Thursday, January 10, 2008

Best of 2007

So, I promised my favourite books of 2007 and a little look ahead.

This has been trickier than I thought it would be. When I had to pick my top five European Crime novels of the year for Eurocrime I managed without any difficulty to select the following five -

John Connolly - The Unquiet
Stuart McBride - Dying Light
Pat McIntosh - The Harper's Quine
Stef Penney - The Tenderness of Wolves
Ian Rankin - Exit Music

However when I add non-crime and non-European to the mix it becomes a lot more complicated. I've been trying to read more non-crime this year and have been helped in this aim by a certain ennuie with the genre. But as I've substituted the crime almost exclusively with historical fiction I'm not sure I've broadened my horizons very far, and while I've read some very good historical novels this year none have made it into my top five. After much deliberation I've narrowed it down to these -

Vera Brittain - Letters of a Lost Generation
Pat McIntosh - The Harper's Quine
Joe R Lansdale - A Fine Dark Line
Stef Penney - The Tenderness of Wolves
James Lee Burke - The Tin Roof Blowdown

That's my favourite books READ in 2007, not necessarily published in that year. I may have cheated as I have put The Crystal Skull on this year's list as it was only published in January, otherwise something else would have had to make way for it. Honorable mentions also go to Coronado by Dennis Lehane (which contains one of my alltime favourite short stories), and to the Emperor series by Conn Iggulden, all of which I managed to squeeze in this year.

So now we come to the thorny subject of my least favourite books of the year. I've read (or at least tried to read) some truly awful books this year.

The Fiat Punto Award for Book Hurled into the Backseat with most Venom goes to.... The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld.

The Friends of the Earth Please Save More Trees by Not Publishing Any More award goes to ..... Shadowman by Cody McFadyen.

The "Christ, I Can't Believe I Actually Paid Good Money for This" award goes to..... Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid.

The Sheila Quigley Award for Most Irritating Regional Accent in a Book goes to.... Sheila Quigley.

So, what am I looking forward to this year? Well, I'm hoping to read some better crime fiction than some of the stuff that passed over my desk this year. Perhaps I need to get over my aversion to Scandinavian translated crime and give it another go. There are new novels from John Connolly and Michael Connelly to look forward to. The second part of Ann Cleeve's quartet set in Shetland should be out in April. PJ Tracy and Karin Slaughter both have new novels due this year too.

I'm hoping that I will find a new author to savour in amongst the proofs and review copies. And I'm hoping not to have to read anything involving Edinburgh or lawyers and particularly Edinburgh lawyers for as long as I can possibly hold off. 100 points deducted from the first publishing house to send me such a book for review!!

Bonus points this week go to Faber & Faber who have sent me a couple of proofs set in St Petersburg, one a modern thriller and the other a historical crime novel featuring Petrovich from Crime & Punishment. So that puts them first in the pile for reviews this year. I don't think I've read any crime set in St Petersburg before - has to be better than Edinburgh. More details on the books when I get to them.

My good friend Helen asked me if I had any writing resolutions for this year and I have to admit that I don't. It seems to be tempting fate too much to set myself any writing goals this year, given my abysmal showing during NaNoWriMo. I shall just try and get some writing done as and when time allows and will keep blogging as regularly as I can.


Anonymous said...

Just out of interest - do you know how many books you read (and finished, as opposed to hurling onto the back seat) in the last year?

BTW - I'd like to bestow my own personal award for Most Over-Hyped Book of the Year to The Kite Runner. But godzillions of people have bought it so clearly I Know Nothing.

Pat said...

I actually read 52 books in their entirety, only about 4-6 books were hurled mercilessly against the wall or onto the backseat of the car, though there were some that I had to finish for review purposes that were extremely trying and that I wished I didn't have to finish.

I haven't read The Kite Runner yet, perhaps I'm the only person left in the country who hasn't!

Maxine Clarke said...

I do so agree with you on the Sheila Quigley. I won't read any more of her after having read one. (Didn't think the writing style was that good either).
Gutted to read the Val McDermid award as I have just ordered that book together with a heap of others....darn it. She's usually good, I think.
I haven't read Exit Music yet, waiting for the PB, but very much looking forward to it.

I've just posted my list (including my Euro Crime reviewed titles) on Petrona ( -- as I am commenting with blogger account). Like you, I stuck to books I'd actually reviewed this year. I've already read three as yet unreviewed ones that I think are brilliant and it is only week 2 of 2008!

Maxine Clarke said...

BTW I haven't read the Kite Runner either. I never read these overhyped books on principle. (Mind you, Norm of Crime Scraps said that the Jeb Rubenfield one -- the something of Murder -- is good so I have bought that but not actually read it yet).
I did however give the Kite Runner to my husband for Christmas on spur of moment, and he is loving it, says it is very well written indeed. He's more of a non-fiction/history/sea-related type of reader, though, not a crime fic addict like me.

Uriah Robinson said...

Oops I see we disagree on the Jed Rubenfeld The Interpretation of Murder, and Maxine has bought it on my recommendation!
I did enjoy the book, but then I am fascinated by that period leading up to the Great War.