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:
Jack (J.A) Kerley