Just a quick rundown of a few of my favorite reads for the first half of the year. No in depth reviews here, just a couple of notes about them. In the order I read them, earliest first.
2. Descent by Tim Johnston. A hard book to categorize. The first half is a depressing as anything I have read in a very long time. While out on a run with her little brother, Caitlin Courtland disappears in the Rocky Mountains. Enough of a downer that I wasn't sure I was going to finish it, but halfway through the story the book makes a fascinating turn. I loved the second half of the book, it managed to surprise me and I love that in a book.
3. The Kind Worth Killing - Peter Swanson. While not perfect, this is the first book that I have read that feels like it deserves the oft used description "the next Gone Girl". Alternating narrators, a big twist halfway through the book, and a "villain" that you find yourself rooting for. Two strangers meet in a London airport and through a friendly discussion decide to kill the wife of one of them. I really liked that the book could surprise me (several times) and make me feel sympathetic for a cold blooded killer.
4. Dead Wake - Erik Larson. Excellent look at the last voyage of the Lusitania. Larson does a remarkable job of bringing the passengers and crew of the liner alive and shows the long list of coincidences that brought her and the German U-boat together off the coast of Ireland.
5. Into the Savage Country - Shannon Burke. Outstanding short novel about a fur trader in the American West of the 1820s. Exciting action and beautiful descriptions. Reminded me of Phillips Meyer's "The Son". I grew up hating Westerns - wouldn't read or watch them, but now this period of American history has become fascinating to me.
6. Our Souls at Night - Kent Haruf. A beautifully written look at the friendship between a widow and widower in a small town in Colorado. Kent Haruf's "Plainsong" and "Eventide" are two of my favorite books and this is a beautiful conclusion to those stories. This was his last book before he died and that sense of mortality comes through in the writing. This is a book that has stayed with me, I keep thinking about parts of it for no reason. One of the best of the year.
A few other titles of note - "The Killing Season" by Mason Cross is a thriller for fans of Lee Child. "The Alex Crow" is another quirky, confusing, but vastly entertaining YA book from Andrew Smith. "Sweetland" by Michael Crummey is the genre-crossing tale of a man living a lonely life on an isolated Canadian island.