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April 23, 2010 / C.T. Henry

Best Reads of the Year (so far)

1. The Night Gardener – George Pelecanos
This is Pelecanos’ most ambitious, intricately plotted novel to date, and it’s an urban masterpiece.  Only a few writers these days have the courage to tackle such hard-hitting, socially conscious topics, such as racism, class consciousness, urban decay, community values, systemic injustice, and street violence. It’s about life in an American city.

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2. The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville
Raymond Chandler once said: “[Hard-boiled] characters live in a world gone wrong…and the streets are dark with something more than night.”  I think Chandler would agree that Stuart Neville has written a flawless hard-boiled novel.  The Ghosts of Belfast (also known as The Twelve in the UK) introduces us to Gerry Fegan and achieves the most fascinating character study that I’ve read in a long time.  Gerry Fegan sees ghosts – the 12 people that he’s killed as an enforcer for the IRA.  After being released from prison, he’s led on a path towards redemption, but only the kind that the ghosts will allow.  Fans of John Connolly will love this book.

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3. A Cure for Night by Justin Peacock
Peacock first legal thriller takes  readers on a gritty, urban tale about the nature of justice. It’s not a thriller in the sense that it’s a page-turner.  Instead, it’s a book that speaks with a social conscience and written by someone who has spent time quality time in the streets and in the courtroom.  By the end of the novel, readers learn what life is really like for a Brooklyn public defender. If you’re a fan of HBO’s The Wire, you’ll love this book.

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4. The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death – Charlie Huston
Huston’s writing style and dark humor isn’t for everyone.  Nevertheless, there is beauty in his writing and his characters, who are just trying to find their way in the world.  Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death was nominated for this year’s Edgar Award for Best Novel.  The winner will be chosen this month, and I’m hoping Huston will win.

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5. The Hidden Man – David Ellis
Jason Kolarich isn’t your typical lawyer.  With his football background and violent temper, he isn’t one to back down from a physical fight.  Also, when the chips are down, he doesn’t capitulate, instead he goes on the offensive.  When the mysterious “Smith” tries to control Jason’s murder case by setting up Jason’s brother, Pete, instead of giving in, Jason does the exact opposite.  If you’re looking for an on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller, look no further.

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What are some of your favorite reads of the year?  Please comment below.

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2 Comments

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  1. John Sheridan / Apr 23 2010 9:30 pm

    I’d agree that “The Night Gardener” and “The Twelve”/”The Ghosts of Belfast” are fantastic books. The others I’ve read this year that have impressed me are John Hart’s “The Last Child” , Peter Spiegelman’s “Black Maps”, Michael Harvey’s “The Chicago Way” and Brian McGilloway’s “Borderlands” and I’ve just purchased John Connolly’s “The Whisperers” which I’m really looking forward to reading.

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