It’s time once again to turn the page on another year of books. Throughout 2010, we buried our nose in all kinds of books—mysteries, thrillers, romances…even the electronic kind. And we’ve reported back on the good, the bad, and the utterly unputdownable.
So now, before we get buried into another year’s literary offerings, Margaret Marr and I would like to share our favorite books of 2010.
Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen: Dark and edgy mystery/thriller that will chill your blood.
Texas Hearts by Rachel Smith: Epic, moving, suspenseful, and unique.
Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason: Haunting and emotional thriller.
Burn by Nevada Barr: Blends the sinful and pure into a mishmash of horrifying and remarkable images.
The Bourne Objective by Eric Van Lustbader: Another hair-raising spin through the life of ex-Central Intelligence Agent Jason Bourne.
The Third Rail by Michael Harvey: Speeds along with spectacular peril and menace that will leave you shuddering in horror.
A Curtain Falls by Stefanie Pintoff: An exceptional and intelligent historical mystery.
Shadows in Summer by Crescent Varrone: One of the most satisfying and thought-provoking paranormal reads in ages.
No Hope for Gomez! by Graham Parkes: A bizarre and crazy read.
Bannon’s Brides by Loretta C. Rogers: This historical romance holds danger, excitement, and something undiscovered around the next bend.
City of Veils by Zoë Ferraris: I love a book that can entertain me and teach me something at the same time. So the book that most captivated me in 2010 was City of Veils, a gripping mystery about a female forensic scientist working in Saudi Arabia. More than just another mystery, though, it’s also a compelling character study and an eye-opening exploration of Islamic culture.
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens: Every once in a while—but not nearly often enough—I read a book that leaves me stunned and speechless. With her debut novel, Still Missing, author Chevy Stevens did just that. It’s a truly haunting novel—one that, despite the horrors it relates, will hold readers utterly engrossed before culminating in a shocking and chilling conclusion.
Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski: I’ve read a whole lot of books in a whole lot of genres—but I’d never read hard-boiled time-travel noir until I picked up Expiration Date. Written by comic book writer Swierczynski, it offers the best of both worlds: the fast-paced action of a comic book and the solid development of a novel. Give it all a pulp-fiction twist, and you’ve got one captivating adventure.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steven Hockensmith: In his prequel to Seth Grahame-Smith’s hilarious Jane Austen mash-up, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, manages to tell a completely original story that stays true to Austen’s prim and proper style while adding plenty of zombie-fighting action. As far as zombie stories go, it’s extremely refined—not to mention ridiculously entertaining.
The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi: Perhaps it’s because I once lived in a small town, but I’m always drawn to stories about the people who live in tiny towns—whether they’re in Middle America or on a quaint little island in Greece. And Anne Zouroudi’s haunting mystery, The Messenger of Athens, perfectly captures that small-town feel—its rumors, its romance, and its dark secrets.
Buy Back by Brian M. Wiprud: Some authors just have a flair for the unusual—and Brian M. Wiprud’s quirky flair comes through loud and clear in his latest caper, Buy Back. The action-packed adventure is crisp and cleverly written—but the book’s highlight is its cast of eccentric characters, who add some amusing little surprises to the story without making it feel too bizarre.
Worst Case by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge: This third Michael Bennett thriller is the best yet—an edge-of-your-seat adventure with a lovable cast of characters. The New York detective’s latest case is suspenseful, but it’s so much more than a simple crime thriller—because Bennett and his huge family give the story heart and a touch of easy-going family humor, too.
Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane: With Moonlight Mile, Dennis Lehane once again proved why he’s one of the country’s favorite authors. The story is absorbing—a complex and intricately shaded mystery—and the characters are so real that you’ll swear you know them. Though the conclusion didn’t live up to my expectations, the journey was easily one of the best of 2010.
The Devil by Ken Bruen: In case you haven’t noticed, I have a weakness for the unusual—like Ken Bruen’s latest Jack Taylor mystery, in which his foul-mouthed hero faces off against what could very well be Satan himself. It definitely isn’t the typical hard-boiled mystery—but Bruen’s signature clipped prose and the story’s unexpected plot make The Devil sinfully good.
A Bad Day for Pretty by Sophie Littlefield: In my favorite beach read of the year, Sophie Littlefield’s feisty heroine, Stella Hardesty returns for her second wild-and-crazy Missouri mystery. Though the story is solid, its distinctive voice and irreverent sense of humor—along with its developing cast of small-town, back-woods characters—make it stand out in a sea of fluffy chick lit.
Honorable Mention: Audiobooks
I listened to a number of captivating audiobooks this year. But the most memorable was Benjamin Black’s Elegy for April. With its wintery Dublin setting and its well-developed characters, it’s the kind of audiobook that could make you drive around the block a few times before pulling into the driveway, just so you can keep listening. And the brilliant narration by Timothy Dalton is icing on the cake.
Honorable Mention: Quickies
During my lunch-break reading, I came across a variety of short ebooks—but Only in Novels by Laura Briggs was the best of the year. In fewer than 60 pages, Briggs manages to tell a charming story with adorable characters and a hint of romance—and, as an added bonus, it’s set in the kind of cozy bookstore where bookworms like me tend to gather.