Monday, 17 December 2012

GUEST BLOG: Nigel Bird's picks of 2012

3 books you say.  Impossible.
Can I cheat?  I’m not asking, I’m just going ahead.
How about this.

3 novels I’ve loved this year:

‘What It Was’ by George Pelecanos.  I hadn’t read a Pelcanos for a while when I picked this up and found myself wondering why as soon as I began.  It’s a tale of a crazy gangster and his girl who are full of attitude and style.  It’s set in the 70s and the descriptions take me back to a world I remember from the TV and from my youth in a formative way.

‘All The Young Warriors’ by Anthony Neil Smith really had me racing through the pages on my kindle.  The first chapter impressed me hugely in the way the story was set-up and because of the lengths Smith was prepared to go with the situation (and that’s all the way).  It’s the tale of two Somalian friends in the US who fare very differently when they go to Africa to support the land of their heritage.  It’s a blast of a read, but I also found it incredibly thought provoking.

‘The End Of Everything’ by Megan Abbott.  A girl goes missing from a middle-class neighbourhood and the effect of the disappearance and the way various people’s lives are pulled apart by the search for her is both beautifully written and powerfully disturbing.

3 novellas:

‘Ishmael Toffee’ by Robin Smith.  South African noir.  Ishmael Toffee is a killer who, by the time he is released from prison has given up violence.  He moves to live in his shanty town and takes a job with a family who have secrets that the daughter no longer wishes to hide.  It’s a story of injustice and abuse of power and it’s tighter than Scrooge.

‘Lost Things’ by John Rector.  Two lads get themselves into trouble one night when they kill a man and decide to try and cover up the fact.  Oh boy, was that a mistake.  Rector takes this on in a way that has echoes of great writers from the past and it’s engaging from start to finish, the ending being spot on for the tale.

‘Keller In Dallas’ by Lawrence Block.  Here Keller comes out of retirement to help himself out of the recession.  He’s a little rusty, but he’s still a wonderful creation and I enjoyed this in the way that I enjoy returning home after a couple of days camping in the cold.
3 short story collections?

‘Crimes In Southern Indiana’ by Frank Bill.  A brute of a collection that’s raw and perfectly crafted.

‘Dirty Words’ by Todd Robinson is jam-packed with great stories about killers and wise-guys and punks which is a joy to read.

‘Ugly Behaviour’ by Steve Rasnic Tem.  Sometimes the first story in a piece makes the whole come together like it was meant to be.  This is such a collections.

3 Anthologies:

I’m going for Protectors (Stories To Benefit Protect).

Both Barrels,

and Nightfalls (Notes from the end of the world).

And yes, 3 is my favourite number.

:: Nigel Bird blogs at