Karen Meek of Euro Crime has compiled a list of the favourite books read by the site's reviewers during 2008. The selection (which contains links to reviews of the chosen books where one exists) is an excellent guide to some of the cream of the books read (not necessarily published) in 2008. There is a wide-ranging mix of the literary, the psychological, thriller, historical, noir, police procedural and classic fiction – with a European accent, of course - so take your pick. Many of the selections were first written in languages other than English; I have deep admiration for the translators who have so sympathetically and in such a talented way enabled us to enjoy these books. My own selections are as follows:
English language origin:
Nicci French – Losing You
Simon Lewis – Bad Traffic
Diane Setterfield – The Thirteenth Tale
Laura Wilson – Stratton's War
Translated into English:
Karin Fossum – Broken
Arnaldur Indridason – Arctic Chill
Asa Larsson – The Black Path
Johan Theorin – Echoes from the Dead
Helene Tursten – The Torso
I like them all because they are strong books – thoughtful, interesting characters, intelligent writing, and show the effects on people of challenging circumstances. My reviews of all these books are at Euro Crime and can be found via Karen's Euro Crime page.
I read several books last year that I did not review, so did not include those in my selection criteria. However, I would like to mention one of these books here, as it was perhaps my favourite book of 2008. It is What Was Lost, by Catherine O'Flynn. This book is not "crime fiction", though it does feature an unusual detective element. It is a haunting and poignant portrait of the world as seen through the eyes of a delightfully unusual child, as well as some others on the fringes. It's a witty satire on urban values, and extremely perceptive. I cannot recommend this short, sad (but funny) book highly enough. Thanks to Karen for encouraging me to read it.
Other Euro Crime reviewers who provide selections of their 2008 favourites are: Pat Austin, Paul Blackburn, Karen Chisholm, Sunnie Gill, Amanda Gillies, Terry Halligan, Geoff Jones, Karen Meek, Michelle Peckham, Norman Price, Mike Ripley, Laura Root, Kerrie Smith and Fiona Walker. A summary of the books chosen and the combined favourites can be found at Euro Crime's blog. Some of us continue the reading conversations, with other bloggers and readers, in a "room" for Crime & Mystery fiction at FriendFeed – please do join us there, it is a very user-friendly web interface and there is lots of fascinating chat and exchange of reading news and information.