Final booky things of this year; 89 books in total. It's been a good year for new authors, and for new books by previously appreciated authors.
U is for undertow, by Sue Grafton. London: Pan, 2010.
It's a Kinsey Millhone. It's well up to standard. What's different this time is that Grafton maintains a really complex timeline, which kept me looking backwards and forwards between chapters. Unfortunately I put this down somewhere in a pile of pre-Christmas stuff and sort of lost it for a while, so I did get a bit lost a couple of times (my fault, not the author's!) Excellent. And I'm already sort of starting to dread what happens when she gets to Z.
From the dead, by Mark Billingham [audiobook]. Read by Paul Thornley. Rearsby, Leics: WF Howes, 2010.
A wife comes out of prison to find that the husband she's served 12 years for killing, via a paid assassin, is very likely still to be alive. She hires an amateur detective who then gets in touch with Billingham's Tom Thorne. Billingham does his usual job of keeping you on your toes, while giving you his superb writing which retains graveside humour. There are a couple of real, genuine shockers in the course of this, while he continues the side-stories of his characters' lives.
Separation of power, by Vince Flynn. London: Simon and Schuster, 2003.
Another Mitch Rapp thriller - not necessarily one of the best ones, but we'll see what happens in the next one. Rapp is trying to get out of his clandestine involvement with the US security services while attempting to tie up loose ends. It all goes horribly wrong for him, professionally and personally.
One of the really intriguing elements of this book is that it has a narrative style I can only describe as style indirect libre, not having studied English literature - there are multiple points of view (the head of Mossad, the head of the CIA, the President, Mitch, Anna) and they all have their own worldview, all of which are presented as being equally valid. Israel is unjustifiably persecuted, the CIA is underfunded... and so on... This is definitely a series to be read in chronological order.
Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett [audiobook]. Read by Stephen Briggs.
The third of the Tiffany Aching series. If you loved the others, you'll love this (again though, reading the others first is definitely a good move). The spirit of winter falls in love with Tiffany but doesn't know what it is to be human. Meanwhile, he's terrifyingly scary. Also incorporated are Miss Treason (113, and borrowing eyes and ears from other creatures) and Horace the Cheese, as well as the full horde of Nac Mac Feegles. And, of course, Granny Weatherwax.
There are some lovely bits in this. At one point Tiffany goes home and scrubs floors, feeds chickens, makes cheese. "These things grounded you. Taught you what was real. You could set a small piece of your mind to them, giving your thoughts time to line up and settle down." I don't necessarily go to Terry Pratchett's books for fantasy - because he's also so very good at giving you stone-cold truth. I can't think of a better reason and explanation for knitting for the sake of it.
Best of luck for all our reading in 2011.