Maureen Corrigan, book critic for Fresh Air with Terry Gross, earlier this summer made her top summer reading picks for ProgressiveBookClub.com, and I was thrilled to see the company I was included in:
The Way Home by George Pelecanos
If you don’t know of him, Pelecanos has been writing crime novels for years about the “other” Washington (i.e., not Capitol Hill or Northwest DC) He’s socially and racially conscious and a terrific writer. Also wrote for The Wire. The working class “hero” of this novel works for his family’s remodeling company.
Small Crimes by Dave Zeltserman
I really really loved this noir that came out last year. A police officer newly released from prison tries to put his life back together in a small town in upstate NY and only proves himself to be one of fortune’s fools. Pure, updated James M.Cain.
The Moe Prager mysteries of Reed Farrell Coleman
My find of the year. Coleman is superb but relatively unknown. Hailed by Michael Connelly and most of the Big Guys in Hard Boiled Detective fiction. His Moe Prager series is terrific (Jewish ex cop detective) and one of them, Redemption Street, is my favorite because it’s set in the crumbling Catskill resort area. A perfect summer setting! [Listen to Maureen Corrigan’s
The Adamsberg series of Fred Vargas
Terrific, psychologically dense police procedurals set in Paris. Reminiscent of the classic Per Wahloo/Maj Sojwall police procedural series. This series stars Inspector Adamsburg and a recurring cast of police detectives and considers all the big questions about the nature of evil. Vargas is one of the biggest names in crime fiction in Europe but, again, not widely known here except to real crime fiction fans. (And, yes, she’s a she.)
Death of a Nationalist by Rebecca Pawel
Came out in 2003 and is set in the Spanish Civil War but its political story loops around in unexpected ways. Pawel spun a series out of it but this was her debut book (she was a young Spanish teacher at the time) and it’s really smart and politically inflected.
The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin
This one is probably not in print (1958 is the date on my first edition) but I’d love to make a pitch for it. It’s the first mystery that I know of in which a woman who’s recently given birth and is sleep deprived as a result sees things she shouldn’t see in the small hours of the evening. Proto-feminist in its politics.