Tag Archives: rating

Edgar Nominees Announced. Let the Readfest Begin.

The MWA Edgar nominees have been announced, and as usual, up for awards are Books. That. I. Never. Heard. Of.  Given how many hours I devote to reading, what a high percentage of that time is mystery-and-crime-novel-specific, and the wide range of books I plow through in a year,  this is amazing.  Of the ten books , I have only read two (Gone and Bent Road).  You can read my gushing review of Gone here.

I am eager to begin my reading, rating and ranking.  This year, I have it on good authority that my reading and writing buddy Addy is going to do so, also.  You can find her here.

Here are the books I’ll be reading:

For Best Novel:

  1. The Ranger by Ace Atkins (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
  2. Gone by Mo Hayder (Grove/Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
  3. The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino (Minotaur Books)
  4. 1222 by Anne Holt (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)
  5. Field Gray by Philip Kerr (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons – Marion Wood Books)

And for Best First Novel by an American Author:

  1. Red on Red by Edward Conlon (Random House Publishing Group – Spiegel & Grau)
  2. Last to Fold by David Duffy (Thomas Dunne Books)
  3. All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen (The Permanent Press)
  4. Bent Road by Lori Roy (Penguin Group USA – Dutton)
  5. Purgatory Chasm by Steve Ulfelder (Minotaur Books – Thomas Dunne Books)

I am also giving serious thought to trying to dig up all the nominees for best short story.  I love short stories, love to read them, love to write them, am only mildly annoyed by the formulaic ones and am rarely struck speechless by the truly awesome.  You will note that half were published in either Hitchcock or Queen – I am somewhat embarrassed to admit I let my subscription lapse, but I got annoyed by the number of clever, tricky, historical, or otherwise uninspiring stories published.  Perhaps I’ll resubscribe.

  1. “Marley’s Revolution” – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by John C. Boland (Dell Magazines)
  2. “Tomorrow’s Dead” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by David Dean (Dell Magazines)
  3. “The Adakian Eagle” – Down These Strange Streets by Bradley Denton (Penguin Group USA – Ace Books)
  4. “Lord John and the Plague of Zombies” – Down These Strange Streets by Diana Gabaldon (Penguin Group USA – Ace Books)
  5. “The Case of Death and Honey” – A Study in Sherlock by Neil Gaiman (Random House Publishing Group – Bantam Books)
  6. “The Man Who Took His Hat Off to the Driver of the Train” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Peter Turnbull (Dell Magazines)

This will be my third year blogging about the Edgars – you can see how I did in 2010 here and in 2011 here.  Superstitiously, I am determined to read them all in hard copy, not Kindle or iPad2 or iPhone or Nook… since I can only blame my Kindle for my performance in 2011.

Edgar Rankings: Who the heck is Poke Rafferty?

I had never read anything by Timothy Hallinan prior to my instantaneous purchase-by-Kindle of the Edgar-nominated The Queen of Patpong.  With nothing to hold in my hand – no blurb on the back of the book, no book jacket bio – I plunged into the the underbelly of Bangkok.  Bar girls, tough guys, and plenty of bought-and-sold.  In the first chapter, a predatory American circles and pulls in a 16-year-old bar girl, only to be stopped by a corrupt Thai policeman who is ready to let the girl go to certain torture and death – for a price.  Between the two of them, they scare the cr*p out of the girl, who takes off in a big hurry for the farm she left behind.  In the final paragraphs, it becomes obvious that the policeman and the tall American are in cahoots, with the goal of saving the girl.  And that was it.  I was hooked.

It turns out that this is the fourth Poke Rafferty novel, Poke being the tall American and Arthit his policeman friend.  Poke’s evidently a travel writer, although we don’t see much traveling or much writing in this book.  He’s married to a former bar girl, Rose, and they’ve adopted a 13-year-old named Miaow (but she wants to go by Mia).  Life gets exciting and scary when a man from Rose’s past – a seductive mercenary who has left a trail of murdered young women behind him – finds her again.  Fortunately, he’s the kind of sociopath who likes to play with his prey, because if he had just gone for the kill right off the bat, the book would have been maybe 50 pages long.

If you’re noticing, this is the fourth book out of the six nominated that hinges on action from the past.  If the trend continues and we end up six-for-six, that’ll really be something unusual.

For sheer engagement, The Queen of Patpong is tops.  The reader sees the love between Poke and Rose, the family the three of them have made together, and their friendship with Arthit.  The backstory is well-told and is doled out over time, ratcheting up the suspense.  By the time I was reading about Rose’s encounter with Howard Horner on the rocks – he has plans to kill her, but she outwits him – I couldn’t read fast enough.   It reminded me Tom Hanks in Apollo 13 – you know the astronauts survive, but you’re on the edge of your seat anyway.

Also good about the book – the bad guys were not just believable, but real, and the meta-message – that the U.S. government would protect black ops mercenaries who killed civilians for fun – was chilling, but in today’s world, also believable.

The downside to The Queen of Patpong is pretty minor:  if you haven’t read about these characters before, it takes a little catching up.   The world of Bangkok is not readily familiar, so that takes a little catching up, too.

This is quite a different novel, some mystery but mostly thriller, and Rose fills the pages.   It’s a tough call, but it doesn’t quite edge out Laura Lippman’s book, although it’s definitely ahead of Harlan Coben’s Caught.   I “amazoned” Hallinan, and I see he has quite a backlist… guess I know what I’ll be reading when the Edgar countdown is over!

Lunchbox rankings for Best Novel:

  1. I’d Know You Anywhere – Laura Lippman
  2. The Queen of Patpong – Timothy Hallinan
  3. Caught – Harlan Coben
  4. The Lock Artist – Steve Hamilton