Friday, December 20, 2013

Recommended Novels I've Read In 2013!

by Jeff Reynolds

I know. It's not Christmas, but I want to beat the rush on the top ten lists. And of course, mine may not be as authoritative as others -- some of my partners in crime on this blog may have read more than I have!

Also, this is a list of thirtten novels that I've read this year. Some of these have been out from previous years. In fact, one of the books I've read which I didn't put on the list was written the year I was born.

This year I've had the pleasure of reading nineteen novels, as well as several non-fiction books. Fourteen of those fall are either mystery (six) or suspense (eight). Only two may not qualify as Christian books (both mysteries), but neither of those would be objectionable -- the author of one of those books was interviewed this year on this blog (not byme), and the other was the one I referred to above -- if I told you the author, you wouldn't worry about reading it.

I was going to make it ten and give five mysteries and five suspense. Problem. I have a tie for fifth place on the suspense list. So I decided to pass along the thirteen novels I enjoyed the most. I'll give a brief blurb about each.

I thought of putting them in order, but opted to instead put them in alphabetic order by author. Ready?

  1. Cat Among The Pigeons by Agatha Christie (Mystery). Yes, this was the one as old (or maybe older) than me. Interesting blend of espionage with typical Christie mystery. I did see the David Suchet movie version, so I knew a lot of the twists, and that might have kept it from being my favorite. Still, I enjoyed it.
  2. Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales by Randy Singer (Suspense). His latest book. I'm still reading this one, by the way -- will probably finish it this week. If you remember, I interviewed Singer earlier this year.
  3. Death of a Highland Heavyweight by Jayne Self (Mystery). I had the pleasure of interviewing the author around this time last year. One of the most enjoyable books I've read this year -- you may be laughing too hard to figure out who did it!
  4. Dog Tags by Heidi Glick (Suspense). If you haven't read this one yet, shame on you! Go straight to Amazon or some other site and get a copy of this, or I'll sick a Schipperke on you! I had the privilege of interviewing the author on this blog.
  5. The Final Crumpet by Ron and Janet Benrey (Mystery). Second in their Royal Tunbridge Mystery series.
  6. Friend Me by John Faubion (Suspense). This one won't make many (if any) 2013 book lists, because it won't be available to the public till February. I had the privilege of reading an advance copy, and I'd be surprised if this doesn't make several 2014 lists. Written by a fellow member of the Indiana ACFW chapter.
  7. Fusion Fire by Kathy Tyers (Speculative). Many would call this science fiction, but I believe it's more science fantasy. Still, I loved reading this book and the first story of the series, Firebird. Great Christian symbolism in the story.
  8. The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer (Suspense). This is one of Singer's two best stories. It's got so many twists your jaw will drop at the end. Mine did. Very well crafted story.
  9. Murder A Capella by James Callan and Diane Bailey (Mystery). I've enjoyed several mysteries, but when it comes to being one that surprises you yet leaves enough clues you're kicking yourself over missed ones, this is the best I've read in years. Even though I've seen a couple of Christian reviews (including an interview with Mr. Callan on this blog), I wouldn't call it a Christian book, but it's not one that would make a Christian uncomfortable.
  10. The Next Target by Nikki Arana (Suspense). I like suspense, but I don't always enjoy suspense -- it gets me too worked up, too worried about the characters. This is an example of that. Good themes in the book. The author was interviewed late last year on this blog (not by me).
  11. Nowhere To Run by Amy Wallace (Suspense). Second of her Place of Refuge series. I discovered Wallace when I read her Defenders of Hope trilogy. Hidden in Plain Sight, the first of this series, didn't impress me as much as the other stories, but this one (which I'm still reading) is closer to the other set in style. I interviewed Amy on this blog earlier this year.
  12. Rules For Murder by Julianna Deering (Mystery). I had the privilege of being an influencer for this story, and also for interviewing her on this blog this year.
  13. An Unholy Communion by Donna Fletcher Crow (Mystery). Crow's Monastery Murders is my favorite mystery series, and Father Anthony is one of my favorite characters. This was my favorite of the series -- it involves a youth pigrimage in Wales.
 Hope you enjoyed this list. How many of these have you read? Any of these going on your reading list? What would be on your list?

And I hope you won't be disappointed to find out this will be my last blog until next year.


  1. Aw. Thanks, Jeff, for adding Dog Tags to your list. I thought about some of the books I enjoyed reading this year (not all of them are suspense).

    Stolen Legacy by David and Dianne Munson (suspense)
    Gone to the Ground by Brandilyn Collins (suspense; published in 2012)
    Trapped by Irene Hannon (suspense)
    Because of Me by Fay Lamb (suspense; published in 2012; re-released in 2013 under the title Better than Revenge)
    By the Waters of Kadesh (Second book in the Journey to Canaan Series) by Carole Towriss (Biblical fiction)
    On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin (historical fiction)
    The Champion, The Protector, and The Gladiator by Carla Capshaw (historical fiction; published between 2009 to 2011)

    As for some books I'd like to read:
    The Roman's Quest by Anne Baxter Campbell
    Police Procedure & Investigation by Lee Lofland
    The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots by Karla Akins
    Murder in Marietta, Death in Dahlonega, and Terror on Tybee Island by Debbie Malone

  2. Heidi, thanks for your comment. And if you don't have Terror on Tybee Island, it's not too late to enter the contest for drawing it!

  3. Some of these were on my 2013 list, or earlier, which makes me think I should put some more on my 2014 list!

  4. Thanks for an early list, Jeff. Of the ones you mentioned, I've read (and enjoyed) Death of a Highland Heavyweight, Fusion Fire (love the Firebird series), Murder a Cappella and Rules for Murder. I've read Cat Among the Pigeons too, but I remember it being kind of disturbing.

    Off the top of my head in the mystery/suspense category, highlights for me this year are Messages (John Michael Hileman), Dark Justice (Brandilyn Collins), and two mainstreams: Speaking from Among the Bones (Alan Bradley) and How the Light Gets In (Louise Penny). When I look through my list later, I may be horrified at what I've forgotten here!

  5. Hi Jeff, I'm honoured to make your list. Thank you!