Robert Crais has been a favorite author of mine for some time now. In 2020 during my record-setting year of reading I read nine of his books. As of this writing I’ve now read all but the most recent two books he’s published. He’s proven to be in a class of his own among his many contemporaries. Who would you say is the best mystery author writing today?
Today’s the day. No, the year isn’t quite over just yet. But today’s the day I reveal the best books I read this year. Obviously, I’d like you to take a look at the video to hear what I have to say, but because we’re talking about the year’s best I’m also writing about them here.
Every one of these books was a five star read for me. In order read:
The Forgotten Man – Robert Crais
PS I Still Love You – Jenny Han
Chasing Darkness – Robert Crais
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
Flash Boys – Michael Lewis
Suspect – Robert Crais
The Sentry – Robert Crais
Taken – Robert Crais
The Last Olympian – Rick Riordan
Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
As you can see, Robert Crais wrote HALF of my five star reads for the entire year. Insanity. If you can believe it, there were other books of his I didn’t rate as highly. But he really set the bar this year. He’s been one of my favorite authors for some time, but he dominated my reading this year. I read him nine times. He’s cemented himself as the best crime novelist writing today and I have too many reasons to hit on right now.
It would be pointless to write this and not mention the top of the top. The best book I read this year was The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I previously wrote a review on here for it, so no point in reviewing it again.
Most surprising, the number two book of the year was Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. I went in with limited expectations and page after page, chapter after chapter was impressed. I’m limited in my exposure to memoirs, but this an excellent read and I imagine on par with any other.
Lastly, I feel obligated to mention Rick Riordan. I read four of the five Percy Jackson books this year. He seemingly improved with every single one, with his best coming with the final in the series. It was full of heart-wrenching, heart-stopping moments that made me happy to have taken a chance on the books. A phenomenal finale to a rather enjoyable series.
What were some of your top reads this year?
Spoilers ahead (but who cares, it was published 80 years ago.)
It happened again. I may need to lay off books published before 1970 because clearly I have issues with just about every one I read.
I decided to read this after playing around online and looking up detectives I’d never read before. It didn’t hurt that Raymond Chandler is something of an icon in mystery circles. But, oh boy.
Philip Marlowe is a PI in LA. The book was published in the 1930s, so I guess the assumption is that it takes place during the same period. There are a number of mentions of prohibition. He’s hired by a rich guy who’s getting blackmailed.
I’m going to start with some of the positives:
I’m not exaggerating or trying to be silly. There is nothing I can point to in this book that I really enjoyed. But don’t get me started on the negatives.
The writing style made me want to claw my eyes out. How many times can one person say “you’re cute” in a single work? My goodness. No creativity whatsoever.
There are two women who have prominent roles in the story and both of them (they’re sisters) separately are throwing themselves at Marlowe. Ugh. But he’s got the moral compass of Jesus and takes neither of them up on their offer.
Multiple times during the story he slaps women across the face.
There is absolutely no action throughout the story. I kept thinking at some point something would have to happen. Nope.
Twice he went into bad situations without a weapon of any kind against fully armed guys. And twice he got out just fine. Okay, fucking Zeus.
His wit and humor are awful. He’s not funny. Clearly he influenced later detectives, but they’re much better written.
Everyone was smoking the whole book. I have cancer now.
I rated it a 2 star read, and it was just above 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. Honestly, it was shaping up to be a 1 star rating from me until the last 5 pages or so.
Definitely do not recommend to any reader, ever. I can come up with several modern detectives much more intriguing than this bozo.
AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA!
I sincerely hope you’re aware of the meme that I’m referencing. If not, you’re lost. Oh well.
Very rarely do I write anything that resembles a book review. Today is one of those rare days.
Yesterday I finished LA Requiem by Robert Crais. I’m not going to get into the plot very much because if you find this interesting I would love for you to give the book a chance rather than just read spoilers here.
The story follows PIs Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. A friend and former lover of Joe is missing and they’re tasked with finding her when the police find her body first. Her father has powerful connections and the two of them get to operate within the investigation while unaffiliated with the LAPD.
That’s my synopsis, which is fairly similar to what you’d find on the back of the book.
I want to tell you about the title of the post before anything else. I’ve read more crime novels than I can remember. This one was the absolute best one I’ve read, and now that I’m thinking about it I may upload a page on here of my top reads ever that I can update as time goes along. This is likely top 5 for me. Let me tell you why.
Joe and Elvis have known each other a long time. Both are former military. Joe was LAPD for a time. They’re not friends and they’re not family. Whatever comes above that is what they are. Their care for each other goes beyond words and actions. This is the first in the series (since book 1) that highlights their relationship. Think of the people in your life who you would do anything for. Maybe there are quite a few and maybe there are none, but at least the idea of it is there. That’s Elvis and Joe. The importance of those relationships and people in our lives is something we generally can’t describe or put into words because we know deep within ourselves that we’d put ourselves in harm’s way to protect who we hold so dear, even if we can’t explain why.
