Skip to main content

Is it 'Aughts' or 'Oughts' - The Best of the Decade Pt. II

Better late than what quite possibly could have been never. I found the whole task of formulating and compiling this list to be not very enjoyable. Ugh. Not sure why this list proved laborious to produce. Holidays are not a good time for anything except opening gifts... like a 47" LG LCD television.

Let's quit with the complaining and finish the list. If you started here you should go back to the beginning.

5. DIRT - Sean Doolittle (2001)
This was a real toss up for me. I could just as easily gone with the funny and brutal THE CLEAN UP. DIRT gets it by a nose because a lot of what I enjoy about Crime Fiction is discovery. THE CLEAN UP is a great book, one that you should read, but I knew it was going to be good going in. Mr. Doolittle is a terrific writer of human frailty. DIRT contains one of the great truisms of human behavior that we frantically keep secrets from our closest friends and family while just as equally hoping these secrets will be discovered and accepted. I think it is a lovely book that announced a major talent.




4. TRIGGER CITY - Sean Chercover (2008)
I don't really want to belabor the point any more. Mr. Chercover's book is just fantastic, and at this point I don't think I can say much more about it or Mr. Chercover. My end of the decade directive is that you should read this book. I assure you it is your loss if you don't.




3. KINGDOM OF SHADOW - Alan Furst (2001)
I am always conflicted about the inclusion of 'Spy' novels into the larger umbrella of the Crime Fiction novel. In deed, this book provided the most consternation. It was not on the list until I ultimately decided that great books should never be denied regardless of genre. Like all of Mr. Furst's work, KINGDOM OF SHADOWS, details Europe in the war years. Here we focus on Hungry as they balance on the precipice of Nazi domination. What works here is the exacting details of place, plot and character. And really is there anything more inspiring than of how ordinary people with no large claim to patriotism stand up and say 'no more' to an invading horde?


2. MYSTIC RIVER - Dennis Lehane (2001)
Could there be a more important book to a writer than MYSTIC RIVER is to Dennis Lehane? Mr. Lehane could have easily stayed with Kenzie and Gennaro. He could have built a highly respected cult following that had all of us asking "Why don't more people read this guy?" In retrospect, MYSTIC RIVER was a gigantic roll of the dice. Mr. Lehane did not have a K/G book to follow if MYSTIC RIVER failed to deliver. MYSTIC RIVER will make it on to a number 'Best of' lists. But it is a surprise that it makes it to my list and even bigger that it is number two. I recall that it was very good, but missed K/G in the way a 'series' reader misses fictional friends. However, in the harsh light of reality MYSTIC RIVER is too important a book to be undone by those affiliations.

1. DEAD I MAY WELL BE - Adrian McKinty (2003)
When I open a book I hope that not only is this book going to be good (a reasonable expectation), but that it is going to be the best book I have ever read (an unreasonable expectation). DEAD I MAY WELL BE achieved both these goals, and is the best book of the decade. It almost makes me want to become an English Literature teacher so I can teach the Mexican Prison sequence. Mr. McKinty's book is all about being Irish, but never once fell back on the cliches... drunken singing of Danny Boy or solipsistic talk of the 'Troubles.' The journey of Michael Forsythe is a harrowing experience and rewards the reader on every single page. A tremendous book.

Comments

adrian mckinty said…
Jesus, thanks for that Dan, I appreciate it.

Now if only it were in print...
Dan Wagner said…
Adrian - My pleasure. I love the hell out of that book.
Sean Chercover said…
Wow, Dan. I am both honored and thrilled. Thank you.
Dan Wagner said…
Sean - Always happy to sing the praises of Trigger City!

Popular posts from this blog

The Very Best of Mr. Dennis Lehane

I thought this post would appear in October. Ya, know when SHUTTER ISLAND: THE MOVIE was supposed to be released. And then it wasn't. Something about Leo not being able to do 'press' for the movie. Doesn't really matter the reason, a February release date has one of those fancy Hollywood meanings: Not Good.

Look I'll be honest, I didn't connect with SHUTTER ISLAND. I loved the fifties setting, the haunted house atmosphere, and impending doom of the Hurricane. Even the set-up of the story was intriguing but how it played out just didn't work for me. Some interesting characters, a bunch of great set pieces, but the ending announces itself with an expected, thud that went nowhere.

Am I still going to the movie? Its Lehane, Scorsese, Leo, and Ruffalo of course I am. Anyway the list.

8. Prayers for Rain - 1999
The last Kenzie-Gennaro book follows our heroes as they investigate a guy who is terrorizing women into committing suicide. The book played like an episode o…

The Very Best of Mr. Michael Connelly - Part I

I was about 50 pages into the latest Michael Connelly book, THE SCARECROW, when I flipped to the front. This is the 20th novel. I decided that rather than write a review of the novel, pretty good by the way, I would write a think piece about the relationship between a highly regarded crime novelist and how reader's take for granted the author if the high standard to which they have become accustomed to is not maintained over a lengthy run of books.

This idea was quickly abandoned out of laziness. Instead, I decided to take a cue from my friend, Peter, who recently ranked all of the James Bond films. I didn't feel I could tackle all 20 novels so the list below is just the non-Harry Bosch books. Mr. Connelly's next book 9 DRAGONS releases in October so don't be surprised to see a Bosch only list then.

I wrote this list up a couple weeks ago. I have given it some time to marinate. I did make any changes but I do want to say that there is a definite break between ranking 5…

Live By Night: First Image

First image from Live By Night the latest Dennis Lehane novel to be directed by Ben Affleck has appeared. Here is the accompanying article from Indiewire.
What can you say about one singular image from a film that will include a hundred thousand or so? It looks good. I'm a sucker for big fields of grass, what can I say? I have enjoyed all of Ben Affleck's directing efforts to date, even if I wasn't wowed by any of them. I don't mean to damn him with faint praise. He is a solid, unpretentious director of capital m 'Movies'. And even if he wasn't making the best thing Dennis Lehane has written in the last ten years I would still go see his next effort.
The movie is slated for a 2017 release which I'm not certain should be believed. In spite of the film already vacating a Fall 2016 date, if the movie is even kind of  good, dollars to donuts it sneaks into a late 2016 release for Award show consideration. A 2017 release date seems more accurate, if early t…