Tom’s Top 12 Books of 2015

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I managed to read quite a few books this year, despite the fact that I was getting one novel ready for publication, starting on a new novel, and working with the MWA-NY Mentor Program, among many other things. In other words, the usual caseload–but I always find time to read because that’s how I roll. Here, in no particular order, are a dozen mysteries and thrillers of 2015 that I particularly enjoyed:

Dark Corners cover1. DARK CORNERS by Ruth Rendell

2. THE ASSASSINS by Gayle Lynds

Orient cover3. ORIENT by Christopher Bollen

4. THE BODY IN THE BIRCHES by Katherine Hall Page

Black-Eyed Blonde cover5. THE BLACK-EYED BLONDE by Benjamin Black*

6. ALL THE OLD KNIVES by Olen Steinhauer

9780143126690_p0_v3_s192x3007. THE KILLER NEXT DOOR by Alex Marwood

8. BLOOD RED by Wendy Corsi Staub


10. THE HIDDEN GIRL by Louise Millar


12. FALLING IN LOVE by Donna Leon

(*This is actually a 2014 title, but I just caught up with it and loved it so much I included it here, anyway.)

Now that I look at it, this list is interesting for what it says about me and my recent mindset. My new book is an espionage thriller, and I have three espionage thrillers on this list. Coincidence? I think not. I’ve been avoiding the Scandinavian gang lately, and I haven’t heard about any other international “must-reads” this year, so I’ve got a list of seven Americans and five Brits. Eight women, four men, all Caucasian. Am I in a rut? Maybe.

My New Year’s resolution about reading is to expand my horizons. We all have favorite types of mystery and types we avoid. For me, the Big Avoid is anything about drugs. So I’ve ordered a copy of the new Don Winslow book, THE CARTEL, just to get me out of my comfort zone (and because I hear it’s fabulous). Also coming up: HUSH, HUSH by my darling Laura Lippman (I hear that’s fabulous, too). I see there’s a new Michael Connelly and a new Robert Crais, so I must get them. Ditto the new James Lee Burke. I haven’t read Louise Penny or Elizabeth George in a while; maybe that will change. I miss Sano Ichiro–can anyone out there talk Laura Joh Rowland into writing some more of those? Please? And where the heck is Carol O’Connell? Hey, Carol, we’re waiting!!!

Biggest disappointment of the year: ONE STEP TOO FAR by Tina Seskis, the overhyped, overpraised “#1 International Bestseller!!!” that was this year’s version of THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR by Joel Dicker, the overhyped, overpraised bomb from last year. Best news of the year: S. J. Rozan is preparing two new books, a big thriller set in Mongolia and a new Lydia Chin/Bill Smith mystery. Yay! Most anticipated book for next year: THE SECOND LIFE OF NICK MASON by the ever-amazing Steve Hamilton. Yay! The saddest news of the year was the loss of several giants: P. D. James (November 2014), Henning Mankell, Ruth Rendell, Hazel Holt, and William McIlvanney.

That was my year in reading, and I’m looking forward to another one in 2016. Enjoy!

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