So, there's 11 days till Christmas and you haven't finished (begun?) your shopping. You need help. Inspired by (read: stolen from) Type M For Murder, here are some of my (alphabetical) recommendations for books published in the last 24 months that your gift-receiving friends are sure to love. There's a little something for everybody here, so pick the most appropriate.
Bury Me Deep, by Megan Abbott
Another beautiful, elliptical novel from Megan, based on a true scandalous murder of the Thirties, then taken where Megan wants it to go. There aren't many better than Megan in crime fiction right now, and if you like your novels dark, then Megan is the way to go.
Murder is Binding, by Lorna Barrett
NY Times best-selling cozy from one of Rochester's own. It takes the meta-level lover of mysteries and plops her into a mystery of her own, in a small town with many eccentric peoples. The first of a series that now includes Bookmarked for Death and Bookplate Special.
Hit and Run, by Lawrence Block
The master at work on possibly his last novel. Keller is the likeable hit-man set up for a political assassination and on the run in post-Katrina New Orleans. Fourth in a series that you should read, too, if you haven't already.
For Better, For Murder, by Lisa Bork
The newest Rochester-based crime fiction purveyor starts her "Broken Vows" series with this not-quite-cozy that centers around expensive cars and dead bodies in a Finger Lakes small town. The complex relationship between the protagonist and her "ex-husband" is what draws me to this series.
Trigger City, by Sean Chercover
Sean is awesome. Dark, like his hero Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder novels, but also thoughtful and timely. In this one, our PI Ray Dudgeon is paid to investigate an open-and-shut case that puts him in the crosshairs of a multi-national security firm. Great stuff, and get the first novel, Gi City, Bad Blood, too.
Embrace the Grim Reaper, by Judy Clemens
Full disclosure - I haven't finished this yet, but I'm enjoying the hell out of it. Casey has had a near-death experience, and ever since then she's been having near-Death experiences. Wandering the countryside, the Grim Reaper is her nearly-constant companion. In this, she stumbles onto a recession-induced murder mystery in a small Ohio town. Fantasy or parable, I'm eager to find out.
Frames, by Loren D. Estleman
For the film geek in your life. Valentino is a UCLA film archivist that may have just found the sole remaining print of GREED. Salivating yet? Get it for your film geek friends and watch the drool flow...
Money Shot, by Christa Faust
Ex-porn star Angel Dare starts the novel in the trunk of a car, presumably at her own end, but this is only the start of the novel. Angel finds her way out, discovers who's behind the deed and extracts her revenge. Dark, fast and fun. But what else would a Hard Case Crime book be?
State of the Onion, by Julie Hyzy
Can a White House chef really become embroiled (heh-heh) in an international mystery? Of course she can! A "cozy thriller," this is the first in a (soon-to-be three book) series that follows Ollie Paras through the worlds of diplomatic exactitude, haute cuisine and Sorkin-esque behind-the-scenery.
Good People/The Amateurs, by Marcus Sakey
Holding up the back end of the alphabet all by himself, Marcus is a Chicago-based writer that focuses on the everyman in his thrillers. Not the John McClane Hollywood everyman, but the guy who has moved on from his dark past. Or the guy coming back from the war to a changed neighborhood (noir anyone?). Or, in the case of these two novels, a married couple just trying to have a baby, and a group of friends 10 years too late in finding that this is all there is. They really should be bought and read together as companion pieces (you can e-mail me if you've read them and want to discuss why), but they work very well individually as well.