Honestly, it’s an impossible task. I tried hard to be ruthless and get down to just 10 books, but in the end, even cutting out some books I really loved, I could not hone it down to just 10.
So here are my top 13 books published for the first time in 2022 and at the end, I have selected my top book of the year.
The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill by C.S.Robertson
Distinctive, compelling, rich and surprising, this is a beautifully plotted book that delivers in all the right ways and Grace McGill is a character you will not forget. Dark and delicious, like the best chocolate this book will melt a little when it reaches your heart.
The Gifts by Liz Hyder
An immersive, spell-binding, propulsive story with fabulous characters that allows you to get wholly drawn into the story of their lives which makes the violence perpetrated against them all the more devastating. This is a glorious book that combines historical fiction with magical realism and yet carries huge contemporary resonance.
The Shot by Sarah Sultoon
Sarah Sultoon’s The Shot is an extraordinary, stunning story told brilliantly well. It offers a realistic and shocking insight into the incredible impact on journalists of working in war zones . It’s a masterclass in storytelling and cinematic in scope. A must read.
May God Forgive by Alan Parks
Alan Parks brilliantly re-creates 1970’s Glasgow and the divide between those who have and the have-nots. His violence is unremitting; the crimes are hard to stomach. But the characters are stand out brilliant, the plotting is superb and the sense of place second to none. Alan Parks asks some hard questions of his flawed protagonist and the answers do not come easily. Compelling, bleak and heart-breaking, this is a book not to be missed.
Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart
There’s something inherently beautiful in Stuart’s rich imagery and fabulous prose which sets this book firmly apart from others. The writing contrasts with the harshest of the violence and offers a richness that promises more than the abject miserableness of what we are reading. I found that a rare and wonderful thing. There are no easy answers, but Douglas Stuart’s, raw, brutal, unflinching story is a real heart-breaker and this character-driven novel is a beautifully wrought work.
Black Hearts by Doug Johnstone
I am running out of superlatives for this cracking, unmissable series. I adore the Skelfs, and am an unshamed #Skelfaholic. Black Hearts is outstanding. I loved it with a passion and Black Hearts is Johnstone’s best yet in this superb series which should be winning awards all over the place.
Fish Swimming In Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda
Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight is more than a psychological thriller. It is an atmospheric, unsettling, deeply suspenseful book that deals with two people’s search for peace by finding the truth and it sometimes makes you forget to breathe. Terrific pacing, real clarity of prose and the drip-feed of revelations come together to build a truly breath-taking read.
The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly
Erin Kelly has delivered another massively compelling, beautifully imagined, page-turner full of richly drawn characters, secrets upon secrets in a book which is both fabulously original and so layered it falls into the millefeuille category. Beautifully written, full of seriously flawed characters and lots of toxicity, this book is both riveting and unmissable.
The Lost Man of Bombay (Malabar House #3) by Vaseem Khan
Historical fiction doesn’t get much better than this. It is engrossing, entertaining, with vivid, atmospheric settings and rich in detail. The mysteries are terrific puzzles to solve and the characters are ones that you take to your heart. All in all the Malabar House series is one of the best crime series around.
An Honourable Thief by Douglas Skelton
Skelton’s writing is engaging and his characters leap from the page practically begging you to embrace them. There’s lots of intrigue, action and emotion in this historical novel which balances the personal and the historical rather beautifully to produce a rip-roaring novel
The Winners by Fredrik Backman
Intense, propulsive, shocking and sometimes pulsing with violence, this is a book that stirred all my emotions as the suspense mounted and the story took on a life of its own. This trilogy will always be on my must read list. You can feel the love with which they were written and the care that Backman has for his characters. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Dashboard Elvis Is Dead by David F. Ross
This is a massively perceptive and glorious novel. I was profoundly shocked as much as I was captivated by its scope and intensity. Ross’s novel is forceful and authoritative; it is a book that takes the personal journeys of his characters and brings them into blazing, colourful, life. The conclusion is so savage it took my breath away. I will be thinking about this book for a long time.
My book of the year is River Clyde by Simone Bucholz trs Rachel Ward
You don’t come to this novel looking for a traditional police procedural. This is the culmination of the combined experiences of a team who have seen some of the worst excesses of man’s inhumanity to man and we are seeing it play out now through the loss they have suffered which is hard for each of them to bear. There’s tremendous perceptiveness in this writing and still a good helping of that deadpan wit and sarcasm that keeps Chastity going through the dark times. Overall, though, this a raw, hurting Chastity whose silent screams I could hear down the Gare Loch, across the Clyde and into the East End where they bounced off my walls straight into my heart.
Have a great Christmas and let’s look forward to more wonderful books in 2023!
Photo credit main image: Toa Heftiba