Whitehurst’s Top Reads of 2021

The year 2022 is upon us. In my mind, however, it should still be early 2021, but time is ever elusive and waits for no one.

In 2020, I set my eyes upon a total of thirty books. This last year, in 2021, I read only fifteen. No clue what happened. I enjoyed amazing work, however, written by amazing authors, and as always wanted to share my top five picks for the year. There were some hauntingly good reads unleased upon the world following the pandemic.

My annual reminder is this, not all of these books were released this year. My top picks are ones I happened to read this year. Doesn’t mean they’re new!

Anathelogium: Poetry & Prose from the Neither by K.A. Schultz

In “Anathelogium: Poetry & Prose from the Neither,” author K.A. Schultz demonstrates her ability to weave silky prose while at the same time cooking up dark literary bites sure to please a variety of readers. Anathelogium collects prose from the author’s treasure trove of published and unpublished work, including short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. Schultz’s fantastic writing style reads like a marriage between Lovecraft and Dickens and delivers an intriguing, engaging modern experience in Anathelogium.

I’ll Pay When I’m Dying by Stephen J. Golds

I’ll Pray When I’m Dying,” the latest from author Stephen J. Golds. “Broken” is a word that deftly describes our lead protagonists, Ben Hughes and his father, William–two compelling and dark people featured in the book’s pages. I’ll Pray When I’m Dying can be read as an engaging, and violent, standalone novel or as part of a trilogy of books that include “Always the Dead” and “Say Goodbye When I’m Gone.” While the characters may be a bit busted up, there’s a beauty in their lives and an elegance to the prose. Nothing needs fixed there.

Palm Springs Noir edited by Barbara DeMarco Barrett

Edited by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, “Palm Spring Noir escorts readers to the seedy underbelly of the Coachella Valley, to places where movie stars, tourists, and locals fear to tread. A slew of savvy writers contributed to these sun-bleached tales, including DeMarco-Barrett, Eric Beetner, Alex Espinoza, Janet Fitch, J.D. Horn, and more. Readers will explore the dark corners of Twin Palms, Bermuda Dunes, The Salton Sea, Indio, and other hot spots made famous by the actors, singers, and mobsters who have called Palm Springs home over the years. Featuring fourteen stories, all with a soul of their own, readers are treated to a dizzying array of Palm Spring’s desert dwellers, from Mixed Martial Arts fighters and clowns to pool boys and sugar daddies. Heavy with sunshine, bright with dread, Palm Springs Noir will take you on a ride not easily forgotten.

Under an Outlaw Moon by Dietrich Kalteis

Dietrich Kalteis packs one hell of a punch in his stories. His latest is no exception. In “Under an Outlaw Moon” readers are introduced to Bennie and Stella, a couple of lovebirds from the 1930s, who are destined to go down in history. Not as the aforementioned lovebirds, however, but as outlaws.

Outlaw Moon is based on real life couple Bennie and Stella Mae Dickson, semi-famous bank robbers of the Depression-era, and their ill-conceived quest for a better life, one that pits them against the relentless J. Edgar Hoover and the F.B.I. If you haven’t picked up a Kalteis book yet, this one’s a great place to start.

Dark Associations by Marie Sutro

In “Dark Associations,” San Francisco Detective Kate Barnes faces The Tower Torturer, a gruesome serial killer famous for using historical methods of brutality. And the book cleverly plays on these twisted, punishing scenarios, lending an air of horror to the overall ambience of the mystery. Gritty, mysterious, and brutal, Sutro puts the “dark” into her freshman novel. Look for more Kate Barnes in the new year, with the release of her follow-up novel, “Dark Obsessions.”

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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