So 2019 is ending and I’m back once again with my Top 10 reads of the year.
Same old, same old, you probably think – and you are wrong.
The exercise this year was unusually trying and difficult for me first because of the number of candidates (2019 was a great year overall with very few duds and many great reads) and second because some of them were « problematic » for lack of a better word. This blog being focused on crime fiction, what was I to make of what is perhaps my best read overall of the year – that happens to be outside the genre? Also, how would the Anglophones and Francophones among my readers react to the presence in top spots of books unavailable to them because of the language barrier? Bilinguism is fine and dandy but it brings with it problems you monolingual people wouldn’t believe.
It took me some time to work the whole thing out but I have come with a solution suggested to me by a FB friend which I’d like to thank here even though he can’t read English (Merci, Milton!) The 2019 Book of the Year will be awarded to two books, one in French and the other in English, and this and the Top Ten will exclusively focus on mysteries. (I strongly encourage you to seek out Ernest Haycox’s Canyon Passage though, as it’s a standout!) I may do it again next year and the following ones if faced with the same situation. Tell me how you feel about it (and the results) in the comments section.
Book of the Year:
Denis Bretin, D’Or que Landes
Rex Stout, The Mountain Cat Murders
2. Bruno Fischer, More Deaths Than One
3. Lawrence G. Blochman, Blow Down
4. Elma K. Lobaugh, I’m Afraid
5. Helen Nielsen, Borrow the Night
6. Madeleine Coudray, La Grande Dune
7. Alan Amos (Kathleen Moore Knight) Fatal Harvest
8. Noel Vindry, Le Cri des Mouettes
9. Michael Gilbert, Smallbone Deceased
Hillary Waugh, The Shadow Guest
Conyth Little, The Black Shrouds
The Deadly Dove (Rufus King) L’Installation du Président Fitz-Mole (Ed Faure) A Question of Time (Helen McCloy) No Bones About It (Joan Fleming) The Siamese Twin Mystery (Ellery Queen) The Seance (James Harwood) and Death is no Sportsman (Cyril Hare)
One of my resolutions for 2019 was to broaden my reading diet and try more writers I didn’t know or had had little exposure to until then, and this Top 10 (well, Top 13 since the first and tenth spot have two denizens) reflects that. Only two of the « winners » have appeared on my annual list before, one of them (Rex Stout) being a big surprise considering my history with him. In keeping with previous list is the relative low presence of actual Golden Age stuff despite my reputation for being an enthusiast fan of the period. Sure, the Stout and Blochman books are chronologically part of it and the Fischer and the Gilbert dwell at the edges but the overall flavour this year again is one of suspense – be it of the domestic or gothic kind. If you add to this that my overall favourite read of the year is a western you might think I’m fast evolving as a reader – and what better reason to hang on in here next year? 😉