Making My Way Through the Edgars

I decided that this holiday season I would read my way through the novels shortlisted for the Edgar - focusing first on this year's debut novels. I have to say that I'm not off to a stellar start.

I kicked it off with Tom Bouman's Dry Bones in the Valley.

SynopsisWhen an elderly recluse discovers a corpse on his land, Officer Henry Farrell is drawn into a murder investigation that might tear his sleepy community apart. Tom Bouman's chilling and evocative debut introduces one of the most memorable new characters in detective fiction and uncovers a haunting section of rural Pennsylvania, where gas drilling is bringing new wealth and eroding neighborly trust.

It sounded promising, but I can't say that I liked it as much as the critics did. I actually found it a trial to get through because his language is awkward and stiff and the story lines that were the most interesting got buried. I didn't really connect with any of the characters and the ending fell a little flat.

I understand why people compare his writing to Daniel Woodrell's, but I find Woodrell's writing much more captivating. I'm extremely happy for Bouman that so many critics love his book. I really wish that I were one of them.

This doesn't give me much hope for the rest of the field, although all of the premises sound extremely interesting.

Next on the list is Invisible City by Julia Dahl.

SynopsisRebekah Roberts is called to cover the story of a murdered Hasidic woman. Rebekah's shocked to learn that, because of the NYPD's habit of kowtowing to the powerful ultra-Orthodox community, not only will the woman be buried without an autopsy, her killer may get away with murder. Rebekah can't let the story end there. But getting to the truth won't be easy―even as she immerses herself in the cloistered world where her mother grew up, it's clear that she's not welcome, and everyone she meets has a secret to keep from an outsider.

If you want to read along, or just need a reminder of this year's Edgar nominees and winners, here's the link.

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