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Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite Reads of 2020

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

22 comments on “Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite Reads of 2020

  1. Avatar

    Interesting list, I do love books that include dogs (or cats but they don’t always have a big role in books) so it’s great to see two that include four-legged partners! I also need to read another book by Louise Penny myself next year.. it’s on my list now!

  2. Alex

    Thanks, Inge. We have a baby elephant and two dogs to be exact, in this list. Always unusual to come across an elephant, but Vaseem Khan’s series is really one of those special series. I hope you give it a go. And yes to the Louise Penny any book of hers, and this one is exceptional but then, every year each book is better than the last. 😀

  3. Avatar

    Bad Day at the Vulture Club looks like an interesting read for sure.

    My post.

  4. Avatar

    Ooooh, these look good! And I never even heard of them before. I’m going to put them on my library wishlist. Thank you for sharing Alex! <3

    • Alex

      Oh, I am so glad you think so, and even more so that you want to put them on your library list. I thoroughly enjoyed reading them all and hope you do too. Let me know how you get on.

  5. Avatar
    Jonetta (Ejaygirl) | Blue Mood Café

    I’m determined to read Emma Viskic this year! It’s on my Audible shelf.

    • Alex

      Oh, you must, she is such a good writer and I’m sure if you get a really good narrator, you’re going to love this series!

  6. Avatar

    I haven’t read any of these, but I’m always on the lookout for good crime fiction so I’ll definitely be checking some of these out. Oh, and I love Louise Penny! I’m behind in the Gamache series, but it’s one of my favorites so I’m reading it slowly so I can savor it 🙂

    Happy TTT!

    Susan
    http://www.blogginboutbooks.com

    • Alex

      These were all outstanding reads for one reason or another, Susan, and yes, I especially love the Louise Penny series and Three Pines. I hope you get to read more.

  7. Avatar

    I’ve heard really good things about Blood on the Tracks. I hope to read that one next year. Finally reading Louise Penny next year is also high on my list! 🙂

    • Alex

      It was one of my biggest surprises for 2020. It really was such a good read for a debut novel, and so well written and plotted too. Have the next in the series all lined up already to go.

  8. Avatar

    Sorry Alexandra! I have so much to catch up on your blog! Doing it now. Now about today’s selection, of course you’d have a Louise Penny! LOL

  9. Avatar

    I have listened to all the Louise Penny books on audio, and the latest one is going to be on my top ten favorite audiobooks list that I hope to post soon! I don’t read many mysteries in print these days, but I do listen to them here and there, and I want to look for Bad Day at the Vulture Club on audio now. I love books set in India!

    • Alex

      Good to see another Louise Penny fan, and yeah, I bet the audio performances are excellent. I really need to listen to a lot more audio. I might make that a priority for 2021, or, maybe not. 😀

      And yes, Bad Day at the Vulture Club in the latest in this series set in India, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

  10. Avatar

    Bad Day at the Vulture Club sounds brilliant. Definitely adding that one to my TBR pile!

  11. Avatar

    Well my TBR has just increased. These look so good! Thank you!

    • Alex

      Thanks, Charlotte, that’s what I love about taking part in TTT, is that we get to find new authors and books to read. Not that our TBR piles need more additions, right? 😉

  12. Avatar

    I’ve heard a lot about Louise Penny, I’d love to read one of her books!

    • Alex

      I hope you do, as I think you would love her style of writing, the mysteries, and, of course, the great set of characters. I love Three Pines. You could start with Bury Your Dead which is, if I remember, book six in the series, but that’s where it all really started for me. Go from there and read them in order.

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