I couldn’t let 2014 end without my annual Top 10 list of books I read during the year. So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the 10 best books I read in 2014 of the 66 total that I read and the 2 that I didn’t finish:
- Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg: It sounds like the plot to a sitcom. Chicago mafia hitman goes on the run and poses as a Rabbi in the suburbs of Las Vegas. But it is anything but a sitcom. Instead it is a harkening back to the good old fashioned “family” storytelling of a Mario Puzo in the way only Tod Goldberg could tell it. Wit, sarcasm, violence and heart. In anyone else’s hands it could have been a disaster. In Tod’s, it is a masterpiece.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: I read this one on a recommendation and expected a kid’s book. But even though you can typically find it in the young adult section, it is much more than a book for adolescents. At times scary and at others incredibly heartwarming, it’s the book I cannot wait for my kids to read, but I am also scared to death that they will.
- The Burning Room by Michael Connelly: No book list of mine is complete without an entry from my favorite author and his hero Harry Bosch. Connelly again knocks it out of the park. If you like a good police procedural with a compelling hero and damn dirty deeds, you can’t do better than Connelly.
- The Golem of Hollywood by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman: A “whodunit” like nothing I have ever read before. Mysticism and history, murder and mayhem, this is what fine storytelling is all about. A nice departure from the Alex Delaware series, this is a new series to definitely watch.
- The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughan Entwistle: A surprisingly fun and engaging mystery with Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde as the heroes. An investigation into the ghosts and unexplained phenomena at a country home with creepy séances and characters who can’t be trusted, this is hopefully the first in a series with these erstwhile heroes.
- Alex by Pierre LeMaitre: A mystery from France, set in and around Paris, but there is nothing straightforward about this one. One, long, manipulation, where you don’t know who to trust and who to feel sorry for, this one had twists all over the place and a winning ending. Can’t wait for the next one.
- The Devil’s Workshop by Alex Grecian: Despite the number of books that I read that take place in Victoria London during the days of Jack the Ripper, none of them come close to Alex Grecian and his Murder Squad books. And this one leaped over its two predecessors, with JTR making an appearance and nonstop tension. Cannot recommend this series enough.
- Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King: You know I am a scaredy-cat and yet I read two Stephen King novels this year. This one was the true standout. A cat and mouse caper with sympathetic heroes and a truly nasty bad guy. The ending was not quite on par with the rest of the book, but the lead up to the conclusion was well worth the time.
- Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett: This was the beast of the year, measuring in at over 1100 pages and weighing just over 20 pounds (or so it seemed), this conclusion of The Century Trilogy and chronicling of the 1960s through the 1980s was the best of the three and the one I was looking forward to the least. The 1960s are not the most intriguing time for me in history, but Follett makes the history come alive with remarkable detail and compelling characters. Of especial note is the recounting of the erection of the Berlin Wall and the impact this had on the people who were forced to the east, not to see freedom for over 20 years. A remarkable achievement in storytelling.
- FINALLY: All of the Peter James novels. I had not heard of Peter James or his police detective hero Roy Grace before June but once discovered I devoured all of the entries, all 10 of them. The town of Brighton and Hove in the south of England is in good hands with Roy Grace on the case. James crafts not just police procedurals but character studies of the good guys and the bad guys. From a bachelor party practical joke gone bad to the harvesting of teenager organs to celebrity stalkers to September 11 to a mystery that spanned a century, James truly has the gift for storytelling. If you read only one book on this list, do yourself a favor and make it a Peter James. He ranks up there with Michael Connelly and Jonathan Kellerman on my list of favorites.
So those were my favorites. What were yours? I am always looking for recommendations so please let me know what I should read next.
Happy reading in 2015 and, above all else, a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015.