Sunday, December 30, 2018

LJ's Favorite Reads of 2018

It wasn't easy to pare down my list.  I read so many very good books both by favorite authors, as well as those authors who were new to me, but are now on my list to follow.  However, this is a list of those books I particularly enjoyed in 2018.  You may notice my list leans toward licensed investigators (police procedurals, legal mysteries, etc.) and historical mysteries, but not all. So enjoy. Perhaps you'll find a book to pique your interest.

With a connection to the Kennedy assignation, "November Road" is an exceptional book.  It is a love story with danger and suspense enough to keep one reading late into the night.  Berney's previous book "The Long and Faraway Gone," was excellent.  "November Road" surpasses even that.  Simply put; read it!

"Wild Fire" is yet another excellent read from Ann Cleeves. Set in the Shetland Islands north of Scotland, Cleeves doesn't rely on twists, but when she does include one, it's very effective.  She also does a very good job of increasing the level of mystery and suspense, keeping the killer's identity from the reader until the last possible moment. It is said that this is the last book in the Shetland series.  An intriguing and subtle Easter egg leaves us wondering what's coming next.  

Joe Talbert Jr., a cub reporter, wrote a story about a Senator which went to press without confirmation, with the result that he has been suspended and may be fired. However, he has come across the story about the murder of a Joseph Talbert in southern Minnesota.  Could this be the father he never met?  "The Shadows We Hide" is a story of secrets, lies, and addictions; of the harm people can do to themselves and one another.  But in the end, it is a story of redemption and is very well done.

Retired PI Leo Waterman is asked by Art Fowler, an old friend, to help find answers as to why his grandson would suddenly kill a city councilman and then himself. When Art allegedly commits suicide two days after making the request, Leo knows he can't ignore things.  Leo's questions into the matter nearly cost him his life and take him into a situation he'd never expected. "Soul Survivor" presents a very different, and much darker, G.M. Ford than we've ever known.  It's not a comfortable read, but it's an honest one with several "wow" moments.  One can only hope to see more of Leo in the future.

Twenty years ago, Aaron Falk had been accused of murder.  Now a Federal Agent, Aaron has returned for Luke's funeral. Together with Sergeant Raco, the cop new to the town, they work to learn what really happened.  "The Dry" is filled with very effective twists that one doesn't see coming even though Harper plays completely fair with the readers.  Secrets; everyone has secrets, but secrets will out and Harper does an excellent job of exposing them all.  What an excellent debut.

Psychologist Joe O'Laughlin is coping with Parkinson's, recent widowhood, and raising his two daughters.  Receiving a call that his father has been attacked and in a coma introduces yet another challenge.  This is a story about families, and secrets, and the lengths to which one is willing to go for one's family.  "The Other Wife" is a rollercoaster of twists and surprises, filled with excellent characters, thought-provoking truths, and an ending of hope.

It is difficult to say much about this book without giving away spoilers.  My best recommendation is to read it cold without having looked at any information about the plot, impossible as that may be."Dancing on the Grave" is an excellent read which deals with the psychology of the characters as well as the forensics of the crimes.  It is both suspenseful and disquieting, clearly demonstrating Sharp's true skill as a writer.

Inspector Ian Rutledge, driving on deserted roads in the middle of the night, doesn’t expect to come across a stopped motorcar, a dead man, and a woman with blood on her hands.  The Gatekeeper” is so well done.  Its multifaceted plot is equaled only by the excellent, multifaceted protagonist, and the quality of the writing.  This may well be the best book in the series to date. 

A rare devotional in an exquisite box moves from person-to-person, affecting the life of each person by whom it is possessed.  Not tied to either their Ian Rutledge or Bess Crawford series, this novella is a lovely way to try Charles Todd.  "The Pretty Little Box" is fascinating and thought-provoking.  It leaves one with more questions than answers, but that's part of its appeal.

Other books I enjoyed, and highly recommend are:

You'll find all the other books I've read on my Goodreads page.

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