Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 in Review: The Ones That Got Away



The longer I’ve been reviewing books, the more novels I find that I really want to read but end up not having the time for.

This year, like last year, also saw another decline in thriller and non-genre fiction reviews: I was either finishing my PhD or recovering from the final push, so needed a real escape from the real world and politics, which means I avoided some of my normally must-read authors (David Baldacci, John Sandford, to name but two). I’ll try to get some more read in January, but that’s a pretty busy month as well for big new releases (in anticipation but also page-count)…



This year there have been a lot of books that were highly anticipated that I just couldn’t get around to (see the link-gaps on the “2011 Releases” page and you’ll see what I mean, and that list is by no means exhaustive). Most of them I have already, either sitting on my TBR pile or on my Kindle, which just makes it more frustrating.

In lieu of timely reviews, though, I thought I’d give a quick shout-out (with synopses and a few comments) for some of the ones that got away in 2011. Only, given the number of books I neglected, it’s not really that ‘quick’ a post…



Jemisin-KingdomOfGodsN.K. Jemisin, The Kingdom of Gods (Orbit)

For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameri’s ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war.

Shahar, last scion of the family, must choose her loyalties. She yearns to trust Sieh, the godling she loves. Yet her duty as Arameri heir is to uphold the family’s interests, even if that means using and destroying everyone she cares for.

As long-suppressed rage and terrible new magics consume the world, the Maelstrom – which even gods fear – is summoned forth. Shahar and Sieh: mortal and god, lovers and enemies. Can they stand together against the chaos that threatens the kingdom of gods?

I loved Jemisin’s first two novels in this series, but this final novel in the trilogy arrived after I left the UK for my US adventure. It’s on my Kindle, and I expect to get to it soon, although I may also buy the US paperback edition, because the god’s “edits” in the glossary are pretty funny. In the mean-time, why not check out my reviews of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms. I’d better get caught up soon, too – Orbit will be publishing Jemisin’s new duology in quick succession in 2012.

Kevin Hearne, Hexed & Hammered (Orbit)Hearne-2-Hexed

Hexed: Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty – when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

I don’t really know why I didn’t read these quicker/sooner – after I blitzed through the first one, Hounded (which also garnered me a cover-blurb on the UK edition!), I really expected that I’d dive right into these. It made things a little more difficult that they arrived after I left the UK, but as I’ve bought them for my Kindle, there really wasn’t much excuse… I guess I’m just too easily distracted by shiny new books…

Hammered: Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully – he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.

One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. But things are heating up in Atticus’s home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plain of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.

Also on CR: Interview with Kevin Hearne

Johansen-BlackdogK.V. Johansen, Blackdog (Pyr)

Long ago, in the days of the first kings in the north, there were seven devils...

And long ago, in the days of the first kings in the north, the seven devils, who had deceived and possessed seven of the greatest wizards of the world, were defeated and bound with the help of the Old Great Gods...

And perhaps some of the devils are free in the world, and perhaps some are working to free themselves still…

In a land where gods walk on the hills and goddesses rise from river, lake, and spring, the caravan-guard Holla-Sayan, escaping the bloody conquest of a lakeside town, stops to help an abandoned child and a dying dog. The girl, though, is the incarnation of Attalissa, goddess of Lissavakail, and the dog a shape-changing guardian spirit whose origins have been forgotten. Possessed and nearly driven mad by the Blackdog, Holla-Sayan flees to the desert road, taking the powerless avatar with him.

Necromancy, treachery, massacres, rebellions, and gods dead or lost or mad follow hard on their heels. But it is Attalissa herself who may be the Blackdog’s—and Holla-Sayan’s—doom.

This was a gift from Michael (aka, Mad Hatter), who Alyssa and I met up with early in my stay in New York. It’s a novel that has intrigued me since I first read the synopsis, and I was very happily surprised that Michael had a spare copy. I’ve liked most of the Pyr releases that I’ve read, so I have high hopes for this one.

