2008 isn't over yet, but the 2009 crime books are being to surge in every day. I'll keep you posted on what looks best. My first submissions:
AMONG THE MAD, by Jacqueline Winspear
Winspear's much-awarded and acclaimed Maisie Dobbs series, about a servant who goes to Cambridge, becomes a WWI battlefield nurse and then a psychologist-trained detective, returns with a story which is set in 1931 England but has loud resonance in our lives today. Maisie and her assistant Billy Beale witness a man blowing himself up -- which is closely followed by a threat to the Prime Minister and demands that include Maisie's involvement.
THE TOURIST, by Olen Steinhauer
Few crime books have been as much anticipated as this one - Steinhauer's first standalone spy thriller (after THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS and four more novels set in an Eastern European country very much like Rumania, where he studied on a Fullbright fellowship). This one moves to New York, where a former CIA covert ace named Milo Weaver has been reduced to shuffling papers because of an operation that went very bad.
THE RENEGADES, by T. Jefferson Parker
Parker has many fans and two Edgars, but he still hasn't achieved the stardom he deserves -- the Michael Connelly kind. This is follow-up to L.A. OUTLAWS, where a young rookie cop named Charlie Hood crossed the path of a determined female bank robber. Hood is now out in the boonies and driving alone on the night shift, which he prefers. But the murder of his unwanted partner puts Hood up against some really nasty cops.
ROANOKE, by Margaret Lawrence
Lawrence first caught my attention with a wonderful mystery series about a midwife in post-Revolutionary War New England (HEARTS AND BONES, BLOOD RED ROSES). Now she moves back in time to 1585, beginning in London where a "spider" (a Royal spy) named Gabriel North saves Queen Elizabeth's life in an assassination attempt -- one of many; she has lots of enemies -- and as a bleak reward is sent off to Virginia. North, an experienced seducer, is charged with romancing a Secota Indian princess, and in the course of his work he finds out what really happened to the English settlers on Roanoke Island, who apparently disappeared without a trace.
A QUIET FLAME, by Philip Kerr, opens in 1950. Falsely fingered as a war criminal, Bernie Gunther of BERLIN NOIR has booked passage to Buenos Aires, lured, like the Nazis whose company he has always despised, by promises of a new life and a clean passport from the Perón government. But Bernie doesn’t have the luxury of settling into his new home and lying low. He is soon pressured by the local police into taking on a case in which a girl has turned up dead, gruesomely mutilated, and another -- the daughter of a wealthy German banker -- has gone missing. Both crimes seem to connect to an unsolved case Bernie worked on back in Berlin in 1932.
And of course the Big Enchilada, or the Gold Swedish Meatball:
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, by Steig Larssen, the second book he left behind at his death.
This time it is Lisbeth Salander, the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker, who is the focus and fierce heart of the story.
Mikael Blomkvist -- crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium --has decided to publish a story exposing an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.
On the eve of publication, the two reporters responsible for the story are brutally murdered. But perhaps more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander.
Now, as Blomkvist -- alone in his belief in her innocence -- plunges into his own investigation of the slayings, Salander is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.