First of all, Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you again for the e-mails, comments, and friendship over 2009.
Secondly, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who commented or e-mailed me to win a copy of the ARC of OLD DOGS. I managed to wrestle the copy my Mum and Dad had off my Mum (actually, it was pretty easy - she read 2 pages and thrust the book at me, saying "Next time, can you write a nice book, dear?") So I'm going to give away three copies. The lucky (?) winners - pulled out of a hat, since I loved all the suggestions and couldn't choose between them - are:
Please send me an e-mail with your addresses (or a note that you have come to your senses).
And finally, due to unforeseen circumstances, I'm a bit late posting both a summary of my December reads and also my best of the year list. My December Reads post will follow in the next few days but in the meantime, I read 48 books this year (and here are my favourite...errrr...18 (in the order I read them):
GUTTED - Tony Black - Second Gus Dury - brilliant. Wonderful characterisation, hard-boiled and moving.
SLAMMER - Allan Guthrie - A dark and delicious tale of a prison officer whose life (and mind) are unravelling.
STILL BLEEDING - Steve Mosby - A chilling and compelling look at the nature of evil, horror beyond comprehension, and the desire to possess.
THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO PARIS - Chris Ewan - A superbly entertaining caper full of twists and turns, very well drawn characters and memorable scenes. Breezy and quirky, with a protagonist who's part Raymond Chandler, part The Saint.
BEAST OF BURDEN - Ray Banks - Stark, inexorable and compelling. Noir at its best.
KNOCKEMSTIFF - Donald Ray Pollock - Great writing, wonderful imagery and descriptions, lots of dark humour and full of damaged characters with brutal and depressing lives.
DEAD LOVELY - Helen Fitzgerald - Gory, gruesome, touching, thrilling, heart-stopping ...and often very, very funny.
KILLING MUM - Allan Guthrie - Novella - Dark, warped and funny, and with a surprising number of twists and turns.
GUN - Ray Banks - Novella - Brutal and heartbreaking. Petty criminals and their grim, futile lives - bloody brilliant stuff. Ray Banks is one hell of a writer.
ONCE WERE COPS - Ken Bruen - Brrrrrrrr. Chillingly psychopathic characters and lyrical, brutal and ferocious writing.
VANILLA RIDE - Joe Lansdale - A great mix of viloence, thrills, and humourThis is one of my very favourite series, and Joe Lansdale is a truly brilliant writer, and a wonderful storyteller.
THE TWILIGHT TIME - Karen Campbell - Police procedural set in Glasgow but not a bog standard police procedural. It's an insight into real peoples' lives - police, victims and criminals - who all come across in shades of grey.
DON'T CALL ME A CROOK - Bob Moore - This is the autobiography of Glaswegian Bob Moore - sailor, adventurer, engineer, world traveller. He's also racist, sexist, violent and, more often than not, pickled in alcohol. Bob Moore wouldn't know a scruple if it jumped up and bit him, but he knows how to spin a great yarn.
BURY ME DEEP - Megan Abbott - This is a wonderful tale filled with darkness, lust, sin and beautifully atmospheric and evocative writing.
TOWER - Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman - Heart-breaking and stomach-churning, this is an amazing book - a beautifully written book full of brutal lyricism and hardboiled poetry, an unforgettable look at friendship, loyalty, fate, honesty and belief. I loved it, and the ending made me burst into tears on public transport.
EMPTY EVER AFTER - Reed Farrel Coleman - All about the ghosts of the past and how some of those ghosts never go away - especially the ones that are the keepers of secrets. Winner of the Shamus Award, and no bloody wonder. Brilliant stuff.
BLOODY WOMEN - Helen FitzGerald - Delicious, ingenious, inventive and mordantly funny and Helen FitzGerald has a real skill for making the totally absurd and goofy, thoroughly logical and reasonable.
THE DEATH OF SWEET MISTER - Daniel Woodrell - an uncomfortable, painful, brutal tale which is also poetic and beautiful and just...breathtakingly wonderful. Daniel Woodrell is the master of making you care about people who live "lives of rancid nothingness".
Not all of these were published in 2009 - I just happened to read them (or re-read them in a couple of instances) in 2009.