The Best Mystery Crime Fiction of 2009

2009 was without question one of the best years for crime fiction in many years, and trust me when I tell you that my top ten has changed so many times in the last six months that I wish I could’ve put together a top 20, or even a top 30, but somehow I managed to narrow it down to ten favorites and five runners up.

Stuart Neville

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Stumptown – A Study In Retro Noir

If you missed Stumptown then you might not be blamed for the omission in your reading stack. Hell, even if you got the comic you might have missed the subsequent issues because the four issue debut arc took ten months to complete. The series kicked off plagued with timing issues but in the end the four comics knit together to make quite a good little case file for this crime comic that fills a new niche on the stands.


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Heat Wave + Naked Heat by Richard Castle Review

New York City is in the grip of a heat wave, and Detective Nicki Heat is in the grip of a stubborn case.  Real estate mogul Matthew Starr was pitched from his balcony, and the only suspects either have alibis or could not have accessed his apartment at the time of the murder.  The case gets more complicated when a second body enters the mix along with a multi-million dollar art theft.  And, as if things weren’t complicated enough, Detective Heat has a ride-along with her on this case:  Pulitzer-winning journalist Jameson Rook….

Richard Castle

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Coffee and Conversation with Hegel and Manfried Grossbart – Jesse Bullington Guest Blog

Jesse Bullington – Good morning, and thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Hegel: [Mutters something incomprehensible to Manfried]

Manfried: [Mutters back. This goes on for some time, until:] Uh huh. Mornin.

Hegel: Sure. Good mornin. What’s this?

BSC, upon whose behalf I’m conducting this interview, was hoping to gain some insight into the novel I wrote—

Jesse Bullington

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World’s Worst Interview with Victor Gischler

In case you haven’t noticed, over the past few weeks Boomtron has been republishing Victor Gischler’s World’s Worst Interview series, which he conducted on his old blog at the end of 2004 through the middle of 2005. Needless to say, I’ve been getting more than a few belly laughs out of the series, and after reading Gischler’s interview with George Pelecanos, I thought to myself,

“Ya know, self, you’re a pretty awful interviewer. You should try writing one of these things.”

And I said to myself, “Ya know what, self, fuck you. But you’re right. I bet doing one of these things would be a blast.”

So, I decided to go right to the source of the World’s Worst Interview—critically renowned pulp novelist, Victor Gischler.

I hope you enjoy.

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Brent Weeks Interview + The Way of Shadows Review

brent weeks

Our guest this week is Brent Weeks, author of The Night Angel Trilogy, recently published by Orbit Books.  Unless something changes in the next few weeks before the end of the year, The Way of Shadows will be my favorite book of the year. Not since Wes Unseld (NBA Players for the Bullets), in 1969, have I seen a rookie that has put together such a strong first showing.  Brent was a great fellow and even as I pull off an embarrassing interviewer faux pas and asked him pretty much the same question twice, and he answers them both, what a guy.  Now without further delay, let us all welcome Brent Weeks.

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An Open Letter to Those Terrified of E-Piracy – Gary Gibson Guest Blog

There are many pro writers out there worried by piracy, who see the internet as the greatest illegal intellectual land-grab of all time. Here’s the deal:  if you’re worried enough to want to stop it, you’re not only going to have to stop people’s internet connections, you’re also going to have to ban photocopiers, computer scanners, OCR software, and computers. At the least.

gary gibson

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West Coast Blues by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette Review

Jean-Patrick Manchette was a French crime novelist who wrote 10 novels. He is held in the highest possible regard by his English-speaking audience. To date only two of his novels have been translated. Let me say that again in the off chance that, among my limited readership, a publisher is reading this. Only. Two. Books. To say that crime readers who love the full dark style want more Manchette would be a gross understatement.

West Coast Blues

West Coast Blues is an adaptation of one of those two novels, the 1976 novel 3 to Kill.

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Top 50 Favorite Novels of the Decade: 2000-2009

Not too long ago I decided to make a list of my top 10 favorite books of the decade, from 2000-2009. I easily knocked out a list with a couple of dozen titles then decided that a decade was a long enough period of time to warrant a list of 50. I pretty quickly got to 49 then realized that two of the books on the list had hardback releases in 1999 so they got cut. I added to the list and had almost 60 books. 50 is a nice round number so I cut, cut, cut and brought it down to 50.

This is by no means a list of the best books of the decade. This isn’t a record of the most influential, those that had the most impact or even the most popular. Just my favorites. I would gladly grab any one of these books today and read it again. And in some cases I have.