Peter Orullian, The Unremembered (Tor)Orullian-TheUnremembered

The gods, makers of worlds, seek to create balance—between matter and energy; and between mortals who strive toward the transcendent, and the natural perils they must tame or overcome. But one of the gods fashions a world filled with hellish creatures far too powerful to allow balance; he is condemned to live for eternity with his most hateful creations in that world’s distant Bourne, restrained by a magical veil kept vital by the power of song.

Millennia pass, awareness of the hidden danger fades to legend, and both song and veil weaken. And the most remote cities are laid waste by fell, nightmarish troops escaped from the Bourne. Some people dismiss the attacks as mere rumor. Instead of standing against the real threat, they persecute those with the knowledge, magic and power to fight these abominations, denying the inevitability of war and annihilation. And the evil from the Bourne swells….

The troubles of the world seem far from the Hollows where Tahn Junell struggles to remember his lost childhood and to understand words he feels compelled to utter each time he draws his bow. Trouble arrives when two strangers — an enigmatic man wearing the sigil of the feared Order of Sheason and a beautiful woman of the legendary Far — come, to take Tahn, his sister and his two best friends on a dangerous, secret journey.

Tahn knows neither why nor where they will go. He knows only that terrible forces have been unleashed upon mankind and he has been called to stand up and face that which most daunts him — his own forgotten secrets and the darkness that would destroy him and his world.

One of the most hotly-tipped fantasies of the year, it came out around the time I was finishing up my PhD. Therefore, it sadly got lost in the mix while I was putting together the final edits and changes before submission. I’d really like to get to this, as it sounds interesting – I’ve heard mixed things, which naturally makes me want to know what it’s like even more than if everyone said it was great.

Wooding-IronJackalChris Wooding, The Iron Jackal (Gollancz)

Things are finally looking good for Captain Frey and his crew. The Ketty Jay has been fixed up good as new. They’ve got their first taste of fortune and fame. And, just for once, nobody is trying to kill them.

Even Trinica Dracken, Frey’s ex-fiancee and long-time nemesis, has given up her quest for revenge. In fact, she’s offered them a job – one that will take them deep into the desert heart of Samarla, the land of their ancient enemies. To a place where the secrets of the past lie in wait for the unwary.

Secrets that might very well cost Frey everything.

Join the crew of the Ketty Jay on their greatest adventure yet: a story of mayhem and mischief, roof-top chases and death-defying races, murderous daemons, psychopathic golems and a particularly cranky cat.

The first time was to clear his name. The second time was for money. This time, Frey’s in a race against the clock for the ultimate prize: to save his own life.

I’m a recent convert to Wooding’s writing, and I must say I love it. Retribution Falls was superb (although sometimes it dragged, just a little), while Black-Lung Captain was even better. Couldn’t recommend this series enough: the perfect blend of action, humour and superb writing. I’ll get to this ASAP.

Morgan-TheColdCommandsUKRichard Morgan, The Cold Commands (Gollancz)

Ringil Eskiath, scarred wielder of the kiriath-forged broadsword Ravensfriend, is a man on the run – from his past and the family who have disowned him, from the slave trade magnates of Trelayne who want him dead, and apparently from the dark gods themselves, who are taking an interest but making no more sense than they ever have. Outlawed and exiled from his ancestral home in the north, Ringil has only one place left to turn – Yhelteth, city heart of the southern Empire, where perhaps he can seek asylum with the kiriath half-breed Archeth Indamaninarmal, former war comrade and now high-up advisor to the Emperor Jhiral Khimran II.

But Archeth Indamaninarmal has problems of her own to contend with, as does her house guest, bodyguard and one time steppe nomad Egar the Dragonbane. And far from gaining the respite he is seeks, Ringil will instead find himself implicated in fresh schemes and doubtful allegiances no safer than those he has left behind. Old enemies are stirring, the old order is rotted through and crumbling, and though no-one yet knows it, the city of Yhelteth is about to explode...

Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon was probably the first non-tie-in sci-fi novel I ever read, and it floored me. I absolutely loved it. Not long after, Market Forces was the first book review I ever wrote (although the review was butchered by the university paper’s editor, because he didn’t know what a review was supposed to do…). The Steel Remains was a revelation. Although, I don’t remember it as well as I would like… I’ll be reading and reviewing The Cold Commands very soon, as I’ve heard some great things and, well, I know Morgan is an awesome author.

Sandford-BuriedPreyUSJohn Sandford, Buried Prey (Simon & Schuster)

An entire block on the edge of the Minneapolis loop is being torn down for development, when an unpleasant surprise is unearthed: the bodies of two girls, wrapped in plastic, underneath an old house. It looks like they’ve been down there a long time. Lucas Davenport knows exactly how long.

In 1985, Davenport was a young cop just about to be promoted out of uniform, despite a reputation for playing fast and loose with the regulations. A local hockey hero, a womanizer, a superb undercover guy, he was part of the massive police effort that followed the kidnapping of two girls who were never found again, dead or alive. Eventually, the case was closed.

But not for Davenport. Now, with the bodies discovered, he has the chance to investigate the kidnappings all over again, and the deeper he probes, the more one thing becomes clear: It wasn’t just the bodies that were buried. It was the truth.

John Sandford’s Prey series is easily my favourite thriller series. Lucas Davenport is an interesting character, with a supporting cast that is colourful and engaging. The stories are universally interesting and keep things fresh – despite there being 21 novels in the series.

If you haven’t read Sandford’s thrillers, I highly recommend you do. Also check out his four-novel Kidd series, which focuses on a hacker-art-thief, also set in and around the Twin Cities; and the Virgil Flowers series, which is a spin-off featuring a character from the Prey novels.

Ari Marmell, The Warlord’s Legacy & Goblin Corps (Pyr/Gollancz)


Warlord’s Legacy: Corvis Rebaine is no hero. In his trademark suit of black armour and skull-like helm, armed with a demon-forged axe and with allies that include a bloodthirsty ogre, Rebaine has twice brought death and destruction to Imphallion in pursuit of a better, more equitable and just society. If he had to kill countless innocents in order to achieve that dream, so be it. At least that was the old Rebaine. Before he slew the mad warlord Audriss. Before he banished the demon Khanda. Before he lost his wife and children, who could neither forgive nor forget his violent crimes.

Now, years later, Rebaine lives in a distant city, under a false name. He's a member of one of the Guilds he despises and trying to achieve change nonviolently, from within the power structure. But just because Corvis has changed doesn't mean everyone else has. When Imphallion is invaded the bickering Guilds once again prove unable to respond... But someone wearing Rebaine’s trademark black armour, and bearing what appears to be his axe, does. Someone who is, if anything, even less careful of human life than Rebaine was. Worse, Rebaine’s old nemesis Baron Jassion is hunting him once more, aided by a mysterious sorcerer named Kaleb, and a young woman who hates Corvis Rebaine more than anyone else: his own daughter, Mellorin. Suddenly Rebaine seems to have no choice. To clear his name, to protect his country, and to reconcile with his family, must he become the Terror of the East again?

I read Conqueror’s Shadow last Christmas and, despite impatiently waiting for the UK release of its sequel, I nevertheless allowed Warlord’s Legacy to slip through the gaps. I thoroughly enjoyed the first novel (Marmell’s characters, plotting, prose and writing in general are great), and highly recommend it to people who like a little bit more fun in their fantasy.

Goblin Corps: Morthûl, the dreaded Charnel King, has failed.

Centuries of plotting from the heart of the Iron Keep, deep within the dark lands of Kirol Syrreth—all for naught. Foiled at the last by the bumbling efforts of a laughable band of so-called heroes, brainless and over-muscled cretins without sense enough to recognize a hopeless cause when they take it on. Machinations developed over generations, schemes intended to deliver the world into the Dark Lord’s hands, now devastated beyond salvation. But the so-called forces of Light have paid for their meddling with the life of Princess Amalia, only child of the royal family of Shauntille.

