BEING AN NRP FAN I thought their recommendations for best of 2013 would be worth considering. I just pulled the titles on topic but if you want to see the entire list, check out http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2013/
How the Light Gets In – Louise Penny – This is a mystery worth disconnecting all electronic devices and staying home for. How the Light Gets In is the ninth novel in Louise Penny’s extraordinary series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his troubled sidekick, Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, of the Surete du Quebec. Penny has been working throughout her series to tap into the spiritual dimensions of the genre, consequently, this novel is one part foul play; two parts morality play. Gamache and his skeleton crew of loyal police allies must root out an epic conspiracy and the battle between good and evil that ensues rivals the faceoff between the heavenly army and Lucifer’s fallen angels in Paradise Lost.
Speaking from Among the Bones – Alan Bradley – Twelve-year-old chemist and detective Flavia de Luce is just fun to read about. In her latest book (the fifth in the series), she tries to unravel a mystery involving hidden corpses, missing treasure, secret passageways, family secrets and a surefire way to scare the heck out of the vicar’s wife.
Little Elvises – Timothy Hallinan – Timothy Hallinan, an accomplished mystery writer (check out his series set in Bangkok, featuring an American travel writer named Poke Rafferty), introduced Junior Bender in Crashed.. Bender, who lives in Los Angeles, makes his main living as a burglar. He also moonlights as a fixer: Southern California criminals know that if they get in a real jam, they can turn to Junior to get them out of trouble. When he’s hired to clear a former music industry talent spotter of murder, Junior realizes that the more he delves into the case, the more complex it becomes. And it’s likely that nobody’s going to be happy with the outcome of his investigation. The third novel in the Bender trilogy, The Fame Thief, also came out in 2013: It was a tossup for me to choose which one to include in this list. I’d recommend reading the novels in order, but you don’t absolutely need to — each one is as splendidly entertaining as the others.
Doctor Sleep – Stephen King – Read this book anywhere … except, say, if you’re alone and snowbound in a vacant, isolated hotel. Yes, Stephen King brings us the sequel to The Shining — and it’s almost as gripping as the original. The book follows Danny, the terrified boy from the Overlook Hotel, into adulthood in New England. King says writing a sequel to such a blockbuster was risky — “being scared is like sex,” the author says, “there’s nothing like your first time” — but he simply couldn’t resist. And neither will you after you open these pages.
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – A thoroughly satisfying crime novel — even if you didn’t know it was really written by J.K. Rowling. Set in London, with a private investigator appealing enough that you’ll long for his next assignment, The Cuckoo’s Calling is tightly plotted and faithful to the genre in all the right places. More than this, it’s an original tale with robust characterization and witty, yet forceful criticism of our obsession with celebrity and of the destructive power of the press. The best part is that you won’t be able to guess, until nearly the very end, whodunit.
Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway – Sara Gran – All those Vikings who’ve been taking over mystery fiction can now go jump in a fjord! Brooklyn-born author, Sara Gran, has reintroduced a distinctive American voice to the mystery in the guise of her 40-ish, bad-girl detective, Claire DeWitt. In this second outing, DeWitt’s investigations into the murder of an old boyfriend take her from the elite Bohemian Grove Club in California to New York’s Lower East Side. Along the way, her narration is infused with tough poetry. About being a teenager, Claire says: “It was a secret world you gained admittance to at fourteen and left at twenty, swearing never to repeat what you’d seen.” Wise readers will zip their lips and stay close to Claire.
One Came Home – Amy Timberlake – The year is 1871, the setting is rural Wisconsin, and the unidentifiable dead body is not Agatha Burkhardt — or so believes her 13-year-old sister, Georgie. Determined to uncover the truth, Georgie runs away, armed with her rifle and her ardent belief that her sister is still alive. Georgie follows the trail of the pigeon hunters Agatha was last seen with, unaware that someone is following her as she heads straight for danger. In One Came Home, author Amy Timberlake seamlessly weaves together history and humor, passenger pigeons and criminals, to create a suspenseful page-turner. (For ages 9 to 12) – I included this because a good book is a good book – not matter who it is written for.