Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Thresher Award for Fiction

I have selected nine books but they are from five authors. At the end of the day these books made me think and provided an excellent story. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up any of these again for another read through, and I would recommend them to everyone interested in a good journey. Ultimately good fiction is just that, a journey in which you leave your life if just for a little bit and experience something foreign. It takes a skilled writer to transcend the words on a page, and then to open your own life up for self-analysis.
In reverse order:

5. Italians Shoes by Henning Mankell
Henning Mankell is one of my favorite authors and this little story is a departure from his crime fiction that has made him internationally famous. It is a story of second chances and commitment set in the wilderness of Sweden.

4. The Riley Spartz Series (Stalking Susan and Missing Mark) by Julie Kramer
Julie Kramer is a local writer who has hit a homerun with this pair of books about Minneapolis investigative TV news reporter Riley Spartz. Great writing, especially for a new author, plus good solid mysteries to boot. The best part of these books for me is all the Minnesota references thrown in. As Minnesota is my adoptive state, I found myself recognizing most of them. The best news of all is Julie Kramer is coming to my library on the 21st to speak!

3. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
This book was disturbing but I couldn’t put it down. I pick it up to read a few pages before bed and the next thing I knew it was 2am and I was done. It reminded me a lot of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, but more graphic. This is the story of a young girl kidnapped by a pedophile and kept as a sexual slave for years. If you ever feel that the press desensitizes the issue of kidnapped children or other victims of sexual assault (I get the romantic impression from the media that while it is bad, it isn’t that bad) then this book will set that myth straight. The horrific circumstances that abused victims must endure should never be taken lightly, or the whitewashing of the perpetrators given to easily.

2. The Garnethill Trilogy (GarnetHill, Exile, Resolution) by Denise Mina
Tartan Noir at its best in these three wonderful books. Murder, mystery, revenge, and mental illness are all laid out in this overarching plot on the streets of modern Scotland. If you want to see what Scottish mystery is all about (and there is a lot out there to enjoy) you cannot do better than this series. This book also features a nontraditional investigator who is battling demons of her own involving a very real descriptions of depression and post traumatic stress disorder.

And the winner is

1. The Millennium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo {read in 2008}, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest) by Stieg Larsson
These books are phenomenal! I am totally on the wagon for this worldwide sensation starring troubled investigated reporter Mikael Blomkvist and his reluctant partner, the slightly autistic and computer genius Lisbeth Salander. After Khaleed Hosseni, these books have been the largest sellers in the world for good reason. Book one has already been made into a movie in Sweden but an American studio is already looking to make an English version.
The beautiful, diminutive, and kick ass heroine has been mistreated and underestimated her whole life because she is different (has trouble with social relationships), and because of her unfortunate family history. Even to the point that the powers that be have taken steps to trash her life to meet their goals. The idealist reporter is always willing to take on the good fight regardless of the odds; he just has to believe that what he is doing is right.
Book one finds them investigating an old mystery at the behest of a powerful and rich family. Book two moves into Lisbeth’s past and the steps she takes to get even and the actions of the corrupt to destroy her. Book 3 finds them dealing with the repercussions of book 2.
Unfortunately Steig Larsson passed away after writing these three books because his original outlines showed he planned on a 10 book series. I mourn him and those lost 7 books.

So if I can recommend anything, the Millennium Trilogy is a not to missed opportunity.

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