My review highlights of 2009

Eu3 Karen Meek, suprema of Euro Crime, has collected her reviewers' (Pat Austin, Paul Blackburn, Amanda Brown, Maxine Clarke, Amanda Gillies, Terry Halligan, Geoff Jones, Karen Meek, Michelle Peckham, Norman Price, Laura Root and Rik Shepherd) favourite reads of 2009 in this Euro Crime page.

For Euro Crime purposes, novels by North American authors were not included. So my complete list of 13, my usual baker's dozen, including authors from this region, is reproduced below. The list, which is alphabetical, consists of reviews that were published in 2009, not necessarily books that were published in that year. The asterisks represent authors who were new to me last year.

Translated into English:

Thriller: Missing by Karin Alvtegen (translator Anna Paterson) (Sweden)
Intensely exciting story of a young woman fugitive racing to prove her innocence.

[I discovered this author last year and read all four of her translated novels. It was almost impossible to choose between them; if I had read one per year for the past four years, each would have made my list for that year. Shadow and Betrayal are particularly good, also.]

Series novel: The Paper Moon by Andrea Camilleri (translator Stephen Sartarelli) (Italy)
Vengeful tragedy overshadows the Sicilian sun in a typically eccentric Montalbano investigation.

*Psychological: The Sinner by Petra Hammesfahr (translator Mike Martin) (Germany)
Journey to the depths of one woman’s mind as repressed memories uncover motives and crimes.

Detection: Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason (translator Victoria Cribb) (Iceland)
Apparent suicide of young historian has resonance in past deaths and disappearances.

*Adventure: Blood Safari by Deon Meyer (translator K. L Seegers) (S Africa)
Bodyguard turns detective in road trip to find a woman’s long-lost brother.

*Suspense: Back to the Coast by Saskia Noort (translator Laura Vroomen) (The Netherlands)
Rock musician finds her life turned upside down by malevolent stalker.

*Private Eye: The Consorts of Death by Gunnar Staalesen (translator Don Bartlett) (Norway)
The 14th in a series is as fresh as new in compelling story of effects of social deprivation.

Gothic: The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin (translator Marlaine Delargy) (Sweden)
History, themes, traditions and emotional dynamics are superbly juxtaposed in island mystery.

English language originals:

Mystery: The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves 
Scientific rivalries and local feuds underlie Vera Stanhope’s first case.

Police Procedural: Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly
Harry Bosch out of his natural home in race to find kidnapped child.

Thriller: The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
Journalist’s last assignment reveals horrific series of crimes.

*Legal crime: The Coroner by M. J. Hall
Woman on verge of a nervous breakdown determines to obtain justice for abused boy.

*Debut: Publish or Perish by Margot Kinberg
Classic mystery engagingly told against background of academic skulduggery.

All the books I reviewed in 2009 are collected here.

I very much enjoyed most of the books I reviewed last year. Just to mention a few more by name as highly recommended: the three novels I reviewed by Inger Frimansson; The Mind's Eye by Hakan Nesser; Shooting Star by Peter Temple; and The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg (reviews of all can be accessed via my 2009 reviews page). I have not included the two novels by Stieg Larsson that I reviewed last year, partly because I think they have to be read as a trilogy and don't work well as stand-alones, and partly because my favourite is the first in the series, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which I reviewed in 2008. All three novels are jolly good, though.

Kerrie has collected a list of favourite reads by readers of her blog, Mysteries in Paradise. She received 541 recommendations of titles from 56 readers: the full list is here.

7 thoughts on “My review highlights of 2009

  1. A great review of your year Maxine. We only agreed on The Darkest Room, but Shadow was also very good. I thought I had chosen a series of bleak books until I saw you picked The Sinner which I agree was brilliant but very depressing.
    I will have to get round to your other choices because as usual your reviews are a temptation to read.

  2. I’ve only read one of your top group Maxine – food for thought there -and only 2 of your English language originals.

  3. I have read almost all the authors, but not always their latest novels. And as you know, The Sinner is waiting for me on my TBR (which I have kept track of recently, but there must be almost sixty novels).

  4. Maxine – Wow! I am so honored and flattered to be included in your list. How very, very kind of you! This means a great deal to me, the more so considering what a high quality reviewer you are. Thank you so very much. Umm…did I say thank you? : )

  5. Ah, Dorte, glad to see you are getting there in terms of length of queue!
    Norman, I think you like historical crime more than me, which probably accounts for some of the divergence.

  6. Of your translated group I’ve only read two but they were both in my top ten for the year too – so clearly I need to read the others in your list as our tastes seem to be similar, at least for translated novels. I’ve spent all my book depository vouchers so these will just have to go on the wishlist until I get the TBR pile down again.

  7. Margot – our comments crossed. I very much enjoyed your book for several reasons, two of which were how you convey your experience of the academic institutional culture without reading like a prospectus or instruction manual; and the well-written yet fast pace of the text. I hope that lots more people will read the book as it deserves to do very well.
    Kerrie and Bernadette- I am finding that the translsation process seems to provide a filter for good reads (to my taste, anyway). The above list is a bit of a mixed bag, a couple of which are very dark (Shadow and The Sinner) but others very exciting (Missing and Back to the Coast) or atmospheric (The Darkest Room and Hypothermia).

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