Now, as winter solidifies its icy grip on the passes of the Brimstone Mountains, disturbing news has reached the court of Morthûl. King Dororam, enraged by the murder of his only child—and accompanied by that same group of delusional upstart “heroes” —is assembling all the Allied Kingdoms, fielding an army unlike any seen before. The armies of Kirol Syrreth muster to meet the attack that is sure to come as soon as the snows have melted from the mountain paths, but their numbers are sorely depleted. Still, after uncounted centuries of survival, the Dark Lord isn’t about to go down without a fight, particularly in battle against a mortal! No, the Charnel King still has a few tricks up his putrid and tattered sleeves, and the only thing that can defeat him now may just be the inhuman soldiers on whom he’s pinned his last hopes.

Welcome to the Goblin Corps. May the best man lose.

This just sounds awesome – the story from the other, “bad guy’s” perspective. I’ve heard great things, so I will be try to get to this either by the end of December or during January.

Also on CR: An interview with Ari Marmell

SW-Riptide(Kemp)Paul S. Kemp, Riptide (Arrow)

Anyone can escape danger. No one can escape the truth.

When a ship full of Sith warriors arrived in Galactic Alliance space, the fight to destroy it accidentally uncovered a hidden menace: a long-hidden group of clones, secretly created as insidious weapons capable of wielding the Force and heedless of the differences between light side and dark side. Now the clones have escaped — and evidence suggests that they are flawed by genetic disease and violent madness.

Jedi Knight Jaden Korr pursues the clones, hoping to heal them but prepared to destroy them. What he doesn’t know is that Sith agents are hot on his heels, determined not only to recover the clones for their Master but to capture Jaden for their own dark-side purposes. In a life-or-death battle, Jaden will confront a shocking reality that will rock him to his core and bring him face-to-face with the question of what makes a man... and a Jedi.

Paul Kemp writes some of the best genre stuff out there. I thought Crosscurrent was one of the best Star Wars novels in years, and I’m disappointed I couldn’t get to this in a timely manner. It’s waiting for me back in New York, so expect a review sometime in January. In 2012 we’ll get to see some of Kemp’s purely original fiction, when Angry Robot publish the first novel in his new sword ‘n’ sorcery fantasy series. Can’t wait.

Deas-WarlocksShadowStephen Deas, The Warlock’s Shadow (Gollancz)

A city of dark and deadly secrets, a prince who must be protected, a young man who can barely use a sword.

Berren is not enjoying himself. Trapped in a temple, forced to learn how to read, how to write and how to recall the histories of the Saints, all he wants is to be given a sword. As a thief-taker’s apprentice he imagined a world of daring night-time chases, glorious victories and a life of excitement. His dreams aren’t quite coming true.

So when a prince – the first and last prince he’ll ever see – hires the thief-taker as a bodyguard, Berren is thrilled. When he hears that a troupe of Dragon Monks – exotic warriors and the best swordsmen in the world – are visiting, he sees an opportunity to learn how to fight. When one of the Monks turns out to be a girl of the same age, his future suddenly seems a lot brighter.

But when a shadowy figure launches an attack on the life of Prince Sharda, Berren finds himself plunged into a world of danger, intrigue and terror. He may discover that being trained with a sword isn’t enough – sometimes, you have to know who to fight.

The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice was an interesting read, even if I couldn’t tell if it was meant to be YA or not. I really enjoyed reading the first in this series, and wish I’d had the time to get to this. It looks like it might not be too long, so I may be able to carve out a little time to read and review it in the near future. Then I’ll have to get to reading his ‘main’ series, too…

Also on CR: Interview with Stephen Deas

Terry Pratchett, Snuff (Doubleday)Pratchett-Snuff

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse.

And Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder.

He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, occasionally snookered and out of his mind, but never out of guile. Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment.

They say that in the end all sins are forgiven.

But not quite all...

Terry Pratchett, for me, is one of the greatest authors alive. I love his Discworld series, and have never found one I can’t at least say I “rather enjoyed”, if not “loved”. Snuff is the latest in what has become his main series-within-a-series, focusing on the City Watch and Sam Vimes, its commander. I don’t know why I didn’t devour this immediately. I will, soon. Interestingly, I don’t think I saw a single review for it, either…

As a bit of an aside, when I was 12yrs old, my English teacher at the time gave us a task: write a letter to a favourite author. I wrote to Terry Pratchett, and I was the only student who got a response. Sadly (and I genuinely am very unhappy about this), the letter got lost in one of my family’s endless moves. I think I’ll have to write him another letter…

Anderton-DebrisJo Anderton, Debris (Angry Robot)

Tanyana is among the highest ranking in her far-future society a skilled pioneer, able to use a mixture of ritual and innate talent to manipulate the particles that hold all matter together. But an accident brings her life crashing down around her ears. She is cast down amongst the lowest of the low, little more than a garbage collector. But who did this to her, and for what sinister purpose? Her quest to find out will take her to parts of the city she never knew existed, and open the door to a world she could never have imagined.

This has a really great premise. The only reason I didn’t get around to it was time. Soon. I promise.

Jamieson-RoilTrent Jamieson, Roil (Angry Robot)

Shale is in trouble – the creature-filled darkness known as the Roil is expanding, consuming the land, swallowing up whole cities. Where once there were twelve metropolises, now only four remain, and their borders are being threatened by the growing cloud of darkness. The only way to hold back the darkness and the horrific creatures that inhabit it are the Cities' huge ice cannons.

But one by one the defences are failing. And the Roil continues to grow. With the land in chaos it's up to a rebellious wastrel, an old man and a woman intent on revenge to try to save their city - and the world.

Another book from Angry Robot, the premise of which really grabbed my attention. But another I just didn’t have time for… I really need to read Jamieson’s work – his Death Works series for Orbit Books is also pretty great.

Cawkwell-TheGildarRift(SMB)Sarah Cawkwell, The Gildar Rift (Black Library)

When the ancient warship Wolf of Fenris emerges from the warp, Imperial forces find that it has been overrun by the dreaded Red Corsairs. However, this is no mere raiding party – Huron Blackheart and his entire renegade fleet soon follow, intent on conquering the Gildar Rift and tightening their grip on the sector. Lance batteries and torpedo salvos burn fiery contrails through the void, and only Captain Arrun of the Silver Skulls Space Marine Chapter can halt the renegades’ advance. The fate of the Rift will not be decided in the heavens but on the surface of Gildar Secundus below.

Cawkwell’s first novel in the Space Marine Battles series, I’ve mentioned already on the blog that this is one of my December most-anticipated releases, but I still don’t think I’ll have the time to read it… I need to learn how to read quicker…! Expect a review maybe in January.

Also on CR:Influences & Inspirations” by Sarah Cawkwell

Swallow-FaithAndFireJames Swallow, Faith & Fire & Hammer & Anvil (Black Library)

F&F: In the grim nightmare future of the 41st millennium, the witch-hunting zealots of the the Sisters of Battle stand between humanity and damnation. From the elite Seraphim warriors to the berserk Sisters Repentia, they are the strong arm of the Ecclesiarchy and the brutal hammer of witches.

When dangerous psychic heretic Torris Vaun escapes from her custody, Seraphim Miriya is disgraced in the eyes of her fellow sisters and superiors. Following Vaun’s trail to the planet Neva, Miriya takes her sisters in pursuit and, along with Hospitalier Sister Verity, starts her investigations. When they uncover a terrifying plot that could threaten the future of the Imperium, is Miriya’s and Verity’s faith strong enough for them to triumph?

