens the door Fletcher senses right away there is something wrong and before he knows it he is under fire and things are starting to spiral out of control.
Like all of Mooney’s books, The Killing House make a fast start only to explode right into your face after that! Mooney writes very dark gripping and utterly gruesome thrillers. The storylines are so unusual that I am always baffled by Mooney’s unfailing portfolio of dark ideas. The sometimes extremely brutal scenes are surely not for the faint-hearted. Mooney’s stories remind me of the Batman comics where the villains are larger than life and much more perverted than in other books but still it never feels over the top or corny. Quite the contrary, Mooney delivers on a very grim level and he is one of the few authors who gets a ‘no way’ or ‘fuck me sideways’ out of me more than once while I am reading his books. And Mooney makes me wish there were more movies like his books, there are far too few great thrillers out there and far too much PG-13 crap!
With The Killing House Mooney also brings back Malcolm Fletcher. The tall ex-FBI agent with the black eyes, now persona non grata at the Bureau and one of America’s Most Wanted, is a great character creation and I have to admit I’d let Fletcher shag me anytime! (Of course if you tell my hubby about this I deny I ever said that!)
THE SURVIVOR by Gregg Hurwitz
Nate Overbay is standing on the ledge high up on a skyscraper in L.A. He’s not there to enjoy the view. Nate’s ex-Army, he suffers from ALS, is separated from his wife and daughter and before things get worse, he decided to end his life like that, making sure his daughter will get his life insurance to get her through college. Just as he is about to jump he hears gunshots from inside the building. He witnesses people being shot and decides to help. Nate manages to thwart the robbery, but the man behind the plan who he crossed is far more evil than he could have ever expected. With his worsening health condition he now finds not only himself but also his ex-wife and daughter under threat and so Nate has to fight harder than ever to make sure his family is safe.
The Survivor has everything you’d expect from a great thriller. Nate is one of those ‘All American Heroes’ that instantly find their way into the reader’s heart! The Ukrainian mobsters are villains reminded me of the old classic James Bond movies and make a lot of other bad guys in literature seem tame.
The action is pounding heavily through the pages taking the reader on a thrilling ride but Hurwitz never neglects to give his characters depth and understandable motifs and finds the space for some really moving moments. Once you start reading it’s very hard to put the book down again as The Survivor is a gripping joyride right down to its great, unforgettable and appropriate ending!
RUSH OF BLOOD by Mark Billingham
The last day of the relaxing holiday of three British couples who became friends while in Florida was overshadowed by the tragic disappearance of a young girl whose mother they had gotten to know during their time there.
Now they meet again while back in Blighty and during several dinner parties at their different homes they start to get to know each other better and have to realise that maybe one of them might have had something to do with the girl’s abduction…
I am a huge fan of Mark Billigham’s creation Tom Thorne and I am always looking forward to another book with this great character.
When I heard that Rush of Blood was a standalone novel and also a thriller I was curious about it and I must say I wasn’t disappointed at all.
I think it was good for Billingham to let go of his usual characters and to create new ones. The three couples are being described so accurately in their physique and their dialogue it made me feel like I practically knew them from somewhere, they came alive during reading. Some unfair critics wrote they are ‘stereotypes’ – I don’t know where these people live but I could find a dozen couples like those Billingham on any flight landing from the warmer hemispheres on a London airport! Also, the thoughts and dialogues the couples have about what they really think about each other and the things they talk about during their dinners is a perfect example at how dishonest and underhand they actually are.
Billingham kept me guessing ‘til the end and Rush of Blood was a thoroughly enjoyable and gripping read!
BLACK FLOWERS by Steve Mosby
Black Flowers starts with DS Sullivan witnessing as a young girl seemingly appears from out of nowhere on a seaside promenade. The story she tells him chills the policeman to the bone.
Then we find out that this is only a story, written by the father of young author Neil. When Neil gets the news that his father has committed suicide he is reluctant to believe it and starts his own investigation. But this leads him down a dangerous path and he realises that his father’s book ‘The Black Flower’ might not just be a dark story at all. When Neil’s girlfriend and their unborn child are being abducted he knows he has to go to great lengths if he ever wants to see them again.
Black Flowers is a very dark story, a great mystery that starts in the past and reaches out with its chilling grip until the present day.
I read Black Flowers after being back from Harrogate while lying in the warm sunshine under the parasol in summer but the story chilled me down to the bone and became darker with every page.
Black Flowers is a great mystery thriller and additionally a book within a book! I admire how Mosby managed to weave different seemingly separate plot threads into a grim tale with more surprises along the way than I could’ve ever anticipated. It has also this wonderful kind of old-fashioned ‘Hammeresque’ feeling towards it that it makes it a classic story that could work in any era.
And again, it was a story that I enjoyed so much because it was truly original and it didn’t feel like I’ve read it a hundred times before.
BOOKS TO DIE FOR edited by John Connolly & Declan Burke
Connolly and Burke have teamed up and asked more than 120 authors to name one of their favourite books.
The authors, amongst them Connolly and Burke themselves, Mark Billingham, Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Paul Cleave, Dennis Lehane, Val McDermid – to name only a few – have written essays and explain with passion to the readers how they came to love that particular story so much and what it means to them. As a nice bonus in those lines you will find also find out a lot about the authors themselves.
You will see household names like Thomas Harris, Colin Dexter, Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle amongst the named cherished favourites, but Books To Die For also gives every reader the unique chance to discover not so well known stories that others think are so great that they are worth ‘dying for’!
I won’t lie to you, it’ll probably be the ruin of your wallet or credit card if you start hunting down all the treasured reads of your favourite authors, but as with everything in life you can start with adding one by one to your collection – and we are all collectors, aren’t we!?
Books To Die For is an extraordinary and lovingly arranged compendium for all afficionados of mystery fiction! It’s the essential starter guide for everyone who is interested in the genre as well as a great book of reference for all the die hard long time fans that might have feared they’ve read all the good books already!