December is when the lists of the year’s best books come out. The New York Times, the Economist, The Guardian, Time Magazine, and Amazon, among others, all list their favorites. According to the Literary Hub website, the novel that got the most raves on the various end-of-year lists is Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. I’ve put it on my Christmas list!
I didn’t really expect, but still hoped, that Pesticide might be on one of these lists. But it isn’t—I looked. Well, I only checked some of them. I decided it really didn’t make sense to go through Foreign Affairs’ Best Books of 2022 looking for a mystery.
But what Pesticide did achieve is a Kirkus starred review. Hurray! Turns out all Kirkus reviews have to be bought (something I never knew, but which seems obvious now that I think about it). Usually, publishers buy them for their authors. For some reason, Pesticide didn’t get one, so I sent it to Kirkus myself and bought my own review (which makes it what the magazine calls an “Indie” book, even though it’s not self-published.) Kirkus provides a review–although not necessarily a good one–for least ten thousand books a year: fiction and nonfiction for adults, young adults, and children. Only about 10% of these books get a star—and one of 2022’s stars went to Pesticide! This means Kirkus classifies it as one of the top forty mysteries and thrillers of 2022 and, better yet, one of the top twelve police procedurals of the year. You can read Pesticide‘s review by clicking here.
I got on one other 2022 list as well, which was a delightful surprise. Deadly Pleasures is an online mystery magazine published by George Easter, and George turns out to be a fan of Pesticide, calling it one of the best first mysteries of 2022.
So the year is ending on a high note for me as a debut mystery writer. We’ll have to see how Sons and Brothers does in 2023. One nice thing: George Easter has already read a review copy and thinks it’s as good as Pesticide. Who knows? Maybe it will get on one of the other, better known “best of” lists.
I haven’t listed my “best books of the year,” but I’d say that the most moving novel I read in 2022 was Emma Donoghue’s The Pull of the Stars, about a young nurse in Dublin in 1918, working in a hospital during the Spanish Flu epidemic. The most entertaining book was Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary, about a very unlikely astronaut who has to save Planet Earth.
Hope all of you find the time to read at least one very good book during the holidays, and Happy Reading in the New Year!