It’s that listing time of year, a time when I like to collect my thoughts, and those of others, too, in list form. Bookstores and websites are full of ‘best of’ lists by genre and I thought I’d get in on the act by listing my favourite reads of 2012.
A quick whip around among crime fiction reading tweeters and bloggers reveals almost no overlap between my top crime reads of 2012 and everyone else’s — which speaks volumes about the breadth and diversity of this genre we call crime fiction.
While the rest of the world seems besotted by Nordic noir, I tend to read crime fiction set in Asia and/or written by authors from Asian countries. I also read a lot of crime fiction by Australian women. This year, inspired by the Australian Women Writers Challenge, I extended this tendency to cover general fiction by Australian women writers. I even declared June my month off reading and writing crime fiction.
I had the good fortune to revisit Europe in August and took this opportunity to read a few classics, including Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald.
I also read several graphic novels this year, having been introduced to the beauty of the form by Bernard Caleo. Bernard and I have collaborated on several comics, and this year we collaborated on a forum at the Melbourne Museum on Agatha Christie, which in turn affected my reading by requiring me to swot up on her life and work.
So my list of favourite reads released in 2012 is highly subjective (whose isn’t?) and in no particular order. I’ve provided links to reviews I’ve posted during the year. That I haven’t reviewed them all is due only to my failure, despite my best efforts, to master the art of bilocation.
All That I Am — Anna Funder
Full of ideas and history, a book to love as both a reader and a writer.
Nine Days — Toni Jordan
A book about love, as poignant and romantic as the cover photograph that inspired it.
The Mistake — Wendy James
One of the first books I read in 2012. The ending still haunts me.
The Woman Before Me — Ruth Dugdall
A tense, heartbreaking thriller.
A Dissection of Murder — Felicity Young
Historical crime fiction but by no means cosy, set during early 20th century violent demonstrations for women’s suffrage and featuring Britain’s first female autopsy surgeon Dody McClelland.
Ghost Money — Andrew Nette
Don’t take my word for how good this book is. Believe the reviewer who said, “Ghost Money could well be The Third Man of Asian Noir.”
Phnom Penh Noir — Christopher G Moore ed.
A stylish, edgy anthology of short crime fiction set in Cambodia, with contributions by Cambodian, expat and overseas writers.
Blue — Pat Grant
Inspired by the Cronulla riots, part sci-fi, part autobiography, a highly sophisticated graphic novel about beach culture, nationalism, racism and surfing.
Hard Labour — Andrew Nette, Cameron Ashley, Liam Jose eds.
Disingenuous to include an anthology in which I have a story, but truth is this collection rocked my world in 2012. Personal highlights include short fiction by David Whish-Wilson, Leigh Redhead, Greig Johnston and Andrew Prentice.
The Midnight Promise — Zane Lovitt
A collection of interconnected short stories featuring Private Inquiry Agent John Dorn. Dark, Chandleresque tales showcasing Melbourne in all its grit and glory.
Paving the New Road — Sulari Gentill
The fourth novel in the Rowland Sinclair series is my favourite to date.
And here’s what’s at the top of my TBR pile this summer:
Thrill City — Leigh Redhead
Halfway through and greatly enjoying Simone Kirsch PI’s latest outing.
The Sacrificial Man — Ruth Dugdall
Hearing good things about this.
Silent Valley — Malla Nunn
See inability to bilocate (above) to explain why I haven’t already read this.
Wolf Hall / Bringing Up the Bodies — Hilary Mantel
Scared Yet — Jaye Ford
I was poised to read this when a violent incident close to home put me off being frightened for a bit. I think I’m up to it now.
Six Suspects — Vikas Swarup
Loved Q&A, the novel behind the movie Slumdog Millionaire; looking forward to the author’s second book.
Thirst — LA Larkin
Making an exception to my rule of not reading novels set in places colder than where I’m living at the time to read this Antarctic thriller.
The Darkest Little Room — Patrick Holland
A review on Pulpcurry has sparked my interest in this one.
Click here to hear my 19 December review of my favourite crime reads of 2012 on Radio National Books and Arts Daily.