Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best Mystery and Crime Novels of 2011

The last year was a good one for new mystery novels. Here are the ones that this Blog liked best:

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo - Oslo, Norway police detective Harry Hole tracks a sadistic serial killer, dubbed The Snowman, because he leaves a snowman in the yard of each new victim. The killer somehow has inside personal information that he uses to manipulate Hole, leading up to a horrific crisis situation involving someone close to Harry.

Readers should be warned that this novel deals with violent sexual aberration and contains much adult material and language.

For fans of the late Stieg Larsson's "Dragon Tattoo" series, Jo Nesbo's chilling Nordic crime novels are a worthy successor.

An outstanding mystery read.

The Drop by Michael Connelly - LAPD detective Harry Bosch investigates an apparent suicide jump, but "the drop" begins to look more like murder. The case pulls Bosch into a minefield of high level city political corruption. Meanwhile, he's digging into an old unsolved murder case that points to a long term serial predator still at work.

Bosch is his usual cynical self, but with his hard nosed ethical code still intact. Without that, he couldn't be a cop anymore.

Crisply written, with a hard-driving plot. A first rate police procedural.

The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell - The last of the Kurt Wallander novels. As Wallander nears retirement, he looks into the disappearance of a former Swedish naval officer that may be linked to Cold War espionage.

But the real center of the novel is Wallander's bleak struggle with his own health and personal problems that leads him toward a frightening answer that he fears to find.

A melancholy, introspective goodbye for Wallander.

The Complaints by Ian Rankin - Internal Affairs is called The Complaints in the Edinburgh, Scotland police department. That's where Inspector Malcolm Fox investigates other cops for misconduct.

A new case has Fox quietly probing whether a young detective is part of a secret Internet porno ring. But Fox is distracted when his sister's abusive partner is found beaten to death. Fox makes the mistake of getting improperly involved in the murder case. That leads to Fox himself becoming a target of investigation as his enemies on the force get their revenge back on the hated Complaints officer.

An unusual, steadily building plot and a thoroughly enjoyable police mystery.

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