This past year has been an extremely hectic one for me, leaving me less reading time than I would have liked. So I say good riddance to 2011. In the days ahead, we'll be seeing what books are being considered the "Best of 2011." But on this last day of the year, here is a little informal list of favorites.
My friend, Morgan, sent me a list of her favorite reads for the year:
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
A Death in Summer by Benjamin Black
The Night Season by Chelsea Cain
The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen
books by Magdalen Nabb
The Inspector and Silence: an Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery by Hakah Nesser
The Priest by Gerald O'Donovan
Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline (2008--new to her)
Another friend, Melissa, has discovered the award-winning books by Louise Penny, including the latest, A Trick of the Light. She also enjoys the books by Tana French, Rhys Bowen, and is starting in on Deborah Crombie's list of mysteries.
Finally, here are some of the books that I enjoyed this past year:
It's 1938 Hollywood. While the Great Depression still haunts Americans and war clouds are gathering in Europe, the golden age of movies reigns in this southern California enclave of glamour and glitter. Gone with the Wind is still in production and manic munchkins are creating havoc for MGM in Culver City where the Wizard of Oz is being filmed.
But it's also a time when even the slightest whiff of scandal could torpedo a promising film career. Former LAPD detective Chris Blanchard is a "fixer" for MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer. It's his job to make sure the MGM contract players stay out of trouble and keep any smell of scandal away from the studio.
When one of the starlets cries "murder," Blanchard's search for the killer could become fatal for both of them. Hollywood secrets, blackmail, Nazis, commies, and more bodies begin to pile up. One minute our Chandleresque hero is dancing with a good-lookin' dame at the Coconut Grove, the next, he's trying to outrun a Nazi gunman on Catalina Island.
Robert S. Levinson at a recent visit in Burbank
I highly recommend this noir thriller, especially if you'd like a trip back to Hollywood's golden era. Levinson peppers his delightful dance with hundreds of details about Los Angeles during the thirties. Colorful characters, both real and imagined, waltz their way through snappy dialogue and an action-packed plot.
Are you jingle-belled out? Perhaps you'd like to sit down with an exciting thriller and escape the manic hordes at the malls? Here's a suggestion, The Inside Ring by Mike Lawson. I missed this one first time around, but now that it's been released in paperback, I have a second chance to discover Seattle-based Lawson's intriguing series.
The Seattle Times selected The Inside Ring as one of the ten best thrillers of 2005 and it's the debut of the Joe DeMarco series. The book starts out with an assassination attempt on the president. Although the president is wounded, his best friend and secret service agent is killed. Then the man claiming to be the assassin is found dead in his house.
Washington, DC lawyer Joe DeMarco is a "fixer" for House Speaker Mahoney. When the Secretary for Homeland Security reveals to the Speaker that prior to the attempt on the president, he had received a note warning of the danger and implicating the secret service agents on guard duty. Rather than take this information to the FBI, the Secretary asks Mahoney for help. DeMarco is assigned the job of determining if the Secret Service is indeed involved.
Interesting characters, humor, and action-packed scenes keeps you turning the pages of this political thriller. To read more about the Joe DeMarco books and their author, check out his website.
Well, after some computer issues, Aunt Agatha is back on the case! Congratulations to two recent awardees: Louise Penny was presented the Nero Award for 2011 at the recent Black Orchid Banquet in New York. Her book, Bury Your Dead, was awarded the Nero for literary excellence in the mystery genre. If you haven't read Louise Penny, check out her website and see what you've been missing.
The Crime Writers Association presented the Ellis Peters Award to Andrew Martin for his book The Somme Stations, the seventh in the series featuring railway detective Jim Stringer and set during World War I. Learn more about this series on Martin's website.