It's the last list of the year and it's the coup de grâce. Novels, baby. Forget those anthologies and novellas. Who reads those, anyway? Everyone reads novels. Well, everyone who buys their books at airports and drugstores. I bought a book at a drugstore once. It was an Elmore Leonard novel, actually. I digress.
2013 saw some damned good novels hit shelves this year, and for as many as I read, I have an even bigger pile I have yet to read. Here are five, however, that were undeniably fantastic. And if you haven't read these books yet, I pity you. Get on that.
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes - A time-traveling serial killer? Come on, that right there probably put this book on my list without even reading the book. But I did read it, and loved it, and I have a couple of Beukes' earlier novels on my to-be-read pile. And I'll definitely be watching out for what she comes up with next.
The Big Reap by Chris F. Holm - The third and final book in Holm's Collector series really left things off on a high note. Well, not high like a Scooby-Doo ending, but more in the highly satisfying conclusion to the three-book arc. I do, however, have my fingers crossed on a fourth.
The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale - I'm a sucker for a Lansdale story. That's just the way it is, and The Thicket really worked as a showcase for his insane characterizations and seamless blend of humor and the darkest edges of humanity.
Frank Sinatra in a Blender by Matthew McBride - Okay, this novel wasn't technically published in 2013, but December 2012 is close enough in my books. It's hard-boiled Missouri noir with a cute little mutt as a sidekick. Throw in the really catchy title and it was probably going to take a lot to make me not like this book.
The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura - I tried and failed to read a novel each month from a non-English author, but I at least discovered this gem of a crime novel about a pickpocket at odds with a seemingly unstoppable kingpin. I have another of Nakamura's novels on my to-be-read pile, which I really need to read soon, because this novel was just fantastic.
And finally, I'll give honorable mention to Kill City Blues by Richard Kadrey. The fourth Sandman Slim novel, Devil Said Bang, was a bit of a disappointment, but this fifth installment really reinvigorated the series and has me counting the days until the sixth book is published.
What was your favorite novel of 2013? I'm always looking for recommendations and these year-end lists, I find, are a wellspring for just that.