With just two weeks left in the year, we bring together a third group of writers and friends to recommend their favorite reads of 2019. It’s been a great bunch of titles that have added to my already towering TBR collection. So many potential gift selections for the book lover who celebrate the holiday seasons. And if they don’t, we might as well just make a book holiday and gift them anyway.
I want to thank those who have contributor so far, and welcome new contributors Nikki Dolson, Dharma Kelleher, S. W. Lauden, and Alex Segura.
Lets get to the books.
Author of All Violent Things
THE STORIES YOU TELL by Kristen Lepionka
I fell out of love with the private detective in fiction until I met Roxane Weary. Three books in to this excellent series and I am hooked again. Lepionka can write a goddamn story and I am here for every tale of Roxane Weary. The Stories You Tell is a great damn ride.
A BROKEN WOMAN by Dharma Kelleher
Give me all the Jinx Ballou stories. Kelleher draws you in and punches you in the feels. This was my first Jinx book. I’m glad there two more waiting for me to read.
SISTERS OF THE VAST BLACK by Linda Rather
Space nuns! Humankind out on the edges of known space. I could tell you so much more but if nuns in space doesn’t get you interested then this isn’t the book for you. (THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU. TRUST ME.)
REMEMBER by Patricia Shanae Smith
This was my favorite book this year. Not only is it a fantastic suspense novel, but its exploration of PTSD was brilliant.
MY DARKEST PRAYER by S.A. Cosby
This was everything an entertaining crime drama should be—exciting, fun, and gritty.
CARVED IN BONE by Michael Nava
While framed in the context of an investigation into a man’s death, this novel at its heart is a deep dive into the Castro District’s gay male culture on the verge of the AIDS epidemic.
S. W. Lauden
RECURSION by Blake Crouch
This choice won’t surprise anybody who’s heard me raving about Blake Crouch on the Writer Types podcast. Crouch’s last two thrillers (“Recursion” and “Dark Matter”) are right in line with my current tastes in crime fiction—the characters are complex, the mind-bending plots are dense, and the writing is excellent.
ALL THE WAY DOWN by Eric Beetner
Speaking of the Writer Types podcast…I may have retired from the show in October, but I left an even bigger fan of Eric Beetner’s writing than I was going in. Beetner is a prolific purveyor of top notch pulp who consistently gets more bang per sentence than most crime writers publishing today. This tightly-plotted thriller is no exception with it’s engaging characters and breakneck pace.
FACE IT: A MEMOIR by Debbie Harry
I’m a sucker for rock & roll reads (this is one of about 20 I devoured this year), but Debbie Harry’s story is truly fascinating. There was so much I didn’t know about her early days in Manhattan, including run-ins with Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd and the New York Dolls—way before she got famous with Blondie. The casual tone makes it feel like she’s confiding a few great stories over drinks. Definitely a book to check out if you love punk rock, power pop or new wave.
THE SWALLOWS by Lisa Lutz
A new Lisa Lutz book is always an event – and her latest standalone, The Swallows, is a provocative and timely look at the gender dynamics at a New England Prep school – dark, alluring, haunting and frightening in the way only teenage drama can, Lutz shows that she’s one of the sharpest and most versatile crime writers working today.
THE BETTER SISTER by Alafair Burke
Burke is the modern master of domestic suspense, and she’s at the top of her game with The Sister – a twist-laden and tightly-plotted tale that demands to be read in one sitting. A compelling beach read that’s loaded with timely, sharp social commentary, The Better Sister was impossible to ignore and even harder to put down.
MIRACLE CREEK by Angie Kim
Rarely do we see a debut this polished, confident, and layered. Kim’s Miracle Creek is a jaw-dropping first novel that touches on family, hope, and desperation that’s also part murder mystery. Suspenseful, relevant, and complex, I was blown away by this book and had to read it twice.
Hope you found a book or two to add to your reading list or for holiday gifts. Be sure to check back next week to see more recommendations from our favorite authors.