About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Best Mystery Books of 2011 from Reviewers and Bloggers Around the World

Kerrie Smith at her superb blog, Mysteries in Paradise, undertook to gather together lists of favourite mysteries of 2011 from around the world. She advises she had 35 contributors with 364 different books listed. (The books did not have to be first published in 2011.)

There were 7 books that were mentioned 5 or more times:

1.) Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (7)
2.) The Keeper of Lost Causes (also published as Mercy) (7)
3.) The End of Everything by Megan Abbott (6)
4.) A Trick of the Light by Louis Penny (5)
5.) Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (5)
6.) Field Gray by Philip Kerr (5)
7.) The End of Wasp Season by Denise Mina (5)

Of the top 7 I have read and reviewed The Keeper of Lost Causes and A Trick of the Light. In my 2011 Bill’s Best of Fiction I included The Keeper of Lost Causes which had tied for 3rd.

Of the 13 titles mentioned on 3-4 lists I had read and reviewed The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly.

There were 26 books on 2 lists. From that group my reading and reviews included:

1.) Bury Your Dead and The Brutal Telling. Both books are by Louise Penny;
2.) The Sherlockian by Graham Moore; and,
3.) The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell.

With Bury Your Dead and The Sherlockian both on my Bill’s Best of Fiction I had 4 of the top 46 on my list. (I did manage not to look at any other lists until I had picked my favourites.)

What I noticed most about the compilation of lists by Kerrie was that Louise Penny is the only Canadian author and the only author to have 3 different books mentioned on 2 or more lists.

It was a remarkable year for Louise. Inspector Gamache has become the best known Canadian sleuth and has achieved international stardom.

I chose Bury Your Dead as my favourite fiction of 2011. It has probably won more crime fiction awards than any other Canadian mystery. Published in 2010 most of the awards came that year.  The awards include:

1.) The 2011 Nero Award;
2.) The Macavity Award for Best Crime Novel in the US
3.) The Anthony Award for Best Crime Novel in the US;
4.) The Agatha for Best Novel at this year's Malice Domestic;
5.) The Arthur Ellis for Best Crime Novel in Canada;
6.) The Dilys Award in the
, as the book the mystery bookstores most liked to sell in 2010;
7.) American Library Association has named BURY YOUR DEAD the Best Mystery of 2010.
8.) AudioFile named BURY YOUR DEAD as the Best Mystery of 2010.
9.) The Canadian Booksellers Association named it their top hand sell of the year.


  1. Bill - Thanks for posting these. I have to agree with you about Louise Penny, whose Gamache series I've liked very much all along. I need to back and look at those lists again; they're a rich resource as I figure out what to read next...

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I know Kerrie's lists of the lists ae going to influence my 2012 reading.

  3. It's odd that two books by Louise Penny not published in 2011 made the Best of 2011 list. Really only TRICK OF THE LIGHT should be eligible. I can excuse BURY YOUR DEAD, but THE BRUTAL TELLING was published in Sept 2009. I thought a best of list was supposed to be made up of books published in that year, but I guess some people take it to mean what they read in that year.

    I've read only a handful of these books since my tastes tend to be vitnage and out of pritn works. I'm upset that no one cited Christopher Fowler or Fred Vargas who make my personal best of list every year...even if I don't publicize it. Those two have yet to let me down. I'm thinking of checking out the Danish writer's book as well as CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER.

    BTW, I think it's "verrry interestink" (as Arte Johnson used to say) that the detective in KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES is named Morck - the same name of the Danish policeman in SCAPEGOAT, the only Danish mystery I've ever read and the one I reviewed for the EuroPass Reading Chalelnge last year

    1. John: Thanks for the interesting comment. I am not sure if you have read Louise Penny. I recommend her strongly. If you try her series it is best to start at the beginning or early in the series. Some of the later books let you know the result of earlier books.

      As I read from vintage to just published I have chosen "Bill's Best of" from what I read during the year.

      I enjoyed your review of Scapegoat. I was in West Jutland last spring with my wife and younger son. We spent a week in Denmark.

  4. I have not even tried to compile a list of my own, but I know Jussi Adler-Olsen´s latest mystery would loom high on it (the fourth Carl Mørck story).

    And like John, I plan to read Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter some time ine 2012.

  5. I decided to give Louise Penny's much praised Bury Your Dead a try but have found it very slow going so far.

    For the first thirty pages all that happens is the detective walks his dog, opens his mail and cooks supper. There's also a library committee meeting that even C. Dickens couldn't have made interesting, and tons of angst over some prior tragedy that the detective is feeling guilty about.

    So far, it's just a dressed up "cozy", though the author is obviously a gifted writer. Does it ever liven up a bit or should I give up after 51 pages?

  6. Dorte: Thanks for the comment. I am looking forward to Adler-Olsen's next translated book in the series.

    I hope you will consider a list at the end of 2012. You would another perspective to the lists of best books.

  7. Anonymous: If livening up a book means you need lots of fists flying and bullets being sprayed about and bodies dropping in high numbers you will be disappointed in Bury Your Dead.

    If you are interested in mysteries which explore the minds of the characters as well have a good mystery I expect you will enjoy the book.

    It has 3 stories entertwined which is 2 more than most authors attempt in a book.

  8. Thanks Bill, but I'm actually finding the switching from story to story a bit of a turn-off. Too much past and not enough present, in my opinion.

  9. Bill --

    I am a great fan of Louise Penny's books. I've read all her books and I read them in order. One of the few writers who I've been with from the start of her career. (Christopher Fowler and L.C. Tyler are two others.) In fact, I have championed her work in comments on mystery blogs all over the internet. I think BURY YOUR DEAD was astonishing. One of the few truly tragic murder mysteries I've ever read with an ending that left me gasping. A rare occurrence in my reading.

    I don't recommend anyone read it BURY YOUR DEAD without first reading THE BRUTAL TELLING. It is a direct sequel and readers should know that. The anonymous comment writer is finding all the talk about the events of THE BRUTAL TELLING boring but if he knew the relationship Gamache has with Olivier it would not at all be boring. That's why some series novels need to be read in order these days.

  10. John: Thank you for your insightful comment. Louise has become one of my favourite authors. I raced to the bookstore to get a copy of A Trick of the Light as soon as it was published. I agree with your assessment of Bury Your Dead. It had a powerful impact on me.

  11. I'm persevering, as Penny is undoubtedly a very good writer, and Bury Your Dead is livening up a bit now that Gamache is on the case. Having said that, Penny is also a bit of a waffler and sometimes just needs to GET TO THE POINT! To put it another way: I'd prefer a bit less of Gamache walking his dog and angsting, and a bit more plot development.

    It is indeed the case that a lot of this novel harks back to a previous one that I haven't read. Perhaps Penny should have labelled it "Volume II"!

  12. Anonymous: Thank you for the comment.

  13. You're welcome, Bill. By the way, I recommend The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris (Corvus, 2011) if you haven't already read it.