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

Better late than what quite possibly could have been never. I found the whole task of formulating and compiling this list to be not very enjoyable. Ugh. Not sure why this list proved laborious to produce. Holidays are not a good time for anything except opening gifts... like a 47" LG LCD television.

Let's quit with the complaining and finish the list. If you started here you should go back to the beginning.

5. DIRT - Sean Doolittle (2001)
This was a real toss up for me. I could just as easily gone with the funny and brutal THE CLEAN UP. DIRT gets it by a nose because a lot of what I enjoy about Crime Fiction is discovery. THE CLEAN UP is a great book, one that you should read, but I knew it was going to be good going in. Mr. Doolittle is a terrific writer of human frailty. DIRT contains one of the great truisms of human behavior that we frantically keep secrets from our closest friends and family while just as equally hoping these secrets will be discovered and accepted. I think it is a lovely book that announced a major talent.

4. TRIGGER CITY - Sean Chercover (2008)
I don't really want to belabor the point any more. Mr. Chercover's book is just fantastic, and at this point I don't think I can say much more about it or Mr. Chercover. My end of the decade directive is that you should read this book. I assure you it is your loss if you don't.

3. KINGDOM OF SHADOW - Alan Furst (2001)
I am always conflicted about the inclusion of 'Spy' novels into the larger umbrella of the Crime Fiction novel. In deed, this book provided the most consternation. It was not on the list until I ultimately decided that great books should never be denied regardless of genre. Like all of Mr. Furst's work, KINGDOM OF SHADOWS, details Europe in the war years. Here we focus on Hungry as they balance on the precipice of Nazi domination. What works here is the exacting details of place, plot and character. And really is there anything more inspiring than of how ordinary people with no large claim to patriotism stand up and say 'no more' to an invading horde?

2. MYSTIC RIVER - Dennis Lehane (2001)
Could there be a more important book to a writer than MYSTIC RIVER is to Dennis Lehane? Mr. Lehane could have easily stayed with Kenzie and Gennaro. He could have built a highly respected cult following that had all of us asking "Why don't more people read this guy?" In retrospect, MYSTIC RIVER was a gigantic roll of the dice. Mr. Lehane did not have a K/G book to follow if MYSTIC RIVER failed to deliver. MYSTIC RIVER will make it on to a number 'Best of' lists. But it is a surprise that it makes it to my list and even bigger that it is number two. I recall that it was very good, but missed K/G in the way a 'series' reader misses fictional friends. However, in the harsh light of reality MYSTIC RIVER is too important a book to be undone by those affiliations.

1. DEAD I MAY WELL BE - Adrian McKinty (2003)
When I open a book I hope that not only is this book going to be good (a reasonable expectation), but that it is going to be the best book I have ever read (an unreasonable expectation). DEAD I MAY WELL BE achieved both these goals, and is the best book of the decade. It almost makes me want to become an English Literature teacher so I can teach the Mexican Prison sequence. Mr. McKinty's book is all about being Irish, but never once fell back on the cliches... drunken singing of Danny Boy or solipsistic talk of the 'Troubles.' The journey of Michael Forsythe is a harrowing experience and rewards the reader on every single page. A tremendous book.


adrian mckinty said…
Jesus, thanks for that Dan, I appreciate it.

Now if only it were in print...
Dan Wagner said…
Adrian - My pleasure. I love the hell out of that book.
Sean Chercover said…
Wow, Dan. I am both honored and thrilled. Thank you.
Dan Wagner said…
Sean - Always happy to sing the praises of Trigger City!

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