As is the case every year, there were far more excellent books published in 2012 than I had time to read. And, truth be told, one or more of the books on my list may have actually been published in 2011 (or earlier… I think the first edition of The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson came out in 1999). But these are all incredible books I read for the first time in 2012, and which I recommend without hesitation.
Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm
Sam Thornton is a wonderful protagonist, flawed and heroic. And I love how brilliantly Holm explores the overall theme (heaven vs. hell) with an incredible pulp sensibility and in a gritty urban environment. I’m eager to read book two in the series, The Wrong Goodbye, which is out now.
Hell & Gone by Duane Swierczynski
I loved Fun & Games, the first book in Swierczynski’s Charlie Hardie series. But Hell & Gone took things to a new level (literally: much of it takes place in a secret underground prison) and added approximately 800 percent more crazier-than-crazy twisted-ness. I’d like Christopher Nolan to direct the movie version, please. I’ve already pre-ordered book three, Point & Shoot, which comes out in April.
The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson by Douglas Lindsay
This novel about a serial killer is flat-out hilarious. Barney Thomson is a mediocre (at best) barber and an all-around sad sack. I can’t remember laughing out loud while reading a book as often as I did during The Long Midnight of Barney Thompson. I’m certain that says something disturbing about me, but there you have it.
Big Maria by Johnny Shaw
Poor Harry Schmittberger. He’s been picked on his entire life. Rather obviously, his name didn’t help in that regard. But while he starts Big Maria in less than healthy conditions (the first chapter is very … memorable), Harry soon meets up with a pair of men he has enough in common with to launch a search for long-forgotten treasure in a gold mind that happens to be in the middle of a U.S. military training ground. Big Maria is funny, touching, badass and brutal.
The Informationist by Taylor Stevens
Including this book is cheating, because I haven’t read The Informationist yet. But my wife Beth has, she loved it, and she has great taste in books — so I know I’ll totally dig it when I do. Protagonist Vanessa Munroe can track down just about any kind of information. In this first book, she’s hired by a Texas oil billionaire to find his missing daughter, who disappeared four years ago in Africa. The second book, The Innocent, is available now. The Doll is scheduled to be released later this year.