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  • Writer's pictureJeff Kerr

My Favorite Books (some of them, anyway)

I don’t have a favorite book. How would that be possible? I’ve read too many to select just one. There’s also a matter of genre. How do you compare True Grit with The Color Purple? Or The Joy Luck Club with Slaughterhouse Five? You can’t. The best you can do is name some of the many books you have read that made an impression on you. Books that stood out from the rest for reasons that matter only to you. That’s what I’ve done here.

Here are seven novels I have read over the past few years that stuck with me. Had I made this list as a teenager, science fiction would dominate. Had I made it twenty years ago, you’d see a lot of biographies and popular history. I’m making it now, though, at a time when crime fiction and action/adventure hold particular interest for me.

I am not claiming that these books are better than others. Rather, I’m saying that, as I read, I was captivated. The stories took me to unfamiliar worlds that became real for me. In short, these novels did what they are meant to do: entertain.

The Black Echo by Michael Connelly

In which Los Angeles Police Department detective Harry Bosch makes his first appearance. A body found in a drainpipe at Mulholland Dam turns out to be that of a Vietnam “tunnel rat” who fought alongside Harry in the war. Harry battles not only the bad guys, but malevolent forces within his own department, ultimately having to decide between justice and revenge.

Author Michael Connelly has written several series of crime thrillers involving different characters in his interconnected universe. Many have been turned into successful movies and television shows. One aspect of the books setting them apart from others in the genre is the author’s ability to delve beneath the plot for a close look at what drives his characters, Bosch’s personal mantra being “Everybody counts, or nobody counts.”

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

The first in a series focusing on the exploits of defense attorney Mickey Haller, half-brother of Harry Bosch. Known for his ability to pull of miracles for his clients, Haller’s office is his car, the Lincoln of the title. Regarded by many as a sleazy scumbag for his methods, Haller is willing to go “right up to the line” but will never sell out a client.

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

In which rural Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire makes his debut. Sheriff Longmire is old school, eschewing cell phones and computers while using his wits to solve crimes committed in his county. Johnson employs not only satisfying plot twists to keep his readers engaged, but a hefty dose of humor. The series inspired the hit television show Longmire.

Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris

The first book in a trilogy based on the life of renowned Roman orator Cicero. The story, told through the eyes of Cicero’s secretary and slave Tiro, pits a young Cicero against the corrupt Roman governor Verres in a courtroom drama that captivated ancient Rome and made Cicero a household name.

Hombre by Elmore Leonard

Before pivoting to crime fiction, Elmore Leonard made a name for himself as the author of riveting westerns. One of the best known is Hombre, the tale of a white man raised by the Apache who must come to the aid of people who hate him when their stagecoach is attacked by outlaws. The 1967 film of the same name stars Paul Newman in an unforgettable role.

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

“I am Uhtred, son of Uhtred, and this is the tale of a blood feud.” So begins the first book in Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles series in which Danish Vikings battle the Saxons for control of the British Isles. Saxon by birth but raised by Danes, Uhtred straddles the two worlds, clinging to pagan beliefs while reluctantly siding with the Saxons in battle after battle. At times hated by both sides and consistently distrusted by all, Uhtred uses wits and a mighty sword arm to conquer all comers. Basis for the Netflix series of the same name.

Foreign Deceit by Jeff Carson

In which rural Colorado detective David Wolf makes his first appearance. This is the first of sixteen David Wolf books, all of which are packed with action. Carson has created a universe of colorful characters involved in intricate plots with satisfying conclusions. This first book in the series takes Wolf to Italy, where local authorities attribute his brother's death to suicide. Wolf begs to differ and must navigate a delicate and perilous path to solve the crime.

So, those are my seven. Let me hear about yours!

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