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Is it 'Aughts' or 'Oughts' - The Best of the Decade Pt. I

I know, I know. I have left a ton of things off the list. In ten years I'm guessing I have read around 300 books and that is not a lot. Many of the great books of the 'aughts' were sadly un-read by The Hungry Detective. Biggest regrets are that I only read one Laura Lippman and not enough Pelecanos. But, I shouldn't regret what I don't know. What I do know is I have had the opportunity to experience some really wonderful crime fiction. This list, in two parts, is only a small part of it.

10. THE WATCHMAN - Robert Crais (2007)
Balls out the decades best opening 25 pages. I don't buy hyperbole like 'pulse pounding excitement' or 'a nerve jangling thrill ride, but all of those adjectives apply to this book. The 'first' Joe Pike did not disappoint. THE WATCHMAN accomplishes the difficult balancing act of letting us in to Joe Pike's world without him losing any of his mystery or menace. Mr. Crais has been writing at such a high level for such a long time that I found myself taking him for granted recently. This is something I will never do again. THE WATCHMAN is up there with the finest in his canon.

9. THE EVIL THAT MEN DO - Dave White (2008)
I just remember thinking, as I read this book on a long drive to Massachusetts, that Mr. White had a fine grasp of how the past can deeply effect the present. The present day story here is connected to the past via Jackson Donne's mother who is dying of complications from Alzheimer's. It could feel gimmicky as the mother slips in and out lucidity to clue Jackson in on his family's secrets, but it never does. Instead THE EVIL THAT MEN DO is a haunting piece of work about living one's life by a personal code that all to often damns the ones you love the most.

8. JAR CITY - Arnaldur Indridason (2000)
It would be easy to place JAR CITY on this list for purely exotic reasons. I wouldn't even feel the need to justify myself given that Mr. Indridason renders Iceland with the same mysticism that James Lee Burke renders the Louisiana Bayou. Detective Erlender has failed at most things in his life except for his profession. But even being a cop is now slowly eating away at his confidence in his fellow man. JAR CITY is a reflective book that wonders if we can change our nature or do we have good or evil hardwired into our DNA.

7. LOST LIGHT - Michael Connelly (2003)
For a moment I thought that Mr. Connelly's work might not be represented here, but no worries folks this is a great one. Looking over the handful of lists to appear at this point, some have pointed to THE LINCOLN LAWYER, but I went with LOST LIGHT for its chilling conclusion. Bosch did not survive too well in the world without the badge. The arc of books where Bosch goes private definitely shows that being a Cop is not just a means to upholding his deep moral code. Bosch needs to be a Cop for his own survival.

6. HAVE MERCY ON US ALL - Fred Vargas (2001/03)

I think what I find special about this book, and indeed all of Ms. Vargas's work, is her ability to take the stories of the background characters and turn them into enthralling pieces of the puzzle. Ms. Vargas begins HAVE MERCY ON US ALL with an extended set up in a Paris neighborhood square. One of the local eccentrics designates himself the town crier. His news ranges from the ordinary to the ridiculous to the ominous as his messages foreshadow a return of the plague. I found the book to be prescient to many of our real world problems.

I'll have the top 5 up for your perusal in a few days. I might sneak the Winter Preview in before, but this will only serve to heighten the tension. Trust me.


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