This year I read just under 30 fiction books – most of them (25) either mystery or suspense. The top one was a – surprisingly, for me, considering my poor attitude towards Canadian writing – Canadian mystery. Here they are in order:
- By The Time You Read This  by Giles Blunt. A dark mystery set in western Ontario that deals with depression and suicide and the results of sinful psychoanalysis.
- Death in a Strange Country  by Donna Leon. The second in the subtly humourous Venice detective series.
- Death at La Fenice  by Donna Leon. The debut of Commisario Guido Brunetti of the Venetian Police.
- Gospel Truths  by J. G. Sandom. A laid-back, intelligent precursor (by 11 years) to Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.
- Grave Secrets  by Kathy Reichs. Another instalment in the original Bones series (prior to TV), set in Guatemala.
- The Venetian Affair  by Helen MacInnes. (Can you tell I was in Venice last year?) Another – tighter, than some of hers – mystery by an old master.
- The Righteous Men  by Sam Bourne (British journalist Jonathan Freedland). If you recall the Lubavitchers(?) and their messianic Rabbi Schneersom(?), this will be of great interest.
- Next  by Michael Crichton. Bioengineering and bioethical messes abound in this chaotic pseudo-thriller. Unfortunate that the expected non-fictional version of State of Fear didn’t come out (I believe there is a DVD though).
- The Alexandria Link  by Steve Berry. An improvement over his recent efforts, though ultimately forgettable.
- The Bourne Ultimatum  by Robert Ludlum. The much more accessible (than the previous) third instalment in the Jason Bourne saga – bearing only superficial resemblance in the recent cinematic effort.
Two Clive Cussler’s: Night Probe!  and Black Wind  (the second with son Dirk, which I couldn’t bother to finish). Bruce Metzger’s The Book of Fate  was highly objectionable (foul) and not very well written. S. L. Linnea’s Chasing Eden  was different: a gate to Eden is found by an heir to gatekeepers during the Iraq war. A Sequel came out late last year called Beyond Eden .
Jim Hougan’s The Magdalen Cypher  was another Holy Blood, Holy Grail inspired tale about a bloodline of megalomaniacs. Gregg Loomis began a series with a Da Vinci-esque Langford Reilly investigating ancient secrets in The Pegasus Secret  and the following The Julian Secret , without appearing to be so historically offensive as Dan Brown. Eric van Lustbader (a perennial best-seller) put’s in his The Da Vinci Code imitation in a readable thriller based in (you guessed it!) Venice with the usual accompanying secret societies (religious orders) in The Teatament . Canadian Jack Whyte’s Templar trio debut volume Knights of the Black and the White  was a monumental (753pp.) waste of verbiage that went through all the usual clichés and added deviant sex (for no sane literary reason) to the mix. D. L. Wilson’s debut Unholy Grail  involved Jesuits, a “holy” bloodline and a “secret gospel;’ but, I seriously would have to reread the book to remember the plot and details. David Gibbin’s debut, Atlantis , with a Dirk Pitt imitation lead was just to unbelievable and I stopped about 100pp into it. I cannot understand how the author was awarded a contract for two more titles (at least): the recent Crusader’s Gold , and the forthcoming The Last Gospel , featuring hero/archaeologist Jack Howard. Best-seller David L. Robbin’s also turned in a lousy performance with the disappointing The Assassin’s Gallery , almost silly enough to be a made-for-tv movie. And the worst and last was te accomplished (c.20 titles) author, Mark Morris’ horrible post-apocalytic tale The Deluge .
I guess it is less fiction, and more non-fiction for 2008!