This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl is our Bookish Resolutions. Which, I have to admit, is something new for me, as (a) I never normally make New Year’s resolutions, I mean, ever. And (b) bookish resolutions? Hmm … but here goes nothing. Maybe if I make a few bookish choices and, having a few goals for the year might be a good thing.
As this hideous year winds down, and we look back at the books we’ve read this year—or, in my case, since I refocused my website towards crime fiction this past summer—we celebrate our favourite and the best of the year as this week’s Top Ten Tuesday from Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.
Given I haven’t read that many books since the summer, and of those that I did read, a lot are from previous years, this list is strictly going to be less the best of and more what my favourites were.
So, in no particular order, here’s the books and series I’m raving about:
BLOOD ON THE TRACKS by Barbara Nickless
A young woman is found brutally murdered, and the main suspect is the victim’s fiancé, a hideously scarred Iraq War vet known as the Burned Man. But railroad police Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell, brought in by the Denver Major Crimes unit to help investigate, can’t shake the feeling that larger forces are behind this apparent crime of passion.
In the depths of an icy winter, Parnell and her K9 partner, Clyde―both haunted by their time in Iraq―descend into the underground world of a savage gang of rail riders. There, they uncover a wide-reaching conspiracy and a series of shocking crimes. Crimes that threaten everything Parnell holds dear.
As the search for the truth puts her directly in the path of the killer, Parnell must struggle with a deadly question: Can she fight monsters without becoming one herself?
Crime Fiction | Suspense | Mystery : Thomas & Mercer, 2016
FALLOUT by Sara Paretsky
Before there was Lisbeth Salander, before there was Stephanie Plum, there was V.I. WARSHAWSKI. To her parents, she’s Victoria Iphigenia. To her friends, she’s Vic. But to clients seeking her talents as a detective, she’s V.I. And her new case will lead her from her native Chicago… and into Kansas, on the trail of a vanished film student and a faded Hollywood star.
Accompanied by her dog, V.I. tracks her quarry through a university town, across fields where missile silos once flourished — and into a past riven by long-simmering racial tensions, a past that holds the key to the crimes of the present. But as the mysteries stack up, so does the body count. And in this, her toughest case, not even V.I. is safe.
Crime Fiction | Detective | Suspense : William Morrow, 2017
AND FIRE CAME DOWN by Emma Viskic
Caleb Zelic used to meet life head-on. Now he’s struggling just to get through the day. His best mate is dead, his ex-wife, Kat, is avoiding him, and nightmares haunt his waking hours.
But when a young woman is killed after pleading for his help in sign language, Caleb is determined to find out who she was. And the trail leads straight to his hometown, Resurrection Bay. The town is on bushfire alert and simmering with racial tensions. As he delves deeper, Caleb uncovers secrets that could threaten his life and any chance of reuniting with Kat. Driven by his demons, he pushes on. But who is he willing to sacrifice along the way?
Crime Fiction | Suspense | Noir Mystery : Pushkin Press, 2018
THE KINGDOM OF THE BLIND by Louise Penny
When a peculiar letter arrives inviting Armand Gamache to an abandoned farmhouse, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec discovers that a complete stranger has named him one of the executors of her will. Still on suspension, and frankly curious, Gamache accepts and soon learns that the other two executors are Myrna Landers, the bookseller from Three Pines, and a young builder.
None of them had ever met the elderly woman.
The will is so odd and includes bequests that are so wildly unlikely that Gamache and the others suspect the woman must have been delusional. But what if, Gamache begins to ask himself, she was perfectly sane?
When a body is found, the terms of the bizarre will suddenly seem less peculiar and far more menacing. But it isn’t the only menace Gamache is facing.
Crime Fiction | Suspense | Murder-Mystery : Minotaur Books, 2018
BAD DAY AT THE VULTURE CLUB by Vaseem Khan
The Parsees are among the oldest, most secretive and most influential communities in the city: respected, envied and sometimes feared.
When prominent industrialist Cyrus Zorabian is murdered on holy ground, his body dumped inside a Tower of Silence – where the Parsee dead are consumed by vultures – the police dismiss it as a random killing. But his daughter is unconvinced.
Chopra, uneasy at entering this world of power and privilege, is soon plagued by doubts about the case.
But murder is murder. And in Mumbai, wealth and corruption go in hand in hand, inextricably linking the lives of both high and low.
Crime Fiction | Murder-mystery : Mulholland Books, 2019
Today’s challenge from Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl are books on our TBR piles. And while I still have a couple of physical books sat on my coffee table, awaiting me, my online wish list has been growing, exponentially, with every recommendation you all keep giving me, never mind what keeps popping up over on twitter.
