2017 will go down as a year in which I read a very small number of books. I guess my lack of reading could be due to a number of things; my obsession with US politics, the purchase of a nifty Nintendo Switch, my on-again-off issues with depression/anxiety or the one I’ll use as a cop-out – I read three extra-long Stephen King books (Dark Tower VI/VII + It).
Although forty-five books might be a lot for one person, as someone who nearly read just shy of one-hundred a few years ago, I feel like I squandered 2017. Regardless, I decided to pick five, list them in no particular order, and throw them at you.
Although I said I’d list them in no particular order, I have a hard time admitting I enjoyed another book quite as much as The Force. Winslow’s epic tale is a sprawling story that many have called “The Godfather of Cop Novels” – and it’s hard to argue. Denny Malone and his squad are the unofficial Kings of Manhattan and rule with an iron fist. Props to Winslow for writing one of the most horrifying opening scenes in a crime fiction novel that gripped me and never let go.
I started reading King’s magnum opus in 2010 when I received a copy of The Gunslinger for Christmas. Little did I know I wouldn’t finish the series until the latter half of 2017 (I’m really slow you guys)! That being said, it’s amazing that I somehow made it to the end of Roland’s journey without spoilers – this being extra incredible considering a film adaptation came out this year AND I started listening to a Stephen King podcast. I’m one lucky bastard. Check out my review for my thoughts on the book, but know that I hope to one day take another trip with Roland and his ka-tet in an epic re-read.
I raced through Megan Abbott’s novel while riding the rails from Ottawa to Toronto to attend Bouchercon in October. Abbott’s atmospheric prose completely captured my attention from start to finish. The down and dreary climate coupled perfectly with the distraught community as they struggled to diagnose an unknown illness running rampant through the female students of a local high school. Abbott played the mystery close to her chest and kept me guessing until the very end.
Adam Sternberg was a surprise and his novel, The Blinds, completely flew under my radar. A friend of mine had reviewed it on Goodreads earlier in the year calling it – at the time – one of the best books he’s read this year. High praise also came from Chris Holm, who urged folks to pick it up ASAP and if Chris recommends a book, it goes straight to my to-read list. I had a chance to chat with Adam at Bouchercon during a meet & greet event from Harper-Collins and excitedly grabbed a copy of his novel. I was not disappointed, to say the least. Taking an original premise and further injecting a compelling mystery makes for a great read.
What can I say about this that hasn’t already been said to death? Agatha Christie – the most successful mystery writer in history – set the bar for all “locked-room” mystery novels going forward when she wrote “..And Then There Were None.” This was a truly staggering experience in terms of suspense and mystery. While Christie allowed a few threads to dangle for the reader, the job she did in hiding the perpetrator responsible for the murders is second-to-none.
So there you have it, another year is done. If I’m being honest, I expect I may stick around the same amount of books in 2018 as I read in 2017, despite my earlier claims of being dissatisfied with the number of novels I’ve read. I’ve been wanting to really hunker down and commit to my writing and while I wrote 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2014, I never did finish the story.