Aye so, it’s that time of year again, when we arbitrarily hold pieces of writing up against each other and decide which is best! So let’s crack on! Click on the book cover to go through to my review in whichever publication it appeared, if it’s online.
1. Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Brilliant thriller about a missing wife and a marriage gone seriously awry. I was a big fan of Flynn’s two previous novels, but this was a step up into a different league.
2. Megan Abbott, Dare Me (Picador)
A thriller set against the backdrop of American high school cheerleading? Yes, indeed. Nerve-shredding and psychologically astute. Abbott is a class act. Apparently she’s working on a novel about mass hysteria – cannae wait.
3. Denis Johnson, Train Dreams (Granta)
Hard to even describe this – a weird fable about America’s relationship with nature, or something. And some crazy wolf stuff. Hypnotic and assured. This should’ve won the Pulitzer, easy.
4. A.M. Homes, May We Be Forgiven (Granta)
The opposite end of American writing from Denis Johnson, this sprawling, manic, touching novel is the ultimate 21st century dysfunctional family tale.
5. Don Winslow, Kings of Cool (William Heinemann)
Prequel to the amazing Savages, this is a fantastic, lyrical, brutal piece of writing as good drug dealers fight bad drug dealers over generations. Cool indeed.
6. Jens Lapidus, Easy Money (Macmillan)
Wonderfully panoramic piece of Swedish noir, set against the snowy backdrop of Stockholm. Reminiscent of James Ellroy at his visceral, cutting best.
7. Shalom Auslander, Hope: A Tragedy (Picador)
Neurotic Jewish guy finds Anne Frank hiding in his loft in modern America. Blackly humorous chaos ensues. Funniest thing I read all year.
8. Irvine Welsh, Skagboys (Jonathan Cape)
The big man back on rip-roaring, coruscating form. Big, bold, manic and powerful writing.
9. Frank Bill, Crimes in Southern Indiana (William Heinemann)
It’s not all meth labs and in-bred shoot ’em ups, you know. But it mostly is. Shocking, brutal debut collection of stories from a talent to watch.
10. Ron Rash, The Cove (Canongate)
Weird, atmospheric rural American drama, set in 1917 amid a witch-hunt for German war sympathisers.