I haven’t read much of Mr Swallow’s work, but was really impressed by Nemesis, his contribution to the million-selling, New York Times Bestselling (and all-round awesome) Horus Heresy series. These two novels also focus on that rare thing in the Warhammer 40,000 universe: female protagonists. I’d really like to give these novels a Swallow-2-HammerAndAnviltry when I get the chance.

H&A: The Sisters of Battle are the Emperor’s most devout worshippers, fierce warriors preaching the purity of the Imperium and scourging their enemies with bolter and flamer. On a distant world, the Ecclesiarchy outpost of Sanctuary 101, was wiped out by an implacable foe - the fearless, soulless necrons. Now, a mission of the Sisterhood has returned to reconsecrate the site - but the metallic nightmares still lurk in the darkness, guarding a secret that has lain dormant for millennia. A vicious battle will be fought - one that can only end in the total destruction of the unrelenting xenos, or the annihilation of the proud Sororitas.

Brandon Sanderson… well, basically everything… (Tor/Gollancz)


So. Brandon Sanderson. I own all of his novels for my Kindle (there were some truly great offers on his Mistborn and Way of Kings Kindle editions that I just couldn’t pass up…), and yet haven’t read a single one… I feel quite bad about this. I’ll see about fixing this in the New Year.

[I’m not going to put seven synopses here, so you’ll just have to go find them yourself. I’ve heard very mixed things about Sanderson’s writing, but it all sounds really interesting. Feel free to leave your thoughts – on Sanderson or any other novel featured here – in the comments thread.]

Untitled-1Tim Lebbon, Echo City (Orbit)

Surrounded by a vast, toxic desert, the inhabitants of labyrinthine Echo City believe there is no other life in their world. Some like it that way, so when a stranger arrives he is anathema to powerful interest groups. But Peer Nadawa found the stranger and she is determined to keep him and the freedom he represents alive. A political exile herself, she calls on her ex-lover Gorham, now leader of their anti-establishment network. Then they recruit the Baker, whose macabre genetic experiments seem close to sorcery.

However, while factions prepare for war, an ancient peril is stirring. In the city’s depths something deadly is rising, and it will soon reach the levels where men dwell.

I really want to read this. I have no idea why I haven’t managed to do so, yet. I think it’s another case of release-timing, as it came out just before my PhD defence, when all I was doing was reading and re-reading my thesis to prepare for the oral exam. I’ve heard very good things, so I do really want to give this a shot.

Baldacci-SixthManUKDavid Baldacci, The Sixth Man & Zero Day (Macmillan/Grand Central)

6th Man: Edgar Roy-an alleged serial killer held in a secure, fortress-like Federal Supermax facility-is awaiting trial. He faces almost certain conviction. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are called in by Roy’s attorney, Sean's old friend and mentor Ted Bergin, to help work the case. But their investigation is derailed before it begins-en route to their first meeting with Bergin, Sean and Michelle find him murdered.

It is now up to Sean and Michelle to ask the questions no one seems to want answered: Is Roy a killer? Who murdered Bergin?

With help from some surprising allies, they continue to pursue the case. But the more they dig into Roy's past, the more they encounter obstacles, half-truths, dead-ends, false friends, and escalating threats from every direction. Their persistence puts them on a collision course with the highest levels of the government and the darkest corners of power. In a terrifying confrontation that will push Sean and Michelle to their limits, the duo may be permanently parted.

Baldacci is one of my favourite thriller authors, and I don’t think I’ve been disappointed by any of this novels. Some are better than others, it’s true, and I don’t think he’s managing to maintain the quality at 100% with the increased publication-rate, but he’s still miles better than a lot of the other thriller authors I’m coming across.

Always interesting premises, great writing, and I Baldacci-ZeroDayUSparticularly like that his series all have a different feel to them. If you’re looking for an American thriller author, Baldacci would be high on my recommendations list.

