Wow, this is just incredible news, and completely unexpected. Booklist has put out its list of the best crime novels published in the US in 2013, and The Beggar’s Opera is on it– how absolutely wonderful! (The other books on the list all sound like must-reads to me — be sure to check them out!)
Best Crime Fiction Debuts
The Andalucian Friend. By Alexander Soderberg. 2013. Crown, $26 (9780770436056).
Swedish author Soderberg claims the coveted Booklist Mystery Showcase daily double by placing on both our crime fiction top 10 lists. FYI: Stieg Larsson didn’t do that. See the annotation for The Andalucian Friend above.
The Beggar’s Opera. By Peggy Blair. 2013. Penguin/Pintail, $16 (9780143186427).
Blair’s exciting debut stars Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, the troubled head of Havana’s Major Crimes Unit, who has a hot potato of a case on his hands involving a Canadian policeman suspected of murder. Blair interweaves the stories of cop and suspect beautifully, but she also invests Havana geography (with its decaying buildings and rusted American cars) with new vigor.
Black Fridays. By Michael Sears. 2012. Putnam, $25.95 (9790399158667).
A sad-sack investment broker goes to prison for fiddling the books, then loses his wife, and now finds himself trying to raise his autistic son on his own. Then a job comes along: investigate someone else fiddling books. The writing is fresh and vivid, and the portrait of pension-stealing Wall Street greedheads is harrowing.
East of Denver. By Gregory Hill. 2012. Dutton, $25.95 (9780525952794).
Stacey “Shakespeare” Williams returns to the family farm in eastern Colorado to bury his cat and winds up planning a bank robbery with “a paralyzed asshole, an anorexic fatso, and my prematurely senile father.” A little country noir and a lot of black comedy equal a terrific opening salvo from a very talented writer.
Ghostman. By Roger Hobbs. 2013. Knopf, $24.95 (9780307959966).
Like Alexander Soderberg, Hobbs pulls off the daily double, landing on our overall top 10 (see annotation above) and our top 10 crime debuts. Nicely done for the twentysomething Hobbs, who sold his novel to an agent on the day he graduated from college.
A Good Death. By Christopher R. Cox. 2013. Minotaur, $24.99 (9781250012319).
PI Sebastian Damon travels to Bangkok to investigate the death of a Laotian refugee who ultimately became vice president of a Boston bank. So begins a story that channels Conrad, Kipling, and Francis Ford Coppola. An insightful, transcendent adventure.
The Old Turk’s Load. By Gregory Gibson. 2013. Mysterious, $24 (9780802121134).
It’s 1967, and a shipment of the world’s finest heroin goes missing en route to Angelo DiNoto, New Jersey’s top crime boss. Gibson’s elliptical, ever-evolving plot combines Raymond Chandler complexity and Donald E. Westlake comic haplessness into a thoroughly original whole.
Three Graves Full. By Jamie Mason. 2013. Gallery, $24.99 (9781451685039).
Mason hooks the reader with her first sentence, “There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard.” Even less when the bodies keep piling up, but their provenance remains murky. An astonishingly accomplished debut.
The Thing about Thugs. By Tabish Khair. 2012. Houghton, $24 (9780547731605).
At first glance, this slim Victorian thriller seems no more than an exposé of British imperialism wrapped in a Kill Bill plot. Soon, though, the reader is drawn into a deeply thought-provoking literary suspense novel that evokes Collins and Dickens.
The Twenty-Year Death. By Ariel S. Winter. 2012. Hard Case Crime, $25.99 (9780857685810).
Former bookseller Winter tells an epic tale in the form of three novels written in the style of three different crime-fiction legends: Simenon, Chandler, and Jim Thompson. What might seem at first like an amusing exercise for mystery buffs becomes by the end immersive, exhilarating, and revelatory.