And now the conclusion of my favorite books from this past decade. Again, these are in no particular order, except for the number one spot.
Be sure to check out Part One.
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage nation in Oklahoma. They got rich from oil found on their land. David Grann unravels the mystery of a series of Osage murders and the conspiracy to take their land and money along with their lives.
9. Robopocalypse (2011) by Daniel H. Wilson
Spielberg, where is the film adaptation? I probably shouldn’t have liked this book as much as I do, at least not enough to have read it twice. It’s similar to World War Z, a book I didn’t like. Where WWZ was interesting in spots and melodramatic and pretentious in most others, Wilson’s Robopocalypse is pure fun and action throughout with more brains.
8. Dead of Winter (2012) by Brian Moreland
I was a major fan of Moreland’s debut novel, Shadows In the Mist, set in World War II. It had a band of soldiers fighting Nazis who had created something monstrous and out of control. As good as that book was, this one, Moreland’s second, is twice as good. In 1878, in the wilds of Canada, something is stalking colonists and spreading a deadly plague. It’s up to a frontier lawman and a priest to stop it. A chilling and superb work.
7. I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer (2018) by Michelle McNamara
Until I read this book, I was unfamiliar with the Golden State Killer, a serial rapist and murderer who terrorized California in the seventies and eighties. Michelle McNamara, creator of the TrueCrimeDiary website, weaves a suspenseful story that recaps the crimes and her efforts, and those of countless others, to capture the elusive killer. Sadly, she passed away before he was brought to justice.
6. Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction (2017) by Grady Hendrix
This book is awesome, and you don’t have to be a horror fan to love it. I could have put The Process or For the Love of Books on this list, they are entertaining, informative, and well worth multiple reads, but Hendrix’s book won out just for the fun factor. It’s a joy to look at and a hoot to read. It has proven so important and influential that some of the books are actually being reprinted.
5. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2010) by Stieg Larsson
The third book in Larsson’s original Millennium trilogy may be the best. The plotting is impeccably cunning and filled me with a certain amount of glee when the bad guys got what was coming to them in the courtroom scene. The courtroom scene…man, it topped all the action in the entire series.
4. Apocalypse of the Dead (2010) by Joe McKinney
Don’t brush off zombie literature (there’s more ahead on the list). And don’t let the gruesome cover art turn you away either, this book just may change your mind if you think zombies and horror are second class penny dreadfuls. In this tale, a group of survivors find safety and community in North Dakota after the dead won’t die. Throw in a fire-and-brimstone preacher and one survivor carrying the living dead virus and you have a powder keg waiting for the match to strike. The scene told from the point of view of a blind woman, home alone, with zombies stalking her is virtuoso writing.
3. Outpost (2011) by Adam Baker
In the Arctic Ocean, a small team runs a platform refinery, counting down the frozen days until they go home. Their relief ship is not coming, though, because a sickness is spreading across the globe and it’s slowly making its way to the crew. Outpost is a quiet, claustrophobic story. If it were a movie, it would be dimly lit and shown only at two in the morning.
2. The Viking Dead (2011) by Toby Venables
The Viking Dead flat out rocks. Vikings, zombies, viking zombies. I’ve never met him, but I think Toby Venables wrote this novel for me. If you think you know where the story is going, it goes there. It goes there well, and then it veers. Full of action, horror, and an ending that you’ll never see coming. I want a sequel, Mr. Venables, please give me a sequel.
1. Joseph Anton: A Memoir (2012) by Salman Rushdie
In 1989, on Valentine’s Day oddly enough, author Salman Rushdie was informed that the Ayatollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death for writing the novel The Satanic Verses. Joseph Anton, told in the third person, is Rushdie’s memoir of those fatwa years when he had to go into hiding. This is a great book and I owe it, and Mr. Rushdie, a debt of thanks for helping me through a rough patch in my life. It’s a book about the power of words and the power of writing, and our ability to face tragedy, survive, and overcome. Plus, there’s a scene involving Bill Clinton that is so subtly hilarious I laughed so hard I nearly cried.