As the year rolls toward its close—and with holiday shopping season in high gear—there are many Best Books of 2022 lists being written by book reviewers across the nation.
One annual list I find to be particularly well done is by my friend Kristopher Zgorski, whose review site is called BOLO Books. Kristopher’s picks this year include several books I’ve read and applaud—The Murder Rule by the superb Irish writer Dervla McTiernan, Like A Sister, a page-turning domestic suspense novel by award-winning author Kellye Garrett, and The Secrets We Share, a thriller by Edwin Hill, which cost me a couple nights of sleep when I was immersed in its pages.
Four others on the BOLO list already were on my To Be Read list—Val McDermid’s 1989, the second in a new series featuring young journalist Allie Burns, Any Where You Run by Wanda Morris, whose 2021 debut All Her Little Secrets absolutely knocked me off my feet, Alex Segura’s Secret Identity, a noir plot set in the comic book world featuring a queer Cuban American protagonist, and A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny, whose Quebec-set books always make my must-read list. (Just so you know, in in retirement, I plan to move to Three Pines.)
The BOLO list includes links to Kristopher’s review of each book he chose as a best read of the year, which makes it a particularly useful shopping tool. Here’s the magic link: https://bolobooks.com/2022/12/top-reads-of-2022-according-to-bolo-books/
If I were compiling my best of 2022 list I’d add four books by MCW alums, and not just because they are MCW alums, but because they are terrific reads: Child Zero, a stunning, chilling, propulsive medical thriller (superior to Michael Crichton’s, IMHO) by Chris Holm, Hatchet Island by Paul Doiron, about murder and other diabolical happenings at an island bird sanctuary, Muddled Through the tenth in Barbara Ross’ Maine Clambake cozy series, which gets stronger with each book, and Robbed Blind by Gerry Boyle, the fourteenth book in another truly engaging series featuring Maine reporter Jack McMorrow.
A number of my current colleagues here at MCW published new books this year, and I recommend each of them to you as you browse the bookstores (local if you can, okay?) for gifts for the crime fiction lovers in your life.
Richard Cass’s The Last Altruist is his first book set in Maine, a high-energy and emotionally touching tale of a former soldier still scarred from war-related trauma and not yet free of those who inflicted it. Kate Flora’s Death Sends a Message features old friend Thea Kozak. If you’ve not met Thea yet, you must. The whole series is terrific.
You won’t want to put down Vaughn Hardacker’s My Brother’s Keeper, until you reach the last page, so read it on a day when you’ve got time to dive in. Then there’s Matt Cost, a/k/a Mr. Prolific, who has two 2022 crime novels for your reading pleasure, Mainely Angst and Cosmic Trap (coming out later this month). And if you want a break from crime and enjoy historical novels, check out Matt’s At Every Hazard, Joshua Chamberlain and the Civil War.
Sanford (Sandy) Emerson is not an official member of the MCW blog, but he’s been an honorary one for some time, and not only because he’s married to our stalwart Kathy Lynn Emerson. This year Sandy published The Yarns of Constable Bobby Wing of Skedaddle Gore, Maine and if you appreciate well-written, sharp (there’s no R in that word) Maine humor, you must read this book.
Four other books I read this year jump to mind as I think about what delighted me, thrilled me or inspired me in the past 12 months.
Oh Danny Girl by my Cape Cod friend C. Michele Dorsey was one of them, a book of her heart that stole mine. Robyn Gigl’s Survivor’s Guilt, featuring transgender criminal defense lawyer Erin McCabe, is absolutely stunning. Kelly J. Ford’s Real Bad Things is a must-read for those who, like me, love a good dark, Southern gothic read. William Kent Krueger’s Fox Creek, his latest Cork O’Connor book, was an immersive, satisfying visit with old friends in this long-running series.
For my part, I did not publish a new book this year, fingers crossed that will change soon. But my short story Means, Motive, and Opportunity, published last fall in Bloodroot: Best New England Crime Stories 2021, made the “Other Distinguished Stories” list in Best American Mystery and Suspense 2022, an honor for which I am grateful.
Happy holidays, friends! When you hit the local shops this holiday season, please remember the frequent advice of my good pal Dick Cass: books make wonderful gifts.
Brenda Buchanan brings years of experience as a journalist and a lawyer to her crime fiction. She has published three books featuring Joe Gale, a newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. She is now hard at work on new projects. FMI, go to http://brendabuchananwrites.com