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The 7-part Interview Series with R.A. Salvatore continues


When you think of the most popular character from the Wizards of the Coast stable, I do not think there is much debate. Drizzt Do’Urden leads the pack. Today we have R.A. Salvatore answering some questions we had for him regarding Drizzt, some underlying moral lessons, how it was writing with his son Geno, as well as a few others. I want to give special thanks to Philip McCall II for helping with the questions.  Also, be sure to check back in Wednesday for my review of The Ghost King.

You can also check out our first interview with R.A. Salvatore.

Without further interruption let us get into the questions.

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Quatrain + Fortune and Fate + Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn Review

Quatrain is a collection of, as the name suggests, four all-new novellas from Sharon Shinn.  Each is set in a distinct world established from previous books, and each story stands firmly against the others.  Shinn did an excellent job of varying the up four short pieces, not just the setting but also the characters and even the type of stories themselves.

sharon shinn

Check out our lengthy interview with Sharon Shinn as well.

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The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville Review

Those who believe that the short story is dead and/or irrelevant, and those who don’t see the value in publishing stories in e-zines that pay very little, if at all, to a circulation that is in all likelihood no more than a thousand would be well served to pay attention to the rise of Stuart Neville, because there are lessons to be learned there. Stuart Neville’s story in Thuglit was read by agent Nat Sobel, who signed him and sold his manuscript. Do people read the ‘zines? Yes. Do we know who is reading them? No, it could be anyone. And the more subtle of the lessons is that you never know who is checking you out online.

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Notes on Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

I’m picking my way through Inherent Vice, and I’m not even quarter of the way through it yet but I wanted to post some informal thoughts.

By the end of the first chapter I was largely underwhelmed. I thought that the main character, Doc Sportello, was a doofus, and I didn’t care at all what he was going to do or what was in store for his future. This can be a problem when we are talking about a protag.

Inherent Vice

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Science Fiction and Why It Needs Secret Decoder Rings – Gary Gibson Guest BLog

It does seem like the eternal war between SF and the mainstream just goes on and on and on, doesn’t it? One minute you think it’s dead and buried, the next it’s climbing back out of its grave, spitting out mouthfuls of dirt and gnashing its teeth.

gary gibson

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The January Dancer by Michael Flynn Review

Michael Flynn is one of the more unusual figures in modern SF and especially in technically rigorous science fiction, one who delves into areas seldom touched by other writers:  taking a “hard” science approach to social science in In the Country of the Blind; combining nuts-and-bolts hard science fiction with emotionally charged, character-driven tragedy in The Wreck of the River of Stars; and setting a First Contact story in 14th-century Germany in Eifelheim.  With The January Dancer, Flynn turns his talents to far-future space opera.

Michael Flynn

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Fantasy: Violation of the Possible? – Betsy Tobin Guest Blog

Is it possible to break the rules of fantasy writing by adhering to them too strictly?  When Borders UK first shelved my novel Ice Land in the Fantasy/Sci Fi section, I was gobsmacked (to use a quaint English term).  My first two novels had historical settings that placed them firmly on the fiction shelves.  I had approached the writing (and setting) of Ice Land in much the same way, with a few tiny exceptions.  What had happened?  And how would my readers find me?

Betsy Tobin

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A Bad Day For Sorry by Sophie Littlefield Review

When young mother Chrissy Shaw asks Stella for help with her no-good husband, Roy Dean, it looks like an easy case. Until Roy Dean disappears with Chrissy’s two-year-old son, Tucker. Stella quickly learns that Roy Dean was involved with some very scary men, as she tries to sort out who’s hiding information and who’s merely trying to kill her. It’s going to take a hell of a fight to get the little boy back home to his mama, but if anyone can do it, it’s Stella Hardesty.

Sophie Littlefield

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Evermore by Alyson Noël Review

Evermore is the first book in Alyson Noël’s new YA series, The Immortals.  Fittingly, considering the title, a lot of E words popped into my mind when I was thinking of how to describe it:  Enchanting.  Exciting.  Enthralling.  Enticing.  All of them words, as well, of seduction and magic, which are two of the book’s main themes.

The third is loss.


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Never Slow Dance with a Zombie by E. Van Lowe Review

Never Slow Dance with a Zombie is a novel for young adults.  I read a fair amount of YA books, and I’m never quite sure how to judge them.  I mean, I can tell you whether I enjoyed it, of course, but it’s hard for me to gauge how the book’s intended audience would react—I suspect in large part because I never read YA fiction when I was at that age, but only after becoming an adult who got bored with relentlessly adult novels.  So, my thoughts on this book may be a little bit harder than would be the thoughts of the typical 14-year-old girl.

Never Slow Dance with a Zombie

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