As usual, I’m trying to highlight ten books read in 2018 that seemed especially memorable. Most of these have a political edge, with immigration playing a role in several. A couple are more introspective and psychological. Many are by authors making a repeat visit on my Top Ten list. Emma Viskic is the best discovery of the year – compelling writing and a vivid Australian setting.
Resurrection Bay / Emma Viskic
An Australian private investigator who happens to be deaf has to go home to Resurrection Bay to solve the murder of his associate, and to see if he can reconcile with his wife, an Aboriginal artist. I also loved the sequel, AND FIRE CAME DOWN, but this is one to read in order to sort out the complicated backstory.
The Witch Elm / Tana French
A happy-go-lucky man, who was so badly beaten by home invaders he has trouble remembering the past and navigating the present, moves in with his uncle, suffering from a brain tumor, in the family home where he spent time with two cousins whose relationships grow fraught when a skull is found in a hollow place within an old wych elm. Lovely writing; wouldn’t mind if 150 pages were cut from the length, though.
A Deadly Divide / Ausma Zehanat Khan
A shooting in a Quebecois mosque puts emotions in a small university town on the boil. A Muslim detective and his hockey-playing sidekick need to figure out if the authorities are trying to pin it on the wrong man. I love this series.
Black Swan Rising / Lisa Brackmann
A political thriller in which two women, one a reporter recovering from a mass shooting and the other a political campaign worker hiding from a pestilence of online trolls, try to untangle the relationship between a man who shot a candidate and a men’s rights guru.
Sunrise Highway / Peter Blauner
There’s nothing terrifically original about the plots, but I love this series. In this entry, Lourdes Robles has a corpse found at the far end of the Rockaways who might have been killed in another jurisdiction; readers know the woman was desperately knocking on doors as Hurricane Sandy bears down, not running from the storm but from a killer. Review
Bone on Bone / Julia Keller
Books in this series generally end up on my top ten list, even though they grow bleaker and bleaker. But what else can you do with a small West Virginia town as a setting? The addiction crisis continues and the former DA wants to take the fight to the top. Strangely affirming in spite of the problems this small community faces. Review
Salt Lane / William Shaw
A body is found in one of the watery ditches criss-crossing coastal Kent; as Alex Cupidi begins the investigation another body, of an African immigrant beaten and drowned in a slurry pit, is discovered. Complex plot for complicated characters. Review
Safe Houses / Dan Fesperman
A spy from another era, a senseless shooting by a disabled man, a daughter who wants answers and is getting help from a man who, we know, is probably a spook himself. Absorbing, and the bits that seem least plausible turn out to have been based on a true story. Review
Rip Crew / Sebastian Rotella
A rip-roaring globe-trotting adventure in which a journalist and a contractor for Homeland Security try to find out if a “rip crew” – a gang preying on human smugglers – is responsible for the slaughter of African women attempting to cross into the US. Smart and entertaining. Review
The Last Thing I Told You / Emily Arsenault
A therapist is found murdered in a peaceful small town and we follow the investigation through two narrators, the detective who isn’t used to investigating homicides and a former patient who had returned home to see the therapist and is now on the run. Nice character development as the motives are gradually unfolded. Review