Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Edgar Nominees for 2011

Next week the winner of the 2012 Edgar award will be announced so now is the time -- beforehand -- to add my two cents as to which book, in my humble opinion, should win the prestigious award.

It didn't take long to read them all. This is my reading order, if that means anything: Field Gray, The Devotion of Suspect X, 1222, Gone and The Ranger. They are all great books but in my mind the winner is obvious.

To begin with, after reading Field Gray by Philip Kerr, it was my opinion that this would win. It is a great book. The setting, spanning a couple decades after World War Two, in which a German police officer is caught up in the intrigues and chaos after the war, is my cup of tea. The film noir feel to it and the funny imagery, metaphors and similes were original. There are plenty of twists and turns to leave the reader wondering over several things before they all weave into a satisfying conclusion. Definitely looking forward to more from this series.

However, nothing could prepare me for The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino. As a mystery story, it is unusual, in that we know at the beginning who committed the crime and why. The reader begins by observing the police investigate and yet the closer they come to solving the crime, the more confused the reader gets, being left to puzzle over suspect X's methods and motivation for covering up the crime.

1222 is by Anne Holt, a Norwegian writer. Scandinavian mysteries have a special place in my heart. It probably has something to do with the setting. And this one does not disappoint. The murderer, suspects, victims and detective are isolated in a hotel in the mountains, snowed in with no way to escape during a storm. There is an element of the locked room mystery, however, strictly as a locked room puzzle it disappoints, if you were expecting something not unlike John Dickson Carr. The weird thing about this one is that it is part of a series but this, which is not the first book, is the only one currently available in English. Nevertheless the main character of Hanne Wilhelmsen captivates.

Gone by Mo Hayder reads like a thriller. It is fast paced, as the detectives race against the clock to find a kidnapped girl before she is murdered. It is an intense read, paced well and hard to put down and it wouldn't be surprising if this book won. Having a little girl abducted right in the first chapter is a hook most readers can't resist and you find yourself rooting for her as if she's someone you know.

The Ranger by Ace Atkins establishes a sense of place and character, quickly and effectively. Maybe that has something to do with the fact this is a series as are all the books nominated except for The Devotion of Suspect X. The ranger from which the title comes, is filled with all the usual angst and troubled past that makes for lots of conflict. Atkins's style is crisp and to the point, which makes for a fast paced mystery.

In the end, my vote goes to The Devotion of Suspect X. It is a fast paced story, with mystery and emotion, and with an ending that will leave you stunned and spellbound.