THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is the best book you read LAST year?
Asking me to pick a favorite book is like asking me to name a favorite grandchild, but I did have two books from 2015 that stand out in my memory.
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. Neither were written in 2015 but that is when I found them. Both have elements of mystery which is what originally drew me to them but there is so much more to them both.
Amazon.com Review - The Forgotten Garden
Amazon Best of the Month, April 2009: Like Frances Hodgson Burnett's beloved classic The Secret Garden, Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden takes root in your imagination and grows into something enchanting--from a little girl with no memories left alone on a ship to Australia, to a fog-soaked London river bend where orphans comfort themselves with stories of Jack the Ripper, to a Cornish sea heaving against wind-whipped cliffs, crowned by an airless manor house where an overgrown hedge maze ends in the walled garden of a cottage left to rot. This hidden bit of earth revives barren hearts, while the mysterious Authoress's fairy tales (every bit as magical and sinister as Grimm's) whisper truths and ignite the imaginary lives of children. As Morton draws you through a thicket of secrets that spans generations, her story could cross into fairy tale territory if her characters weren't clothed in such complex flesh, their judgment blurred by the heady stench of emotions (envy, lust, pride, love) that furtively flourished in the glasshouse of Edwardian society. While most ache for a spotless mind's eternal sunshine, the Authoress meets the past as "a cruel mistress with whom we must all learn to dance," and her stories gift children with this vital muscle memory. --Mari Malcolm
Editorial Reviews - Mr. Mercedes
King’s interest in crime fiction was evident from his work for the Hard Case Crime imprint—The Colorado Kid (2005) and Joyland (2013)—but this is the most straight-up mystery-thriller of his career. Retired Detective Bill Hodges is overweight, directionless, and toying with the idea of ending it all when he receives a jeering letter from the Mercedes Killer, who ran down 23 people with a stolen car but evaded Hodges’ capture. With the help of a 17-year-old neighbor and one victim’s sister (who, in proper gumshoe style, Hodges quickly beds), Hodges begins to play cat-and-mouse with the killer through a chat site called Under Debbie’s Blue Umbrella. Hodges’ POV alternates with that of the troubled murderer, a Norman Bates–like ice-cream-truck driver named Brady Hartfield. Both Hodges and Hartfield make mistakes, big ones, leaving this a compelling, small-scale slugfest that plays out in cheery suburban settings. This exists outside of the usual Kingverse (Pennywise the Clown is referred to as fictive); add that to the atypical present-tense prose, and this feels pretty darn fresh. Big, smashing climax, too. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: No need to rev the engine here; this baby will rocket itself out of libraries with a loud squeal of the tires. --Daniel Kraus
The greatest popular storyteller of his generation returned to his finest form with this superb evocation of a psychopath who kills by driving an enormous Mercedes into hundreds of people queuing for the chance of a job. -- Geoffrey Wansell Daily Mail With John Updike dead and Philip Roth retired, Stephen King might just be America's greatest living novelist ... THE BEST THRILLER OF THE YEAR ... It is by far his best and it is recommended to crime buffs and King fans alike. Sunday Express When it comes to grabbing an audience by the throat and giving them no choice but to keep reading, King has no equal Guardian A thrilling cat and mouse game Mail on Sunday, Ireland Rrichly layered, technologically savvy story ... is uncomfortable, yet riveting, to read ... A creepy, ripped-from-the headlines climax, a showdown between good and evil that characterizes the best of King's work ... Excellent addition to King's growing list of mystery-thriller titles; there's even a small hint that the Mr. Mercedes show may go on - a scary thought indeed. L. A. Times A tightly plotted crime novel that retains that essential, instantly recognizable flavor that has distinguished King's fiction for more than 40 years ... On one level, MR MERCEDES is an expertly crafted example of the classic race-against-the-clock thriller. On another, it is a novel of depth and character enriched throughout by the grace notes King provides in such seemingly effortless profusion. It is a rich, resonant, exceptionally readable accomplishment by a man who can write in whatever genre he chooses. Washington Post