Friday, December 10, 2010

The Best of Whatever--Naomi Johnson

I tried to whittle this list down to ten, but I had to stretch it to eleven. I'm listing only novels here, not collections or anthologies. That would have stretched the list out much further. In no particular order:

NO SLEEP TILL WONDERLAND by Paul Tremblay. Tremblay turns what seems like a gimick (a narcoleptic PI) into lyrical and evocative reading.

PRINT THE LEGEND by Craig McDonald. It's no secret how much I love the Hector Lassiter series. I can't even think about this book without wanting to re-read it.

KE UP DEAD by Roger Smith. Brutal and brilliant, and better still: revelatory.

MEMORY by Donald Westlake. Some Westlake fans found this very serious bit of literature not to their taste. I thought it was heartbreaking and bleak and a significant work from a master.

THE WOLVES OF FAIRMOUNT PARK by Dennis Tafoya. Powerful and provocative, with passages so beautiful and moving it's hard to believe this is only Tafoya's second novel.

BUCKET NUT by Liza Cody. Sha
rp, funny, and altogether original.

THE CARETAKER OF LORNE FIELD by Dave Zeltserman. A cla
ssic, and that's all there is to it.

SAVAGES by Don Winslow. Ultra-
cool. Witty, sophisticated writing.

GLASS RAINBOW by James Lee Burke. One of Burke's best. Highly charged and beautifully written.

by Megan Abbott. Genuine noir. Accept no sub
stitutes. Exquisite prose.

hton Gage. Quick, entertaining procedural that turns the tables on the reader in the final chapter.

Oh, and I haven't finished Benjamin Whitmer's PIK
E yet, but I won't be surprised if by book's end this one makes the list, too.

THOR: Naomi Johnson is a fitful writer whose work can occasionally be found at A Twist of Noir. She has also had work published at Crime Factory and in Encounters Magazine. She writes the occasional review at The Drowning Machine.


  1. Great list. Finished DOPE THIEF recently and ready for the next Tafoya. Heard great things about most of these books, but a couple are new to me. Thanks for the list.

  2. Naomi- Thanks for the skinny on these novels. The only one I have read is "Wake up Dead", and loved it. Going to investigate the others you listed.

    Steve- "Dope Thief" has been in the back of my mind for a while, great title. Did you like it?

  3. I enjoyed Dope Thief last year, it's an excellent debut. I think Wolves of Fairmount Park is even better.

  4. Naomi- That's all I needed to hear, I'm in!

  5. Naomi, I've some of these on my shelf from your recommendations over the year. You're like a torch shining on good things. One day I'll catch up. One day.