Much like last year, I'll be stealing Marcus Sakey's idea of listing the good reads I had in 2009, regardless of publication date. It's a little self-serving of him to provide me with good ideas, since he shows up on the list. I finished up 39 books in 2009, not including books I read with my kids, which is down from the previous year, but there were still plenty of great reads. To wit:
Subset #1: Dashiell Hammett
I went through most of the collections of Hammett short stories this year, I'm still finishing up Nightmare Town, but everything they say about him is true. I fell in love. If I could be a fraction as good, and with his economy of language, I'd be more than pleased.
Subset #3: Megan Abbott
I went back and re-read her first three novels in anticipation of the new one, Bury Me Deep. Megan has such a wonderful, flowing, elliptical style that at times serves as counterpoint to the dark, gritty content of her work, and at other times is in service to the oneiric, noirish elements. I wouldn't be surprised if you heard her name called again at this year's Edgar nominations.
Subset #2: The Return of Chicago
Marcus Sakey's The Amateurs came out this year, which turned out to be a great companion piece to his previous novel, Good People. And I went back and re-read Sean Chercover's Trigger City. He is so good. These are people you need to be reading.
Subset #4: Terence Faherty
I went back and read or re-read the first 4 books in Faherty's Owen Keane series. If you enjoy a little meta- with your fiction, you'll love Owen Keane. As familiar as the reader is with crime fiction and Hollywood movies, he moves through the book anticipating everything that's supposed to happen, and never sees what's actually coming.
Lord Foul's Bane, by Stephen R. Donaldson
One of those books I read every few years, it's the first book in a trilogy (which then became two trilogies, which then became 10 books) about a leprous, eight-fingered man swept away to a fantastical Land where he is the re-incarnation of a powerful Lord, and the misanthropic hope of its peoples. Classic anti-hero stuff in a fantasy package.