Sunday, February 07, 2010


Update: Please join me at my new blog Crime Scraps Review where you can read all the old posts and a lot of new stuff.

The Times has recently produced a list of the ten Best Crime Fiction Novels of the Decade chosen by Laura Wilson and Barry Forshaw.

I usually love lists especially when I can enjoy myself criticising the choices made by the panel. But when they attempt to choose 'crime novels of the decade' I am at a complete loss.
How can anyone narrow down to ten all the excellent crime fiction novels that have been published in a decade?
That said I have read only three of the chosen ten, one more sits on my TBR pile, one I started but because of the small print and the writing style I abandoned, two more I watched as television adaptions, and one I went to the movie.

I might even agree with two of the ten choices:

The problem with the article was that the authors seemed to have second thoughts and listed numerous honourable mentions. This is rather like saying these are the best, but I know that many readers will hate some of these choices, so here is another lot I might have chosen.
The criteria were that the books should exhibit good writing and storytelling, and be innovative and individual, as well as "bloody good examples of their type".
The ten authors whose books were chosen were Arnaldur Indridason, Frances Fyfield, Fred Vargas, David Peace, Dennis Lehane, Sarah Waters, Andrew Taylor, Don Winslow and Cormac McCarthy.

What do you think of the Times list here? Which books and authors would be on your own list? Who do you think are the most innovative and individual authors of the decade? Have such lists any merit?


Blogger Barbara said...

I liked quite a few of their choices, and I didn't come across an that make think "what?!? that was a stinker." But I would never have the hubris to say "here are the best." I would have a hard enough time choosing a favorite for each year, and then I would keep changing my mind.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - I read that list, too, and there are some authors on the list who have certainly influenced crime fiction for the better. For instance, I'm totally in agreement with you about Peter Temple. However, those lists always exclude lesser-known authors who've written exceptional novels. Or maybe it's just that they don't include authors I like. Those lists help me as I decide what to read sometimes, but in general I don't take them to heart.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

At least Barry Forshaw and Laura Wilson do know about crime fiction, unlike the authors of some of these lists. Lots to disagree with here, of course ;-), but I am glad they chose The Broken Shore. Some of their choices would not be called "crime fiction" by many people, eg No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy - I have not seen that on the crime sheleves in any bookshop, it's put in the general fiction.....

12:22 PM  
Blogger Bernadette said...

While I always look at such lists I don't in the end think they have much value for me (they probably don't hurt the authors' sales any). Of this particular list I've read 4 books and of those I'd probably only agree with the Peter Temple choice. I liked the Fred Vargas book but not sure it's one of the best 10 of the decade (not the most innovative of hers I in my opinion) and I'm not sure No Country for Old Men is even crime fiction. I was simply bored to death by Mystic River so I wouldn't nominate that one for any kind of story telling award. But in the end it's all just one person's opinion.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Jose Ignacio Escribano said...

Norman thanks for your post. I've read none in the list but have Don Winslow, Fred Vargas and Indridason on my TBR pile and I'm also eager to read the Peter Temple.
I've seen Mystic River and No Country for Old Men.
Just from the top of my head there are some missing names like Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos, Jo Nesbo, Andrea Camilleri, P. D. James, Petros Markaris, Henning Mankell, Ian Rankin, to name but a few.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks all for your comments.

Barbara- I realised I had changed my mind about the relative positions of Shadow: Karin Alvtegen and The Redeemer: Jo Nesbo three times when I posted about my translated Euro Crime choices for 2009.

Margot-I agree the only lesser known author to European readers was Don Winslow. All the others were prize winners or had their work televised.

Bernadette- I thought I was the only one bored by Mystic River, and I am probably one of the only two people in the known world who did not like the movie of No Country For Old Men. Nowhere as good as All The Pretty Horses as a Cormac McCarthy based film [OK Penelope Cruz helped that one], and no where as good as Fargo as a Coen Brothers movie.

Jose- That is a powerful list of missing names, and I could add John Lawton, James Lee Burke, Laura Lippman, Hakan Nesser and Robert Wilson.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Maxine, I did not leave you out but I was distracted.
I agree with you on The Broken Shore but I hated the No Country film so much I can only imagine the book was better. There is bleak e.g Jar City or History of Violence, and yet these are almost cheerful compared with the violence and despair of No Country.

6:49 AM  
Anonymous crimeficreader said...

Robert Wilson's The Blind Man of Seville certainly caused a splash in the year it came out. 2002/3/4? Surprised it's not the choice for the relevant year (not even mentioned). Liked the fact that Ryan David Jahn's Acts of Violence was mentioned for 2009 as it's a brilliant piece of writing.

BTW - it's Laura Wilson not Laura Stratton at the top of your post. But I understand the oversight... ;)

3:49 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I have made more mistakes on my last two posts than 900 odd over the previous three years. Reasons under great stress at the moment, and getting old. Thanks for pointing that out.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Kerrie said...

Norman - you need to drop into my blog to see what we have in common.

12:40 AM  

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