It's a bit overwhelming crafting a favorites of 2012 list, especially when there are so many contenders that I know slipped through the calendar year as yet unread. So, before I get to those selections that I actually got to and reserve my deepest affections for, I'm going to salute these worthy, but thus-far un-experienced reads which I look forward to with great anticipation.
Nearly Nowhere by Summer Brenner. Why? I loved her previous crime novel I-5 about a Russian woman trapped in a life of indentured sexual servitude. Hardboiled, harrowing and always going the route less traveled, it whet my appetite for more from Brenner. Soon, very soon, I will get to this one.
The Cocktail Waitress by James M. Cain. Why? Do I really have to explain it? The poet laureate of spare American prose and un-sentimentality has an undiscovered novel unearthed - I'm all over it. Only, somehow, not yet. I dunno, maybe I figured it'd gone decades without my getting around to it, so another couple months wasn't a big deal. I'm enjoying knowing that it's there for me, though. Might as well put Return of the Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett in here too... oh, and the reissue of Sin Soracco's Edge City - I really loved Low Bite, so I've been looking forward to this one for a year now.
The Trinity Game by Sean Chercover. Why? Uh, 'cause he's Sean friggin Chercover, that's why. This one's a departure from his Ray Dudgeon books (but you should so pick up Big City, Bad Blood and Trigger City), so far departed in fact that this time around it's a super-natural investigation involving a televangelist... I'm intrigued, but I was already sold. Chercover, y'know?
Gun Machine by Warren Ellis. Why? Because with Crooked Little Vein, he proved that the wickedly funny and nasty-edged worlds he creates in high-concept, satirical comics (like Transmetropolitan) can crossover into prose books intact and electrified. Strap into your jock and bite down on something, it's gonna be a wild ride.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Why? Because I suspect that my spouse may be plotting to kill me, and I've been meaning to read up on this one with an eye toward avoiding that outcome... On the other hand I've been meaning to take out the trash and do the dishes... put the toilet seat down... bathe more... I'll get around to it soon, honey, trust me.
Ghosting by Kirby Gann. Why? Three reasons: first, some highly trusted personal recommendations. Second, some sampling I've done. Third, hearing the author read. This one has so much promise, I'm almost afraid to begin in earnest (see reason number two - I've already started it a couple of times, and decided I needed a little more psychic space to savor it before rushing through). It's got a laundry list of elements that turn my crank - industrial-strength prose, life-sized and larger characters, weird-dark-corner-Americana, crime and consequence. A future favorite, I suspect.
The Three-Day Affair by Michael Kardos. Why? Another highly recommended offering that looks to be right up - way up my alley. Desperate characters, a spiraling of intention and fall-out - it seemed poised to join the ranks of everymen gone terribly wrong that include many favorites (Simple Plan, Nothing Personal... uh Fargo) Thing was - I'd just read Sean Doolittle's amazing Lake Country and I didn't want to color this kidnapping tale with the aftertaste of Doolittle's, so I put it down for a moment to let it breathe... Things pile up, y'know? Coming back, for sure.
The Prophet by Michael Koryta, Live by Night by Dennis Lehane What It Was by George Pelecanos. Why? Well, really, these guys get plenty of coverage, and frankly I don't feel the need to get to them so quickly. Do I want to? Absolutely. Buuuuuut, yeah, I haven't yet.
So, there are the most obvious omissions for my personal tastes. Up next: some books I actually did read.