As most of you already know about the books I currently have, I thought to focus on my wish list, online, and tell you about upcoming 2021 releases I cannot wait for!
THE SURVIVORS by Jane Harper (Feb 2)
Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.
The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.
Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.
THE SANATORIUM by Sarah Pearse (Feb 23)
An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.
Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge—there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.
Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in.
THE WINDSOR KNOT by S.J. Bennett (Mar 9)
It is the early spring of 2016 and Queen Elizabeth is at Windsor Castle in advance of her 90th birthday celebrations. But the preparations are interrupted when a guest is found dead in one of the Castle bedrooms. The scene suggests the young Russian pianist strangled himself, but a badly tied knot leads MI5 to suspect foul play was involved. The Queen leaves the investigation to the professionals—until their suspicions point them in the wrong direction.
Unhappy at the mishandling of the case and concerned for her staff’s morale, the monarch decides to discreetly take matters into her own hands. With help from her Assistant Private Secretary, Rozie Oshodi, a British Nigerian and recent officer in the Royal Horse Artillery, the Queen secretly begins making inquiries. As she carries out her royal duties with her usual aplomb, no one in the Royal Household, the government, or the public knows that the resolute Elizabeth will use her keen eye, quick mind, and steady nerve to bring a murderer to justice.
DARKNESS FOR LIGHT by Emma Viskic (Mar 16)
After a lifetime of bad decisions PI Caleb Zelic is finally making good ones. He’s in therapy, his business is recovering and his relationship with his estranged wife Kat is on the mend.
But soon Caleb is drawn into the tangled life of his troubled ex partner Frankie, which leads to a confrontation with the cops. And when Frankie’s niece is kidnapped, she and Caleb must work together to save the child’s life. But can Caleb trust her after her past betrayals?
THE CORAL BRIDE by Roxanne Bouchard (May 1)
When an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift off the coast of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, DS Joaquin Moralès begins a straightforward search for the boat’s missing captain, Angel Roberts—a rare female in a male-dominated world. But Moralès finds himself blocked at every turn—by his police colleagues, by fisheries bureaucrats, and by his grown-up son, who has turned up at his door with a host of his own personal problems.
When Angel’s body is finally discovered, it’s clear something very sinister is afoot, and Moralès and son are pulled into murky, dangerous waters, where old resentments run deep.
MIDNIGHT AT MALABAR HOUSE by Vaseem Khan (Jun 22)
As India celebrates the arrival of a momentous new decade, Inspector Persis Wadia stands vigil in the basement of Malabar House, home to the city’s most unwanted unit of police officers. Six months after joining the force she remains India’s first female police detective, mistrusted, sidelined and now consigned to the midnight shift. And so, when the phone rings to report the murder of prominent English diplomat Sir James Herriot, the country’s most sensational case falls into her lap.
As 1950 dawns and India prepares to become the world’s largest republic, Persis, accompanied by Scotland Yard criminalist Archie Blackfinch, finds herself investigating a case that is becoming more political by the second. Navigating a country and society in turmoil, Persis, smart, stubborn and untested in the crucible of male hostility that surrounds her, must find a way to solve the murder—whatever the cost.
So there you have it, not ten, but six solid choices that each have me excited. And you, what have you got on your own wish list of releases for 2021, anything special I should know about?
Today’s challenge from Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl is a freebie. In other words, open to featuring something festive for the holiday season as in, wintery reads, or snow on the cover, that kind of thing. So, guess what I’m going to go with? Christmas-themed covers and stories.
THE DEAL OF A LIFETIME by Fredrik Backman
A holiday novella from the New York Timesbest-selling author Fredrik Backman, The Deal of a Lifetime is a father’s story to his son, told over Christmas Eve. In it, a man finds he may be able to help a little girl dying from cancer in a hospital, but not before making amends with his own son first. It’s a story that manages to get to the heart of what the holiday means—sacrifice, forgiveness, and love—in less than a hundred pages.
THE USUAL SANTAS a collection of crime fiction stories
A group of crime-fiction writers, including Helene Tursten and Martin Limón, put pen to paper for a collection of short stories ranging from foreboding to heartwarming, but all centered on the immortal focal point of the holiday: Kris Kringle. The forward is written by British detective novelist Peter Lovesey, and each of the 16 globe-trotting caper tales take place somewhere else on the globe, be it Thailand, Copenhagen, or Korea. So when you need to get away, well, here you go.
MR. DICKENS AND HIS CAROL by Samantha Silva
Samantha Silva pens a comical and haunting offshoot tale based on the man who wrote A Christmas Carol. Not to be confused with The Man Who Invented Christmas (Les Standiford), Silva’s version of the story goes a little something like this: As writer’s block sets in, Dickens heads to London for some inspiration. There, he goes on long walks, each scattered with the details that would become his Carol. Which, when you look at it, is almost the same as, The Man Who Invented Christmas.
