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December 31, 2009 / C.T. Henry

Favorite Crime Fiction of 2009

Way under my normal average, I only read 35 crime novels in 2009.  Nevertheless, it’s been a productive year.  I finished reading Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt series and devoured every one of John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series.  As far as new authors, I “discovered” Robert Ferrigno’s post-apocalyptic Assassin trilogy, and as a huge fan of the HBO series The Wire, I also read most of George Pelecanos’ Derek Strange series.  Finally, I tackled the much hyped Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2009.

As the year finally comes to a close, here is a list of my favorite mystery/thrillers of 2009:

1. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (2008)
This is one of my favorite books of all-time!  The writing and the story were truly impressive.  I love how Smith uses Soviet Russia as a character.

2. Right as Rain by George Pelecanos (2001)
Urban noir at its best! Pelecanos’ command of street lingo, racial tensions, and loveable characters make for a powerful story.

3. The Killing Kind by John Connolly (2002)
The Killing Kind is Connolly’s tightest and scariest thriller.  If you like really dark crime fiction, this is your best bet.

4. Sovereign by C.J. Sansom (2007)
Sovereign is C.J. Sansom’s best historical thriller.  Sansom’s depiction of York and blistering pace made for an enjoyable read.

5. The Ghost by Robert Harris (2007)
What a story!  I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written political thriller about a former Prime Minster’s ghost writer.

6. Sins of the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno (2008)
Ferrigno’s Assassin trilogy was one of the most enjoyable reading experiences.  This second book, where Rakkim Epps journeys through the Bible Belt, is the best thriller of the series.  The characters and relationships are enduring and unforgettable.

7. Envy the Night by Michael Koryta (2008)
Envy the Night is a taut thriller and one of Koryta’s best.  Plenty of action, tension, and sharp dialogue.

8. Free Fire by C.J. Box (2007)
A captivating mystery! I learned so much about Yellowstone National Park that I can’t wait to visit.

9. The Turnaround by George Pelecanos (2008)
Wow!  This guy can really write.  What a tale of redemption!

10. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2008)
A good mystery with a great heroine, but it didn’t live up to the hype.



Leave a Comment
  1. Corey Wilde / Jan 1 2010 3:31 am

    That’s a good looking list. I keep meaning to read Free Fire and Right as Rain. Maybe 2010 is finally the year.

  2. john sheridan / Jan 1 2010 12:03 pm

    My target was to read 25 books and I’ve actually read 31 and finished 29 of those with the other 2 abandoned due to lack of interest. Ok so we have 31 books – how many authors does this represent? Actually just 18 not counting the various authors who contributed short stories to the “Blue Religion” anthology that I read during the year. This suggests that I read a number of books by each author and that certainly holds out – for instance, 3 books each this year by Stieg Larsson (The Millenium Trilogy), Marcus Sakey & Michael Koryta.

    How many of these 18 were new authors to me in ’09? A rather high proportion that surprised me really – 14, so over 75% of the authors I read for the first time this year including the aforementioned Larsson, Sakey & Koryta plus Brett Battles, Sean Chercover, Reed Farrel Coleman, James Crumley, Sean Doolittle, Charlie Huston, Sam Millar, Jo Nesbo, James Sallis, Josh Bazell and Duane Swierczynski.

    Ok time to move on to making my own highly personal awards for ’09:

    Best: Stieg Larsson “The Girl Who Played With Fire”

    Runners-up: Marcus Sakey “At the City’s Edge”
    Michael Koryta “A Welcome Grave”
    Don Winslow “Gentleman’s Hour”

    Rounding out the Top 15 (just couldn’t quite narrow it down to 10):
    Sean Chercover “Big City, Bad Blood”
    Sean Chercover “Trigger City”
    Michael Connelly “Nine Dragons”
    John Connolly “The Lovers”
    Michael Koryta “Tonight, I Said Goodbye”
    Stieg Larsson “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
    Stieg Larsson “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”
    Jo Nesbo “The Redeemer”
    George Pelecanos “The Turnaround”
    Marcus Sakey “The Blade Itself”
    Josh Bazell “Beat the Reaper”

    Worst (Completed): James Sallis “Drive”

    Most Enjoyable : Duane Swierczynski “The Blonde”

    Favourite New Series Character: Sean Chercover “Ray Dudgeon”

    Best Recurring Character: Don Winslow “Boone Daniels” in “The Gentleman’s Hour”

    Waste of Time (Abandoned): Michael Connelly “Crime Beat”

  3. henryct / Jan 1 2010 3:30 pm

    John –
    Glad you enjoyed The Blonde too! I also had a great time reading it. Too bad I haven’t been able to duplicate the experience with Swierczynski’s The Wheelman and Severance Package.

    What Charlie Huston novel did you read?

    My reading list for 2010:
    The First Rule by Robert Crais (This will be my first purchase in January of 2010)
    Trigger City by Sean Chercover
    The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston
    The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith
    The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
    A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva
    Crusader’s Cross by James Lee Burke
    The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos
    Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly
    The Wrong Case by James Crumley
    Pariah by Dave Zeltserman
    Good People by Marcus Sakey
    Imperium by Robert Harris

    NEW AUTHORS (to me) –
    A Quiet Flame by Philip Kerr
    The Bridge of Sighs by Olen Steinhauer
    The Cleanup by Sean Doolittle
    Dead I May Well Be by Adrian McKinty
    Fresh Kills by Bill Loehfelm
    A Cure for Night by Justin Peacock
    Mr Clarinet by Nick Stone
    Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason
    The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville

    What are you planning to read in the new year?

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