Whitehurst’s Top Reads of 2020

It was a year of weariness and masks, deaths and destruction, and a tough one on all of us. Staying home more than normal also meant changes in routines, or more accurately the loss of routine, and struggling to wear anything more than sweat pants and a robe, much less keep up with the news. A top five best books of 2020 seemed like an impossible task as well, maybe because the world seemed to make such thoughts trivial, or perhaps because in order to escape the world, I read often. In any event, I ultimately decided not to pick my top five favorite books. Instead I picked my top ten – listed in alphabetical order.

Reminder, while some of these books were released this year, not all were. My top picks are ones I happened to read during the course of it. In all, I managed to read thirty books while navigating the winding, treacherous river of 2020.

All the Way Down by Eric Beetner
Between a rock and a hard place, dirty cop Dale Burnett takes on a task of Die Hard proportions in Beetner’s latest book, “All the Way Down,” and it’s a hell of a ride. Burnett is tasked with a singular task; rescue the mayor’s daughter and get out alive. Only she’s held captive by the powerful, and wholly criminal, Tat Losopo, in his skyscraper. It’s either rescue the girl or go to prison. Lucky for us, he chooses fifteen stories of literary thrills.
Buy the book here. Visit the author here.

Coldwater by Tom Pitts
Crime writer Tom Pitts sings the fourth song of his Northern California Quartet in his latest book, “Coldwater,” which features a struggling family forced to deal with the darkness across the street in their quiet, unassuming Sacramento suburb. As with all of Tom’s gritty dramas this one is tough to put down. Why not just read all night?
Buy the book here. Visit the author here.

Cradle of the Deep by Dietrich Kalteis
Bobbi Ricci, bored girlfriend of crime boss Maddog Palmieri, teams up with ex-mob wheelman Denny to lighten his wallet, a heist old Maddog doesn’t take kindly. Enter Lee Trane, an ice-veined killer, who pursues the couple on Maddog’s orders. As the chase intensifies, readers learn once again why Dietrich Kalteis rules the crime fiction roost.
Buy the book here. Visit the author here.

Egg Drop Dead by Vivien Chien
Amateur sleuth Lana Lee gets her first catering gig in author Vivien Chien’s fifth entry in the Noodle Shop Mystery series, “Egg Drop Dead.” Things never go as planned for Lana, as regular readers of the series can attest, and her first catering job sees no improvement in her luck. Is finding a body ever lucky. Chien has added another awesome entry to her series with Egg Drop Dead, the follow up to her hit “Wonton Terror.” Look for two more entries coming soon!
Buy the book here. Visit the author here.

Hecate’s Cauldron edited by Susan Schwartz
Alluring cover aside, Hecate’s Cauldron delivers on a witchy promise of short stories designed to explore the world of sorcery and witchcraft. Edited by Susan M. Schwartz in 1982, Cauldron stars an amazing lineup of authors, including the amazing Andre Norton, the awesome Tanith Lee, and the incredible C.J. Cherryh. In all there are thirteen tales by thirteen talented scribes, with stories ranging from mythology to nuclear energy, and a worthy addition to anyone’s library.
Buy the book here. Visit the author here.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
There’s nothing better during a pandemic than a book exploring worse pandemics, namely the sort that turns you into a vampire. Such is the pandemic Robert Neville is faced with in Richard Matheson’s epic novella, “I Am Legend,” and every paragraph is savory as hell. Matheson, one of horror master Stephen King’s influences, took the mundane and made it terrifying. And let’s not even mention the ending. Worth a late night to read in one sitting.
Buy the book here.

Love and Other Criminal Behavior by Nikki Dolson
Author Nikki Dolson knows her way around a page, and is especially talented in the short story realm, as readers discovered in her newest collection of short stories, “Love and Other Criminal Behavior.” This quick read offers up some true gems of crime fiction, and literary fiction. Particular favorites of mine included “Our Man Julian” and the opening tale “Georgie Ann.”
Buy the book here. Visit the author here.

The Ninja’s Blade by Tori Eldridge
Modern-day ninja Lily Wong returns in “The Ninja’s Blade,” Tori Eldridge’s follow up to her 2019 novel “The Ninja Daughter.” In her latest adventure, Lily brings her formidable skills to Los Angeles county’s despicable underbelly in search of a missing teen. The unofficial investigation leads her from rich suburbia to Compton, and the heart of a nefarious human trafficking ring. Eldridge weaves a thrill ride of tension and action – and it’s one readers won’t want to miss.
Buy the book here. Visit the author here.

River of Lies by R.M. Greenaway
Author R.M. Greenaway has worked her literary magic once again when it comes to the fifth installment of her B.C. (British Columbia) Blues Crime series. RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) detectives Dave Leith and Cal Dion, joined by Constable Judy Temple, face two seemingly unrelated cases in “River of Lies.” Twists and turns abound in Greenaway’s latest is another great addition to B.C. Blues Crime, which began with her award-winning book, “Cold Girl.”
Buy the book here. Visit the author here.

Velocities by Kathe Koja
Meerkat Press is lucky to have award-winning author Kathe Koja in their house. She returned in 2020 with a new short story collection, “Velocities,” which features a vivacious assortment of literary appetizers. I devoured her latest in nearly one sitting (with thanks to a Hennessy chaser) and found her dreamlike style and poignant tales, such as “Baby” and “At Eventide,” a stimulating intellectual detour into darkness and light.
Buy the book here. Visit the author here.

Published by patrickwhitehurst

Patrick Whitehurst is a fiction and non-fiction author who's written for a number of northern Arizona newspapers over the years, covering everything from the death of the nineteen Granite Mountain Hotshots to Barack Obama's visit to Grand Canyon. In his spare time he enjoys painting, blogging, the open water, and reading everything he can get his hands on. Whitehurst is a graduate of Northern Arizona University and currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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