Vicki Weisfeld: Top five books of 2018

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December – that time for crime fiction lovers to look back at the mayhem of the past year and turn our heads forward, Janus-like, to gleefully anticipate the disorder of the coming year. In 2018, I reviewed 44 books here, across the wide crime fiction spectrum, and here’s a last look at the very best five, which happen to be in five different sub-genres.

5 – Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin

Julia Heaberlin created a nice twist on the psychological thriller by making you just as unsure as her protagonist, Grace, about whether her companion on a nightmare Texas road trip is actually senile. He has been diagnosed, but he could be playing her. Grace kidnaps him for this bizarre journey hoping to trick him into revealing whether he murdered her sister 12 years earlier. Photographer Carl Feldman isn’t easily tricked, though, and is unpredictable enough to be super-scary. Heaberlin enriches the text with photography’s products and metaphors, as Grace is drawn deeper into Carl’s world. Read our full review here.
Buy now on Amazon.

4 – High White Sun by J Todd Scott

High White Sun, J Todd Scott

The crime thriller High White Sun tackles the rising menace of American neo-Nazi organisations, this one the ultra-violent Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. Spawned in the state’s prisons, ABT has long since spread death and disorder statewide. Leader John Wesley Earl, newly out of prison, is poised to claim his substantial fortune for running the organisation. His son wants the cash too, to help a self-styled preacher establish a white supremacist church. Standing astride the path of these plans is Big Bend County’s Sheriff Chris Cherry and his small crew of deputies. Read our full review here.
Buy now on Amazon.

3 – Broken Ground by Val McDermid

In this, Val McDermid’s fifth police procedural featuring Edinburgh police cold case detective Karen Pirie and colleagues, the main story is interwoven with two subplots, each so engrossing you may briefly regret switches back to the principal case. The main event involves the body of a Highland games contestant buried in a peat bog atop stolen goods from World War II. Lots of unraveling needed here, for sure. McDermid’s up-to-the-minute forensic science expertise shines, as always, and she pits Pirie against not just malefactors, but also superiors who don’t share her priorities. Read our full review here.
Buy now on Amazon.

2 – The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem

In this literary crime novel, Manhattanite Phoebe Siegler searches for a friend’s missing daughter in company with a California loner dubbed The Feral Detective. Up into the mountains and out to the desolate desert they search, while Phoebe bushwhacks through her thicket of grief and anger over the last US presidential election – an event the addled, the homeless, and the menacing off-the-grid bikers they meet care about not at all. Jonathan Lethem has captured a moment of profound disconnect in the American psyche with humour and insight. Read our full review here.
Buy now on Amazon.

1 – Wrecked by Joe Ide

Wrecked, Joe Ide

Third in Joe Ide’s series about young African American amateur detective Isaiah ‘IQ’ Quintabe from East Long Beach, California. These crime novels stand out because of their engaging characters and the strongly idiomatic, totally believable, and often hilarious dialog Ide gives them. Listen to Sullivan Jones’s narration via the audiobook version, if possible. Here, IQ is up against a group of former military involved in Abu Ghraib, all of whose past misdeeds have not come to light. The mother of IQ’s client holds their secrets, and he must protect them – and himself – from people who’ll stop at nothing. Read our full review here.
Buy now on Amazon.

Click here to read about my top five books of 2017.

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