Zero Day: John Puller is a combat veteran and the best military investigator in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigative Division. His father was an Army fighting legend, and his brother is serving a life sentence for treason in a federal military prison. Puller has an indomitable spirit and an unstoppable drive to find the truth.

Now, Puller is called out on a case in a remote, rural area in West Virginia coal country far from any military outpost. Someone has stumbled onto a brutal crime scene, a family slaughtered. The local homicide detective, a headstrong woman with personal demons of her own, joins forces with Puller in the investigation. As Puller digs through deception after deception, he realizes that absolutely nothing he’s seen in this small town, and no one in it, is what it seems. Facing a potential conspiracy that reaches far beyond the hills of West Virginia, he is one man on the hunt for justice against an overwhelming force.

Patterson-CrossFireJames Patterson, Cross Fire & Kill Alex Cross (Century/ Grand Central)

Cross Fire: Detective Alex Cross is planning his wedding to the woman he loves, Brianna Stone. But this blissful existence begins to unravel when Cross is called to the scene of the perfectly executed assassination of two of Washington DC’s most corrupt and publically hated political figures. As more crooked politicians are picked off with similar long-range shots, public opinion is divided – is the marksman a vigilante or a hero?

Media coverage of the case explodes, and the FBI assigns agent Max Siegel to the investigation. As Cross and Siegel battle over jurisdiction, Alex receives a call from his deadliest adversary, Kyle Craig. The Mastermind is in DC and will not stop until he has eliminated Cross, and his family, for good.

Two novels, not both from 2011, but I haven’t exactly been keeping up-to-date with Patterson’s Alex Cross series. It was the first thriller series that hooked me – I read them all in very quick succession, as well as almost everything else by him that I could get my hands on at the time. Then he started farming out novels and series to other writers, and the quality saw a noticeable drop. This series he still writes by himself and, because I like the character, I try to keep up with it. The last one I read, I Alex Cross, was a little disappointing, but I really like the premise of both of these latest two novels, taking Patterson-KillAlexCrossthings more into the US political realm once again.

Kill Alex Cross: Detective Alex Cross is one of the first on the scene of the biggest case he’s ever been part of. The President’s son and daughter have been abducted from their school – an impossible crime, but somehow the kidnapper has done it. Alex does everything he can but is shunted to the fringes of the investigation. Someone powerful doesn't want Cross too close.

A deadly contagion in the DC water supply threatens to cripple the capital, and Alex sees the looming shape of the most devastating attack the United States has ever experienced. He is already working flat-out on the abduction, and this massive assault pushes Cross completely over the edge.

With each hour that passes, the chance of finding the children alive diminishes. In an emotional private meeting, the First Lady asks Alex to please save her kids. But even the highest security clearance doesn't get him any closer to the kidnapper – and Alex makes a desperate decision that goes against everything he believes in.

*     *     *

This leaves me with one final, special mention:

Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz)


I’m sure you’ve noticed that there is no book specified, here. This is because, for another year running, I’ve managed to not read a single Abercrombie novel. Despite owning them all. In fact, not only do I own them all, I bought them all on their days of release. What the hell is wrong with me? I hereby promise that 2012 will be the Year Of (At Least One) Abercrombie!

*     *     *

So, that’s it from me for this round. Which novels this year have you not been able to get to, but wish you had?


  1. I already have Echo city and the Blade itself, but every time I manage to find time to read them Black Library publish a new Space Marine Battles' book or another Terry Pratchett book is published in my country. In queue too: Leviathan, Enforcer and Age of Darkness.
    I need a 32 hours day...

  2. Way too many!

    Read Hounded, but not any more of the Hearne books.
    The NK Jeminsin novels
    Finishing up the Malazan series
    Reading more Sanderson.

    et cetera.

  3. The Iron Druid Chronicles recently grabbed my attention too. Can't wait to read. Roil should get to finally this year, hopefully.
    There is so little time and many fantastic books.
    Great post.