My best reads from September, in the order in which they were read:
Silent Edge, by Michael Koryta. A cold case heats up in a hurry for Cleveland PI Lincoln Perry after he’s hired by an ex-con to find the woman who rehabilitated him. Koryta is a master at treading the line between just enough and too much in plot, characterization, dialog, and whatever other aspects of novels appeal to you. One of the top five I’ve read this year.
All the Dead Voices, by Declan Hughes. Ed Loy’s fourth adventure may be the best yet, as he grapples with a case that has roots in the Irish Troubles that no one really wants him to deal with. Hughes is the Irish mix of Chandler and Macdonald, a beautiful wordsmith with a knack for writing stories about how previously unknown histories can destroy the present. I would loved to have seen a little more of sidekick Tommy Owens, but that’s a personal problem. Another Top Five for the year to date.
Cottonwood, by Scott Phillips. About as different from Phillips’s better-known The Ice Harvest as you can get stylistically, but just as good, maybe better. Bill Ogden marches to his own drummer, and the beat takes him from the fictional town of Cottonwood, Kansas to Colorado and back, An epic story told on a small scale, Phillips’s writing keeps the reader so well in the scene you can just about smell the horseshit in the streets. The Top Five swells and may have to be adjusted to the Top Ten. It’s late enough in the year.
No More Heroes, by Ray Banks. My first Banks novel, and once again I wonder what took me so long. Callum Innes the ex-con PI is in his fourth adventure, and he gets beat up even worse than Ed Loy, which takes some doing. Banks is the master of the flawed protagonist, showing both sides of Inness’s character without sympathy or exaltation; he’s just getting through the day. Immigrants, neo-Nazis, students, and the media combine in a story calculated to make the reader question the truth of anything he hears or reads.