Wow. I can hardly believe 2017 is already winding down. In my own writing career it has been a mixed bag. I sold two novels this year. Texas Two Step will be published by Down and Out Books April 2, 2018. Rose City will be published the following April, 2019, also from Down and Out Books. I’ve got another novel in the chamber that I’m hoping to finish by year’s end, as well, featuring a new protagonist I’m excited to share with the world in the coming years: Marcus McMasters. All in all, 2017 was a rebuilding year for me, and a holding period for my career. Expect big things next year!

But it was a fantastic year for crime fiction as a whole. And I don’t just mean the independent kind of crime fiction I normally focus my reading on, either. Surprisingly, I read lots of books I loved this year that were put out by big corporate publishers who, in the past, haven’t put out the kinds of books that speak to me as often.

Two of the selections are debut authors, too, so I’ll take it as a good sign that either my tastes are changing, or the larger publishing houses are beginning to step outside the bounds of their bread-and-butter publishing formula. Probably a bit of both.

By my hip-shot count I read somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty books this year, all in the crime genre. For me, reading has become as much about market research as entertainment, but don’t think for a second that means I wasn’t completely captivated by most of the books I read this year. I was. Intimidated, too.  The talent level out on the market is astounding, truly.

It was hard to narrow down the list, but I think I’ve managed something I can live with. What follows are my five favorite crime books of 2017 in no particular order, and presented with the caveat that there’s no accounting for personal taste.

Also, if your book didn’t make the list even though I read it, trust me I probably still loved it, these were just the most memorable reads of the year for me, and I’m posting the list in hopes of encouraging non-reading friends and family to check them out and develop a taste for crime fiction through them. Your books are next on the recommendation list when they come calling, I promise.

Now, on to the books!

My 5 Best Crime Novels of 2017

1.) Crime Song, by David Swinson

I just can’t get enough of Frank Marr, and this, the second installment in the series, does not disappoint. Great voice, great action, compelling characters, and enough drug abuse to kill a lesser man, this book made me find excuses to take more baths (my favorite reading spot). Bathe yourself in the gritty action and suspense, you’ll still need a shower after.

 

 

 

 

2.) The Dime, by Kathleen Kent

Strong female protagonist? Check. Set in my new hometown of Dallas, Texas? Check. Gritty cop drama? Check. Witty dialog that often stings? Check check check. I’ve got a crush on Detective Betty Rhyzyk, but please don’t tell her, because I’d like to keep my extremities in tact. This was one of my most recent reads, and I couldn’t put it down. I first discovered The Dime after reading with Kathleen at Noir at the Bar Dallas. Her reading there had me walking straight over to the book table to pick up a copy, and so should you.

 

 

 

3.) She Rides Shotgun, by Jordan Harper

I loved the multiple point of views in this book, found them each uniquely compelling in their own way. I also just really like Jordan’s writing style, it begs you to keep reading. Part California noir, part west coast thriller. An all-encompassing read. Polly is my hero, and she’ll be yours too, trust me. READ IT.

 

 

 

 

4.) I.Q. by Joe Ide

All the hip hop hotness you could expect from a street-savy, neighborhood P.I. Isaiah is emotionally compelling and a brilliant detective. I had a lot of fun reading this book and dealing with the crazy, violent, and often bizarre cast of characters. Easy to see why it’s received so much attention, so you should probably show it some of yours, too.

 

 

 

 

5.) What We Reckon, by Eryk Pruitt

Damn. This book was one wild ride. I literally had no idea what to expect next. Also, so much of the country-cooked, kooky drug use and abuse reminded me of my younger days growing up behind the pine curtain of East Texas. Jack and Summer are a couple of crazy con artists who lie to themselves and each other at least as much as they lie to everyone else. All bets are off anytime these two get involved in your situation. The book is very entertaining to read, if not outright shocking at times. I promise you won’t see the second half coming. Get it now.

 

Posted by Michael Pool

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