This is going to sound crazy, but the my favorite book this year isn't even in the mystery genre, though one might say it fits in true crime: The Steel Bonnets by George MacDonald Fraser. It's an unromantic and thoroughly entrancing account of the Border reivers who harried English and Scots in the six Border Marches in the middle centuries of the last millenium.
Fraser is more famous for having written the Flashman series, but his deep interest in this chaotic, unique time and place draws me in like the finest murder mystery. How did the rule of law fall away for a few hundred years, and how did it climb back into place? The answer is rich and deep, and never boring. If you've ever tried to keep the crosses and double-crosses straight while reading about Mary Queen of Scots, you know what I'm talking about. The Steel Bonnets helps make her troubled reign much more understandable.
If I could write with one-tenth the wit and the wisdom of Mr. Fraser, passed on these few years now, I would die happy.
My wish for you all in the coming year is that you stumble across a voice that resonates with you as Fraser has with me. That you find great joy and insight from a voice from the past, or from a generate or two younger than you. Storytelling is meant for reaching out across time and space to affirm our mutual humanity.
Peace, love, and all the books you can lay your hands on,