Crimes That Paid

Our top books of 2014 provided pleasures despite the pain

Hurts So Good

Crimes That Paid

Unless your name is Dick Cheney or you're an investor in ISIS, you're as sick of war as I am, but my favorite book of 2014 was Fear: A Novel of World War I (New York Review Books Classics), by Gabriel Chevallier, a Frenchman who fought in the trenches from 1914-18. First published in 1930, then withdrawn in 1939 as the Nazis started acting up, this new trade paper edition marks the Great War centennial as well as the ongoing quagmire over there in Murderstan.

A cigarette can be just another way to flaunt your fear of cancer, but in Where the Mountains Are Thieves (Goldminds Publishing), author David Marion Wilkinson uses the imperious arc of its glow on a darkened porch to telegraph the icy character of a soon-to-be-ex-wife. Fine writing, much of it funny, as Wilkinson's writer protagonist wrestles with the world and his past and everything slugs back, none so low as the mother of his beloved son. Nature vs. Man and Man Makes Everything Worse in Many Rivers to Cross (Texas Christian University Press), by Thomas Zigal, a fine Katrina novel recognized by the 2014 Jesse Jones Award for Fiction. In the strong debut crime novel Nine Days: A Mystery (Minotaur Books) by Minerva Koenig, Julia Kalas, a federally protected witness is exiled to small-town Texas. Trouble follows.

A hell of a good ride was Parker: Slay­ground (IDW Publishing), Darwyn Cooke's graphic novel adaptation of the novel by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake).

Favorite book events of 2014 in which I was not the featured author include when I sang "Wild Thing" for Marcia Clark (former L.A. County district attorney turned crime novelist) at her appearance for Killer Ambition (Mulholland Books), and the BookPeople appearance of Austin expatriate BigBoy Medlin, who may have been there to promote his novel Slap Noir (3AM Press), but who had us all laughing so hard, I'm not sure what the deal was.

  • Hurts So Good

    Our top books of 2014 provided pleasures despite the pain
  • Smiling Through the Pain

    Amy Gentry's top reads of 2014 thematized suffering in language so beautiful, she winced with every word

    Turkish Delights

    Jay Trachtenberg's top reads of 2014 gave him more insight into the culture of Turkey than a dozen guidebooks

    Liberating Lit

    Jessi Cape’s top reads of 2014 show welcome signs of improvement in the way women are celebrated in literature

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Crime Fiction, Top 10s 2014, Fear: A Novel of World War I, Where the Mountains Are Thieves, Many Rivers to Cross, Nine Days: A Mystery, Parker: Slayground, Killer Ambition, Marcia Clark, BigBoy Medlin, Slap Noir

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