Thursday, September 29, 2022

Favorite Reads, Summer 2022

 August was the month I set aside for reading PI novels as a way to familiarize myself with the genre in an effort to jump start my work in progress. It was time well spent, as the length of this season’s favorites column shows.


The Ice Harvest, Scott Phillips. The Beloved Spouse™ and I watch the movie every Christmas Eve, I read the book every few years, and the enjoyment derived never falters. Phillips hit the ground running with this first novel.


The Judgment of Deke Hunter, George V. Higgins. Maybe my least favorite of Higgins’s novels, but still damn good. The story is fascinating and he does his usual wonderful job of letting it unfold through oblique dialog, but some of the dialog is thicker than narrative in a Russian novel and so far off topic, and for so long, it strained my patience.


The Deadwood Bible: A Lie Agreed Upon, Matt Zoller Seitz, editor. Highly recommended for fans of Deadwood and David Milch. Much of the book is a mini-biography of Milch, followed by an oral history of the show and movie, and concluded with critical essays. A fascinating read and detailed study of an exceptional, and exceptionally flawed, man. I’ll admit, some points made in the essays are head scratchers. (No link available. The book was a Kickstarter project.)


The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett. Almost a hundred years old and still maybe the greatest—and most perfect—detective story ever written. You disagree? Bring it on.


All the Dead Voices, Declan Hughes. It had been a while since I read an Ed Loy novel, and I chose wisely with this one. Probably the best of the lot and exquisitely crafted to tie the late aughts back to the Troubles.


Gone Baby Gone, Dennis Lehane. The best of the Kenzie-Gennaro books, which says a lot. The film is an excellent adaptation.


Indigo Slam, Robert Crais. Crais is as good a storyteller as anyone in the genre, and this is one of the better stories. His plots are complex without being confusing, due in large part to the clarity of his writing. No one gives the reader a fairer chance to keep up without boring those more intimately involved.


Every City is Every Other City, John McFetridge. A re-reading of this year’s Shamus winner for best paperback original. I loved this book when I first read it, and may have liked it even more this time. McFetridge’s style and voice are perfect for part-time PI Gord Stewart, and the low-key romance between Gord and Ethel is as entertaining and rings as true as any you’ll read. The intermingled plots work well and sustain interest, but this is Gord’s story, and well worth the time.


Something Bad Wrong, Eryk Pruitt. I don’t often mention ARCs here, but this is worthy of exception. Pruitt weaves together different viewpoints and timelines into a cohesive whole that doesn’t raise the curtain for its reveals so much as it allows the fog to dissipate. Not just an outstanding book; an accomplishment. Look for this one next march. (Link is to pre-order.)


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