HIDDENSEE: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire
Having brought his legions of devoted readers to Oz in Wicked and to Wonderland in After Alice, Maguire now takes us to the realms of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffmann—the enchanted Black Forest of Bavaria and the salons of Munich. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve.
HERCULE POIROT’S CHRISTMAS by Agatha Christie
No Christmas reading list can be complete without at least one Agatha Christie novel, and what better than Hercule Poirot’s Christmas to set the mood for murder. What starts with a family reunion and, of course, as with any Christie novel, always ends in murder. This one is the perfect antidote to all that good cheer of the holiday season. So why not jump in and solve a Christmas murder with that most famous of Belgian sleuths, Poirot, in this deviously devised whodunit.
A CUP OF HOLIDAY FEAR by Ellie Alexander
Ashland, Oregon, looks as pretty as a postcard this holiday season. The halls are decked, stockings hung, and eyes are all aglow-mostly thanks to the buttered rum. Jules Capshaw and her staff at Torte are busier than ever… still, even the town’s most in-demand bakers need to take a break. So Jules invites everyone to celebrate at the local Winchester Inn’s Dickens Feast, a six-course extravaganza with Yorkshire Pudding, Christmas goose, and all the trimmings. But as the weather outside becomes frightful, things inside turn less delightful when one of the guests ends up as dead as Scrooge’s doornail. Now it’s up to Jules and her helpers to make a list of suspects-and check it twice-to try to find out who’s naughty, who’s nice, and who’s guilty of murder.
A PAGE MARKED FOR MURDER by Lauren Elliott
January isn’t the season for the seaside, but the big Fire and Ice festival is keeping bookstore owner Addie busy. Amid the plans for a fireworks display and an ice-carving competition, she’s also dog sitting for a friend in the hospital. When Addie goes to her friend’s house to gather supplies, she notices an interesting item on the nightstand which belongs to her shop assistant, Paige: a very valuable copy of the beloved children’s book The Secret Garden. The next thing Addie knows, that first edition has gone missing. Is there a connection between the body and the treasured tome? If there is, it’s up to Addie to find a killer with a motive as hidden as Frances Hodgson Burnett’s famous garden.
19TH CHRISTMAS by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
As the holidays approach, Detective Lindsay Boxer and her friends in the Women”s Murder Club have much to celebrate. Crime is down. The medical examiner”s office is quiet. Even the courts are showing some Christmas spirit. And the news cycle is so slow that journalist Cindy Thomas is on assignment to tell a story about the true meaning of the season for San Francisco.
Then a fearsome criminal known only as “Loman” seizes control of the headlines. Solving crimes never happens on schedule, but as this criminal mastermind unleashes credible threats by the hour, the month of December is upended for the Women”s Murder Club. Avoiding tragedy is the only holiday miracle they seek.
MURDER UNDER THE CHRISTMAS TREE: A collection of classic crime fiction
A locked room mystery solved with a flourish on Boxing Day.
Blackmail on Christmas Eve.
A missing jewel discovered in a very festive hiding place.
A body slumped in a chair on Christmas morning, still listening to carols.
The midnight theft of a gift intended for a saint.
Crime doesn’t take a holiday, so these – and many more – are the puzzles that make up Murder under the Christmas Tree, a collection of festive mysteries featuring fictional sleuths from Lord Peter Wimsey to Sherlock Holmes, Cadfael to Father Brown. This is the very best of Christmas murder and mayhem—so settle into your armchair, put another log on the fire and take a bite of your mince pie. Just make sure it’s not poisoned.
12 SLAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Jacqueline Frost
When Holly White’s fiancé cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime—exactly what the doctor ordered. Except her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grinch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.
When the murder weapon is revealed as one of the wooden stakes used to identify trees on the farm, Sheriff Evan Grey turns to Holly’s father, Bud, and the Reindeer Games staff. And it doesn’t help that Bud and the reindeer keeper were each seen arguing with Margaret just before her death. But Holly knows her father and is determined to exonerate him.The jingle bells are ringing, the clock is ticking, and if Holly doesn’t watch out, she’ll end up on Santa’s naughty list in Twelve Slays of Christmas, Jacqueline Frost’s jolly series debut.
And there you have it. Quite the eclectic mix of murder, mystery, and Christmas mayhem and, eh, maybe a little romance too—ten choices to choose from, to read over the holidays and keep you out of mischief. And you, dear reader, what made your Top Ten Tuesday today?