Top 10 Books of 2019

Finally, finally, I’ve completed a book challenge on Goodreads. Went for a steady 60 books for the year and only just made it. A few 200 page books in December saw me over the line. So here’s the top 10 for the year:

Ryan Gattis – Safe: A gritty, raw novel about the Los Angeles drug gangs. Gattis has an extraordinary ability to evoke empathy from characters mired in petty crime and the vagaries of the drug trade. Knockout ending, too.

Don Winslow: The Force: Not much I can say about Winslow. If you are into crime fiction in any way, he’s your man. A stunner.

Nathan Hill: The Nix. An amazing accomplishment for a first novel. The Great American novel in all its glory.

Raynor Winn: The Salt Path. A beautiful tale of heartbreak and redemption on the UK’s most beautiful walking trail.

Barney Norris: Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain. Five people impacted by a car accident. A lyrical, dreamy novel that stays with you long after completion.

Stephen King: Misery. A King book I’ve inexplicably missed. Great fun and brutal as hell.

Un-so Kim. The Plotters. You won’t look at assassins in the same way again. Which is cool, right?

Ken Kesey. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I’ve never seen the film. The novel is stunning. A stick it to the man euphoria tinged with melancholy. The fishing trip scene is the funniest thing I’ve read all year. A bona fide classic.

Chris Petit: The Psalm Killer. Violent, sexual, brutal thriller about a serial killer in Ireland during the Troubles. Perfectly executed.

Graham Greene: The End of the Affair. My first ever Greene. And what a book to start on. Yearning, heartbreaking, unmissable.

I had a feeling that this years reads had been something of a disappointment, but some real gems have shone through. Kudos also to Ken Bruen and Lawrence Block (as always) for strengthening my belief that these guys are the best in the business.

I haven’t done a best of the decade mostly because to trawl through 500+ books seems a chore but if you’ve never read Remains of the Day, Any Human Heart or any Willy Vlautin novel than you need to rectify that immediately.

Happy New Year!

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