During the course of the story Joe is in some serious trouble, and Elvis makes it his mission to protect him at all costs, including putting his life on the line if he has to. This exaggerated plot line happens quite a bit in movies, on TV shows, and in books. But never in my 27 years has it been so well done. Elvis and Joe are fictional characters created by who I believe is an exceptional author. But they’re not. They’re every single one of us.
This book wasn’t about solving a murder. It wasn’t about what happens when someone has connections. It wasn’t even about the detectives involved. It’s about what it means to be human and to put everything on the line for who we love. And though most of us will never have to do it, I believe it’s something we can all related to.
This was my tweet immediately after I finished.
I wrote yesterday about first being drawn to books and reading in general by mysteries, and even more specifically detective stories.
Didn’t even cross my mind to ask what it was for you all. What originally got you hooked on books? Was it a certain book or genre? Or maybe a teacher or library you frequented? I’m curious.
But I remember checking books out of my middle school library every one in awhile. In high school it was largely the same because I started using the public library once I realized there were these places that kept ALL the books and all I needed was a ride to get them.
So tell me!
Y’all! I just realized something and it’s life changing!
The books that got me hooked on reading were mysteries. PIs. Homicide detectives. Murder mysteries solved by the ex cop who left the department under a cloud. You know what I’m talking about. And back in the first couple of years after high school when I was reading the most, I was reading mysteries exclusively. No young adult. No literary fiction. No classics. No nonfiction. I was reading what I enjoyed reading the most.
Then I tried branching out. Tried to become more “well read”, whatever the hell that means. And I hit a wall. I’ve been clawing at it now for several years. When I was in college I wouldn’t read textbooks or review notes. Every break I had I’d pull out my current novel on campus and read! Not sure how you are, but usually after I read I want a nap. Fell asleep numerous times in class because I wasn’t about to talk about Alexander the Great’s empire right after reading about the unsolved murder of a kid buried in the hillside. Like, priorities!
Call me stupid or crazy or just not “well read”, but I’m going back to what made me love books to begin with. I have plenty of non mystery books to pick from when I feel the time is right, but it isn’t right now. I’m currently reading my third detective novel in a row. Not stopping even if I have to buy more.
PS: I have a rule to not read any author twice within any 5 books, but I think I’m breaking it.
AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA! 😂
I really can’t resist any opportunity to type that out. I don’t think y’all find it nearly as entertaining as I do. But meh.
The real person Patterson is co writing a book with is President Clinton. No, this isn’t an alternate universe in which Hillary actually won. It’s Bill. Bill Clinton and James Patterson are writing a book together. Welp.
The quality of Patterson’s work is what it is. I simply don’t see how this would do anything to change that. Bill Clinton has never written a novel. But Patterson does whatever he possibly can to sell as many books as he can. This appears to fall in line with the things he’s done before.
Do you have any interest in a book written by President Clinton and James Patterson? I know I don’t.
I KNOW some of y’all will love every minute of this. Now watch! What else do I need to say?
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I’m in the midst of a mad dash to complete my 2016 reading challenge. I finished two more books over the weekend to see if I can ultimately complete it.
But today I’m talking about MY BOOK. I wonder if I’m making history right now by reviewing my own work. Hm. Anyway, let’s go.
Divided Within is set in and around Houston and follows Andrew Banks as he works his first case as a private investigator. His first client happens to be a teenage girl who suspects there’s something really wrong between her parents that they aren’t telling her about, only it’s much worse than she could have imagined.
A little history before I get into the good stuff. I wrote the book over the course of the first months immediately after I graduated from college in 2013.
Although it’s my own work, I still had problems with it. The first thing I noticed is I obviously forgot how to use commas. Seriously. I’m not sure what was going on. There were commas where there should have been periods and then there was nothing where there should have been commas. Ugh.
The other thing I didn’t really like after my reread was the language. It was unoriginal. It’s a crime novel, but I felt I used cussing at weird points in the story. I don’t feel like it worked.
The other thing that I definitely recognize, though I still don’t have a problem with is the story. I won’t get into the specifics because some of you all might actually want to give it a read now, but one of the complaints I received when I first published the book was that the story was unbelievable. And it is. But I’ll keep saying it over and over again that I don’t read any fiction to read something that’s entirely realistic. If that’s what I want then I’ll watch the news.
After more than three years my favorite aspect of the book is still Andrew and Sydney. I found a few points in which I didn’t like their dialogue, but their relationship is great. So many detectives have a new love interest every other book, but not Banks. You know that just from reading this first book.
I still find it crazy that I wrote this thing, but I did and it’s mine. It satisfied the requirement to read a self-published book for my 2016 reading challenge.
Have YOU read it!? Have you ever tried to review your own work?
I’ve thought about this quite a bit. It’s the one thing I can say all genres share. Every well written book in every genre is actually a mystery book.
What I mean is just about every author aims to leave the reader guessing by not being predictable. Mystery is mostly crime fiction at this point, but that’s an arbitrary classification. Any author who keeps their cards close to their chest throughout the story is actually writing a mystery.
Not every book is a mystery and not every author writes them, but I’d argue that every genre is full of mysteries and mystery writers. Even if these works are classified differently.
What do you think?