1. Coyle’s Folly
2. The Dark End of the Rainbow by J.E, Irvin. How could any whodunit fan pass up this First Place Winner in the annual Jeremiah Healy Mystery Writing Competition? Detective Joe Zetts must solve the puzzle when a teenage druggie disappears with the high school principal’s newborn baby. This book deserves its Jerry bobble-head statuette.
3. Square Grouper by Lewis C. Haskell. This was a runner up in the Jerry Awards, a tight mystery by a new talent. Here you’ll meet Ernesto ‘Finn’ Pilar, a former Navy SEAL who has packed it in to kick back in Key West. That is, until a run-in with drug smugglers (“square grouper” is the name for bales of marijuana floated ashore) requires his special training to clean up the mess.
4. A Footnote to History by William R. Burkett, Jr. This sci-fi master returns with a time travel tale that yo-yo the reader on from a newlywed’s death to his life as a clone in a battle between future and past. Burkett delivers the irony of “the rule of unintended consequences.”
5. The Karma Chronicles: The Coming and The Second Coming by C.J. Daniels. A new science fiction voice, Daniels proves he’s a fan of classic sci-fi with this two-book introduction to a boy with the ability to avoid death by reincarnating himself and his spirit-guide dog. Yes, they must save the world.
6. Lost Planets and Rediscovered Science Fiction Manuscripts edited by Shirrel Rhoades. While we’re talking sci-fi, let’s not overlook this important anthology, a collection of all-but-lost or forgotten short stories by such writers as Ray Bradbury, John W. Campbell, Philip K. Dick, C.J. Daniels, and William R. Burkett, Jr. Even a once-anonymous scientification story by Edgar Allan Poe.
7. Zoo in a Book edited by George Davidson. Okay, I’m a sucker for animal pictures and this first title in the new Look-See series has animals a-plenty! But much more important is the subtle message that this is a better way to view exotic animals than keeping them caged in a zoo.
8. Chandler: Circle City Slam by Bill Craig. One of Craig’s bestselling mysteries is always on my nightstand. Usually it’s one of his Marlow books, but I have to admit I’m becoming a fan of his new Chandler series, a hardboiled dick working in Circle City (that’s Indianapolis to you).
9. Bad Tidings by Robert Coburn. To think, only a couple of years ago, Coburn was a retired adman dividing his time between traveling and playing the saxophone. Now he’s a hot new mystery writer with two series going — the Jack Hunter stories and this one, tales of Sheriff JT Wainscot of St. Julian Parrish, in the backwaters of Louisiana. Here he tackles a murder at Raquelle Harbor’s annual Pirates Festival.
10. The Mortician’s Road Trip by James D. Loy. If you like picaresque mysteries with a touch of lunacy, you’ll want to read this tale about a funeral home director who makes spare change by selling human skulls. They make great candleholders!
11. A Book of Facts: a novel by G.R. Alexander. Not your typical storytelling approach, this novel is told A to Z. As I said in an early review, “You’ll have a hard time pigeonholing this book. But you’ll be talking about this innovative work for weeks after you finish reading it.” Try it.
12. Season of Revenge by Renee Kumor. Being that it’s almost Christmas, I have to toss in a holiday offering. This is the seventh book in the River Bend Chronicles and to my surprise I’m getting involved in the lives of Lynn Powers and her friends and neighbors. At first I thought this series was simply going to be a tale of romance for woman, but after a few murders, betrayals, and heartwarming surprises I was hooked.