As the end of 2019 is almost upon us, it’s favourite books of the year time!
It’s always a difficult choice to narrow the list down to twenty, but I do enjoy looking back at the books I’ve read during the year.
So, in no particular order…
The Lost Man ~ Jane Harper
There’s no doubt Jane Harper is a terrific writer, able to convey a true to life sense of place in a succinct and imaginative way, making it an important part of the story. The characterisations are excellent and give a rounded picture of each of the multi layered and diverse cast as we get an insight into their personalities, emotions and behaviour. This is a story that hooked me in slowly and retained a firm hold until the very surprising ending.
Incendiary ~ Carl Rackman
Incendiary is a faced paced, tension filled story from the start. An extremely well devised mixture of mythological fantasy and contemporary spy thriller with just a dash of romance. The fantasy element is written in such a way as to make it totally plausible, the notion that humans may not ultimately be the superior species on earth adds another layer to the story. Compelling, excellently written and researched. Imaginative and individual as always, the narrative has several unpredictable twists and wonderfully crafted characters you’re never sure of.
The Space Between Time ~ Charlie Laidlaw
The Space Between Time is another intriguing, perceptive and character driven read from Charlie Laidlaw. A well written, moderately paced book ostensibly about the intricacies of an unconventional family’s life but in reality, so much more than that. A story of love, a great loss and working through issues to find a way back to oneself. Clearly defined, complex and easily imagined characters jump off the pages in situations that are all to easy to imagine.
A Dangerous Man ~ Robert Crais
This long running series is a favourite and I always look forward to a new story. Robert Crais delivers another well written, fast paced and crisp narrative with good plots, sub plots, lots of action. Not forgetting the two main, engaging characters—differing but realistic individuals with positive traits that compliment each other. I enjoyed John Chen’s part in this one. He’s always on hand to surreptitiously help Elvis and Joe with forensics, but is this time one too many? Told from the perspectives of Joe, Elvis and some of the villains, the pace reflects the fact the story covers a very short amount of time, the imagery and sense of place adding to overall feel.
Out of the Silence ~ Owen Mullen
Out Of The Silence is an intensely powerful, moving and shocking story of terror, misogyny and abuse of the worst kind, set in the Punjab region of Pakistan in the late 1990s. The writing is terrific, conveying the unspeakable horrors young women had to endure. The evocative descriptions make it easy to picture life in Mundhi village and Lahore city. Owen Mullen has crafted an incredible, very distressing and scarily realistic scenario, and has dealt with it extremely well.
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter ~ Hazel Gaynor
I love books that mix fact with fiction, giving a real authenticity to the story. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter incorporates the true story of Grace Darling. Grace’s father was the lighthouse keeper at Longstone on the Farne Islands, off the Northumbrian coast. Twenty two year old Grace loved nothing better than helping her father, taking her turn on watch and making sure the lamps stayed lit through the night.
The Mobster’s Lament ~ Ray Celestin
The Mobster’s Lament, like the previous stories, skilfully combine cameo appearances from real people and fictional characters in a tightly woven and imaginative plot packed with historical detail, the research evident, bringing 1940s New York to vibrant life. Steady pacing builds the tension perfectly and the atmosphere is enhanced by various quotes and news articles on the state of affairs at the time, leaving no doubt about the lawlessness of mob rule. Another captivating crime thriller.
Hope ~ Terry Tyler
Hope is a well thought through, thought provoking and well written tale from Terry Tyler, which is disturbing and too near a possible future scenario for comfort. Vivid descriptions paint distressing pictures of living in a country effectively dominated by a far reaching conspiracy. The characters are multi layered and realistic, all with their own personalities shown through dialogue and introspection, some to engage and empathise with and some to feel only loathing for, but all with the varied aspects of human nature that come to the fore in certain situations.
Loving Vengeance ~ Georgia Rose
After four years reinventing herself in a new location and with a new identity, Maddy (aka Scarlett) could be forgiven for thinking she was safe. But she has been left battered and bruised after her past caught up with her in the form of the ex-boyfriend she left behind. Now, after a visit from a Detective Inspector Lambert from the Met, Maddy is left in no doubt that the police are aware of her background.
The Hermitage ~ LJ Ross
This is another compelling addition to the series and taking Ryan away from his normal environment enhances and gives an extra layer to the story. The Hermitage is a fast paced and exciting tale with, danger, intrigue and connections with the mafia. LJ Ross weaves the storylines together seamlessly and the settings are brought to life wonderfully, as always. Everything is tied up nicely, the ending is delightful and I love that Philips always manages unwittingly to lighten the mood.
With Our Blessing ~ Jo Spain
With Our Blessing is set in Dublin and introduces Detective Inspector Tom Reynolds in a very powerful and atmospheric story. Jo Spain’s writing is self assured and easy to read, the story compelling. The horror of the Magdalen Laundries depicted without preconceptions, traces of the previous life of the convent giving hints of its chilling history. There are several suspects but the actual perpetrator was a complete surprise.
The Bird Watcher ~ William Shaw
The Birdwatcher is an engrossing, character driven and steadily paced police procedural with an engaging and well fleshed out protagonist in William South. An evocatively described setting in its stark isolation and with a towering nuclear power station overshadowing the area adds atmosphere as the suspense and tension build throughout an extremely well devised plot.
The Swooping Magpie ~ Liza Perrat
A wonderfully written, moving and compelling story with unexpected, sometimes devastating, twists as we follow Lindsay’s journey into adulthood. The characters are realistically drawn and although Lindsay is preoccupied with her own feelings initially, regardless of anyone else, she becomes more sympathetic and likeable as the story unfolds to its satisfying conclusion.
Once Upon A River ~ Diane Setterfield
Once Upon A River, set in the 19th century, is a slowly unfolding but intricate and magical tale, with a good number of beautifully crafted and vividly portrayed diverse characters. The narrative alternates between each of their stories, following a winding course that perhaps seems a little too drawn out on occasion, but the strands are gradually woven together and the plot picks up momentum as the conclusion is in sight.
Shadow Moon ~ Alexandra Sokoloff
The narrative comes from various perspectives which puts the reader or listener right there with the characters, feeling what they feel, experiencing the horror and the light bulb moments. Singh’s conversations with Snyder brings to light the many shocking links between Cara and Roarke, spanning years. The story includes flashbacks to events in Roarke’s past, and follows Cara as she traversed the country, the fleeting hope that she can escape the darkness of It never materialising.
Edited to add…two more that sneaked in at the last minute 😀 I couldn’t leave them out, they were so good.
The Braided Stream (Replacement Chronicles part 4) ~ Harper Swan
I’ve enjoyed, and been fascinated by, each part of The Replacement Chronicles. Together they make an epic tale of prehistory and how Early Man and Neanderthals could have met and interacted. At the same time, pointing to the fact that Neanderthals didn’t become extinct and have their place taken by Early Modern Man, but that the races interbred for survival, which would explain how many people today have traces of Neanderthal DNA.
Blackthorn ~ Terry Tyler
Wonderful imagery and world building sets the mood with unexpected twists adding to the tension. Blackthorn’s divisions are so easy to picture, from the palatial governor’s palace through to the slum-like Stinky Bottom. As events unfold, the story takes on a much darker tone as the distressing, true extent of the horror that is Blackthorn becomes ever clearer.