Sunday, 13 December 2009

The books that I've loved this year

I've been keeping a roll call of books that I've been reading this year, and when I look at it it surprises me that I've managed to get through so many while also writing flat-out.

I've missed some of the year's top-sellers, but haven't suffered from good reading at all.

Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol was the major book of the latter end of the year. Well, if you've read it and enjoyed it and are panting for more (without going back to Mr Brown's back-list) then I have to point you at two very, very good books that tread the same world of esoteria mixed with a blend of modern intrigue and action.

First and foremost: Steven Savile's SILVER is a real barn-storming action thriller, with a plot that includes a two thousand year old 'lie', a team of tough guys (and gal) who'd be welcome to join Joe Hunter's group of friends in a heartbeat, and enough action and visceral fight scenes to keep any action thriller fan happy. I was lucky to read an advance copy of this book, but it will be on the shelves from January 2010.

The second and equally as breathtaking is Glenn Cooper's Secret of the Seventh Son AKA Library of the Dead, another book filled with ancient secrets, modern intrigue and murder and ...Area 51. If you're expecting little green men, then think again.

For thrillers, you can't by-pass Jeffrey Deaver's The Bodies left Behind. I loved this book, which was quite rightly named thriller of the year at the International Thriller Writers awards ceremony held in July 2009.

If you like Spy thrillers, then I'd the pleasure of reading Jeremy Duns' Free Agent. I don't usually read this genre much these days - although I loved Robert Ludlum's Bourne trilogy and David Morrell's Brotherhood trilogy a few years ago - so I didn't know what I was going to get with Jeremy's book. Set in the 1940's through the 1960's I found it a fabulous tale that I read in very few sittings. Double-crosses, triple-crosses, action, and a damaged anti-hero, what more could you ask from a spy thriller.

In the tough guy genre (you know the one that Joe Hunter and a certain big guy called Reacher stride across), a welcome addition came in the form of Ryan Locke. In Sean Black's Lockdown I found another worthy ally for Joe Hunter. Lockdown is a fast-moving thriller full to the neck with gunfights, hand-to-hand combat and a nasty bunch of killers you want to see Locke put away.

I'm a big Robert Crais fan, so it will be no surprise to anyone who knows me when I say The Last Detective, L.A. Requiem and Chasing Darkness have all been highlights of my reading year. Elvis Cole and Joe Pike - I need say no more.

Also, my current favourite author of all, John Connolly, had his latest Charley Parker book out this year. The Lovers was an awesome piece of writing that I devoured. It was a great addition to Parker's on-going saga and I eagerly await the next one.

British author Adrian Magson doesn't get anywhere near the recognition he should. He tells awesome tales to rival any of the American biggies and I'd the pleasure of reading (again) No Peace for The Wicked, and the more recent No Kiss For The Devil. His Gavin and Palmer books are destined for a much wider readership.

I was directed to Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men when it was pointed out that my Dead Men's Dust was reminiscent of it. I saw the movie first (which was one of my movie viewing highlights of the year), then read the book. Reading the book is almost cinematic in itself and also practically word-for-word, scene-for-scene with the movie. I found it an outstanding piece of writing.

Another author I was turned on to by virtue of having had comparisions made was the master of dialogue, Ken Bruen. Ken's American Skin was a real treat, and the villain, Dade, someone that Tubal Cain would surely compare death-lists with while enjoying a good ol' sarcastic dig at each other. I loved it.

People often decry crime fiction as being pot-boiling commercial fluff, well, they haven't read R.J. Ellorry. Roger's A Quiet Belief In Angels is that rare thing of beauty concealing a rotten core. It was a fabulous read, that brought to my mind such diverse influences asTom Sawyer, Se7en, The Waltons, Legends Of The Fall, Thomas Harris, Of Mice and Men, Stephen King's Stand By me, Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Ed Gein amongst others. You want literary fiction? You want crime fiction? You want a story that will stay in your head for a while? Then, In my opinion, this is it. My favourite book of the year in this respect.

If you're looking for something to read, then let me point you at any of the above.
Also, if you're looking for fast and thrilling, may I also mention for your  consideration:
Simon Kernick
Jeff Abbott
Jack (J.A) Kerley
Sheila Quigley
and...Matt Hilton


David Barber said...

Great post Matt. I will be addin a few of those titles to my Christmas list.
BTW, I listened to your radio piece. Now that was a proper interview. Well done mate.
All the best, David.

Sara Tribble said...

Love it! I know a lot of people are going over the books read this year--I have a whole stack to read! Including yours!

But I will def. take a few of these into consideration, love a recommendation of a great read.

Matt Hilton said...

Thanks David. I enjoyed this radio interview very much. I did a lot more talking at the time, and this is just selected quotes from the entire one, but I have to admit that it came over well. I loved the screaming and machinegun fire intro!

Thanks Sara,
yes, I stand by all those books mentioned and don't think you'll be disappointed by any of them.

Col Bury said...

Top post that, Matt. Some belting writers there, too. I don't know how you've managed to do all that reading and keep up with your own writing n traveling round doing the author thing.
I'll get around to reading most of those you've mentioned in time, but my first choice has to be one of Adrian Magson's after having the pleasure of meeting n spending some time with him - what a top bloke.

Sue H said...

I'm glad to see Simon Kernick features in your recommendation! Love his books - esp. as a number of them are set in north London - my old stomping ground! Good, well paced action - I think his latest, 'Target', is the best - I chewed my fingernails down to the quick!!

Jeremy Duns said...

Thanks very much for the mention of Free Agent, Matt - much appreciated!

Matt Hilton said...

Cheers all. Yeah, I've been very fortunate, especially having met many of the authors mentioned and finding each and every one of them to be top people and great writers.

I'm the kind who - if he isn't writing, is reading - and if I'm not writing or reading I'm thinking about one or the other.

Jeremy, thanks for the thanks (if you know what I mean). I thought Free Agent was excellent and am looking forward to the next adventure very much.

Sue, I was in the fortunate position to have both met and spoken to Simon kernick. he's a great guy who probably deserved more of a mention than I gave him. I thought Relentless was an awesome book and the reason I searched out my agent (who happens to be in the same agency as Simon's) after reading of Simon's success. I also owe Simon big time for reading and giving me a lovely quote on my book.

Col, Adrian is a great bloke and a top writer. And again someone I admire very much. Hopefully he'll get the big exposure that he deserves very soon.

Again folks, to stress how much I read, I'm the guy who reads the ingredients on a tube of toothpaste if I haven't got something else to hand.

Sue H said...

Matt - Yup, agree with you about Simon Kernick - lovely fella! Had a few emails back and forth after I posted a comment on his website - esp. as the settings and locations in some of his books are literally around the corner from where hubby and I met, married and lived!

But then, and I mean no offence, you authors are not 'gods' - you seem to still have time for us little people! Good on yer, mate!

Sue H said...

....and I meant to say 'yippee' when you talked about RJ Ellory! Another writer with the common touch. He invited my daughter to call in if she's passing, and offered her a signed copy of any of his books and after she mentioned him on her blog! Turns out he lives near her in Birmingham!
Am enjoying his "A simple act of violence" on audio CD - what a grand way to get the ironing done!

Matt Hilton said...

A Simple Act Of Violence' will be going on my TBR pile.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Lokks like some gems there. That Free agent is a cracker, eh?

Matt Hilton said...

Yeah, Paul, I enjoyed it very much.