As I did last year, I've once again opted for a top ten this time out, rather than a top twenty, a decision which has necessitated some hard choices. I could have easily filled getting on for half of the top ten with Anthony Price novels alone, but for the sake of variety I've limited myself instead to just one appearance per author in the chart. Mind you, there were still a number of authors who didn't quite make the cut but whose work I enjoyed immensely in 2011, and therefore honourable mentions must go to Jeremy Duns (Free Agent), Adam Hall (The Berlin Memorandum), Graham Greene (The Quiet American), Michael Dibdin (Ratking), Donald Hamilton (Death of a Citizen) and Elmore Leonard (Pronto).
This being Existential Ennui and not, I dunno, Shots or The Rap Sheet or Books and Writers or something, it almost goes without saying that the majority of the books in the final ten are, by definition, "old", i.e. first published at least thirty years ago in most cases. But there are a couple of more recent novels in there too, and as I've stated more than once before, although the remainder may be getting on a bit, to me they're as fresh and exciting and surprising as anything published in 2011 – more so in most cases.
So which of the forty-eight books I read in 2011 made the top ten? Let's find out, shall we, by way of a visual guide, counting 'em down in reverse order, with links to whatever nonsense I wrote about each book (if indeed I have written anything yet). Drum roll, please!
SS-GB (1978) by Len Deighton
The Cut (2011) by George Pelecanos
When Will There be Good News? (2008) by Kate Atkinson
A Hive of Glass (1965) by P. M. Hubbard
The Fools in Town are on Our Side (1970) by Ross Thomas
Smiley's People (1979) by John le Carré
Butcher's Moon (1974) by Richard Stark
Undertow (1962) by Desmond Cory
The Alamut Ambush (1971) by Anthony Price
Operation Overkill (1962) by Dan J. Marlowe
Well, one or two surprises there, I feel, especially the books at numbers 3 and 1; suffice it to say that, although they haven't yet featured on Existential Ennui, Desmond Cory and Dan J. Marlowe will be making appearances on this blog very soon indeed. As for the rest, I don't have much to add to my original reviews, except in the cases of George Pelecanos's The Cut, where I haven't yet written a review – there'll be one in the new year – and Kate Atkinson's When Will There be Good News?, which I somehow neglected to review. So let me just quickly note that, while I love all four of Atkinson's Jackson Brodie novels, I think this one is my favourite, packing, as it does, a real emotional punch and featuring a completely unexpected central disaster. Utterly sublime.
And that's yer lot for 2011. Have a terrific New Year's Eve, and do join me again early in 2012, when I'll be posting a preview of forthcoming delights here on Existential Ennui...