by Gabino Iglesias
Best Crime Reads of 2015:
I didn’t get to read as much crime as I wanted in 2015, but the quality of the stuff I read made up for it. Here are, in no particular order, the best books I read last year:
10. Buffalo Noir, edited by Ed Park and Brigid Hughes – Akashic’s Noir Series is one of the best things to happen to noir in a long time. These place-centric anthologies always brings the goods, but not everyone is packed with great tales and a truly inescapable sense of space, and this one brings all of that and more to the table. Extra points for all the times Rick James shows up.
9. The Lost Treasures of R&B by Nelson George – If you’re not reading this series, you’re reading wrong. This is a hell of a lot of fun with a ton of history and music thrown on top.
8. Worm by Anthony Neil Smith – I don’t want to think about the amount of research that went into this. Here’s what you should know: fast, violent, with great dialogue, and it’s an Anthony Neil Smith novel, so you know it’s good. As much as I love his series, books like this one make me wish he’d do at least one stand-alone every year.
7. Black Gum by J David Osborne – No one does weird crime like J. David Osborne and I will fight anyone who argues with that. This is super fast, dark, and gripping in all the ways a novella should be. Plus, JDO does some things here with descriptions of places and with dialogue that should be taught in writing classes across the nation.
6. New Yorked by Rob Hart – Rob Hart wrote a debut to make folks forget about all other debuts. This is funny and sad and violent. This is about a murder and a guy drinking hard and punching people in New York, and somehow it makes you feel like you’ve never read about any of those things before. Yeah, Hart has me excited about a series, and I will hate him for that for a long time.
5. Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich – Rural noir done right. You’ve already seen this one in every list out there. It deserves to be there. Gritty stuff with a pulsating heart and the kind of plotting that makes almost all other novels seem lazy.
4. Paradise Sky by Joe Lansdale – I don’t usually read Westerns. I read everything Lansdale puts out. I loved The Thicket, and this is just as great, if not better. Guns, Chinese prostitues, shooting competitions, gore, and whatever else you could want is in here. Get it.
3. Haints Stay by Colin Winnette – See the first line of the previous entry. Yeah, this isn’t a regular Western. In fact, my review for The Collagist said something along the lines of “Winnette has reinvented the genre.” This is ultraviolent, fast-paced, strange in wonderful ways, and with touches of surrealism that bring it to another level.
2. Safe Inside the Violence by Christopher Irvin – Best collection of the year? Possibly. A crime author fans of literary fiction must read? Definitely. A lot of fun? Yes, if your idea of fun is reading bleak, heartbreaking stuff. This one blew me away because it lacked that one or two tales that are weak and that you find in every collection. Just…get it.
1. A Negro and an Ofay by Danny Gardner – The best thing about great period movies is that they effortlessly pull you in and keep you there. That’s what Gardner does here. From the dialogue to the clothing and from the cars to the racism, he truly nails the time and place.
Oh, and here are two more books you should check out: Four Days by Iain Ryan and Knuckleball by Tom Pitts. Get on it.