This week we’re taking a break from the usual BFGB fare to post about the results in some of the categories from WRL’s All-the-Best-Books Compilation (ABBC) for 2012. The ABBC adds up mentions in dozens of best-of-the-year lists and awards in a spreadsheet you can download. We’re about 75 sources into the compilation, and although it’s not complete, here are the leaders so far in the category of crime fiction.
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn is not only the runaway top Crime Fiction selection this year, but the most mentioned book overall so far (38 mentions), holding a slight lead over Katherine Boo’s nonfiction title Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Gone Girl is a literate suspenseful thriller about Amy, a young wife who goes missing on her 5th wedding anniversary. Flynn leads readers through a twisty maze as they discover the secrets lying behind the facade of the couple’s marriage and try to decide if unlikable husband Nick is the killer or not. Employing devices like Amy’s diary and the novels in which her psychologist parents made her a famous case study, Flynn slowly unwraps the folds of the shroud and saves one of the best twists for last.
In second place, with 14 mentions is Tana French’s fourth Dublin Murder Squad novel, Broken Harbor. This time a father and his two children are found dead in a half-finished estate outside the city, and his wife is on the way to intensive care. It seems at first like a clear case of a financially destitute man snapping and trying to kill family and self, but further investigation yields a more complicated case. As usual, French explores the lives of her detectives a carefully as she builds the plot of the central crime, this time focusing on Scorcher Kennedy, a star detective with a lonely personal life. While these novels can stand alone, you might want to start at the beginning with In the Woods.
Ben H. Winters debuts in the third spot with nine mentions to date for The Last Policeman. It’s a blend of mystery and science fiction, a trilogy starter in which an asteroid is heading towards Earth and will end civilization in six months. Amid a spate of suicides, Detective Hank Palace latches onto a hanging that seems suspicious. While the rest of civilization focuses on the bleak future, Palace decides to keep doing his job and stays focused on the investigation. Strong characterizations and interesting philosophical questions make this mystery a cut above the usual.
The fourth spot is a three-way tie (eight mentions) between William Landay’s Defending Jacob, a psychological legal thriller; Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night, a loose sequel to his Boston historical The Given Day; and Jo Nesbo’s latest Harry Hole mystery, Phantom. Another mention back are Joe R. Lansdale with Edge of Dark Water and Lyndsay Faye’s Gods of Gotham. I’ll round out a top twelve by mentioning the crime novels with six mentions: Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery, James Lee Burke’s Creole Belle; Megan Abbott’s Dare Me, and Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind than Home. As you can see, after Gone Girl and Broken Harbor, the race in this category is tight.
We’ll post more editions of the ABBC compilation as sources are added, finishing the work later this month. Look for analysis of other categories here at BFGB and also at my other blogging home, Booklist‘s Book Group Buzz.
Click on the individual book title links to go to the WRL catalog.